Week of December 3rd-7th, 2018

New this week: Spotlight on Beaver Moon Gathering 2018

The Beaver Moon Gathering 2018 video is now available on our website! The event, co-sponsored by the Nolumbeka Project, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the New England Peace Pagoda, brought to light connections between two contemporary struggles: the land dispossession of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe by the Federal Government, and the resolution to change the Massachusetts State Flag and seal. In his talk "Stolen Identities: the Mashpee Wampanoag, Defined out of Inheritance," documented in the video, Hartman Deetz situates these matters historically, describing the theft of Wampanoag children, language, and land in a series of events over the past 400 years.

According to Deetz, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe owns about 1% of their original land. Have you ever heard the myth that Native Americans simply had no conception of land ownership before white settlers came and divided land into property? Deetz breaks down that myth, explaining how the Wampanoag had shared land use agreements and land transactions that pre-existed white settlers. These transactions were later translated into deeds to protect their legitimacy in the eyes of colonial government.

In 1790, Deetz tells us, a law was enacted that only the U.S. Federal Government could make land transactions with tribes. These laws were not enforced however as the land continued to be chipped away. In the late 19th Century, the Massachusetts State Government directly broke this law and went against the will of the people when it made Mashpee a town and made tribe members citizens of Massachusetts.

In recent months, the Federal government has tried to take away land from the Mashpee Wampanoag. It's roughly 300 acres, which Deetz describes as the size of a large shopping mall or sports stadium. The rationale by the Federal Government, according to Deetz, is that the Mashpee Wampanoag do not meet the definition of Native written into law in the 1930s, due to insufficient land ownership--thanks to the illegal actions of the state government in the late 19th century.

Deetz highlights the violence of this progression of events, among other egregious acts which have affected the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe--including the separation of children from families, children's native language being taken away in boarding schools, and the selling of children into slavery overseas.

With a more hopeful tone, Deetz describes how it is through resistance and "sticking together" that the Mashpee Wampanoag are still here, and brought up efforts to keep the Mashpee Wampanoag reservation intact, including the Mashpee Reservation Reformation Act.

For more about how Deetz connects this narrative with the resolution to replace the Massachusetts state flag and seal, keep an eye out for the news from Montague Community TV in the next two weeks, when we wrap up this feature. In the meantime, hungry minds can watch the video here!

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Contact us at (413) 863-9200, infomontaguetv@gmail.com, or stop by 34 Second Street between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. We'd love to work with you!