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Connections and Unity

I forget how isolated I am from other Native people until I get in their presence.

One of my Co-Counselors knew that I wanted to get myself to Mashantucket to connect and told me about a report-back from Standing Rock that would be taking place there. I live about twenty-five minutes away from the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. I went there last Saturday and listened to the report-back from three Native leaders—one woman and two men, probably in their late twenties or early thirties.

As soon as I sat down and heard the opening words from the Shinnecock/Montauk woman, I felt like crying. It is a contradiction [to distress] for me to see Native people, especially from the northeast part of the United States, openly being their Native selves, speaking their languages.

Most inspiring to me are the connections and the unity that have happened. The Southern New England and Long Island tribes seem to go to each other’s powwows. At a Labor Day powwow, these three leaders heard about what was happening at Standing Rock, and the violence from police. They decided they would go. They drove thirty hours and brought supplies. They weren’t at all sure how they would be received but described a kind, warm welcome and a community of people committed to protecting the water and land, working and praying together, and being nonviolent in their opposition to the pipeline.

I expected eight to ten people to attend the talk, but there were about thirty people. Everyone received a flyer on what they could do. Winter is coming quickly, and the list of items had a lot to do with keeping people housed and clothed for winter conditions. The flyer also told us how we could contribute financially and keep updated on what is happening.

After the talk was over, I made it a point to talk to a couple of the speakers. I appreciated them and spoke a little about myself. There was another Co-Counselor at the talk, someone who was raised white with Native heritage, and we were able to have a mini-session on a bench outdoors. It was easy for me to cry about the quiet, brilliant, visible people I had just listened to; my connection to my surroundings; and the fact that I had someone listening to me and letting me discharge.

I plan to go back to Mashantucket and continue listening, talking, and enjoying the people I meet.

Roberta Paro

Norwich, Connecticut, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders in the care of the environment

(Present Time 186, January 2017)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00