On the Fall Equinox, September 22nd, 2021, Kyle Lolar (Penobscot) and Peter Forbes (non-native) facilitated a conversation amongst 18 Native and non-native healers, elders, and young people about how we can become medicine for each other in a world of betrayal. Our ultimate hope is to move away from extraction and transaction, and toward relationship building. This gathering concluded the curriculum of the second cohort of First Light Learning Journey, but marked the a beginning of our participant’s commitment to the long work of First Light to relearn, recenter, and return land.
We heard first from Chief Clarissa Sabattis and Lisa Sockabasin, who spoke about the importance of self-determination and of community caring for community. They named the legal and environmental barriers that stand in the way of Wabanaki communities practicing their traditional hunting, gathering, and fishing practices, and encouraged listeners to begin taking down these barriers in order to heal.
Next we heard from a council of Wabanaki elders including Carol Dana, Richard Silliboy, and Dr. Imelda Perley. They shared stories of racism, violence and the impacts of the Settlement Act on their lives, and expressed desire to find a path to peace. They spoke to the need for reconcili-ACTION. Non-native speakers Jennifer Melville, Don Hudson, and Polly Mahoney spoke about the importance of shedding old, white traditions and being open to different ways of thinking and acting.
After the elders, Native and non-native young people Shantel Neptune, Selena Neptune, Mali Obomsawin, Tony Sutton, Alivia Moore, Gabe Paul, Tyler Kidder, Ethan Miller, and Ashley Bahlkow had an open conversation about what future is needed for the health of all of us. They insisted that we should never doubt what could be possible, and that we need to dream in order to create a less harmful and new world. They shared that the land and Native women provide a way forward and a healthy future for us.
Donald Soctomah closed the gathering by reflecting that some of the best medicine we have is to listen and understand one another, and to take meaningful action.