Presentation, dance at GCC to shed light on Native American culture

Hartman Deetz, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe who recently participated in a program discussing Rights of Nature for the Charles River, will lead a similar discussion on the Connecticut River on Friday.

Hartman Deetz, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe who recently participated in a program discussing Rights of Nature for the Charles River, will lead a similar discussion on the Connecticut River on Friday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Report

Published: 02-22-2024 10:56 AM

GREENFIELD – Western Mass Rights of Nature and the Nolumbeka Project are holding a pair of events at Greenfield Community College on Friday and Saturday that will teach attendees more about Native American culture.

The two organizations first invite the public to a presentation and discussion about the Connecticut River’s “rights of nature” led by Hartman Deetz at the GCC Dining Commons on Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. Deetz is an activist, artist and member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe who also serves as a Native American cultural consultant for the Charles River Watershed Association.

Rights of Nature is a global movement aimed at conferring legal rights and standing on elements of the natural world to better protect these natural systems. The Rights of Nature movement is rooted in Indigenous knowledge systems, based on recognition of the interdependence of humans and the ecological communities in which they are embedded, as well as the deep responsibility humans bear to care for and steward the non-human world.

Western Mass Rights of Nature is a grassroots member of the global Rights of Nature movement, working to bring about the legal and cultural change necessary to recognize the inherent right of the Connecticut River, its watershed and the myriad life that it supports to exist, thrive, evolve and be restored. The Nolumbeka Project is an all-volunteer nonprofit focused on honoring and celebrating Northeastern tribal heritage and modern-day presence.

Then on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., also at the GCC Dining Commons, the two organizations are co-sponsoring the annual Full Snow Moon Gathering and Eastern Woodlands Social Dance.

Attendees can learn and participate in Northeastern Woodlands Native social dances led by Deetz and Asa Peters, a fellow member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. The single-file, call-and-response dances are suitable for people of all ages. Attendees are encouraged to bring rattles.

Tribal guests will include Liz Coldwind Santana Kiser, tribal historical preservation officer for the Chaubunagungamaug Band of Nipmuck Indians, and Rich Holschuh, co-director of the Atowi Project and a member of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe. Refreshments will be available, Deetz’s handcrafted items will be for sale and a bark basket made by Jennifer Lee will be offered as a raffle prize.

Thanks to financial support from UMass Five College Federal Credit Union, Greenfield Saving Bank, River Valley Co-op and GCC, both events are free to attend, though donations are appreciated. Donations can be made to the Nolumbeka Project at nolumbekaproject.org. Saturday’s program is also supported in part by grants from the Deerfield, Gill, Greenfield, Leyden, Montague and Shelburne cultural councils.

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