Acknowledging that the land, as well as many of the practices that we draw from in our programming, have been forcefully taken from First Nations peoples, many at Wild Earth are engaging in conversation about restorative, reparative practices.
A first step toward acknowledging and beginning to work to repair past and current injustice, Wild Earth now offers First Nations peoples free tuition in some of our adult skill workshops.
Last winter, Wild Earth extended an invitation to Chief Vincent Mann of the Ramapough Tribe, inviting two members of the tribe to join us for a two-day Pack Basketry workshop.
This winter, we extended a similar invitation to Sachem HawkStorm for Schaghticoke First Nations peoples to make pack baskets.
After the workshop, Sachem HawkStorm shared his reflection on the experience:
“Basket making has been a tradition for hundreds if not thousands of years in my tribe and my family.
Since 1736 and the establishment of our Reservation, this became way more than just a tradition. Making baskets became a way of survival. As many know, as happens with so many Nations across Turtle Island, we couldn’t get jobs off rez, cut off from our farming, fishing and hunting grounds. Making baskets became a way for us to feed our people.
My grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts and uncles would make these baskets and walk many miles selling and mending their baskets. In return they would collect food scraps and bring these back to the Reservation.
Now I’ve gotten to see so many of these beautiful baskets in museums and Historical collections across the country. But since the burning of our houses and forced removal from our reservation, this is a tradition that has been all but lost.
This is one of the many important teachings we will be bringing back with our Cultural Center.”
Wild Earth’s hope is to serve as allies to First Nations peoples, supporting our friends in relearning traditional skills we may offer so they can continue to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
“[Wild Earth] understands that making baskets is more than a side hobby for SFN, it is our culture and tradition. [Wild Earth has] listed upcoming programs that they have, there are a couple spaces open in each for the Schaghticoke First Nations people at no charge.
This is a start of reparations between wilderness training schools and Indigenous people. Most of these Native teachings have been taken from us and Wild Earth wants to offer these programs to help us get our teachings back, so we can pass down our traditions to our future generations. We ultimately want to offer these types of programs at our cultural center, taught by us.”
Schaghticoke First Nations Newsletter
At Wild Earth, we are just beginning to understand our responsibility to support racial and gender equity, to address cultural appropriation, and to lead social justice initiatives throughout our organization. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of our donors — your donations make our work possible.
As a child Simon spent countless hours exploring the forest, streams and wetlands of his neighborhood in NJ. Simon has a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont where he focused on the relationship between a healthy human psyche and a vibrant natural world. He has staffed and studied with various wilderness schools throughout the Northeast including the Institute for Natural Learning, White Pine Programs and the Vermont Wilderness School. When he’s not in the woods, Simon is designing and building websites and other internet solutions. More about Simon's work.