Indigenous Peoples Day events in October

Photo via The Alliance for a Viable Future.

Big Barrington – A Celebration of Native American Culture in the Berkshires will be held Saturday, October 8th through Monday, October 10th. The series of events is organized by The organization Alliance for a Viable Future.

According to a press release from the organization, representatives from 15 tribal nations are expected to attend, including the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans.

The series begins on Saturday, October 8 at 7:30 p.m. with Honoring Native America at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. Tickets for the event Costs $25 per person, with scheduled performances by the Stockbridge-Munsee Powwow Drum Family, The GiiTaa’se Singers, and NAACP-Berkshires President Dennis Powell, who presented the first-ever Indigenous Award to Larry Spotted Crow Mann of the Okheteau Cultural Center.

On Sunday, October 9th at 7:30 p.m Indigenous Voices panel. will be held virtually and will include a discussion with Chief Jake Singer, Aaron Athey and Shawn Stevens, leaders of the Native American community.

On Monday, October 10 at 11 a.m ceremonial walk begins at the Town Hall Gazebo with a performance by the Gordon Williams Family’s Stockbridge-Munsee Powwow Drums.

Lev Natan is Executive Director of the Alliance for a Viable Future and co-organizer of the event. “Indigenous Peoples’ Day began as a movement in San Francisco in the early 1990s,” Natan said in an interview with The Berkshire Edge. “That was the first mention of making Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples Day. This movement has slowly grown across the country over the past 30 years. It is a paradigm shift that has taken place where there is an awareness of becoming real with our story. It is appropriate to create a common future based on reconciliation, healing and coming together to face our challenges.”

Natan said that “getting real with our history” means coming to terms with the past when it comes to how colonists from England treated Native Americans when they came to this land. “Before the colonists came here, there lived a very advanced civilization that wasn’t even called Indians or Indians,” Natan said. “They had their names, languages, economy and culture. Then there was a systemic genocide. I like to say it was attempted genocide because what we call Native Americans are still here. They remain strong to this day and it is a testament to their resilience.”

Natan said the events are being held for people to “walk into the future together… We want to welcome the original residents of the Berkshires,” he said. “The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans were driven from their native Berkshire around 200 years ago. You will have a delegation coming back here for this event. This will be an opportunity to bring respect, honor and healing to a deep wound we have here in the Berkshires.”

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