Editor’s Note: This report was updated twice to add video to it.
FRAMINGHAM — When Miles Bishop was at Potter Road Elementary School he learned about the “courageous Columbus and the heroic Pilgrims” and what it was like for them to come to this land and be the first settlers. He said the elementary students “dressed up as Pilgrims and Native Americans to reenact the first Thanksgiving in the third grade.”
Today, as a Framingham High senior, Miles said “the cultural appropriation embarrasses” him and that school districts needs to teach the real history to students.
Miles was one of four Framingham High student speakers at yesterday’s Indigenous People’s Day event in Framingham.
More than 100 people came to a ceremony on Monday afternoon, October 11 to make the first-ever Indigenous Peoples’ Day event in the City of Framingham.
“Christopher Columbus was a horrible person,” said Framingham High junior Ansulauit “Ansi” Francis.
She said the poor treatment of Native Americans is just not in the past it is still going on.
“It is hard to know that living in American. the home of the free, it isn’t that free,” said Francis, who is Nipmuc.
The 90-minute event was organized by Jewish Family Services of MetroWest in collaboration with Nipmuc nation, Framingham Public Schools Greater Framingham Community Church, Jewish Teen Initiative at CJP, and Temple Shir Tikva.
It was held outside at McCarthy Elementary School on Flagg Drive.
The event began with a welcome Jewish Family Services of MetroWest CEO Lino Covarrubias and then a land acknowledgement from Andre Gaines StrongBearHeart of the Nipmuc tribe.
“This land we all benefit from is the homeland of my people, the Nipmuc people — the people of the fresh water. We’ve been stewards of this land for thousands of years… settler culture now benefits from the confiscation of native lands and colonial expansion, underscored by a Eurocentric narrative that has attempted to obliterate an entire people,” he said, with his nephews by his side.
There were several speakers include Mayor Yvonne Spicer and Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay.
“What am I grateful for? And that is how I can lead this City, bringing also all of my cultural heritage with me,” said Mayor Yvonne Spicer. “My father shared with me we had Native ancestry in the Cherokee Nation. I look at the strength of the Cherokee people and the strength of Africans, which is the other part of my heritage, and how do we keep using those skills, and that experience, to keep doing our best works.”
Tremblay said he was proud to lead a district that voted in 2019 to name the fall holiday not just Columbus Day but Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He said he was also proud to lead a district that recently changed Woodrow Wilson Elementary School to Harmony Grove Elementary School.
On Friday, President Joe Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation marking Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“Our country was conceived on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people — a promise that, despite the extraordinary progress we have made through the years, we have never fully lived up to. That is especially true when it comes to upholding the rights and dignity of the Indigenous people who were here long before colonization of the Americas began. For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures. Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society. We also recommit to supporting a new, brighter future of promise and equity for Tribal Nations — a future grounded in Tribal sovereignty and respect for the human rights of Indigenous people in the Americas and around the world,” wrote the President in the proclamation.
The City of Framingham has never issued a proclamation declaring the holiday Indigenous Peoples’ Day nor has the City of Framingham ever held an event commenorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The focus of the event on Monday was to “stand up to hate and to spread love” said Rabbi Danny Burkeman of Temple Shir Tikva of Wayland.
“The blood from indigenous people massacred on this land cries out to us,” said the Wayland Rabbi, who said for too long, we have all been silent.
Rev. J. Anthony Lloyd said “I’m mindful that long before this experiment of democracy we have here in this great country, that there was repression, conquests, devastation, death, long before that trail of tears, we moved folks from this land on to reservations.”
The event also featured musical performances.
The ceremony events with Andre Gaines StrongBearHeart and his nephews performing a stomping and circle ritual.
Petroni Media Company photos for SOURCE