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Schaghticoke First Nations Newsletter

Review of recent events and notice of upcoming events
By: Kristin Stinavage, Tribal Secretary

A Story to Share...

The Deer Peoples Horns

By: Wolf-Walker Conley
During a recent walk of the beautiful river bottom land behind my home, I startled a small herd of white tail.
This silent gang reminded me of a story told to me many years ago as a child.
“Long ago the deer people possessed no horns and their heads were smooth and flat like a horse, but this changed as most things do…
A small foolish rabbit loved to tease the deer that he was the fastest animal in the forest.  The other animals grew tired of his bragging and decided it was time for Rabbit to prove himself. A race between the rabbit and a strong young buck was arranged.
 The winner it was decided would receive a fine headdress of carved sumac antlers.
The race was to be held at an old thicket, the winner was to run to the far side and back without disturbing so much as a single leaf.  The crafty rabbit knew the sure-footed deer
was better suited, so he suggested that he be allowed to check the course out before the run. They all thought this to be fair and the rabbit disappeared into the thicket.
After a long while with no rabbit returning, the animals sent a crow to check on him.
The crow found rabbit creating a path for himself by chewing off much of the
Crow returned and reported the rabbits’ doings. When the rabbit returned, the animals told him they knew of his trickery. When challenged he denied the crows’ report.
For dishonoring himself and his fellow, they sent Rabbit away and forbid him to live with all other animals. The fine headdress was given to the deer, but the humble deer said that he had not won fairly and would only wear the horns part of the year.
Rabbit went off to live a life of hiding and to this day the rabbits are nervous, jumpy things.”


Relational Uprising Bonding Cohort December 2018

Bonding is the first module of Relational Uprising's series of trainings where participants learn tools and practices that build resilience at the ecological, cultural, community, and individual levels through three resources: Distributed Dependency, Sensitivity to Connection, and Sustained Inclusion. Relational Uprising brings together organizations, communities and individuals that are striving to build strong relationships amidst a culture of individualism, oppression, isolation, and competition. Sachem HawkStorm has had the honor and privilege to be a facilitating support for the Bonding (Part 1) & Embodying (Part 2) throughout 2018 and is very much looking forward to the workshops of 2019. Groups represented in this cohort: Anti-Racism Collaborative Boston, Ohio Student Association, Virginia Student Power Network, IfNotNow, Jewish Voice For Peace, New York Civil Liberties Union, Union Seminary, Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, Vassar College, Goddard College of Embodiment Studies, Crossing Borders Education and The Meeting Point. 

Relational Uprising 2019 training calendar:
May 2-5 Relational Culture 1: Bonding - Applications now OPEN! click here:

July 11-14 Relational Culture 2: Embodying (Relational Somatics)

Sept 26-29 Relational Culture 3: Bridging

Making Baskets, Reclaiming Traditional Knowledge With Our Hands

By Sachem HawkStorm, Chief of the Schaghticoke First Nations

Waypanachena nekeech Atchwechteed,
(Good morning my relatives)

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. I’ve added a picture of my Great Grandfather Jim Pan Harris on the Schaghticoke Rez making one of his baskets using Black Ash the same way that we made ours over this weekend.

I want to give a big thank you to our friends at Wild Earth, Paul Tobin, Stefanie Geisel, Simon Abramson, David Brownstein and more who see how important it is to keep these traditions alive for our future Generations.

We also want to give a big thank you to our friend Andy Paonessa at for all his hard work keeping traditional knowledge alive and well.

(I am grateful)
Sachem HawkStorm

Thank you, Wild Earth for your support!

Upcoming Basket Making and other outdoor education programs with Wild Earth: 

Stop Cricket Valley Involvement

Sachem Hawk Storm, stated:

“Cricket Valley will emit harmful pollutants that are linked to a host of diseases. This [plant] is a violation of our free, prior and informed consent according to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was ratified by the United States government. Clean air, water and land are inalienable human and natural rights. These rights cannot be superseded by a corporation for capital gain. We believe that we are only borrowing the land from the seven generations who follow us, and that we must preserve it for them.”

Actor/Activist James Cromwell Joins Crowd of Protesters Demanding an End to Construction of the Cricket Valley Energy Center in Dover, NY
People from New York and Connecticut Demand
Energy That Doesn’t Harm People or the Environment and a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Despite freezing temperatures on Saturday morning, more than 80 people from Dover, NY and nearby Connecticut protested the construction of the Cricket Valley Energy Center. Following the demonstration, actor James Cromwell, a long-time activist against gas infrastructure and protagonist for the environment, addressed the crowd.

The Cricket Valley Energy Center (“CVE”) is a huge 1100-Megawatt generating facility located in Dover near the New York - Connecticut border. Upon completion in 2020, it will be a major source of pollution, emitting a mix of toxins, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. It will combust gas which is drilled, fracked and transported to Cricket Valley from out of state. Nearby locales will be especially impacted by the concentration of pollution CVE will emit.

Stop Cricket Valley Energy LLC co-ordinated the event. Its spokesperson, Charles Davenport, said that "We’re here because we cannot accept the Governor of the State of New York suing the EPA about pollution coming to New York from power plants in other states hundreds of miles away….while at the same time, building a plant that produces the same pollution within three-quarters of a mile of nearly 800 adolescent school children…. When government and its agencies ignore the voice of the people, the voice of the people will not go away.”
Sachem Hawk Storm, hereditary leader of the Schaghticoke First Nations, whose lands border Dover and Kent, CT stated: “Cricket Valley will emit harmful pollutants that are linked to a host of diseases. This [plant] is a violation of our free, prior and informed consent according to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was ratified by the United States government. Clean air, water and land are inalienable human and natural rights. These rights cannot be superseded by a corporation for capital gain. We believe that we are only borrowing the land from the seven generations who follow us, and that we must preserve it for them.”

Ben Schwartz, an area farmer and one of the four men arrested in the early hours of January 16 for blocking a shipment of turbines en route to the plant by chaining themselves to a tractor on Rt. 55 in New Milford CT, said: “I’m an organic farmer. Our farms need clean air and water just like our school children down the road from the fracked-gas plant. Dover has a solar-power plant approved for construction--it doesn’t harm people or the environment--and unlike the Cricket Valley plant, it will sell its electricity to Dover residents.”

Mr. Cromwell spoke last. He described the suffering of people in Dimock, PA where people are getting sick from the drilling of oil wells. He talked about the ongoing resistance to CPV Valley Energy, a 680-Megawatt gas-fueled power plant in Waywayanda, Orange County, where he was arrested and served three days at the Orange County Correctional Facility after refusing to pay a fine stemming from a 2015 sit-in at the construction site. He spent his prison time on a hunger strike. Cromwell quoted Martin Luther King, Jr.: ...“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” Cromwell signed a letter to New York’s Gov. Cuomo and other New York State Leaders urging them to call for the preparation of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement “because the last Environmental Impact Statement was prepared in 2011, and it did not include a systematic study of the greenhouse impacts of CVE, either upstream or downstream, and that much new science that has developed since 2011 warrants consideration; the prior assessment of the impacts of CVE were primitive compared with present analytic methods.”
STOP Cricket Valley Energy Press Release

Pine Plains Elementary Enrichment Program with Nelson Kauamarix  Zayas

Mr. Zayas has been a teacher at Pine Plains for many years, teaching social studies and recently taking on the role to facilitate their enrichment class. He's been actively engaging children in plant identification, star constellations, and other aspects of connecting to nature. In this class of 60 kids, Nelson talked to them about living with and within nature. How people, like those of his Taino culture, once lived, relying on plant life and trees to survive. Sachem HawkStorm spoke about his descendants from the area and showed the children the pack basket he recently made explaining its importance to him and his culture.

Indigenous Peoples March DC 2019

“All the grandmothers are here today,” Great-Grandmother Mary Lyons said on the steps at the BIA during the ceremony. All the grandmothers are here. All the ancestors.  

Reflections from the first Indigenous Peoples March, January 18, 2019, Washington DC

By: Pam Arifian & Lindsey Peterson

On the steps outside the Department of the Interior, home to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, First Nations and indigenous people and allies from around the world came together in a demonstration of presence, unity and leadership on Friday, January 18, 2019. Welcomed by the smell of sage smoke and the steady beat of the drum, we gathered to begin the day in prayer to all four directions, in gratitude for the multitude of nations present and the resilience and ancestral love that each person carries with them. 

“All the grandmothers are here today,” Great-Grandmother Mary Lyons said on the steps at the BIA during the ceremony. All the grandmothers are here. All the ancestors.  

The first Indigenous Peoples March took place in Washington, D.C. (Piscataway-Conoy territory) on January 18, 2019. Organized by the Indigenous Peoples Movement and a coalition of indigenous and solidarity groups, the March brought indigenous peoples from around the world together as one to elevate the injustices facing indigenous women, children, two-spirits and men, and to honor and celebrate their resilience against hundreds of years of oppression and genocide. It was also like a joyful, celebratory family reunion.  

Following the prayer ceremony, we marched from the Department of the Interior to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. For the next five hours, we listened to speakers, singers, dancers and truth tellers from nations around the world as tourists and school groups streamed past on their way up the stairs to Lincoln’s statue.  

“We are a loving people, a generous people, a strong people and we are still here,” declared Paulette Jordan on the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Jordan is a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe and also recent candidate for Governor of Idaho.  

Photo by Kristin Stinavage

We are still here.  

“We are still here” was the unofficial refrain, the rallying cry of the Indigenous Peoples March. Indigenous people are calling for far more than mere existence. They rally, not just in this one-day march, but in their powerful ongoing witness, for the protection of the water, for water is life and we are water; they advocate for the land, and they carry ceremony that nurtures and heals.

But indigenous people have to keep declaring we are still here until we hear them, and until we as a nation behave accordingly. We, descendants of the pilgrims and puritans, or descendants of immigrants, who have embraced the story of white supremacy and/or the Doctrine of Discovery, all of us who have basked in the privileges afforded therein. Native peoples have to keep affirming, demanding their existence, because we have told or participated in the telling of the story of their erasure, in our schools, our monuments, and in our glorification of colonization. In so doing, we have given ourselves passive permission to act as if they indeed were not here, or at least that their lives do not matter.  

We are still here, that drum declares.

The indigenous people declaring we are still here and organizing to make their presence known, such as those organizing and leading the Indigenous Peoples March in DC, convey a quality of still-here presence that we all would be well-served to pay attention to. It is a quality of presence that centers stewardship of creation for the seventh generation; it comes out of a radical presence with creator embodied in creation, and it knows and acts on the knowledge that we are water. It is a generous, loving, strong presence.  

This message was amplified by the singing, the ever-present sacred sage smoke, the dancing and by nearly every speaker over the course of the five-hour rally. As they lifted up the issues facing their communities, their stories stand in direct opposition to the dominant story of indigenous erasure that afflicts this country and countries around the world.  

As one people, we shouted the names of some of the missing and murdered indigenous women whose disappearance has not made it to the newsroom or been investigated with the conviction afforded, for example, missing white women and girls. We listened to the stories of indigenous groups around the world fighting the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure on their unceded territories (e.g., Line 3Bayou BridgeCoastal Gaslink through Wet’suwet’en territory), and about the suffering experienced by indigenous groups proximal to extraction and transport facilities of fossil fuels. We heard about the lack of running water and uranium poisoning on reservations, and the disproportionate incarceration and mortality rates of indigenous folks around the world. We stood in solidarity with land and water protectors everywhere putting their lives on the line to heal the Earth Mother.

We are still here, each voice declared.  


“We are in the time of the seventh fire. We are the ones that are going to lead us down the green path. We need to come together in unity to bring on the 8th fire.”  - Sachem Hawkstorm

Sachem Hawkstorm is the hereditary chief of the Schaghticoke First Nations, and a delegate of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Schaghticoke First Nations is a member of the International Tribal Treaty Council.  

Photo by Pam Arifian

In his speech, Sachem Hawkstorm referred to the Anishinaabe prophecy, which says that we are in the time of the 7th Fire, that we are on the scorched path that will lead to our demise. The scorched path is the path of least resistance, but in unity, we can choose to travel the green path, which will lead to the 8th fire, a time of peace, unity and love.  

This prophecy of the 8th fire sounds familiar to us. It echoes the stories we read in the Bible about Shalom, about earth as it is in heaven. It is the just, resilient and sustainable future for all people that we were all helping to create on that day and all days, together. 

The march had a big impact on both of us. 

Lindsey shared that “the whole day I felt saturated in a profoundly generous love. Each speaker or artist, they spoke and moved as an offering with and in creator. We were all included in it. It was healing and activating.”

Pam shared her reflection: "The march ended in a round dance, the drums guiding our feet like a heartbeat as we chanted we are still here. I saw my own joy and belonging reflected in all of the faces around the circle as we danced. I left the march feeling buoyed by the hope, love, generosity, empowerment and resilience."

And then... 

As Tara Houska, Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe and tribal rights attorney, said to MSNBC:  "I felt unsafe, I could feel the energy in the air change… [that it was] time to get out of here.”  
Houska accurately described that shift in energy leading up to the 
well-documented confrontation between the Black Hebrew Israelites and the Covington Catholic High School students that took place after the close of the march. We felt the tension and aggression radiating from both groups as we passed them separately when we left the march less than 30 minutes before the confrontation occurred. It’s easy to imagine how quickly and dangerously the situation could have escalated.   

Elder Nathan Phillips (Omaha Nation), Marcus Frejo (Pawnee/Seminole/Mexican) and their small group of supporters showed bravery, honor and resilience when they led with prayerful song and drum beats to step between the two groups. Their courageous witness was rooted in their culture, which is part of what we had witnessed all day at the rally.  

The discussion about the “controversy” surrounding the snap judgments of public opinion resulting from various versions of the videos of this incident, and the introduction of student Nicholas Sandmann’s defense (generated by a public relations firm), has twisted the most important part of this story. It is contributing to the erasure of indigenous leadership from this story, and from the incredible witness of the historic and deeply meaningful march.

It also steals Elder Nathan Phillips’ humanity. It is not a stretch of the imagination to think about what could have happened if, for example, Phillips were an elder white man being mobbed and jeered at by these students. Taken a step further, given the often lethal tendency by white people to make snap judgments regarding people of color, imagine what could have happened if the students were black or brown and Phillips was white? In either scenario, it’s hard to fathom that the confrontation would have had a peaceful resolution, or that a student would be granted national media attention to defend himself or would receive an invitation to the White House.  

Marcus Frejo was singing and drumming beside Elder Nathan Phillips during the confrontation. In a facebook post on January 20, 2019, Frejo wrote, "Somewhere in that circle that spirit was moving, I was told that when that happens it slowly moves out the sickness. We were in the center of that circle, pushing the good medicine outward. Everything happens for a reason at a certain time and people are chosen to do great things.” 

This is the story we want to lift up first and foremost, to combat indigenous erasure, and to lift up the inclusion, beautiful diversity, respect, the honor for ancestors and future generations and all relations, which we witnessed all day. We want to elevate the peaceful, prayerful leadership of Elder Nathan, Marcus Frejo and indigenous leaders more broadly, and the generous healing that they brought in with the drum to defuse the confrontation. 

Beyond the 7th Fire Radio with Sachem HawkStorm

Every Sunday noon - 1 PM on Radio Kingston - 1490 WKNY



Hawkstorm is a hereditary Sachem, a direct descendant of Massasoit, Weetamoo, Tuspaquin, Sassacus, Mioneamie, Katonah, Wamsutta, Warrups, and Mauwee. His life’s journey has been one of reclamation, re-indigenization, and reconnection to land. Beyond the 7th Fire Radio is a way to bring light to the conversations and stories not so different from his own stories of separation. HawkStorm’s work at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the International Indian Treaty Council, as well as the relationships he has built in his tribe, the Schaghticoke, close to home and around the world, will ignite the conversations on the radio show. Beyond the 7th Fire comes from the Anishinaabe prophecy that says, we’re in the time of the seventh fire – the scorched path we are on is the path of least resistance but leads to our ultimate demise. If we travel down the green path it will lead into the 8th fire of unity and love.

Come join us on our journey down the green path, as we ignite the 8th fire together.

Upcoming Events

Get Involved!

International Cultural Delegation to Visit Ramapough-Lenape Nation

Weekly protesting of the Cricket Valley Power Plant

Check the Facebook page for more information and to contact about where & when: STOP Cricket Valley 
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Schaghticoke First Nations · 4 Dineen Rd · Millbrook, NY 12545-5379 · USA

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