The Eastern Woodlands Indigenous Collective Feeds Community

“In caretaking each other, we know that we can provide and have what we need, and that’s how we live abundantly” ~ Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collective~ The Boston Globe, October 12, 2021


Eastern Woodlands’ Community Meals

Excerpt: The Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collective nourishes abundance in Indigenous communities throughout New England  By Jocelyn Ruggiero, The Boston  Globe October 12, 2021

“Hidden from view at the base of a steep wood and brick stairway, Rachael Devaney’s family cottage sits on the shore of Long Pond, mid-Cape. This water is home to many creatures: muskrat, opossum, ducks, snapping turtles, frogs, minnows, and freshwater clams, while osprey, eagles, and seagulls populate the sky above. There’s a saltwater exchange on the shore opposite the cottage — the pond is less than two miles from the Atlantic Ocean — and, in Eastern Woodlands culture, a waterway that flows between fresh and salt is a place of regeneration and cleansing.

Rachael Devaney speaks with fellow members while preparing a number of fruits and vegetables in Centerville. Nathan Klima for the Boston Globe

Although Devaney is Salvadoran and not Indigenous to Massachusetts, where her adopted family raised her, she’s deeply connected to the Eastern Woodlands tribes.

In her teens, a mentor introduced her to the Wampanoag culture, taking her to Native socials, harvests, and powwows throughout New England.

A striped bass cooking over a wood fire in Centerville. Nathan Klima, The Boston Globe

Her exposure not only educated her about these tribes but also her roots, by connecting her with people who looked like her and showing her ways of life that were similar to those of her ancestors…….There’s a lot of teasing, laughing, and storytelling. Although the people who gather at Long Pond this afternoon belong to different Native tribes, as members of the Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collective, they are all kin.

Photo by June Sapiel.

Formally organized in 2018, the Collective is a group of matriarchal-centered Native people, two-spirits, and men. The term “two-spirit” is used by certain Native communities to represent beings who embody both male and female genders.

The Collective aspires to a nonbinary understanding of gender, mirroring more fluid genders that exists in nature, where, for instance, many plants have both male and female reproductive structures. And whereas colonization undermined the leadership roles of Indigenous women, the Collective strives to restore feminine power…Beside the weathered deck that leads from the cottage to the Long Pond’s shore, four trunks rising from an oak tree are covered in pale gray-green lichen. Its branches shade Kristen Wyman, a member of the Nipmuc Tribe, as she sits at a table and cuts an heirloom watermelon for the party, setting the seeds aside for future planting. There’s a colorful harvest in front of her: Algonquin squash, carrots, Hot Portugal chili peppers, and corncobs from Maine; Nipmuc squash from Rhode Island, apples from Massachusetts, and from El Salvador, corncobs, zapote, and almond seeds, and a dark, slightly spicy honey collected from hives in coffee fields…’Rematriation’ is at the heart of everything the Collective is and all that it does.

Wampanoag Sherry Pocknett- Photo- courtesy of Sherry Pocknett

Wyman explains the concept in this way, while: ‘patriarchy is about dominance and control and overpowering, matriarchy is about life, growth, nurturing, and abundance. . . . The best way that we can understand that is through seeds. One seed can lead to hundreds and thousands. In caretaking each other, we know that we can provide and have what we need, and that’s how we live abundantly. As opposed to this patriarchal world, where it seems everything’s about survival of the fittest and whoever has the most is the one that’s going to come out on top.’

Darwin González descales a freshly caught striped bass. Photo- Nathan Klima, The Boston Globe

The Collective’s growing initiatives throughout New England take place on privately held land, state parks, and tribal land like the Hassanamisco Nipmuc Reservation in Grafton.”

For more information about the Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collective

A Native American Proverb