Friday, December 12, 2014

Thanks to All!
You Made It Happen.
Many Gifts. One Heart
Valley Gives 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Valley Gives 2014: Today is the Big Day!

Preserving  New England's Tribal Heritage:
A 12,000 Year Legacy of 
Earth Connection and Sustainability.
 ∞  Honoring the Past ∞ Healing the Present 
∞ Celebrating the Future  ∞

This is the BIG DAY!
Your GIFT Today 
Will Help Us Continue
The Work!

Your GIFT of $10+ will
be DOUBLED through a
(the first $1000)
and qualify us
Storyteller and Wildlife Rehabilitator Loril Moondream 
and Medicine Mammals Singers Are Regular Participants  
at Nolumbeka Project Events.  (Pocumtuck Homelands Festival, 2014)
Dear Friends,
People like you have been invaluable in our efforts these past three years.  2014 was a huge success:
• We presented 3 Cultural Events • Presented other public talks and educational events
 • Successfully negotiated passage of  Greenfield's  Native American Burial Ordinance
• Improved the Gardens and Trails at Wissatinnewag • Opened a new office 

Now, you can be part of our efforts in 2015.  Please donate tonight and join us for:
• Free Soup and Games Night, Hope and Olive, March 2
•Third Annual Commemoration of Great Falls Massacre, May 16
• Pocumtuck Homelands Festival, August 1
Beaver Moon Gathering, November 21
Stay Tuned for More:
 Together, we can make a difference 
Nolumbeka Project Board of Directors

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Preserving  New England's Tribal Heritage:
A 12,000 Year Legacy of 
Earth Connection and Sustainability.
 ∞  Honoring the Past ∞ Healing the Present 
∞ Celebrating the Future  ∞

The Countdown is on.  
Your gift of 10+ before 12 Midnight tonight 
qualifies us for possible Valley Gift special awards of $25 - $1000. 
  Donate. Make a Difference.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

 Nolumbeka Project
Preserving  New England's Tribal Heritage:
A 12,000 Year Legacy of 
Connection and Sustainability.
 ∞  Honoring the Past ∞ Healing the Present 
∞ Celebrating the Future  ∞ 
 Dear Friend,
You are cordially invited!
• Stop by our new office for cider and conversation.
    Tuesday, December 9, 4-6 PM, Mohawk Mall, 91 Main Street, Greenfield

• Make a donation NOW of $10+
It may count DOUBLE -- or more.
  The first $1000 of donations will be matched dollar for dollar 
AND may qualify 
Nolumbeka Project 
for a number of Valley Gives awards.

• Support the Emerging Plan for 2015

• Free Soup and Games Night at Hope and Olive, March 2

• Third Annual Commemoration of Great Falls Massacre, 
May 16

• Second Annual Pocumtuck Homelands Festival
with indigenous artists and artisans, music, drumming, storytelling, demonstrations
honoring the 12,000 year old Pocumtuck Peace Village at the Great Falls
Unity Park, Turners Falls, August 1

• Third Annual Beaver Moon Gathering, November 21

Help Us Make A Difference! 

Friday, December 5, 2014
Haven't Been Able 
to Donate Yet? 
Now's the Time.
First time donors to  
Valley Gives 
Nolumbeka Project  
awards from $25-$1000!

PS.  First time donor or not, we have a matching grant that will match your donation of $10 or more, dollar for dollar, for the first $1000 of donations 
Nolumbeka Project
 ∞  Honoring the Past ∞ Healing the Present 
∞ Celebrating the Future  ∞


Thursday, December 4, 2014

 Nolumbeka Project
Preserving  New England's Tribal Heritage:
A 12,000 Year Legacy of 
Connection and Sustainability.
 ∞  Honoring the Past ∞ Healing the Present 
∞ Celebrating the Future  ∞

••Historical Research••Cultural Gatherings••Sacred Site Preservation •• 
•• Native American Gardening and Heritage Seed Preservation •• 
••Land Stewardship •••• Public Advocacy ••
Greetings from the Nolumbeka Project!  
We come to you, seeking funding through Valley Gives!

We are inviting you to drop by a "Valley Gives!  Open House", December 9 from 4-6PM.  Stop by the Mohawk Mall, 91 Main Street, Greenfield,  for a cup of cider,  to visit  our new little office and research library! 

Your donation given before Wednesday December 10th helps make us eligible for Valley Gives prizes of $500 to $5000!

We are the regional Native American advocacy group...stewards of the rich heritage of the indigenous people of New England.

We seek..." to exemplify the Native American Indian people's respect for Mother Earth and all living beings, and to be mindful of our role as caretakers for future generations..."

In just our first three years, building on the great wealth of a 12,000 year old legacy,  we have: 

created an annual calendar of events... from the "May Memorial to the Massacre of 1675"  to the Pocumtuck Homelands and Beaver Moon Festivals;

• become stewards of the ancient, 60 acre Wissatinnewag Village, where, with the help of so many friends and allies,  we are :
•  preserving indigenous plants and  clearing ancient trails, 
  planting traditional "three sisters" (corn, beans & squash)  circle gardens.
  growing sacred tobacco and sweet grass

•  written and negotiated the passage of the new Greenfield Indian Burial Ordinance, a useful model for other towns seeking to respect ancient ancestral bones. 

•  In October, we opened a FIRST!  Our office and research library at the Mohawk Mall which will enable us to coordinate all this and more.  

Thank you for for becoming a part of this remarkable journey, by becoming a  donor,  and making a gift at

The Board of Nolumbeka Project,  
Joe Graveline, David Brule, Howard Clark, Diane Dix, Barbara Francis,
Strong Oak Lefevre, Pam Kelly, Pat Allen, Lisa McLoughlin, Skye Dix-Wellington

PS  The Board of Nolumbeka is offering a $1000 challenge grant, to match the gift of NEW donors.  Every new donor, $10.00 or more, makes us eligible for Valley Gives prizes!
Together we can Create and Celebrate 
a World of Connection and Sustainability.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Nolumbeka Project
Preserving a 12,000 Year Legacy of 
Connection and Sustainability.
∞  ∞  Honoring the Past ∞ ∞ ∞ Healing the Present ∞  ∞ ∞ Celebrating the Future ∞ ∞ 
Narragansett Medicine Man Lloyd "Running Wolf" Wilcox and Montague Town Administrator Frank Abbondonzio at Reconciliation Ceremony, Turners Falls, MA in 2004.

 The Nolumbeka Project is dedicated to the preservation of the history and cultural heritage of the Native Americans of New England through historical research, sacred site and land stewardship, Native American gardening and heritage seed preservation, public advocacy, educational programs, and cultural events.  We believe the Native American Legacy of Connection and Sustainability is crucial to the planet at this point in history.

YOU can help us make a difference!


"What part of Sacred don't you understand?" -- Klee Benally, Navajo activist

The Nolumbeka Project stewards the last undeveloped piece of an ancient Native American village, Wissatinnewag. Located on the banks of the Connecticut River at the Great Falls, "Shining Hill" was a peace village where Native Americans of the northeast gathered seasonally to share Nature’s bounty.

This year, with the help of dedicated volunteers,  we enhanced the Wissatinnewag site by cultivating sweet grass, ceremonial tobacco, and three sisters gardens;  clearing trails, making inventories of native plants and removing some invasive species.  We also guided educational tours of the property.

In addition, we continue to seek support in our efforts to preserve a Native American re-burial site at White Ash Swamp in Greenfield, MA.  Under the threat of big box development, Nolumbeka Project is working to ensure that these reburials are permanently protected.

At this time, we are also holding conversations about acquiring other significant properties in our region for preservation and protection.


"If we open our minds to this broader body of information, ... we come to see that the history taught to us in school presented a tragically distorted and incomplete account."
 --  Howard Clark, Senior Researcher/Anthropologist, Nolumbeka Project

Moving into a new office in 2014, The Nolumbeka Project continues to build a unique archival research library to depict a more accurate picture of the history of our region.  We continue the process of digitizing the information to make it more widely accessible


"In the spirit of peace, healing and understanding we come together on this date of May 19, 2004, to acknowledge the tragic events that took place on the shores of this river on May 19, 1676, and 
 thereby begin to put the tragic echoes of the past to rest" 
-- Reconciliation Ceremony, May 19, 2004

In addition to a variety of public talks, videos and other offerings, Nolumbeka Project presents three annual Gatherings at the Great Falls in Turners Falls, MA. Each provides an opportunity to honor, heal, and celebrate the contributions of New England's Native Americans through ceremonial, cultural and educational activities.

At the Great Falls Discovery Center in May, Nolumbeka Project continues its annual commemoration of the infamous massacre of May 19, 1676 with a respectful ceremony, music and other cultural offerings.

In August, with the assistance and co-sponsorship of Turners Falls RiverCulture, Nolumbeka Project presented the first Pocumtuck Homelands Festival drawing together Native American musicians, storytellers, artist and craftspersons for a day long clelebration at Unity Park, Turners Falls.

In November, Beaver Moon Gathering celebrates the Full Moon of this time of transition at the Great Falls Discovery Center.  Talks and other educational events are the centerpiece of this event.


"Let’s lose the fear over this conversation and embrace a future 
where all are welcomed and respected."
-- Nolumbeka Project President Joe Graveline My Turn, Greenfield Recorder

Through public talks, educational offerings and public advocacy, Nolumbeka Project members continue to bring both a greater awareness of our tragic past, and of the vital importance of the cultural and spiritual values of New England's Native Americans to the world today.

In 2014, Nolumbeka Project and its members initiated and successfully secured a Native American Burial Ordinance in Greenfield, MA and the awarding of a National Park Battlefield Preservation Grant to Montague, MA which will for the first time gather and present the Native American perspective on the tragic events that occurred in our region during the colonial expansion our region's history.

In addition Nolumbeka Project and its members continue to advocate for a respectful solution to the tragedy of White Ash Swamp, and are involved in other efforts to honor, heal, and celebrate the contributions of New England's Native Americans to this planet and all of its myriad beings.


Friday, November 28, 2014

You Can Make a Difference: Stay Tuned for More!

Mark Your Calendars 
December 10, 2014
 You Can Make a Difference!

 Stay Tuned for More!
Have Look Around the Website

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Second Annual Beaver Moon Gathering November 8

David Cornelius
Anthropologist David Cornelius will be the featured speaker at the second annual Beaver Moon Gathering, presented by the Nolumbeka Project on Saturday, November 8, 
11 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the Great Falls Discovery Center, 
2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA.

Cornelius will share the tale of King Hendrick, Supreme Chief of the Mohawks, and present the complex and tragic story of King Philip’s War, the tumultuous period of history that included the infamous massacre of Native American refugees at the Great Falls (Peskeompskut) on May 19, 1676.

For Cornelius, who is a Master’s degree candidate in Anthropology and holds a degree in Colonial and Native American Studies, King Philip’s War is not just an academic interest.  He has connections to the Mohawk and Mohican Nations on his father’s side of his family and his mother’s forebearers were Puritans.  His ancestors died on both sides of the conflict.

Nolumbeka Board Member David Brule will also speak briefly about the National Park Service Battlefield Preservation Grant recently awarded to the town of Montague.  Seeking to develop a comprehensive overview of the series of deadly encounters that took place at the Great Falls in 1676, the project funded by this grant will attempt to present a balanced account of this troubling history.  It plans to include,
for the first time, an unfiltered perspective emerging from the oral histories of the Wampanoag of Aquinnah, Mashpee Wampanoag, Nipmuc, Narragansett and Stockbridge-Munsee tribes, as well as that of the colonials. 

The gathering, which is free, is named in honor of a traditional term for November’s full moon.  It will also include an opening ceremony by Strong Oak Lefevre, Circle Keeper of the Visioning B.E.AR Circle; a display of traditional Native American gardening; a raffle; and light refreshments for sale.

If you are interested in helping us out on that day, please contact Lisa McLoughlin at

Monday, September 29, 2014

Nolumbeka Project Board Member Brule to Speak October 4

David Brule
Saturday, October 4, 10:00 a.m. to noon 

David Brule presents some basic information about the Native American presence at the Great Falls, then describes the events of May 19, 1676, including the awarding of a National Park Service American Battlefield grant to study the event. Historian Ed Gregory will then present his archival photos about the villages of Montague from 1900 to the present. 

Great Falls Discovery Center, 2 Ave. A, Turners Falls, MA. 

Admission Free. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Quinnetukut: Life in the Woodlands on Cable TV

The film Quinnetukut: Life in the Woodlands exploring the customs, traditions and lifeways of the Alkonkian peoples of the Northeast before contact with the colonizing Europeans is now airing on Falls Cable on Channel 17 in Shelburne Falls, Shelburne and Buckland on the following dates and times:
Sun. 8/3-7 pm
Mon. 8/4-11:30 am
Tues. 8/5-8 am
Wed. 8/6-8 pm
Thurs. 8/7 -10 am
Fri. 8/8-2 pm

Produced by Institute for American Indian Studies,  Quinnetukut: Life in the Woodlands is now available on DVD from the Institute for American Indian Studies Museum and Research Center.   A discussion with Lucianne Lavin, Ph.D., IAIS Director of Research & Collections, is included as a featurette on the DVD and is available on the Museum's Facebook page.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Schedule for Pocumtuck Homelands Festival

10:00 AM - Noon       Set Up

Noon - 12:45 PM         Storytelling

12:45 -  1:30 PM          Childrens Crafts ($2)

 1:45 -   2:30 PM          Hawk Henries

 2:30 -   3:15 PM          Medicine Mammal Singers

 3:15 -   4:00 PM          River Culture Parade

 4:00 -   4:45 PM          Medicine Mammal Singers

 5:00 -   5:45 PM          Hawk Henries

 5:45 -   6:30 PM          Storytelling

There will also be displays, primitive skills demonstrations, Native American artwork and crafts for sale during the entire festival!

Interested in volunteering?  Click here for more information

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pocumtuck Homelands Festival: Volunteers Needed!

We are still looking for volunteers for the Pocumtuck Homelands Festival at Unity Park in Turners Falls, August 2.

If you are  interested, please contact 

The festival will be held in conjunction with the Turners Falls block party, but with its own hours and in its own space. Set up will  be from 10 to 12, and events run throughout the day (ending time will be sometime after 4pm, to be determined).

We will need the bulk of volunteers at the beginning and end of the festival. There are a few specialty areas we are asking if people to help out with:

1) 2 people with a pick up truck needed to pick up risers and set them up (please specify if you can do this and if so, do you have a truck to use)

2) someone with expertise in sound systems to help set up, operate, and tear down for the musicians.

3) someone to provide a straight back wooden chair and small table for Hawk Henries to use during his performance.

4) someone to help place wooden benches near the stage for spectators

Other more general jobs will include helping vendors find their areas with the use of a map, setting up the Nolumbeka Project tent, and generally helping the festival get started and end smoothly.

We will meet at the parking for the fish ladder near Unity Park (along First Street in Turners Falls) at 10am on Aug 2. Any time after 10 AM, you'll find us along the bike path/river contingent to the parking lot.

If you are  interested, please contact  

We are excited about this event and welcome your input, and look forward to working with you!
  -- Nolumbeka Project

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Victory for Equality and Respect

In a historic vote on Wednesday, the Greenfield Town Council voted to approve the Native American Burial Ordinance.   

Submitted by Nolumbeka Project's Howard Clark months ago, shepherded through meeting after meeting by Clark and Nolumbeka Project President Joe Graveline -- and supported by all of you who put in their time and energy to bring about this victory for equality and respect -- we hope this law will serve to protect the Ancestors at White Ash Swamp and prevent any further desecration of Native American burials, reburials and burial sites in Greenfield.

We're thankful to all of you for your support in body and spirit.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Greenfield Town Council Vote On Native American Burial Ordinance this Wednesday!

"It should be a matter of conscience for us all."
Diane Dix, Nolumbeka Project Secretary

Fifty years after Native American remains were disrespectfully and unceremoniously removed from the Mackin sand and gravel pit in Greenfield and bulldozed into the swamp across the road, the Greenfield Town Council will meet to decide on a Native American Burial Ordinance (see below) that could protect the ten acres of White Ash Swamp -- and serve to prevent such desecrations in the future. 

We hope that you will join the Nolumbeka Project and other concerned citizens to show your support as the Council meets on Wednesday, May 21 at 7 PM  at the GCTV studios, 393 Main Street, 3rd Floor, Greenfield.  

Coming two days after the 338th anniversary of the infamous Great Falls massacre, it is an appropriate time to take an important step in to offer the same respect and consideration to the First Peoples of this region that we should expect for all other Americans,  for all human beings.  

There will a time for public comment at the meeting.  Your presence and your voice can make a difference. 

We also encourage you to call or write the members of the Greenfield Town Council before Wednesday's meetimg  to indicate your support of immediate passage of the Native American Burial Ordinance.  (Click for list of telephone number and addresses of Town Councilors)

It's time. 

Chapter 105
General Reference
25 USC Chapter 32
42 USC 1996
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act
MGL Part I Title VI Ch. 38 sec. 6 
MGL 114 Ch. 17

§ 105-1 Native American Burial Ground Ordinance
The Town of Greenfield recognizes, to the extent provided for in State or Federal law, any known place where American Indian remains have been buried or reburied as an American Indian Burial Ground, and as such, it shall be accorded the treatment and protections specified by Federal  or State Laws, including but not limited to 25 USC Chapter 32 (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation), 42 USC 1996 (The American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, MGL Part I Title VI Ch. 38 sec. 6, MGL 114 Ch. 17. It is, furthermore ordered that as soon as human remains of a Native American and/or a Native American Burial Ground is discovered and reported and which falls within the jurisdiction of State or Federal law, a local advocate for Native Americans shall immediately be  appointed by the Mayor and the Narragansett Indian Tribe, who shall participate with others having jurisdiction  in the enforcement of State or Federal law relating to the treatment and protection of American Indian Burial Grounds within the Town of Greenfield. 

Nothing in this Native American Burial Ground Ordinance shall be deemed as acquiring any interest in land, or as imposing any land use regulation which is properly the subject of State or Federal law, nor is it intended by the creation and implementation of this Ordinance to supersede, modify, alter, change, or enlarge any existing Greenfield Town Ordinance, Zoning Bylaw, or State or Federal law related to Native American Burial Grounds. 


Monday, May 5, 2014

• • • • • • • • • • •Join Nolumbeka Project on Sunday, May 18 • • • • • • • • • • •

Annual Commemoration 
of the 
Infamous Great Falls Massacre of May 19, 1676
 Sunday, May 18, 
This year's program will include a ceremony, video presentation, and
conversation. Soups and other refreshments will be on sale. 

Following the event there will be a walking tour
  of the Wissatinnewag property in Greenfield. 
 Please dress appropriately. 
For more information  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Walking in Balance: Native Reflections on the Climate Crisis"

David Brule,
Strong Oak and David Brule, Board member of the Nolumbeka Project, will narrate stories and visions of walking in balance with Nature that are all but lost in our money-driven society.

Wendell Free Library
Friday, April 18 7 PM
7 Wendell Depot Road,
Wendell, MA 01379

Annual Pow-Wow at UMass-Amherst

Monday, April 14, 2014

Join Us Tonight in Greenfield to Protect Native American Burials

Burial Ordinance Still Being Blocked in Greenfield

Join us tonight, Monday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m., as the Greenfield Appointments and Ordinance Committee meets at 114 Main St. in the Planning Department office. They will be voting on a number of new ordinances that have come before them.   

However, we have no guarantee that they will be voting again on Howard Clark's Burial Ordinance proposal which was introduced almost a year ago.

The committee had already passed the draft ordinance once and recommended it's passage by the full Town Council.  It was then sidetracked into unproductive meetings without ever coming to up for a Council vote! 

This is the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Civil Right Bill. It should  have given equal rights to all ethnic groups -- including the basic right of sanctity of human burials.  There is no accounting for the attitudes of racism that still exist in so many subtle ways in society today. 

The Nolumbeka Project wants to challenge the Ordinance Committee to move on a vote of the original draft.  Please come and support us at this meeting.    There is power in the presence of numbers of us joining together to demand Protection for the Ancestors at White Ash Swamp and other Native American burials in Greenfield.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spirited "Conversations for Racial Justice" Event Draws Nearly 100

Photo Courtesy Sharin Alpert, Mass Slavery Apology
A spirited gathering of nearly one hundred people gathered at the First Congregational Church to hear Nolumbeka Project President Joe Graveline's presentation of "Franklin County's First Peoples: History, Heritage and Current Events" on Saturday, April 5.

The talk and discussion was the April event in the monthly series "Conversations for Racial Justice" sponsored by Mass Slavery Apology. Reflecting the title of the series, the meeting became highly interactive as members of the audience challenged everyone present to take a deeper look at the material presented, to appreciate more fully the deeply emotional nature of some of the events described, and to carefully examine the language we use for examples of unconscious racial and gender bias.

Photo Courtesy Sharin Alpert, Mass Slavery Apology
There is no doubt that any honest account of the history and current reality of this region's First People is deeply disturbing.  The pervasive cultural bias that propelled a pattern of genocide echoes to this day.  Joe's presentation drew the line from the Great Falls Massacre, though Vermont's sterilizaton laws, through his own childhood account of the racism that his family encountered bccause of the color of his mother's skin, to the events today that threaten to once again descecrate the Native American remains at Greenfield's White Ash Swamp and other Sacred Native American sites.

As the formal presentation ended, the conversations continued in small groups in the church's parish hall.  As Joe has often said,  "We need to have these conversations."

As the Spring unfolds there will be time for action as well.  Want to help?  Please Contact Us!

For more information on Mass Slavery Apology



You can also like their Facebook Page

Monday, March 17, 2014

• Joe Graveline Speaks At Next "Conversations For Racial Justice" Event •

Conversations For Racial Justice

Franklin County’s First Peoples:
History, Heritage, & Current Events

Saturday, April 5, 2014
10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Doors open at 9:30
First Congregational Church
43 Silver Street, Greenfield MA 01301

“If we deny a people's history, we deny that people's existence.
If the voices of our ancestors are silenced, our history is silenced.”
The first peoples of our area left a 12,000-year legacy of living, loving, laughing, and dying. That legacy has been – and is still being – wiped out and denied, actively and passively. We will examine how inequities in cultural preservation have created social and economic injustice here in the valley and beyond.
Of Cherokee and Abenaki decent, presenter Joe Graveline has been working on Native American/Indian issues for over twenty years. President and Co-founder of the Nolumbeka Project, Joe specializes in bringing to light the unrepresented Indian side of New England history. He is active on environmental and social issues on a local, regional and national level.  Learn more at

- FREE -
Light snacks provided
Childcare available by RSVP ~ Let us know number & ages of children in advance
Donations Welcome
BRING your courage, your inquiring mind, & your compassion.
For more information or to reserve childcare: or 413-625-2951
FREE PARKING behind church.
Wheelchair accessible.
Please, no fragranced products.


This program is supported in part by grants from the Ashfield, Bernardston, Buckland, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Montague, New Salem, Orange, and Shelburne Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Nolumbeka Project President Joe Graveline Appears on "The Song"

Nolumbeka Project President and Singer-Songwriter Joe Graveline shares soulful songs and stories of Life and Spirit on FCAT's "The Song" on February 25.  Having met the show's host Mary Whelan at the Nolumbeka Project's Beaver Moon Gathering, Joe discusses this November gathering and the work of the Nolumbeka Project, shares some stories about his life on the road as a musician, and sings several of his superbly crafted original songs in this 30 minute program.  

Enjoy the show and please pass it along to your friends.  Help us get the word out.  There is a lot to do!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Brule Counters Mistaken Claims Regarding Ceremonial Hill

West Along the River
 by David Brule                                    
  27 February, 2014
  Reprinted with permission from the Montague Reporter

Uprising at Peskeompskut

   Great Falls.  There are stirrings out there, out beyond our living rooms and comfortable chairs, on the other side of our storm windows where spring awaits in frigid air.  Out on the river, frozen on-again off-again in deep winter, is free of ice this week. From the French King down to the Wequamps Sugar-loaf in South Deerfield, there are stirrings.

  Not just the stirrings of wintering-over diving ducks, the mergansers, who are courting, displaying, and mating in the dusk hours, not just the primal reawakening of lethargic prehistoric sturgeon in the depths of the Connecticut River.
   No. There are stirrings going on in another dimension, in a place few of the contemporary inhabitants of our river villages ever give a second thought.
   Some of us however, are witness to the stirrings of the ancient peoples, long silent, who inhabited our river shores and woodlands, fields, pine barren plains, even our backyards for 10,000 years.
   If you consider entering that parallel dimension, if you look for the clues that show you how, you will see a valley full of people, many thousands strong, living, working and dying on this landscape that is so familiar to us. You will see wigwams and wetus, homefires and lodges, men and women loving and raising children, living out their lives. You will see a place, foreign to many now, where all objects have lives and meaning, where nothing is inanimate, where all human beings , animals and objects are interconnected in the past, present, and future simultaneously, where prayers are embedded in stones.
   You will see that. Or maybe you won’t.

   Those spirits are stirring, are demanding attention, demanding to be recognized, to be validated.

   Some of us hear this message, others are in deep denial.
   Those of us who do hear, are doing something about it.  We are keeping our minds open. We are joining the ancient ones, ancestors for some of us, in demanding respect, recognition, and acceptance for our role here, and for the ancient places in this landscape.
   There is a growing coalition in this Valley seeking to rediscover and restore the balance to this river that drew us here.  Some of us are renewing our connection with this ancient landscape, and our numbers are growing.
   The Nolumbeka Project volunteers are restoring trails and replanting gardens on the mist-shining hill of Wissatinnewag, that some know as Canada Hill and Mackin’s Ridge. They are fighting a dysfunctional city government in Greenfield, trying to protect the final resting places of indigenous peoples, fighting to accord them the same respect as any other Christian or Jewish cemetery.
   Investigative journalists like Gary Sanderson, and local historians like Bud Driver are fighting bureaucracies and vested interests to help us better understand and protect our public heritage.  Karl Meyer is keeping watch over the migrating multitudes of shad and  other fish species, who are finding themselves decimated by the power canals and selfish policies of the hydroelectric companies.
   Joe Graveline and Howard Clark patiently persevere in efforts to convince the hydroelectric giants to respect and protect Native American vestiges and sacred sites in the re-licensing process for the dams built up and down the river.
   People of good will up and down the Valley from Sugarloaf to Northfield are fighting the good fight, demanding respect for sites populated by thousands of people over 10,000 years before Europeans settled here.
   We have had to fight our own State of Massachusetts Historical Commission for information about our own history!  We have had to fight our own Town of Montague Selectboard chairman for a simple vote to support a grant project application to investigate and gather data about the Peskeompskut massacre of 1676, the fight that gave the village of Turners Falls its name!

   Even in these pages, just a week ago, another writer tried to revive an argument over the now-accepted Ceremonial Hill on the edge of the Montague Plains.  Jeff Singleton felt he had to be the apologist for Chairman Mark Fairbrother who is still carrying around anger over the decision to list the Ceremonial Hill as eligible for the National Registry of Historic Places.

   It seems that Singleton and Fairbrother continue be upset over that 2008 decision.  Singleton writes that  “Native American activists blocked the runway extension.”  First of all, these were not “Native American activists” which seems to suggest some starry-eyed do-gooders from the fringe, but in fact the Tribal people who intervened were Tribal Historic Preservation Officers of the Wampanoag of Gay Head(Aquinnah) and the Narragansett Indian Tribe who have federal status and are required by statute and tribal imperatives to oversee and protect ceremonial sites.  The tribes really could care less about whether or not there was a runway extension, in fact they are supportive of current plans for just such a project.  However,they did not want the Ceremonial Hill to be bulldozed, removed, and used for fill under the runway extension.  Fill could be brought in from elsewhere and the extension would have been built. The Tribes had no issue with that.
   Singleton goes on to lament the lack of hard scientific archeological evidence, which if cited would appease his sense of outrage over the NPS report.  He mocks Native American and White oral tradition as vague and based on second-hand hearsay.  He falls into the Eurocentric trap of Western thinking that science and only science equals knowledge, that hard, scientific evidence is the only valid source of knowledge.
   I would suggest that Mssrs. Singleton and Fairbrother procure a copy of “Indigenous Archeologies”, published in 2010, sponsored by the World Archeological Congress and edited by Leverett resident H. Martin Wobst, in collaboration with Margaret Bruchac and Siobhan Hart.
  This would provide Jeff Singleton with clues to new and evolving concepts in the field of archeology, where Indigenous ways of knowing can reveal new holistic knowledge to the purveyors of Western reductionism such as our Mr. Singleton who accepts only “hard, scientific evidence”.
   The NPS report he cites was published in 2008, more than five years ago.  All parties involved on both sides of the argument, including the FAA, have accepted the findings of the NPS report as a fact of life, and have moved on.  I suggest that our friends Singleton and Fairbrother get over it, move on, and get on the right side of history.

David Brule
A Member of the Nolumbeka Project Board of Directors, David Brule writes a bi-monthly column "West Along the River" for the Montague Reporter and has published two volumes of collected stories by the same name.  A teacher, writer, linguist, time traveler and fiddler,  David currently lives in his great-grandfather's house in the Miller River Valley, not far from his childhood home above the narrows of the Connecticut River at the place called Peskeompskut by the Native American's who lived there for 12,000 years.

As the coordinator of the historic Town of Montague Battlefield Grant Application to the National Park Service he has collaborated with the leadership of six tribal groups;  The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), Wampanoag Tribe of Mashpee, Nipmuck Tribe of Massachusetts, Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, Narragansett Indian Tribe, Mohegan Tribe; as well as regional museums, historic commissions and libraries.  If the grant is funded it will include an unprecedented Native American account of the events surrounding the 1676 massacre of 300 Native American non-combatants at the Great Falls.

For more on David and his writings:  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 15 Gathering a Snowy Success

We wish to thank all those who braved yet another winter snowfall to join Nolumbeka Project on Saturday, February 15, for the viewing of the documentary "Great Falls: Discovery, Destruction and Preservation in a Massachusetts Town" at the Great Falls Discovery Center, Turners Falls, MA.

Some of the 50 folks who braved the snow February 15
After opening words by Nolumbeka Project President Joe Graveline and a song by activist Lance Smith highlighting our efforts to protect the Ancestors at White Ash Swamp in Greenfield,  about 50 folks watched the film which chronicles the events surrounding the discovery of a sacred ceremonial site in Turner's Falls and draws on the efforts of Byron Dix and other researchers to present the case for the existence of the vast ceremonial landscape created by Native Americans throughout New England before the arrival of the European colonists.  

Photo by Anne Wellington
Afterwards a lively discussion took place and folks enjoyed Howard Clark's Native Garden Display and refreshments. We are grateful to Anne Wellington for this photo of elements of Howard's display. 

The unique corn displayed across the bottom of the photo is an ancient strain of pod corn. With everyone's help this spring, we plan to plant more of this rare seed, a traditional three sisters garden,  and a cornplanter tobacco garden.

Contact us at if you are interested in participating in our gardening efforts.

Help Wanted
We really need someone to serve as treasurer for the Nolumbeka Project and someone to help file the non-profit tax form. If you are able to assist, please contact us at We will be very grateful.