Reconciliation Ceremony 2004

Reconciliation Ceremony
Turners Falls, MA
May 19, 2004
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” 
————From the Reconciliation Document 


Narragansett Medicine Man Lloyd “Running Wolf” Wilcox with Montague Town Administrator Frank Abbondonzio, Reconcilation Ceremony, 2004 (photo courtesy of Dan Brown)

 

Seeking to “begin to put the traumatic echoes of the past to rest,  a Reconciliation Ceremony was held in Turners Falls, MA on May 19, 2004, the 328th Anniversary of the infamous Great Falls (Peskeompskut) Massacre led by Captain William Turner.   In the village named after the leader of this tragic raid in which three hundred Native non-combatants were slain,  Montague Town Administrator Frank Abbondonzio and members of Turners Falls Town Select Board were among those who believed the town was under a curse.  They reached out to initiate a ceremony to heal the wounds of the past.

Reonciliation Ceremony 2004 (photo courtesy of Dan Brown)

Abbondonzio asked Nolumbeka Project founders Howard Clark and Joe Graveline, who were members of the now defunct Friends of Wissatinnewag BOD at that time, to make the initial contact with tribal leaders.  The two of them then served as liaisons with members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe Historic Preservation Office (NITHPO). 

In a letter to medicine man Lloyd “Running Wolf” Wilcox, Abbondanzio wrote, “…(we) would like to sponsor a Native American Ceremony that would help our respective communities achieve a sense of healing for the tragic events that occurred at the Great Falls in 1676.”

 

A.H. “Laughing Water” Wilcox and Ceremonial Fire  (photo courtesy Dan Brown)

The event took place across the Connecticut River from the massacre site at Riverfront Park in Turners Falls, just above the hydroelectric dam which was once the site of the majestic fifty foot high Great Falls. 

Lloyd “Running Wolf” Wilcox, the chief medicine man of the Narragansetts, officiated at the ritual, which included an ancient pipe ceremony and a ceremonial fire of birch bark and cedar bows. Anemone Mars, granddaughter of the tribe’s medicine woman, Ella Sekatau, was chosen to give the invocation, first in the Narragansett language, then in English. (full text). Following the ritual, gifts were presented to the Narragansetts, including tobacco grown in the Wissatinnewag garden.

“We are searching for the word
Lost in the swirling tumbling Falls.  
 
We are searching for the gestures
To heal and reconcile us all.
 
Part prayer, part longing for grief
To cease. Part recognition of our shared
Estate. The word repeated paves the way
Til word become road
And we go in peace.”
 
from
Reconciliation Elegy
For the Narragansett People and the People of Montague
May 19, 2004
by Select Board Member Patricia Pruitt 

 

 

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