On November 21st, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, ShoreRivers, and environmentalists alike gathered together for an “Interfaith” celebration of the final days of Native American Heritage Month. Together, we remind ourselves that the teachings of our ancestors and indigenous communities should not be confined to a single month. Together, we remind ourselves of the importance, and of our commitments, toward each other.
Our celebration began with the voluminous ringing of church bells as we welcomed nearly 100 individuals into the Saint Paul’s Parish hall for opening remarks from Principal Chief. Dennis ‘White Otter’ Coker of the Lenape Tribe of Delaware.
Introduced by Rev. Mary of St. Paul’s Parish, Chief White Otter regaled the audience with stories of his tribes history; both pre and post colonialism. His stories painted a picture of his people’s intimate understanding of the landscape where they have lived for thousands of years. It painted a picture of post-colonial oppression, and of a world where many of the tribe's most important understandings were lost. While filled with sad truths, we recognized together the importance of acknowledging the misdeeds of the past so that we can make amends into the future. Together we are stronger.
Chief White Otter’s words were not without “hope”. We have a great deal of work ahead of us, but together we can re-learn what it means to be a steward and a piece of this amazing place we call home. In his concluding remarks, Chief White Otter reminds us all that “we cannot talk about our Indigenous Communities without talking about the Environment.”
Watch Principal Chief. Dennis ‘White Otter’ Coker’s opening remarks HERE!
After opening remarks, our attendees were invited outdoors to meet some of the environmental organizations working hard to foster stewardship and improve our local waterways here on the Eastern Shore. In total, representatives from 10 environmental organizations joined us for the program.
Fun was found for every age at EcoFest! Interesting Natural history specimens, arts-and-crafts, critter bingo, a bake sale, live music, and more were all to be found at our afternoon program. Together with our partners, more than 100 individuals were given information about how they could get involved, and how they could make a difference for their communities and the Chesapeake Bay.
Our event concluded with a multi-faith reflection surrounding the St. Paul’s Parish rain garden. Each year the rain garden at St. Paul’s treats several thousand gallons of “stormwater”, helping prevent excess nutrients and sediments from washing into the Corsica River, and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. RuthAnn Purchase, an affiliate of the Lenape Tribe of Delaware, helped us close our event with a spoken verse from the Bibles ‘Book of Job’, and a song about water sung in the native dialect of the Lenape people.
Our event and the rain garden installation at St. Paul’s Parish was made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, awarded to ShoreRivers and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake to help promote environmental stewardship in faith-based congregations across the upper Eastern Shore.
If you are interested in learning more about our work please reach out to Taylor Swanson at [email protected]!
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