“Our future is only as strong as the foundation it’s built upon”
Colonial Day Revolution
Here in our New England region, it's common to find most historic events highlighting the colonial era. Novel tales of heroics & patriotism by the likes of George Washington, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin & many more are always abundant. Outside of the Thanksgiving season, very little awareness or celebrations take place commemorating the many historic events & contributions made by the indigenous people of the region. True Patriots. The hosts with the most. Those who were the first to greet have become the first to be forgotten in a barrage of colonial events.
The kind folks at Stratton Elementary School in Arlington MA wanted to change their approach to Colonial Day. Colonial Day has taken place for approximately 15 years. Following parent controversy, with the manner in which the school focuses on such a poignant part of American history, many parents felt the school(s) were not touching on the impacts that colonization has had over the centuries. This year, for the first time, the Arlington school district thoughtfully included a visit from First Light Fun to highlight the many tribal teachings that can still be gained from the colonial era. Students were rewarded with lessons of how the environment can still sustain so many individuals while gaining a new relationship with all that surrounds and supports us. It was impressive to hear a student revert back to the concept of how most natural creations are round. Having moved on to other subject matter, the student kindly raised his hand while he shared his revelation..."Excuse me, I know you mentioned this awhile ago but, I just can't stop realizing how you're right...Everything natural appears to be round." As he gazed out the window, now intrigued by nature. Despite all colonization has caused to dramatically transform our local landscape, a mere look outdoors still reminded him of all that has become eclipsed by colonial architecture, infrastructure & European values.
As usual, time is our greatest adversary. Within the day however, we were able to visit 3 separate classrooms (the entire 3rd grade), all of which combined for a song/dance celebration at the end of the day. Following up with teachers before our departure, seeds have been planted to not only continue this now annual tradition, helpful tips to approach their teaching about the local indigenous were also made readily available. Whenever discussing colonial times, it's always good to include the Watertown Treaty 7/19/1776: when the Mi'Kmaq, Maliseet, Penobscot & Passamaquoddy supplied more than 600 warriors to help defeat British forces in the 13 colonies war for independence. The first time a treaty between the U.S. & any other sovereign nation was ever declared, merely 15 days after the Declaration of Independence itself was signed. Let us not overlook the name "Ahtuk" which is our word for "Deer" in Wampanoag. Sound familiar? It should, Crispus Attucks, another notable member of our Wampanoag nation making a notable contribution and sacrifice for this country. Let's not forget stories such as Simeon Simonds, a Pequot recruited by none other than George Washington himself to become his most trusted bodyguard. Simeon Simonds, who appears in the now famous 1851 oil painting by Emanuel Leutz of Washington crossing the Delaware River in 1776, is in fact a personal relative to my family. Proud lineage throughout our history.
So please be kind enough to include the indigenous contributions to the colonial period whenever approaching the task of teaching about such revolutionary times. Revolutions are yet another example of things that occur naturally in a round fashion. Which should always remind us to think outside the box.