Join our EcoJustice Radio guest, Jennifer Lee, Northern Naragansett Grandmother, bark basket maker, and culture bearer, Board Member of the Nolumbeka Project, as she provides histories, insights and perspectives of Indigenous People of the Northeast.
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Nolumbeka Project: History and Culture of the Northeast Woodlands Indigenous Peoples
Native people inhabited the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts for more than 10,000 years. It is the homeland of many First People, all related to one another. They are called the Sokoki, Pocumtuck, Nonotuck, Woronoco, and Agawam.
Many other tribes visited and still visit this Native homeland. Among them are the Abenaki, Nipmuck, Wampanoag, Narragansett, Mohegan, Pequot, Mohican, and Mohawk. These tribes are recognized today by states or the federal government as sovereign nations.
“There was a very sophisticated culture here. In the 1700s, there were many Native people who could speak English, French, their Native language, and surrounding Native languages.”
— Jennifer Lee (Northern Narragansett)
Historically, tribes gathered in this valley to trade, to fish, to plant, to participate in sacred ceremonies. The sad fact remains that during the wars waged in the colonial period, the Native people were driven from this valley. They blended into the Abenaki, Nipmuck, and Mohican tribes across the Northeast. Often, they integrated into the settler communities. Some were herbal doctors, basket makers, and carvers. They dressed like their European descendant neighbors, but kept the fire of their culture alive.
Our guest on this show is Jennifer Lee, Northern Narragansett Educator and Board member of the Nolumbeka Project, an organization dedicated to honoring the Northeastern Tribal Heritage of the Connecticut River Valley. The word Nolumbeka is Abenaki for “the calm waters between the rapids.”
Jennifer Lee, Grandmother, bark basket maker, and culture bearer, provides histories, insights and perspectives of Native Peoples of the Northeast. Jennifer grew up without knowledge of her Native ancestry which compelled her to seek out the true history and culture of the Northeast Woodlands Indigenous Peoples as an independent researcher. For roughly 30 years, she has held classes in her Eastern Conical Wigwam to tell the stories of Northeastern Native Peoples and share her cultural knowledge. She is co-producer with the Nolumbeka Project of the 10-part film series “Indigenous Voices.” She has been a bark basket maker for 40 years.
Carry Kim, Co-Host of EcoJustice Radio. An advocate for ecosystem restoration, indigenous lifeways, and a new humanity born of connection and compassion, she is a long-time volunteer for SoCal350, member of Ecosystem Restoration Camps, and a co-founder of the Soil Sponge Collective, a grassroots community organization dedicated to big and small scale regeneration of Mother Earth.
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Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Hosted by Carry Kim
Intro By: Jessica Aldridge
Engineer and Original Music: Blake Quake Beats
Jennifer presents an historical overview about Indigenous life in the Connecticut River Valley before the European settlers arrived. She also contrasts differing world views between the Indigenous and European cultures. Her talk is visually illustrated with historical paintings and drawings depicting Indigenous life in the 1600s and 1700s.
Photo credit: Jennifer Lee
Published on 21 November 2022, Updated 24 November 2023