An exciting new Chautauqua project standing in solidarity with Native Nations - June 9-25
Chautauqua's "Hands Across the Border Project", scheduled for June 9th -25th, continues to emerge as an exciting experiment in collaboration with fellow Chautauquans and the Blackfoot Confederacy---the Blackfeet Nation in Browning, Montana and the Piikani Nation in Brocket, Alberta, Canada.
After a visit to Browning and Brocket on behalf of the Hands Across the Border Project in the throes of winter, Paul Magid was invited to appear before the tribal councils of both nations. We were deeply honored that, with encouragement from trusted tribal members, Chief Stanley C. Grier (Chief of the Piikani Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy) chose to travel from Brocket to Port Townsend, WA with Barney Provost (Tribal Councilor in Brocket) joining Tyson Running Wolf (Secretary of the Tribal Council in Browning), his wife Lona Running Wolf (an educator with the Browning School District who is also very involved within community committees), Allen Racine (uncle to Erin McNamara and long time friend of Chautauqua), and other Chautauquans for the first of two face to face weekend planning meetings hosted at Pond Road.
Our guests were presented with gifts prepared in gratitude for the honor of their visit - including yew walking sticks fashioned by Doug Carnes, a baby quilt offered to each community and its future generations by Joanne Murayama, Chautauqua baseball caps, and a small box of Pacific Northwest treasures gathered from nearby woods and beaches. Each person was able to introduce themselves and share a little about what brought them to our gathering. Much of our time was devoted to listening - simply meeting and learning about each other and the issues facing us all - sharing meals, jokes, songs, stories, touring Port Townsend on the Bluebird, the beloved Chautauqua bus, exchanging ideas, histories, joys, struggles, and dreaming into possibilities. Throughout the day, we explored how we can be partners in confronting issues of sovereignty, tribal self-determination, education, growth, healing and in creating positive ways forward into the future. Without a narrowly defined agenda, conversation flowed easily and naturally, and all present felt honored, inspired and grateful for what felt like quite a miracle. Bouyed by the visit and the work that preceded it, Chief Grier, Barney Provost, Tyson Running Wolf, and Lona Running Wolf asked Paul to return to their communities for formal meetings and dialogue with the Tribal Councils there.
As the project continues to emerge with other potential collaborators as well, we trust that its shape and objectives will develop an appropriate form and perhaps become more clearly defined.
For now, our intention is to meet, listen, learn, and co-create - to mix warmth, humor, and fun with information and reflection --the notion that human interaction and laughter open hearts and minds.
Having met with Tribal members of both the Piikani and Blackfoot Nations, we look forward to nurturing and nourishing deep and lasting relationships on both sides of the border and to exploring the many ways we can come to learn about who we are and what we do.
For more information about the project or to contribute to our effort please visit www.gofundme.com/handsacrosstheborder and chautauqua.org/hands-across-the-border/ for the full schedule.