Hilltown Voices: Narragansett speaker offers talk on ceremonial stone features of New England
For the Gazette
GOSHEN — Native American stone structures exist throughout the New England landscape, historic reminders of cultures and civilizations that thrived here long before the European invasion of North America.
These historically and culturally significant features or “living prayers of stone,” frequently go unnoticed and unrecognized, leaving them unprotected and vulnerable to destruction.
Deputy Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Doug Harris, whose work was a key factor in listing “Prayer Hill” in Turners Falls with the National Register of Historic Places in 2008, will offer a presentation on Ceremonial Stone Landscapes on Saturday, April 28, at the Goshen Town Hall.
As the tribe’s historic preservation officer, Harris has also voiced opposition to a treatment plan laid out by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company LLC, in the construction of the Connecticut Expansion Project, that reportedly calls for the destruction and reconstruction of one-third of the seventy-three ceremonial stone landscapes.
“The traditional belief is that these stone structures were placed to create and restore harmony between human beings and Mother Earth,” Harris said. “The prayers they embody continue to live as long as the stone landscapes are kept intact.”
Indigenous Voices of the Berkshires invited Harris to share his knowledge with the community as part of an ongoing series of annual speaking engagements featuring a different Native presenter each spring.
Jennifer Lee and Kate Halbrecht formed Indigenous Voices in Plainfield five years ago, to give Native people a platform in the Hilltowns to share their knowledge, talents, history, cultures and personal experiences.
The group’s first speaker was David Tall Pine White, a spiritual leader and community activist of the Nipmuc Tribe who works towards the preservation and sustainability of Nipmuc language and culture.
They have also featured Bonnie Hartley, a tribal historical preservationist for the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans; Larry Spotted Crow Mann, an award winning author, poet, Native American cultural educator, storyteller and tribal drummer/dancer; and Willow Green, an Abenaki elder and award winning storyteller.
“It is a great honor to do this work,” Lee said.
Harris’s presentation will take place at the Cummington Community House from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This event is supported by state and local cultural council grants. It is free, wheel-chair accessible and open to the public.
For more information, contact Jennifer Lee at 634-2254.