Indigenous People Celebration Committee
- Raquel Halsey (Chair)
- Cornelia van der Ziel (Secretary)
- Arthur Conquest
- Maya Norton
- Larry Onie
- Felina Silver Robinson
As we gather today as Town Meeting Members, let us take a moment to acknowledge the history of this land we call Brookline.
This is the unceded land of the Massachusett people, whose traditions, language and stewardship continue today through their lineal descendants, the Massachusett Tribe of Ponkapoag. Today, we are living on land that was taken by force. By 1641, the colonists in “Brookline” had allocated to themselves almost all land that had been inhabited by Indigenous people.
Land was not the only form of theft that occurred. Lives were also stolen. Historical records state that in 1675, during King Philip’s War, seven Indigenous men were sold into slavery in the Caribbean by residents of the area that we now call Brookline. The seven men represent part of the early slave trade.
Slavery in Brookline continued and grew but soon those enslaved were African or of African descent. By 1746, enslavers claimed ownership of over half of all Brookline land.
We acknowledge the theft of land, culture, and lives and the ensuing enslavement of Indigenous and African peoples that occurred here. These early policies set the stage for centuries of systemic racism.
As we remember these atrocities, Town Meeting Members and the larger Town must commit ourselves to address the ongoing inequities that are the result of our history of colonialism and racism. Although we as individuals were not perpetrators of these atrocities, we benefit from these systems. Thus, we dedicate ourselves to addressing them today.
Warrant Article 20 of the November 2017 Special Town Meeting was a resolution urging the Select Board to establish Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October and to appoint an Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration Committee to develop and implement the Town's commemoration of indigenous Peoples Day.
To implement the purposes of Warrant Article 20:
1. The Select Board hereby proclaims that Indigenous Peoples Day shall be celebrated in Brookline on the second Monday of October.
2. The Select Board encourages the citizens of Brookline to use Indigenous Peoples Day to commemorate and celebrate indigenous peoples in Massachusetts and the Americas and to study and become educated on the culture, history, and diversity of indigenous peoples in Massachusetts and the Americas.
3. The Select Board hereby establishes an Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration Committee to develop and implement the commemoration of Indigenous Peoples Day as follows:
a. The Committee shall be comprised of 5 residents of Brookline appointed by the Select Board. The Select Board may appoint additional resident voting members to the Committee upon the request of the Committee. A majority of the appointed members shall be a quorum for the conduct of business.
b. The Committee is urged to invite other Town residents, schools, non-profit organizations, civic organizations, and businesses to participate as non-voting members in the programming of the Committee.
c. The Committee shall collaborate with the Commission on Diversity Inclusion and Community Relations to develop programming that expresses the Town's values of diversity, inclusion, and positive community relations among all peoples.
d. The Committee shall provide ideas and assistance to the Public Schools of Brookline to develop appropriate commemorations of Indigenous Peoples Day and instruction in the schools on the culture, history, and diversity of indigenous peoples.
e. The Committee may invite non-voting participation by non-resident New England based indigenous people and local or national organizations of indigenous peoples to assist in developing the programming of the Committee.
f. The Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Relations may assist the Committee in identifying and applying for funding and resources necessary for the Committee's work.
g. The Committee's focus shall be on the culture, history and diversity of indigenous peoples, including the adversities suffered by indigenous peoples as a result of European conquest of the Americas, but in a manner that prioritizes education and reconciliation and appropriate advocacy in line with the Town's values of diversity, inclusion, and positive community relations among all peoples.
Agendas are available prior to the meetings. Minutes are available following approval.
View All Agendas and Minutes