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The Gatherings

I haven’t even read this book yet and I love it.

I think this book is about bridging divides; about understanding each other. “The Gatherings provided an opportunity to learn “from” rather than learn “about” Indigenous experiences and perspectives, a subtle but powerful distinction that disrupts the colonial legacy of objectifying Indigenous peoples.” That’s from the Afterward by Frances Hancock.

This is what we tried to do at Make Shift Coffee Houses; places where liberals and conservatives came together to learn “from” each other rather than “about” each other. And it disrupted the labels they otherwise put on each other.

Here’s from the jacket flap: In a world that requires knowledge and wisdom to address developing crises around us, The Gatherings shows how Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples can come together to create meaningful and lasting relationships.

Thirty years ago, in Wabanaki territory – a region encompassing the state of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes – a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals came together to explore some of the most pressing questions at the heart of Truth and Healing efforts in the United States and Canada. Meeting over several years in long-weekend gatherings, in a Wabanaki-led traditional Council format, assumptions were challenged, perspectives upended, and stereotypes shattered. Alliances and friendships were formed that endure to this day.

The Gatherings tells the moving story of these meetings in the words of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants. Reuniting to reflect on how their lives were changed by their experiences and how they continue to be impacted by them, the participants share the valuable lessons they learned.

The many voices represented in The Gatherings offer insights and strategies that can inform change at the individual, group, and systems levels. These voices affirm that authentic relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples – with their attendant anxieties, guilt, anger, embarrassments, and, with time, even laughter and mutual affection – are key to our shared futures here in North America. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we come together to reimagine.

The book is authored by Shirley N. Hager and Mawopiyane. Shirley Hager is a retired from University of Maine Cooperative Extension and is a Maine Quaker active in Tribal-State relations. Mawopiyane, in Passamaquoddy, literally means “let us sit together,” but the deeper meaning is a group of people coming together, as in a longhouse, to struggle with a sensitive or divisive issue…..  Mawopiyane is a word that is recognizable in all Wabanaki languages, and it reflects the collaborative nature of our efforts [from the book].

Here are the names of the contributors: Gwen Bear, The Reverend Shirley Bowen, Alma H. Brooks/Zapawey-kwey, gkisedtanamoogk, JoAnn Hughes, Debbie Leighton, Barb Martin, Miigam’agan, T. Dana Mitchell, Wayne A. Newell, Betty Peterson, Marilyn Keyes Roper, Wesley Rothermel.

You can get the book through your local book store. They are in stock at Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick. Or you can order online direct from the publisher.

Thank you Shirley and Mawopiyane for writing such an inspiring book.

4 thoughts on “The Gatherings

  1. Hello all…thank you so much for broaching this subject. It is a topic that (t)ouches me deeply.
    Canada has given what was The Northwest Territories back to the Native Americans outright …it is now called Nunivit..and has also worked with Native American councils to institute Native American law courts within communities (except, I believer for murder). This is not a perfect system and we have far to go…I think the GATHERING is much needed and I will certainly get the book.

    Stephanier Rayner

  2. This sounds like a great book. I was struck by an antique painting I saw in a museum showing settlers and natives of the local tribes eating and sharing together. It commemorated the 100th anniversary of treaties with the Lenape natives in “Pennsylvania” with Gov. William Penn, a devout Christian who kept the peace in his area beyond his own brief lifetime by creating friendship and cooperation that lasted well beyond his lifetime.

  3. Craig: Your readers may be interested to know that Shirley and others have been meeting over Zoom with legislative and tribal leaders as we present the book as a resource to them in pursuing trusting relationships and policymaking that respects and recognizes Wabanaki sovereignty. The book offers insights just as your wonderful short bike ride conversation from Hawai’i did. Thanks!

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