A Sense of Place: Embracing Native American Peoples | Peace Through Action USA

A Sense of Place: Embracing Native American Peoples | Thursday, November 16, 2023

Event Description 

A Sense of Place: Embracing Native American Peoples commemorated Native American Heritage Month with a virtual event to sharpen public knowledge of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe and to increase public understanding of both the historical legacies and contemporary experiences of Native American peoples. In this interactive community discussion, participants explored a range of topics related to Native Americans, with an emphasis on social awareness and cultural understanding. In order to contextualize our present day in the continuum of American colonial history, Kyle Swann, Beaver Clan of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, shared information about the Piscataway Nation, who steward the land of the Chesapeake region. Participants cultivated and nourished their relationships with Native Americans through a focus on community empowerment, cultural appreciation, social cohesion, and an exploration of ongoing efforts to advance the rights of indigenous peoples.

Presenter Biographies

Kyle Swann, Beaver Clan of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, was born and raised n Southern Maryland. As the son of Chief Jesse Swann, Jr., Kyle is a leading advocate for the Piscataway people. He’s mentor to the tribal youth in the Piscataway Conoy community and does such work for the tribe as restoring their rights, obtaining historical documents, providing representation and education, working vaccine clinics, securing land for a cultural museum, and reestablishing cultural identity lost in assimilation into colonial society.

Scott Strickland, of Saint Inigoes, Maryland, is the Deputy Director of the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab at the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. Prior to his current role, he worked as an adjunct instructor of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He specializes in colonial records research and studying the history of Anglo-Native interaction in 17th century Chesapeake.

Chris Walonski, of Saint Petersburg, Florida, is the director of programs and partnerships development and delivery with Peace Through Action USA. Chris is responsible for designing instruction in civic engagement and social engagement concepts and practices; writing and editing educational and promotional materials; planning and delivering educational activities; implementing performance management procedures; and engaging with organizations and networks aligned with Peace Through Action’s mission. Chris’s programmatic work has engaged a broad range of community intervention strategies and performance-based teaching methods. Prior to joining Peace Through Action USA, Chris served as a program researcher and professor of public speaking at East Tennessee State University. In this capacity, Chris married his passion for project development with the power of personal narrative to help produce a campus-wide sexual consent training program. Chris’ love for crafting educational experiences has taken him from public schools in Thailand to the Amazon rainforest of Peru. Upon returning to the United States as a program manager for the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Chris designed and delivered a bilingual training program that incorporated an array of community partnerships serving multicultural and multilingual youth. Chris has served as an AmeriCorps member through Teach For America’s Colorado Corps. Chris holds a Master of Arts in communication and storytelling studies from East Tennessee State University. As an avid learner, Chris has completed training in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and holds a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) certification from Cambridge University. Chris is a grateful recipient of the Hemera Foundation’s Fellowship for Contemplative Education and is an eager student of Buddhist meditation. In his personal time, Chris has toured the U.S. as a spoken word artist and National Poetry Slam champion.

Learning Resources 

  • Event Information Sheet
  • Event Presentation
  • Event Recording
  • Read about the LANDBACK movement for Indigenous sovereignty and watch the film.
  • Watch “Standing Rock: The Power of Telling Our Own Story” by Josue Rivas at TEDxRapidCity (11:40).
  • Watch “Running for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women” by Rosalie Fish at TEDxYouth@Seattle (11:55).
  • Watch “The power of sharing history through storytelling” by Dan Nanamkin at TEDxSpokane (16:34).
  • Watch “Native Americans: We Shall Remain” by LoVina Louie at TEDxCoerudalene (18:27).
  • Read “Rethinking Thanksgiving Celebrations: Native Perspectives on Thanksgiving” with resources for educators.
  • Read “The History of Thanksgiving from the Native American Perspective”.
  • Watch “Native American Girls Describe the Real History Behind Thanksgiving” (1:43).
  • Watch this video about the history of “National Day of Mourning” (7:48).
  • Read about Cop City and why it’s a site of Indigenous resistance.
  • Read An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.

Resources and Services in Calvert County, Maryland

  • Learn about the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, whose land Calvert County sits on.
  • Check out the Baltimore American Indian Center, supporting First Nations peoples’ transition to an urban environment.

About Peace Through Action Events

Peace Through Action Events gather youth and adults of all ages to learn about civic and social topics with a focus on peace. Using delivery methods of subject expert lecture, skills training, film discussion, artistic presentation, reflection, and experiential activities, Peace Through Action Events participants gain knowledge on compassionate living, peaceful practices, and social justice concerns.

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