Embracing First Nations Peoples Event - Peace Through Action USA

A Sense of Place: Embracing First Nations Peoples | November 15, 2022

Event Description – A Sense of Place: Embracing First Nations Peoples commemorates Native American Heritage Month with a virtual event to sharpen public knowledge of First Nations cultures and to increase public understanding of both the historical legacies and contemporary experiences of Native American peoples. In this interactive community discussion, participants will explore a range of topics related to Native Americans today, including their preferred terms to describe themselves, perspectives about autumn holidays associated with Native Americans, the purpose and value of increasingly popular land acknowledgment statements, ongoing efforts to advance the rights of indigenous peoples, and more. In order to contextualize our present day in the continuum of American colonial history, John Johnson, Director of the Calvert County Historical Society will share brief information about the Piscataway-Conoy Nation, which inhabits the Chesapeake region and constitutes one of over 574 federally recognized First Nations groups in the United States of America. Participants will cultivate and nourish their relationships to First Nations peoples with an emphasis on community empowerment, cultural appreciation, and social cohesion.

Presenters Biographies

John Johnson, Executive Director, of Lusby, Maryland, is the executive director of the Calvert County Historical Society. John is responsible for the collection, research, preservaiotn, and sharing of the history of Calvert County, Maryland.

John brings to the historical society a long line of experience and knowledge and founded in his love of history and travels throughout the United States and world, whereby he experienced firsthand, many cultures, societies, and native peoples. As a child, John lived in Japan just after the Second World War, in Thailand in high school, lived for a year above the Arctic Circle in Canada, three years in Madrid, Spain, and in two years in the Azores Islands.

After serving in the United States Air Force for 23 years, of meritorious service, John pursued a different career utilizing his military background and his B.A in history and M.A  in counseling psychology to be the executive director of four juvenile incarceration programs. This , this work with youth spanned a period of ten years. The programs were located in Virginia and Maryland and John was a consultant to opening other programs in Indiana and West Virginia.  These programs were for adjudicated male and females, between 12 – 18 years of age and practiced Adlerian ‘Positivism’.  Mr. Johnson and his programs were filmed and featured on Canadian Broadcast Service and as efficacious training tools for U.S. National Youth (incarceration) programs. During his military career and work with incarcerated youth, John also taught sociology, philosophy and crisis management, for Southside Community College, College of Southern Maryland, and Prince George’s Community College.    

John holds an Ed.D. (ABD), in family and social dynamics from NOVA Southeastern University.  

Chris Walonski, MA, 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 Walonski’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 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

  • First Nations Peoples Event Information Sheet
  • First Nations Peoples Event Recording (forthcoming)
  • First Nations Peoples Event Presentation (forthcoming)
  • The LANDBACK movement for Indigenous sovereignty, website here.
  • “Hesapa,” a LANDBACK film (5:05).
  • “Standing Rock: The Power of Telling Our Own Story” by Josue Rivas at TEDxRapidCity video (11:40).
  • “Running for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women” by Rosalie Fish at TEDxYouth@Seattle video (11:55).
  • “The power of sharing history through storytelling” by Dan Nanamkin at TEDxSpokane video (16:34).
  • “Native Americans: We Shall Remain” by LoVina Louie at TEDxCoerudalene video (18:27).
  • “Rethinking Thanksgiving Celebrations: Native Perspectives on Thanksgiving” with resources for educators, website here.
  • “The History of Thanksgiving from the Native American Perspective” article.
  • “Native American Girls Describe the Real History Behind Thanksgiving” video (1:43).
  • “National Day of Mourning” video (7:48).

Resources and Services in Calvert County, Maryland

  • The Official Piscataway Conoy Tribe, website here.
  • The Cedarville Band of the Piscataway Indians, website here.
  • The Baltimore American Indian Center supporting First Nations peoples transitioning to an urban environment, website here.
  • Financially contribute to the Cedarville Band of the Piscataway Indians through landtax, website here.

About Peaceful Speakers Events 

Peace Through Action USA’s Peaceful Speakers events gather youth and adults of all ages to learn about civic and social topics with a focus on peace. Using delivery methods of lecture or experiential activities, participants are able to gain knowledge on compassionate living, peaceful practices, and social justice concerns.

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