Religious Diversity News

Showing all news articles with tradition Native Traditions AND in metro area Boston.

Year Begins Sadly for Mashpee Wampanoag

Author: Heather Wysocki

Source: The Cape Cod Times

One link to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s past and another to its future are gone.


Alice Lopez, 49, the tribe’s housing department director, died unexpectedly at her home Sunday, while Laurie “Cal” Green, 91, a former tribal elder and historian, died Wednesday in Newburyport.

Sacred Run And Sacred Paddle Provide Solemn Memorial for Massachusetts Natives

Author: Donna Laurent Caruso

Source: Indian Country Today

“I hope our ancestors regain some of their pride stripped from them here on this island that is now a sewer treatment plant for the City of Boston. I am honored they watched over us,” wrote Annawon Weeden, Wampanoag, who finished a 20-mile sacred paddle Oct. 30 to memorialize the internment of indigenous people on Deer Island in Boston Harbor in 1675 as well as the path they were forced to travel: 12 miles by roads, 20 miles by river to the open sea and then to barren Deer Island.

‘My Ministry Is In the Birthing Rooms’

Author: Alvin Powell

Source: The Harvard University Gazette

To Cemelli de Aztlan, th

e U.S.-Mexico border region is not just a line on a map dividing two nations and two cultures, it’s a place of its own, different from the countries whose edges define it; and it has its own culture of transition, of blending, and sometimes of violence.

De Aztlan, graduating this year from Harvard Divinity School (HDS) with a master in divinity degree, is herself a product of the border. She grew up in El Paso, Texas, just a short walk from the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez. She knows the reality there is complex and that many families straddle the border, refusing to be torn apart. Despite travel advisories by the U.S. State Department, residents of El Paso visit Ciudad Juárez regularly.

A Native American, de Aztlan grew up in the Native American church, which she said allows more freedom for personal vision than the majority of Christian churches nearby. She began theological studies at Concordia University in Texas in 2000 and spent a semester at Oak Hill Theological College in London. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in religion and English in 2004.

But de Aztlan felt out of place at Concordia. She felt that her classmates didn’t believe that a woman could be a pastor or leader of a church. After her first year, she decided to leave. As she was saying goodbye to her professors, one in particular urged her to stay, asking her how things would ever change if she left. He gave her a copy of “A New Religious America” by Harvard Professor Diana Eck, head of the Pluralism Project and professor of comparative religion and Indian studies in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and member of the Faculty of Divinity. After reading it, de Aztlan decided she would stay at Concordia and that she would one day study with Eck at HDS.

Life, Death, And a ‘Reservoir Of Hope’

Author: Jonathan Beasley

Source: Harvard Divinity School News and Events

In early May, an enthusiastic HDS staff member walked into offices in Divinity Hall to let people know about a community altar that was being constructed on the building’s third floor. Those of us who could spare a moment were invited for an informal viewing. This altar was, apparently, unique in some way, worth leaving any email messages we were writing to dangle in mid-sentence.

After a moment of internal debate—Did I really want to leave my desk to go look at an altar?—I walked down one flight of stairs for a glance, although I’d already made up my mind that this unique altar would, in fact, not be unique. At best, I thought, it might be mildly interesting. To my surprise, tucked inside of a small conference room, stood something remarkable.

Sea shells, beads, candles, pictures, flowers, a doll, a set of keys, a wheel used for steering a ship—these were some of the items immersed within the altar, which stretched over 12 feet along the window sill, trickled down to the floor, and extended onto a shelf and then over to a large meeting table. This was an altar like no other I’d ever seen. It was colored with the shades of the sea: foam white, ocean blue, and aquamarine. The typical religious overtones I was familiar with had been mostly replaced by other religious icons, such as a Yoruba goddess and Sedna, the Inuit deity of sea mammals.

The altar was conceived by Maria Cristina Vlassidis, a ThD candidate at HDS, and Cemelli de Aztlan, who recently completed her second year in the master of divinity program, as part of their work for Professor Kimberley Patton’s course “The Deep: Purity, Danger, and Metamorphosis.” Vlassidis explained that the altar, named “The Deep,” was not simply symbolic of the ocean. Rather, the deep also represents the psyche.

“Our wounds and pain, they are also deep,” Vlassidis said. “But so is our reservoir of hope. In our spiritual, indigenous tradition, life and death go together; it’s a constant cycle.”

For years Vlassidis has helped to create community altars, which encourage people to interact with and participate in the altar-building process. Aside from receiving her MDiv from HDS in 2007, Vlassidis has a law degree and worked as an immigration lawyer in New York. She is passionate about lessening human suffering—as is de Aztlan—especially for women who have been victims of abuse and violence. The altars are one way of facilitating the healing process.

Teach-In on Redmen Planned

Author: Charlie Breitrose

Source: The MetroWest Daily News

A group of clergy from around town will host an event to try to bring people from all sides of the Natick Redmen debate together in an effort try to get them to better understand each other.

The first of a series of teach-ins sponsored by Natick Interfaith Clergy will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church tomorrow night, focusing on the documentary “In Whose Honor?” which follows a similar debate over the use of an American Indian name

and mascot at the University of Illinois.

The idea came about after the debate over whether to keep Redmen as Natick High School’s nickname and mascot became ugly, said the Rev. Jon Strand, rector at St. Paul’s.

“The main initiative came from some people being threatened, and kind of a host of name-calling and accusations coming up around this issue that might distract us from the real question,” Strand said.

Earlier this month, the School Committee held a forum to gather public opinion on the issue. Strand said this will be a different kind of event.

“We are not necessarily asking people to start out with their opinion first, but to reflect on a presentation and information and then ask for their responses to it,” Strand said. “We want to encourage people to do so in a way that is respectful and caring. There are very honorable motives and reasons on both sides of this issue.”