/futures dec 5 '17
We can’t have dialogue if our languages are dead. At the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration, we learned of Coaquannock’s former Pow Wows celebrated in a beautiful documentary by Ollin Yolitzli Calmecac. The site, now known as Belmont Grove of Fairmount Park, no longer hosts the lively gatherings of the United American Indians of the Delaware Valley. Once lead by Pocahontas Turquoise Sunrise, these gatherings have since been dissipated due to financial pitfalls and bureaucratic walls. Many members of different tribal affiliations gathered on stage to share the current movements in their communities.

UPenn’s Quechua program coordinators were present, as well as members from Natives at Penn (NAP). The colonial taste of forgotten language started falling away, as the Quechua representatives shared videos of the work they do to maintain the life of a unifying language with immutable power. With roots in Peru, Quechua has been a common thread for several tribes under the Incan empire and has lived through the long the test of time. Through the ambition of motivated youth, Américo Mendoza-Mori and crew are taking back what’s been suppressed. UPenn’s Quechua program allows for breathing room, so this unending language can speak to today’s dialogue.

In a room with members of the Cherokee, Lenni-Lenape, Taíno, Nahua, Mexica, and Nanticoke peoples, much thanks was given. Several elders commented on the displacement and constant invasions on their peoples by the forces of U.S. & local government, racist policies, and mono-cropping. The fact that Philadelphia has no cultural center for Natives furthers the sense of displacement within indigenous communities. Still, with each utterance came thanks to the creator and those sharing in the moment. It was humbling to be an ear to individuals with such a sense of gratitude alongside an explicit recognition of today’s reality.

-Gen Rollins