Award-winning Afro-Taíno choreographer Marsha Parrilla along with local Indigenous community leaders combined to produce an informative, community-centric event on August 18th. The event titled Indigenous Perspectives On Environmental Justice A day of learning, sharing, and building Intentional Communities utilized dialog and hands-on learning workshops focused on the Boston Harbor Islands.
The panel included local Indigenous community members Elizabeth Solomon (Massachusett, Pankapoag), Robert Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag) and Hartman Deetz (Mashpee Wampanoag) who field questions moderated by Cederic Woods (Lumbee)
Nia Holly (Nipmuc) guided participants in the creation of a “healing salves” made from medical plants. Andre StrongBearHeart Gaines Jr. (Nipmuc), Miles Bernadett-Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag) led a workshop in which participants learned the history of Deer Island, including the islands use an internment camp during the King Phillips war, becoming the site of multiple unmarked mass graves. The topography of the island was also discussed, looking at the islands original lush vegetation through building a model. Cedar saplings and tobacco seed were handed out to those who would commit to planting and caring for these medicines.
Jasmine Rochelle Goodspeed (Nipmuc), facilitated space to write messages to our mother earth. While Robert Peters showed artwork and announced the re-release of his Thirteen Moons Calendar full of original art for 2020. Hartman Deetz was on hand to participate in the panel and show his meticulous wampum work.
Marsha Parrilla, hosted this event through her Boston artist residency, which focuses on best practices towards decolonization and environmental justice, with intentions of collaborating with local Native American communities in Massachusetts
A self-described Afro-Taíno, with homelands in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Parrilla holds a masters degree in dance education from New York University and an undergrad degree in foreign languages from the University of Puerto Rico. She is also the Founding Artist Director of Danza Orgánica, an award-winning, social justice dance company established in 2007 that has done work with the Aquinnah Wampanoag.