Celebrate Indigenous Peoples!

Youth volunteer Alannah Funk (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) at Reading Pride Celebration, August 2021.

Mno waben, jayek! Good morning, folks! We know, we know…it’s been a while. But we have a lot of exciting updates for you!

First, we’re excited to announce that we’ve been awarded a grant from the United Way of Berks County through their LIVE UNITED grant program to launch our Firekeepers Youth Program in the new year! This program will provide culturally relevant enrichment opportunities for Native American youth ages 12-18 and their peers.

Indigenous Film Festival

Next year we are pleased to present the second annual Indigenous Film Festival at Kutztown University. After our Covid-related pause in years 2020 and 2021, in November 2022 we’ll be screening several contemporary films from Indian Country examining the lives and social movements of contemporary Native people. We are grateful for a grant from the Hawley and Myrtle Quier fund of the Berks County Community Foundation to support this event during Native American Heritage Month and to board member Dr. Amanda Morris for all her hard work in bringing this Film Festival to our community. We’ll update you with a date soon!

Business Development

We’ve been hard at work with the O’Pake Institute through Alvernia University with our fellows helping us to round out our business plan and identify our sources of sustainability, volunteers, and target customers.

And we finally received our letter from the IRS confirming our federally tax-exempt status as a registered 501(c)(3) charity!

Community Engagement

Amanda Funk smiles behind a table of resources at the Guts & Glory Digestive and Wellness Expo September 2021.

We were fortunate to participate in a couple of community events over the summer. The Reading Pride Celebration in August presented a fabulous opportunity for us to get to connect directly with our local community and talk about Two Spirit Native Americans in the context of community education for the event. We also attended the Guts and Glory Digestive & Wellness Expo in September where we featured information about traditional foods and wild foods in our local environment. We also handed out samples of traditional pink lemonade, bakwanabo, made from the fruits of staghorn sumac. Learn more about how to process bakwan in this video tutorial.

Freshly picked bakwan, staghorn sumac.

We’re to seeing everybody at our next community appearance at the YWCA Tri County Area Week without Violence Block Event on October 23rd. We’ll be teaching our community about violence against Native women and girls historically and in the present day. We’ll talk about the Missing and Murdered indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) movement and why these cases deserve our attention. We’ll learn about colonial impacts on Native communities, specifically how violence has been used historically as a tool of conquest, dating back to the days of Columbus.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, coming up on October 11th, we’ll be turning our attention to the resilience of Indigenous communities despite persistent efforts to make them disappear into history. Berks County is home to a multitude of Indigenous people of North America, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean, including the Taíno and Carib peoples.

In recent years we’ve seen a great influx of people from the Caribbean islands, many who have been displaced by recent natural disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We honor and respect the cultures and values they bring to our community and wish to highlight the many contributions of our community’s kaleidoscope of Indigenous people.

Night at the Reading Royals

We are excited to announce that in February we are joining forces with the Reading Royals to be the nonprofit of the game on February 19th, which also happens to be Marvel Night! We hope that you’ll join us for a night of fun and community engagement and support the important work of our organization. Doors open at 3 p.m. and the game begins at 4 p.m.

Arboretum Education

In February we will be presenting a lecture at the Reading Public Museum as part of their Arboretum Education program on February 22nd. We’ll be talking about wild foods and foraging in the Arboretum for wild greens, roots, and other stuff we can eat. Be sure to check out our calendars so you don’t miss out on any of our community appearances or special events. You can check out their special exhibit, Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science. now through April 24, 2022.

We hope to see you out in the community!

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