Honoring the First People of Queens: A Conversation on History and Cultural Protocols on July 26

On Thursday, July 26, Flushing Town Hall presents,Honoring the First People of Queens, a free event featuring a panel with members of the Matinecock tribe of Queens and Long Island. The Matinecock are Algonquin People who speak both Munsee and Costal Algonquin. Their North Shore lands stretched from what is today College Point to their hunting and fishing grounds of Smithtown, Long Island.

Members of the tribe were the first inhabitants of Flushing and the surrounding area, and they built their wigwams throughout the land before the Dutch and English settled there in the 1640s and 1650s. In 1656, English Colonist Thomas Hisks and his armed men seized the last Matinecock settlement, a fishing village in Little Neck. There are Matinecocks who continue to live on their ancestral land in Little Neck and other parts of Queens and Long Island. Matinecocks are a resilient People, and although they no longer live in wigwams, they are still alive and practice their traditions.

The panelist for this event are the direct descendants of the Matinecocks of the North Shore. Panelists will explore the tribe’s history, culture, and customs, focusing on best practices in acknowledging Matinecock tribal territories and tools to help the tribe in building relationships with local organizations and government.

“This event will be particularly illuminating to individuals and organizations based in Queens or Long Island, or those who simply have an interest in Native American history and customs,” said Gabrielle M. Hamilton, Flushing Town Hall’s Director of Education & Public Programs who will moderate the panel.

The evening’s panelists are:

Tecumseh Ceaser, a Native American jewelry artist and cultural consultant. He is of Matinecock Turkey clan, Wamponowag Pokanaoket band, Montauket, and Blackfoot descent. Tecumseh is currently the North American Focal Point for the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus at the United Nations, where he advocates for indigenous Americans’ rights to member states, NGOs, and other indigenous nations. He has also provided cultural education to universities, museums, and institutions including the Queens Public Library, Socrates Sculpture Park, the Poppenhusen Institute, and Alfred University.

Harry B. Wallace, Chief of the Unkechaug Indian Nation since 1994. He is a licensed attorney in New York State. The Unkechaug people reside on the Poospatuck Reservation on Long Island, New York. Harry is also a New York representative of Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and has many leadership roles advocating for natives’ rights, language, and sovereignty.

Donna Gentle Spirit Barron, a Matinecock/Montaukett Indian who is a published author of five books about the life of her Matinecock Ancestors of Little Neck, and a leader in the four-year fight to save their ancestral burial ground from being removed for the widening of Northern Blvd. Donna has lectured at the local historical societies of Flushing, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, and Floral Park, and the Little Neck Library and the Central Library in Jamaica. She presented a talk in Boston with special guests from the Lowell Indian tribe. She also shares beading and storytelling events with children at Bayside’s Fort Totten and the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Little Neck. Donna is the family historian of her people who continues the fight for the truth to be told, and to keep her family’s heritage alive.

Chief Reggie Dances With Medicine Ceaser,Sagamore of the Matinnecock Turkey Clan, descendent of the Waters Hegeman family. His great uncle is Walter Robert Deer Foot Hegeman, Sagamore, of the Matinnecock Turkey clan. He also is a descended of Chief John Standing Waters and Chief James Wild Pildjen, who were Chiefs of both the Matinecock and Montaukett. Chief Reggie has lectured at Universities and historical organizations and is a well-respected member of his Community.

Learn more at www.flushingtownhall.orgor by calling (718) 463-7700 x222.

Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train and foot – located a short distance from the 7 train – at 137-35 Northern Blvd., in Flushing, Queens. Access for wheelchair users and individuals with limited mobility is available.

This season, Flushing Town Hall is opening its doors to teenagers – for free. Under the “Teen Access Program,” all 13- to 19-year-old boys and girls (whether a member or not) will be welcomed to attend any performance for free. The program is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love in the arts and culture.

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