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Wabanaki Health, Wellness & Self-determination

The 3rd annual Wabanaki Wellness Gathering held at Motahkmikuk/ Indian Township this past October was a great success.  As with past wellness gatherings, we tapped into our own vast network of knowledge to learn and to connect with one another.  The theme for the gathering was “food is medicine ~ decolonizing our diets” and dozens of Wabanakiq and friends attended.

Passamaquoddy Elder Wayne Newell gave the opening prayer, followed by a guided meditation to start the gathering.  The rich collective knowledge in our tribal communities was made evident during a Community Sharing circle.

Those sharing updates of work and initiatives in tribal communities included Alivia Moore (Penobscot) Peoples’ Garden/ Apothecary and All Our Relations Thriving, Janet Lola (Passamaquoddy) Indian Township Food Pantry Garden Expansion, and Tim Shay (Penobscot) and Shiwa Noh of the Nibezun Earth Project. 

Presentations throughout the two-day gathering included “Rebuilding Cooperative Food and Medicine Systems” by Jonah Fertig of the Cooperative Development Institute; “Restoring Relations - Steps toward Decolonization” by Suzanne Greenlaw (Maliseet), and “Natural Medicines for Children” by Dr. Jus Crea Giammarino (Penobscot).

Other highlights of the gathering included “Demystifying Acudetox” - a demonstration of acupuncture detoxification, a form of acupuncture which helps curb anxiety, fight cravings, and improve sleep.  A dozen people volunteered to experience acudetox as part of the demonstration by Jeri Singer of the Pleasant Point Health Department.   An evening Shared Supper and drumming by Huntley Brook Singers and Spirit Circle brought community together to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and to fundraise for the Indian Township Food Pantry. 

Tuesday afternoon was devoted to a medicine-making workshop with Dr. Jus Crea Giammarino. In preparation for cold and flu season, participants were guided in making elderberry cough syrup, plantain and spruce gum salve, and a cold/ flu tea blend.  Everyone was able to bring home medicines for themselves and for sharing.

Many thanks to everyone who helped make the gathering special, it was wonderful to connect, learn and celebrate together.  We are looking forward to our this year’s 4th annual Wabanaki Wellness Gathering! 

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