Ways to help preserve the Native American Ceremonial Stone Landscape

by Lisa McLoughlin of the Nolumbeka Project

• preserve land for whatever reason — environmental preservation usually means that cultural resources are preserved on that land too. Support your local land trust.

• support Tribal efforts to protect their traditional cultural properties — protest projects that will bulldoze them, and make connections with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers if you have found some stone structures that need protection (either through your historical commission, Nolumbeka Project, or similar group or reach out to them directly)

• influence the workings of your town, state, and national governments toward protection of cultural resources — introduce and enact laws that put in place protections and processes that require traditional cultural properties to be taken into account, that encourage smart development (or less development), that take a wholistic approach.

• learn about cultural resources and the governmental agencies that manage them — the writings of Thomas F. King are especially good at helping non-experts understand what’s at stake and how to go about protecting it: Saving Places that Matter, and the National Park Service Bulletin 38 are 2 good places to start.

• read history, especially local history, and collect stories from older people, hunters, and farmers (people close to the land) in your community — find out and document what was/is there so that if it is threatened you can speak to its importance. This applies to the land pre- and post- colonist—an important part of doing this work is setting the record straight and reclaiming the history of the first people before we came, and our interactions with them since. It will tell us a lot not just about them, but about us and issues we still have not resolved about how we treat others as a culture.

• talk to others about why these features matter.

Finally, I’d say that while many stone features have been destroyed, there are still thousands left. They are hiding in our back yards, in our state forests, along our waterways — everywhere in plain sight. Help others realize why they should be respectful of these when they find them, help them imagine what it might mean to have a religiously-important structure (e.g. something built to honor someone in your family) technically belong to someone else, or be at risk from vandals, pot-hunters, and developers. These stone structures are examples of how humans found a way to interact respectfully and in a mutually-beneficial way with nature. They are Natural Cultural nodes, blueprints for how we will need to think in the future if we are to survive and allow our natural world survive. They are important beyond the specific, and they should give us hope.

» Learn more about Ceremonial Stone Landscapes impacted by Kinder Morgan’s CT Expansion Pipeline path in Massachusetts

» Learn more about Nolumbeka Project