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Washington D.C.

Piscataway Territory

I am a descendant of Uttapoingasinem, the last pre-contact Tayac of the Piscataway Nation, by way of Big Beaver Chitomachen Kittamaquund, and his daughter Mary Kittamaquund

To all my relations… 4 nations..

I pray we find better dayz. Aho

I am also a descendant of the Brent’s, Beavens, and Dorset‘s – some of the Nation’s first Catholic and founding colonial families.

According to historical records, my great great great great great great great great great great grandfather Big Beaver Kittamaquund killed his brother Wannas – who was Tayac of the Piscataway at time of contact. Legend says there was 13 hereditary generations of “Tayac’s” before the white man came.. There was a dispute that grew between Wannas and Kittamaquund as to whether or not to grant the European settlers a pass to stay on Piscataway lands.

History tells us Kittamaquund killed his brother Wannas- committing an act of fratricide, and then assumed the role of Tayac. A portion of the tribe was loyal to Kittamaquund and a portion to Wannas.. when Chitomachen Kittamaquund became sick, the Jesuit priest Andrew White is said to have cured him with a concoction of some sorts, prompting Kittamaquund to convert to Catholicism and change his name from Chitomachen to “Charles”. He was the first Piscataway to be baptized by the Jesuit Priest Father Andrew White.

Stain glass at St Ignatius Catholic Church depicting the Baptism of Kittamaquund

This happened on July 5th, 1640, a 136 years before the constitution of the United States was formed – in what has became the oldest continuously active Parish in the United States – St Ignatius Church in St Mary’s county. It seems as though the Piscataway Nation has been divided in different factions and bands since that time, and has had to fight ever since, for land, recognition, and respect. Right in the heart of what was to become a “New Rome” (Washington, D.C.), situated on a tributary of the Potomac once called Tiber by early Catholics.. between the states of Virginia and Maryland (“Virgin Mary”). There actually is a Jesuit conspiracy theory the White house namesake is Father Andrew White.

In the artist rendition above Chitomachen Kittamaquund kneels at his baptism in front of Father Andrew White. On his left you see my ancestor from the English side, Giles Brent Sr. The young woman on the left, is Chitomachen’s daughter “Mary”, who was at the time 7 years old. After Kittamaquund’s conversion, he sent his daughter to live amongst the Catholics in St Mary’s city, in order to learn the English ways. Kittamaquund hoped his daughter would someday communicate between the two nations.

Something entirely different happened.. Kittamaquund then mysteriously died and in 1644, Giles Brent, in his 30’s, was granted permission to wed the young Mary Kittamaquund who was 11 or 12 at the time. Brent asserted a claim to Piscataway lands, contrary to both tribal custom and Governor Calvert’s own claims... [Carr]. Some of this land would eventually become part of George Washington’s Plantation at “Mt Vernon“, which sits directly across the Potomac from the Piscataway Ancestral burial grounds of Moyaone, Piscataway State Park.

View from Piscataway State Park, Maryland, looking across the Potomac to Mt Vernon, Virginia. In the video below, Sebi Medina-Tayac, of the Piscataway Nation, speaks about the historical and cultural significance of the first Piscataway- Catholics and St Ignatius Church.

I stand with Nathan Phillips and the Indigenous People’s march.

I’m not concerned whether or not Omaha elder Nathan Phillips has an arrest record or that he went AWOL during the Vietnam era- I would have done the same thing. No matter how you interpret his military service (or your perception thereof), Nathan Phillips put his life and liberty on the front lines as an elder and Water Protector at Standing Rock. Nathan Phillips is not an armchair revolutionary- but a decades-long Veteran of the American Indian Movement.

I have watched the longer video that shows Nathan approaching the Covington group, and I have listened to the Hebrew Israelites’ commentary, which is for another conversation. Rather, I am interested with the setting and context of which the events took place on Friday, January 18th, 2019, in Washington D.C.:

“The confrontation unfolded at the feet of President Abraham Lincoln, who ordered the mass hanging of 38 Dakota men days before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It took place in a city that sits atop Piscataway land and whose NFL team name is a dictionary-defined racial slur celebrating the scalping of Native people. The students’ tomahawk chops reinforced that sort of all-too-casual pervasive bigotry, a familiar gesture for sports fans of Indian mascots. All of it taking place in the heart of American empire.” – Nick Estes

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My orientation is a non partisan by any means necessary advocacy for Indigenous People: survival, rights, sovereignty, cultural preservation, land repatriation, green economics, and Awareness of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Indigenous Piscataway at Women’s March

I have not drank the kool-aid of Mainstream media, corporate news, Democratic Party, or any representatives thereof. My view is not a product of the Russians, Hillary Clinton, or any Hollywood “Trump-hatin’ so-called Liberals”. Although I do appreciate Michael Rapaport’s public triggers, such as his response to the Covington video and his ongoing Trump rants – the real message and voice needs to come from indigenous people. Tara Houska, Couchiching First Nation, tribal rights attorney, and a organizer of the indigenous peoples march, makes it clear the Media’s use of this ordeal has not helped the cause:

“this incident is distracting from issues that really matter to native people.”

Organizer of Indigenous Peoples Day March responds to viral video.

I will step out on a limb and say that while the Covington Boy’s signature red MAGA hats have become synonymous to many as trademark-code-speak for “white supremacy”, it’s a material reality and theoretical conundrum that a contingent of people, from all shades and nations (many who good people), shut down faster than the government when you call them “racist” or place them into a political box, “just because they voted-Trump” or wear a MAGA hat. Im not going to fall in that trap and for the sake of challenge – avoid that pitfall altogether. I think journalist Rachel Blevins had a point when she tweeted:

“No matter what your take on the incident is, one thing is clear… the MSM showed more concern for indigenous people when it looked like they were being harassed by MAGA-hat wearing kids than it ever did when they were being targeted and harassed by police at Standing Rock.”

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The Mind Unleashed writer Matt Agorist is asking valid questions when he says:

“But where was this same media when Native American Jorden Stevens, a member of the Cocopah Indian Tribe in Yuma, Arizona was beaten to death by ten cops—on video—and no one was charged? …. [and] where was the mainstream media when multiple Native American women were being kidnapped in North Dakota and sex trafficked? Where was the media when police were ignoring these horrifying cases that were well documented? They were nowhere to be found, that’s where.

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While I don’t judge the Covington School boy’s actions or presume their motives solely based on their donning of the MAGA hats, I do think Lexington, Kentucky Catholic Bishop John Stowe’s op-ed to the Lexington-Herald captured the sentiment of many when writing:

“it astonishes me that any students participating in a pro-life activity on behalf of their school and their Catholic faith could be wearing apparel sporting the slogans of a president who denigrates the lives of immigrants, refugees and people from countries that he describes with indecent words and haphazardly endangers with life-threatening policies.”

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It is understandable why Indigenous People’s would be offended by the incident… as moments like these bring back generations of ancestral pains and memories. Navajo Nation Kolton Nephew expressed what many felt about the apparent lack of respect or appreciation for indigenous culture:

“It made me question if Mr. Nathan Phillips, the Omaha man and Vietnam veteran drumming and singing in the video seemed like a delusional “Indian” to the high school students? ” – Kolton Nephew (Navajo)

When the first video went viral- I actually seen Trump supporters in social media condemning the boys’ actions and attitudes. A relative (who happens to be a Trump supporter), with both Piscataway and Cherokee roots, and this to say:

“I think the stupid kids in the MAGA hats harassing the Native Man in DC owes all Native people’s an apology and President Trump should address this!!!”

Native American Man and Trump Supporter came together at a rally in Covington, Kentucky… guy in MAGA hat says “Donald Trump would love to talk to you. He would love to sit down.”

Then Trump tweeted…

The narrative shifted as Nick Sandmann’s family retained RunSwitch, a Louisville Kentucky publicity firm, who’s founding partner was an adviser to George W. Bush and Mitch McConnel. RunSwitch not only helped craft Nick Sandmann’s statement, but has a history of supporting powerful Republicans and Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon, Pfizer, Phillip Morris International, and Long John Silver’s.

The playing field once again seemed uneven as it came out that there was yet another interesting relationship between the Covington Catholic students and powerful people. Who knew? Trump’s top White House attorney is Covington Catholic High School graduate:

“Pat Cipollone, CovCath class of 1984, recently took over as White House counsel. He had previously served as an informal adviser to the president on the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

It was at this point- when the second video came out, showing Nathan Phillips walk up to the Covington Group, that some people’s perceptions about the confrontation began to change. I noticed even some Natives began to actually say “they didn’t support Phillips” and thought Nick Sandmann “showed great restraint” when he was approached by Phillips drumming.. “by not backing down and holding his ground” (irrespective of his political beliefs, MAGA hats, complexion, entitlement smirks, and culturally appropriated Tomahawk Cops).

“Everyone involved in the moments at the end of the march was in DC for a political reason. Many people are calling Nathan Phillips an activist, but the students from Covington Catholic School were also there to participate in a political march. They, too, are activists.”

American Indians in Children’s Literature

The haka is a traditional genre of Māori dance. This painting dates from c. 1845.

Something I previously didn’t know, that came up, was that at least some Maori, have expressed the “Haka” dance, an appropriated version of which the Covington Boys were seen performing during their escalated exchange with the Black Hebrew Israelites, is considered to be available for the world and even for “non-Maoris” to learn. A website blog about Maori Culture titled “Five surprising facts about the Haka” had this to say:

“We’re a very welcoming and inclusive culture. We love sharing our heritage and encourage visitors to participate in our culture, like learning the haka. However, you must always respect it. Try to learn the words and understand what they mean, why this haka is important.”

19th-century illustration of a haka, c. 1890

The question here is a matter of respect and intent. Did the Covington Boys respect, know the words, and understand the cultural significance of the Haka? -or- is it just something they do at sporting events to turn up? Do they know anything about the history of the Maori Death rates and life expectancy due to the effects of colonization , the introduction of diseases post contact, musket warfare, loss of land, or mortality rates of children and girls?

(?video by Marcus Frejo aka Quese IMC)

In Nathan Phillip’s words, speaking on the moment he realized Sandmann was in front of him blocking his path:

This is the best video I have seen that breaks down the sequence of events that took place that day. Nathan Phillips speaks and explains that he was in a prayerful manner seeking to diffuse the situation between the Hebrew Israelites and the MAGA kids:

Marcus Frejo aka “Quese IMC” is the one of the second drummers who was drumming right next to Nathan Phillips… This was what he had to say about the moments leading up and during the encounter:

That spirit was moving and you could feel it, it was moving through us…. This country is in a state of emergency, mentally, emotionally, politically, spiritually and so on and at that moment it was drum, song, spirit and solidarity that was needed to show the world that what we’ve carried for so long as a people will carry us in time of need and when that happens the spirit will scare away that sickness. But it takes time.
– Marcus Freja (Quese IMC)

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We were in the center of that circle, pushing the good medicine outward. Everything happens for a reason at a certain time and people are chosen to do great things. Its just whether or not they can step into their true self and live. It was an honor to stand next to elder Nathan.

– Marcus Freja aka Quese IMC

I met Marcus by way of the San Carlos Apache Artist “CeCe”, and was blessed to have inipi ceremony with him at Oak Flat in February 2017.  I reached out to interview his drum about the experience drumming with Nate at The Indigenous People’s March.

Me: “With everything going on, what do you have to say about this drum”?

Drum: “Akitaru Tirewari” (our people are still here, moving about) 

For more reading check out:a curated list of Native responses to what happened on Friday, January 18, 2019 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

There is no better medium to heal the masses than the drum, and with art and culture from the heart. We must share our stories and work to bring things together. Make sure to check out Nathan Phillips in this Scrillex & Damien Marley video:

Courtesy of Ncai.org