Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

May we find compassion in our hearts and allow this to reveal itself through action within our hands.

May we break down walls that separate us from them, me from you.

May we find meaningful connection with others, so loneliness and hurt doesn't turn into anger, rage and violence. 

May we commune with nature, find healing through resilience and renewal.

Let hope overpower hate.

Let love overpower grief.

May joy, happiness and freedom be felt by us ALL.

As a way to bring ritual and gratitude into my home this week, I have created an alter in honor of Squaw Sachem and the Naumkeag tribe that inhabited the lands my home was built on.

When I look at the Earth, the sky, the clouds, the lakes, the rivers, the oceans, the grass, the dirt, the rocks, the mountains, the valleys, everything seen and unseen, it is pure magic. The constant regeneration and strength of this amazing planet is breathtaking. We are only passengers here, visitors for a short time in comparison with her longevity.

We are standing on sacred ground. 

"When we practice deep looking directed toward the heart of reality, we receive help, we receive understanding, we receive the wisdom that makes us free."
Thich Nhat Hanh

A few months ago, I typed in my home address at and received the name of the native tribe that lived where I lived over 400 years ago. I was excited to learn about the Naumkeag tribe, which translates as "the fishing place", from namaas (fish) and ki (place). Unfortunately, when I typed in 'Naumkeag' into my computer, the first information to arise was the residence of the former country estate lawyer Joseph Hodges Choate that held the same name, Naumkeag. I am still confused by this, even after reading about the elaborate and massive estate that was acquired as part of the colonial settlement of the Propect Hill section of Stockbridge, MA. The Naumkeag tribe came before the Naumkeag estate, a name stolen along with the land. The name, even if intended to be used with tribute, is not reflected in a structure built by non-Natives. The name should be recognized in associaton with the beauty of the Earth's elements, the lives lost, a transitional time in history.

The Naumkeag tribe were a Native American people who lived on the lands now known as Essex county, in North Eastern MA. In 1619, their Sachem, Nanepashemet was killed in war. Upon his death, the general governing of the tribe was continued by his widow, Squaw Sachem. Their son, Wenepoykin, had not yet come of age to make decisions for the tribe. The history of the Native Americans defending their loved ones, and their land, when colonial settlers came from Europe was retold to me in school as being one of peaceful trades and acquiescence. The reign of control and purpose that spread throughout the place where I live breaks my heart. War wiped out most of the Naumkeag tribe, and then the plague defeated them.

I think of Squaw Sachem, mourning her husband, taking on a chief role of decision making while raising a young child in unsafe times. Her anger, sadness, fear, and grief must have been overwhelming. The empathy I feel for her and her people is great. I am writing this essay as an act of compassion to humbly hold space for a time and place that came before me, but directly impacts my prosperity and privilege. I can't change the past, I can only act now. I'll call out the injustice, continue to educate myself and my children as celebrations of false holidays take school days away from them. I will teach from a place in my heart that knows the truth, that we are ALL deserving of happiness and freedom.

The world we live in remains divided, power hungry and unbalanced. There is violence, malicious attacks, anger and hate. My prayer of thanksgiving is to break down the barriers and send out love, care, support, and hope. To look beyond our differences, find meaningful connection, and rise up everyday in peace.

Take time this week to discover which Native tribe lived on the lands where your home is, and educate yourself about who they were, how they fought to live, and how they died.

Honor them, mourn them, share their stories.

Thanks and gratitude to Allen Salway whose voice is rising with courage to call out the truth and demand justice. His publications can be read all over the internet. Please take time to read the article linked below, written on 11/21/18.


  1. Thank you for sharing this important message. This is what Thanksgiving should represent: sending gratitude into the universe for the ones that came before us and cared for the land that we now have the important task to care for ourselves. I cannot wait to see what tribe inhabited my land. I hope what I see is not as a heartbreaking story such as yours. It is the truth people turn away from. We cannot live in denial of the past. This history can never be erased and is so important to our futures. With love and Peace, Michele