GREATER CINCINNATI NATIVE AMERICAN COALITION

Existence is Resistance

Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition is a loosely based coalition of Native American Organizations and individuals, Churches, groups and others, who support Native American and Indigenous treaty and human rights, as well as racial issues on a local and national level.

As a step toward honoring the truth and achieving healing and reconciliation with those indigenous peoples who were affected most by the Doctrine of Discovery and broken treaties, we acknowledge the traditional Shawnee and Myaamia lands on which we now stand, and on which the city of Cincinnati was built.

Fort Ancient: History & Culture

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By April Hester, Director of Education
The Fort Ancient Earthworks is one of the most extensive earthworks in the United States.  It is comprised of a network of earthen hilltop enclosures, embankments, and gateways created by Native American Peoples over two millennia ago.  The earthworks are an impressive complex of 18,000 feet of structures that cover 100 acres in Southwest Ohio along the Little Miami River.

The Fort Ancient Earthworks is a sacred site built by the Hopewell culture; an advanced Native American People who flourished in the years 100 B.C. to 500 A.D. in the areas now known as the Midwest United States.  The Hopewell culture is not a single Native nation or tribe, but are the Native Peoples who are recognized for similarities in their subsistence and settlement patterns, architecture, as well as their extensive trade system.  Their settlements were smaller in size and often temporary due to their subsistence strategies which included hunting, fishing, gathering and farming. The Hopewell culture is recognized for their domestication of seeds, including sunflower, squash, goosefoot, and maygrass.  

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The Hopewell were influential throughout the eastern part of the United States for centuries.  They strategically settled near waterways which aided in long distance trade connecting Native Peoples of numerous associating regions.  The Hopewell culture were notably supplied with materials and goods from a various locations. This is evident in the materials used in their ceramics and other pieces of brilliant Hopewell art.  

The name Fort Ancient may be misleading.  There is no evidence of defensive fortification at the site.  In fact, there were over 60 gateways integrated into the earthworks that allowed for easy entry.  It was a meeting place and held space for ceremony, not warfare. The name of the earthworks itself came from the confusion between the era of Hopewell culture and the sub sequential culture known to archaeologists as the Fort Ancient culture.  The Fort Ancient culture occupied an area of the site much later than the Hopewell, around 1000 A.D.-1200 A.D. Archaeological evidence shows the two cultures flourishing at different times. However, both cultures are integral components of Ohio Native American history.

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The Fort Ancient Earthworks site is divided into two major sections, the South Fort and North Fort.  It contains walls filled with stone pavement, evidence of dwellings and building structures, and mounds.  The mounds present at the site have little evidence of burials. Many of these mounds mark the way to a gate entry and are made up of limestone slabs.  In the North Fort of the site, there are four mounds placed to create an exact square, each side 512 feet in length. These stone mounds were sacred places that held enormous fires, kept cleared without building structures, likely used for spiritual purposes.  There are three gateways that form alignments from the southwestern mound to the wall to feature significant astronomical events including the summer solstice.

The Fort Ancient Earthworks is recognized as a national historic landmark.  They have been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List along with the Newark Earthworks and the five geometric earthworks in the Chillicothe Hopewell National Historic Park.  The Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve has a museum and visitors center and the site is overseen by the Ohio History Connection. Each year the Fort Ancient Earthworks have approximately 20,000-25,000 visitors and is expected to increase 10 fold if they become a World Heritage site.  

A note from the Executive Director

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In 1992 i was given a scrimshaw piece from an Anishanaabe Elder. It was a beautiful piece depicting a serpent swallowing what looked like an egg. I had never seen this design before and he told me of a place called Serpent Mound, a significant place to the Eastern Woodland Tribes of this region, the place of The Ancient Ones.  Years later I would travel to Fort Ancient and Serpent Mound to see these sacred spaces for the first time, where I found non-native reenactors entertaining tourists with a “Pow Wow” and performing rituals of questionable european origin on top of the serpent mound itself.

How did it come to this? How is it possible, and why? It would seem it is easier to believe that the mounds were built by aliens or Vikings than an advanced Indigenous culture of mound builders which stretched as far as Cahokia, a thriving metropolis of 10,000 outside of what is now St. Louis. The theory that Native Peoples in the Ohio Valley area during and after contact were negligent in the care of these sites ignores their forced removal from these lands and the violence of westward expansion. By perpetuating false claims, the legitimacy of those descendants is called into question.

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Once the cultural identity of those ancestors is removed, the foundation is laid to coop the sites for pseudo religious rituals and masturbatory spiritual practices. This disconnect reduces these ancestors to mythology, dehumanizes indigenous culture, and perpetuates the assimilation narrative. This is the same narrative which emboldens non natives to use the first amendment as the edict which gives them the right to our religion, a right we didn't even possess as natives until 1978.

As indigenous people it is our responsibility to protect these sacred sites wherever they may be, even if it is from our own.

To those reading this who would be allies, I would challenge you, to call out those who choose to distort indigenous history to push their own agenda. Do not be afraid to speak up when you see those appropriating cultures that don't belong to them. Currency isn't always money, and social currency sometimes can be even more harmful.

TL;DR Don’t trust the pilgrims


PRESS RELEASE: World Peace and Prayer Day

June 6, 2019
For Immediate Release

Contact:
Nony Salyer
(513) 616-6429
info@gcnativeamericancoalition.com

World Peace and Prayer Day: Honoring Sacred Sites

June 18 - 21, 2019 – Fort Ancient, Ohio

(Lebanon, Ohio) - The 24th annual World Peace and Prayer Day, a multi-cultural honoring of sacred sites envisioned by the spiritual leader of the Lakota Sioux, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, is coming to Ohio June 18 - 21, 2019. This annual commemoration will bring attention to Indigenous Peoples' sacred sites in Ohio, inspire youth, and provide learning opportunities for educators, artists, faith-based and civic leaders, and all those concerned with the health of our environment.

In 1996, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the 19th Generation Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle, began conducting annual World Peace and Prayer Day (WPPD) ceremonies to encourage people of all faiths and all nations to offer prayers for the planet on the summer solstice, June 21st. Across cultures, the solstice is considered a powerful time to pray, especially at sacred sites. For the past 23 years, WPPD has been held at sites across the US and around the world. This year, the gathering comes to Ohio to honor the sites sacred to the Indigenous Peoples of this region. Faith Leaders from Australia, New Guinea, Japan,  South Africa, South America, and Alaska will be joining Native faith leaders from across the county

The WPPD unifying message of “All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer” is healing in these times when our world is hurting and communities are so divided. When so much of our daily news tells of separation, strife, and exploitation, WPPD promotes the unity and security that come from mutual concern, care, and respect. This will be a time to gather, to share what we know, to listen to each other’s stories, and to stand and pray together in right relationship with one another—and with our Mother Earth.

This event is free and open to the public!

Fort Ancient, just a few miles East of Lebanon, Ohio, has been chosen as the host site for this 4-day gathering. The Fort Ancient site has been used for many centuries by Indigenous Peoples as a place to gather together for spiritual ceremony. This event is hosted by the Miami Valley Council for Native Americans, Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition and Sierra Club. In the spirit of World Peace and Prayer Day, numerous partnering/sponsoring organizations are collaborating to help make this all possible, including The Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Fund, Dayton International Peace Museum, Christ Church Cathedral Native American Ministry Council, the Ohio Poor People's Campaign, Boonshoft Management, Wilmington College, and Antioch College.

For more about World Peace and Prayer Day: https://gcnativeamericancoalition.com/wppd2019

World Peace and Prayer Day, 2019 Schedule

June 18th (Tu)
Who We Are
The ceremonial fire is lit in the morning and will remain lit for the remainder of the 4-day gathering. All attending spiritual leaders and other organizational leaders will share stories of the challenges they are facing and what their communities and organizations are doing to create a better world.

June 19th (W)
Our Cultural Richness
Speakers from various walks of life have come to share their cultural traditions, showing the beautiful diversity of our human tapestry.

June 20th (Th)
Our Prophecies
Elders from Indigenous cultures and faith traditions have traveled from across the globe to share prophecies relevant to our times. Riveting performances by musical artists Opliam and Tukkiman will follow in the evening.

June 21st (F)
Honoring the Sacred in Prayer
An All-Faiths Prayer Circle will take place in the early morning during the solstice. The gathering will then relocate to Cincinnati, Ohio for a unity walk, "Water Connects Us All" across the Purple People Bridge. Followed by a blessing ceremony at the Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati and closing speakers discussing, "Sacred Sites, Sacred Places, the Sacredness of All."

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Vigil for Reconciliation with Diocese of Covington

On the morning of Tuesday, January 22nd a small gathering of about 40 people occurred outside of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition, AIM of Kentucky and Indiana, and other supporters took turns speaking, singing, and praying for understanding.

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While there were several folks attempting to cause conflict the attitude overall was one of forgiveness and a desire to educate. Our elder Guy Jones was quoted saying, "We look at the entirety of it all - people are pointing and blaming each other - but the reality is this is a product or symptom that is growing as a country and we as a people have to go and put a stop to it. You've got all these young people saying let's make America great again. Yes, let's do that but let's stop the hate."
We intend to continue attempts to meet with Diocese leaders with hopes to do just that.

Press Conference and Public Meeting in Anderson Township, Ohio

The Coalition hosted a press conference prior to the Public Forum Meeting in Anderson Township regarding the mascot change of Anderson Township. You can read WCPO's report on it here. Coalition members Guy Jones, Jheri Neri, and Albert Ortiz spoke with members of the press at a press conference held prior to the meeting.
Only Anderson Township residents were allowed to speak at this meeting, but hundreds showed up. Tensions were high with many shouting over the speakers and those against the name change even singing the school fight song. The Re-Branding Committee listened to alternating pro and con speeches for two hours, and will be advising the School Board regarding the name change June 12th at 7pm at Nagel Middle School.