A weekend-long Vigil for Native Life kicks off tonight downtown with a march starting at City Hall at 7 p.m. and proceeding to the William Henry Harrison monument in Piatt Park at Elm Street and Garfield Place. Participants will also visit the Hamilton County Courthouse before finishing at burial mound sites near Fountain Square.
Participants are encouraged to bring glow sticks or flashlights and dress for the weather. "Men may wear long gowns," organizers say, "as the earlier Lenape did when standing for peace and community as 'the women.' Sheets around waist, decorated or plain, are great. A peaceful, pro-active vigil — feel free to decorate clothing as art, but please no signs."
The vigil and march are sponsored by ARCHE: Arts Restoring Culture for Healing Earth, the Miami Valley Council for Native Americans, the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission and The Hillside Trust.
The weekend is being held under the theme of "SOS: Sowing Our Seed and Restoring Our Sacred Web" and includes events Saturday (at The Evergreen Holistic Center in Winton Hills) and Sunday (at the John Heckwelder Memorial Moravian Church in Gnadenhutten, near New Philadelphia.
"We wish to set the date of the Gnadenhutten Massacre (March 8-9) as an Ohio lands time of mourning," the event press release states, "to reflect on all native losses and disregard for our rich and sacred life and to honor Tecumseh’s birth in the month
of March, to inspire our passions for return to such cogent relatedness as our cognate native way of humanhood.
"We are entering spring, a time of transition when we plant for our harvest. The newer peoples of our place have been receiving from native ancestors and life of place here since our last invasion. This weekend is to set the intention for receiving and giving in honor of our life of place rather than just taking in disregard.
"For seven generations our lineage has mingled with Ohio waters and dusts of our ancestors cycling through us, as are their ways — of mutual society with all life and responsible freedom. We are made also of native foods, like maize, anciently cultivated native plants. Our culture has more embraced native life over these generations again. We can be more intentional in this yet with others,
bringing in our Age of Reconciliation."