Powwow 20th year anniversary Stamp Recognition Chairman Terlena Murphy Says Thank You

It is a great honor for us, The St. David’s Islanders and Native Community to be recognized by the Bermuda Post Office’s Philatelic Committee as a commemorative stamp issue, recognizing our bi-annual Powwow, on this our 20th year anniversary.

Globally, Native and Indigenous people are reclaiming their native culture, lost due to mass colonization. Restoring their lost languages and traditions, through research and education.

There was a time when we as black and native people here in Bermuda, could not express ourselves in our native tongues or through native customs, by having gatherings or dancing. Many of these events happened in secret. Colonialism here in Bermuda was engrained. As time passed, our elders became our ancestors and we as a people began to forget our cultural ways.

There are remnants… Not only in some of our physical features, but in how some of us have the art of storytelling, how to tie certain boat knots, or a dance move that our gombey’s display.

Like other native and indigenous peoples, we, the St. David’s Islanders and Native Committee have reclaimed our heritage.

This committee was formed with like-minded individuals who were researching their ‘lost’ family lineage. Spending hours at the archives, researching family records and building their ancestral findings to make connections with their lost legacy.

Many of our ancestors were bought here as enslaved people, with many of them coming from New England following the Pequot War (1636- 1637) and the King Philip’s war (1675-1676).

This committee was formally established in February 2002, as the St. David’s Island Reconnection Committee. Their initial focus was to reconnect its Native lineages from North America, mainly links to the Mashantucket Pequot, Mashpee Wampanoag, and Narragansett tribes. In celebration of its genealogical findings, and with a strong desire to reunite, the Committee held their first Reconnection Festival on June 15th & 16th, 2002.

Our mission is to preserve, illustrate, exhibit, and promote the unique heritage of St. David’s Island, as well as other Native cultures in Bermuda. Our goal is to obtain a permanent space for a museum to house various historical items and information that belongs to the organization.

As Bermudians, we now have more opportunities to learn and explore our history as a people through educational talks, museum exhibits, and cultural events.

Hosting the bi-annual powwow is how we share what we, as committee members, have learned from our reconnected family, who have graciously shared with us some of our lost cultural traditions.

Our name, The St. David’s Islanders and Native Community is meant to embrace all who have native or indigenous roots. We want to be an organization that shares their knowledge and embraces others.

It is with massive fundraising that we are hopeful our Powwow to return in 2023. Our initiatives extend beyond the powwow, which is our main event to share our culture. We are collaborating with the Warwick Gombey’s to one day, have that museum that would show the symbiotic relationship between us. We are currently working with the Ministry of Education by building a curriculum to educate our young people of our heritage.

Again, we are honored that you have thought to preserve our contribution to our collective culture with this commemorative stamp. I would like to think of this stamp as a collective thank you from the community to the founding committee members, who had a vision to not only reconnect with the lost part of themselves, because of their belief in who they were. But also, to our ancestors whose contributions were not in vain. They live on through our collective efforts.

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