On January 11, 2024, Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough Munsee Lunaape Nation, and Barbara Williams, Associate of the Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine and also a member of the Lunaape Nation, came to Dominican Convent in Sparkill. It was a wonderful visit and some of the Sisters who had ministered in Montana with the People were part of this gathering. They offered native gifts and artifacts donated by Sisters who had served in Montana since 1973 to the Sweetwater Cultural Center in Stony Point, NY.
Over the years, Sisters have received many gifts and blessings from the native people of Montana. Some of these peoples have included the Assiniboine, Chippewa, Cree, Gros Ventre, Sioux, Salish, and Kootenai (Flathead) nations.
Dominican Sister Margaret O’Doherty, who had worked with the Chippewa Cree Nation for more than 40 years reached out and invited the Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine (SCD) from the Marydell Faith and Life Center in Nyack to participate in the meeting with Chief Perry. Sister Rose Vermette, former President of the SCD, developed a fund drive to assist the Ramapough Munsee Lunaape Nation. The Lunaape and the Sisters were like-minded in their commitment to respect humanity’s connection to the land and all creation.
Chief Dwayne Perry shared some of the startling local history of his people reaching back to the American Revolution. What we learned is that we don't know much about the Lunnape Nation's experience. We hope to continue our connection with Chief Perry to learn more. He said that he was delighted to be together and expressed his gratitude for the service and goodness of the Sisters and their Associates over many years, not only in Montana but in every part of the world.
Dominican Sister Dolores Shortal who served at St. Ignatius Mission on the Flathead Reservation said, “I found this experience very meaningful for me in learning about the tribal people around here because I don’t know them."... Sister Dolores continued, “This is time for us to give back. It’s going full circle.” She said that she was happy that these gifts and artifacts were being shared with those who have had so much taken away from them.
Some of the gifts that were shared may have been received by the Sisters during a sacred Give-Away Ceremony, which is a popular sacrificial tradition among the nations of the Great Plains. As such, it is appropriate that these gifts are now once again freely given away to the Lunaape People.
Notice of when this display of gifts is open and available to the public will be posted here. Everything is connected and our connection with the Ramapough Lunaape Nation will continue to grow and flourish.