Article ID: 1973
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,844
Times Read: 6,973
Type of Passage: Death
Date of Passage: October 28th. 1997
Author: Peg Aloi [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: March 1st. 1997
Times Viewed: 6,973
John Peters, supreme medicine man of the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian tribe and the first and only executive director of the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs, died at the age of 67.
Peters, whose traditional name was Slow Turtle, or Cjegktoonuppa in Wampanoag, died Monday after a long illness.
He pushed for laws that affected Indians throughout the country. He is credited with state legislation that became the model for the federal Native American Graves Repatriation Act, which requires museums and other institutions to return skeletal remains and cultural artifacts to Indian tribes.
John Peters also was a leader in creating the federal American Religious Freedom Act, and the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 which requires that all orphaned Native American children and those taken from their homes be placed in Indian homes or places that keep them in touch with their culture.
I met Slow Turtle about five years ago while acting as a volunteer for the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner, N.H. He was a man of wry humor and bold Spirit. His love for this Land and All Its Peoples was immense and he worked tirelessly spreading the message of caring for Mother Earth wherever he went.
"If people are going to get back into balance, they have to seek the truth. And then they have to start speaking the truth...and that is a very hard thing for people to do. The gift of "true speaking" is one of the greatest gifts a human can give to the world...because it changes so much and it is so rare today.", I remember him saying at one lecture.
Slow Turtle spoke often about his concern for the next 'seven generations" to come-our children's' children-and what kind of a legacy that we would leave to them.
Slow Turtle's own legacy will live on. He will live on through his words, through his work and by his Spirit. This country still has much to answer for in its treatment of the "People of the First Light". I think Slow Turtle will be watching us still...and smiling each time someone dares to do that hard thing he spoke about. I think he will smile each time someone dares to tell the Truth.
May he smile often....
Location: Jamaica Plain, USA
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