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Returning to Our Ancestral Homelands

March 6, 2018

By: A female youth member of Ekvn-Yefolecv Maskoke Ecovillage

In rural Weogufka, Alabama, a reclamation of Indigenous Maskoke land and reestablishment of the traditional village system is taking place. The organization Ekvn-Yefolecv is a Maskoke collective committed to embracing the role of protecting and reviving traditional relationships to the earth while revitalizing language and culture.

 

This is Indian Land

On January 12, 2018, Ekvn-Yefolecv became official “land owners” of 577 acres of Alabama woods. Our settling in has been full of welcoming feelings from our ancestors and the sacredness of the land, and surprises from many external factors.

The entire process of Indigenous Peoples searching for their ancestral land to purchase was sometimes comical, difficult, and a lengthy process. There were a lot of twists and turns, but ultimately it provided everyone in our community the opportunity to reflect on our current life positions, our ancestors’, and our future generations’. From the minute we stood in front of the Weogufka creek that flows through this land, we knew this was home. It is in fact a village site once inhabited our ancestors prior to forced removal in 1836.  It brings us all immense joy and humility to return. When I see my little cousins laughing and running through the fields where our ecovillage and ceremonial life will be, I feel overwhelmed with hope and love. When I see the elders imagining their lives here, and experiencing the same warmth from the ones before us, my heart is whole. We are ready for the work ahead of us.

 

The First Steps

As of now, we have been creating relationships with locals and meeting with folks who will work with us on village projects in the near future. In December we met with Mark Mazziotti, a natural builder from Red River Farms, who will help us build our straw bale homes and other structures similar to the ones we traditionally lived in. To assist us with the master plan, Daniel Glenn, a Crow architect from 7 Directions Architects and Planners, and his partner Valerie Kinast, joined us in January. Ekvn-Yefolecv is blessed to be able to work with such skilled, earth-conscious individuals. These visits helped our organization engage conversations about our ancestors’ simplistic, and seemingly conservation based, lifeways.  Seeking a just transition from a world of overwhelming material consumerism and complete lack of consideration and concern for the natural world brings us challenges. Unfortunately, it is easy to become comfortable with all the convenience that capitalism glorifies and enables. Although that world has influence, we have returned to our homelands to heal. These natural homes truly put into perspective all of the things that world forces us to depend on, and the conveniences we must sacrifice in order to revive our spirits. Our homes also teach us that we were meant to spend our days outside, working and communicating. Our home is a shelter that we appreciate and love, but don’t remain idle in. We learn the simplicity and modesty of the lives our ancestors lived, and in so doing, the sacredness that everything holds.

 

Bringing back the Buffalo

We have also been meeting with a charming family of small-scale bison farmers to help us form our relationship with buffalo once again. Buffalo remain culturally important to our people, and our ecovillage is committed to regenerating our relationship to them by bringing them to this land. In the village we intend to mend the relationship we share with what nourishes us, animals and plants alike. Therefore, organic, small-scale farming is a practice we strongly believe in and plan to rely on.

Our people were displaced from our homelands, separated and left to recreate and rebuild to make distant places home. This ecovillage consists of Maskoke persons whose families ended up in Florida, Oklahoma, and south Alabama with deep histories of loss and survival. Our fundamental mission is to heal here in our ancestral homelands and holistically be Maskoke People in a linguistically and culturally grounded Maskoke world. With the reciprocal help from our ancestors and the natural elements, Ekvn-Yefolecv proceeds on the path to spiritual, environmental, and traditional recovery and wellness.