Honoring our Past, and Looking Toward the Future Jeannine Lawless

Nov 23 2020
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Like many of you, Sewataro has been through a lot of change in 2020. Pandemic and new ownership aside, the biggest transformation in 2020 was our move away from Native American names and symbols. In honor of Native American Heritage Day, we thought we’d tell you a bit more about that evolution.

Living in a state named after the Confederation of Indigenous Massachusett, with a history closely tied to that of the Wampanoag of Pawtuxet, and many tribes local to the area around camp – Nipmuc, Cochituate, Nonantum, and Magaehnak (closest to what is now Sudbury!) – it is understandable that the founders of Sewataro (and many other camps of that generation) drew their inspiration from Native American history and folklore. With a focus on nature, respect, and oral traditions (are your kids still cheering and singing camp songs??), we spent many decades admiring and appreciating the lessons we could learn from Native Americans. In recent years, however, we realized that many of the ways that we were showing our appreciation were in fact appropriation, and as a business focused on growth, we knew that it was time for us to model an appropriate course correction for our community.

The first step was our beautiful new logo, shown above on one of the newly installed signs on the property! The next change was a complete renaming of all of our groups (no longer “tribes”), drawing inspiration from the land around us, now each named after a different type of tree! The Nipmuc are now Nutmeg, Iroquois are Hickory, Seneca are Sassafras, and so on. We have had so much fun learning about a whole new classification of nature and hearing all of the new cheers circulating around camp. Our campers and staff jumped into the change and never looked back, demonstrating the resilience that Sewataro is famous for, and we have absolutely loved rallying around our new camp theme. The last piece was renaming our Long House this fall (the building many of you know from our rainy day dismissal, now being used for a wide range of outdoor town programming), newly christened “Liberty Lodge!”

We are so grateful for the people who came before us – local Native Americans and the lessons they taught us about respecting and appreciating nature, Franklin Secatore and his careful development of our gorgeous property, and the entire Taylor family and the vision they had for “summer as it should be!” And we appreciate YOU, our Sewataro family, for all of the feedback and grace you have given us over the years. Our DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiative continues with a newly formed task force, and we are very much looking forward to what that means for camp today and into the future, as we work towards creating a camp community “as it should be.”

Warm wishes to you and your family,
All of us from Camp Sewataro

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