HYANNIS – Members of the Wampanoag Tribe who are interested in land conservation have joined together to form a new land trust that will focus on preserving land within the tribe’s historic geographic area.
The nonprofit Native Land Conservancy received an endorsement this week from Kerry Kennedy, a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy.
Kennedy, who is president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, met with the Native Land Conservancy board to offer her support on Friday, October 17 at the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce in Hyannis.
Kennedy said she is interested in the concept of Native Americans striving to rescue land for conservation and restoration within their ancestral homelands.
The trust’s mission is to preserve and protect natural and cultural resources, sacred sites, habitats, ecosystems and ancestral village sites located in Eastern Massachusetts. The trust is based in Mashpee but is operating regionally.
Leslie Jonas, board member of the Native Land Conservancy, said, “We are pleased to host this round table discussion with Ms. Kennedy and explore ways our organizations can work together to protect lands which have longstanding cultural and historical significance to local tribes.”
Also attending the session at the chamber were additional members of the Native Land Conservancy, along with representatives of other Cape Cod based land trusts, Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, and Mark Robinson, Executive Director of The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, Inc.
The Native Land Conservancy, Inc. was founded by Ramona Peters of Mashpee. She and other Native American people formed the non-profit to rescue land that may need restoration or protection.
The group is dedicated to the continuation of Native American traditional life ways of the Northeast. The organization is open to non-Native members and members of other tribal groups. In Native American belief systems the human being is meant to be one with nature. One of the intentions of the trust is to foster healthy natural environments to provide safe spaces for people to re-connect with nature.
It is the first native-led land trust east of the Mississippi River and partners with other local and regional land conservancies to preserve land and provide tribal wisdom on land management practices.
The trust’s board has a collection of knowledge about the natural world and receives assistance from an advisory board that includes Kris Clark, Mark Robinson, and Mark Forest. It is a group committed to protecting lands from the challenges of over development, lack of access to waterways, pollution, and habitat and species loss.
The trust received a start-up grant for operations from the Fields Pond Foundation of Waltham. It joined The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, Inc. in 2014 to learn from and align efforts with other established land trusts.
The trust is open to everyone. Members do not have to be of Native American lineage. It is not affiliated with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.