Photos: Commemorative Stamp Unveiling

August 5, 2022

The Bermuda Post Office [BPO] held a Commemorative Stamp unveiling yesterday [Aug 4] in recognition of the St David’s Islanders and Native Community’s 20th Anniversary Pow Wow.

“It is critically important that we preserve the traditions and culture of our Native American ancestors, such as the Pow Wow, to remind all of Bermuda of this poignant and prominent part of our history,” said Minister Wayne Furbert at the unveiling.

Minister Furbert stated, “I welcome you all here today to join us on this momentous and auspicious occasion. I cannot think of a more fitting location for this event than the picturesque grounds of St David’s County Cricket Club, which has played, and continues to play, such an enormous role in the life of the St David’s community.

“Today, we are gathered to officially launch the issue of the St David’s Islanders and Native Community Pow Wow Stamp. These stamps seek to capture the glorious and rich heritage that forms part of the cultural identity of St David’s in particular and Bermuda in general.

“It is a historical fact that Native Americans were brought from the Americas to our shores as enslaved people. We know that a significant portion of these slaves settled here in St David’s, while others went further afield across Bermuda. It is also a fact that many Bermudians, therefore, have the blood of Native American slaves coursing through their veins.

“As we participate in our emancipation observances in Bermuda this month, it is appropriate that we also remember to honour the many Native American slaves who were brought to the island in the 1600s. Their legacy and cultural impact are deeply embedded in our history. They have shaped our community over many generations, and I know that throngs of Bermudians are extremely proud of their native American roots, and rightly so. Where once this ancestral lineage was the subject of ridicule and scorn, especially towards St David’s Islanders, they are now the source of immense pride by many Bermudians.

“Since the St. David’s Islanders and Native Committee was founded in 2002, the St. David’s Pow Wow has become an increasingly important event on our community calendar – where stories, customs, and traditions can be preserved and handed down from one generation to the next. It is heartening to note that so many Bermudians have embraced their Native American heritage and are now proud to be associated with and a part of it.

“So today, we are very pleased to present the stamp issue that will commemorate the St David’s Islander and Native Community Pow Wow.

“By way of background, the Stamp Design Advisory Committee had planned to commemorate the Pow Wow in 2020, but due to the pandemic, the event was cancelled. The Committee postponed this stamp issue until the next Pow Wow event in June 2022 to coincide with the St David’s Islander and Native Community’s 20th anniversary of community togetherness and cultural preservation.

“The newest stamps, which feature vibrant imagery of this key aspect of our culture and heritage, are now available for purchase from the General Post Office in Hamilton, as well as various sub-post offices around the island.

“The Bermuda Post Office is pleased to join in celebrating our Native ancestral connections with this unique commemorative stamp series highlighting the St. David’s Pow Wow as an integral thread in the fabric of our island culture.”

Chairperson of The St. David’s Islanders and Native Community Terlena Murphy’s remarks:

First, I would like to acknowledge Mr. Wayne Furbert, Minister of the Cabinet Office, Lieutenant Colonel Edward Lamb, Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet Office, Mr. Samuel Brangman, Postmaster General, the Philatelic Committee and Mrs. Idalia Fox, the Philatelic Coordinator.

It is a great honor for us, The St. David’s Islanders and Native Community to be recognized by the Bermuda Post Office’s Philatelic Committee as a commemorative stamp issue, recognizing our bi-annual Powwow, on this our 20th year anniversary.

Globally, Native and Indigenous people are reclaiming their native culture, lost due to mass colonization. Restoring their lost languages and traditions, through research and education.

There was a time when we as black and native people here in Bermuda, could not express ourselves in our native tongues or through native customs, by having gatherings or dancing. Many of these events happened in secret. Colonialism here in Bermuda was engrained. As time passed, our elders became our ancestors and we as a people began to forget our cultural ways.

There are remnants… Not only in some of our physical features, but in how some of us have the art of storytelling, how to tie certain boat knots, or a dance move that our gombey’s display.

Like other native and indigenous peoples, we, the St. David’s Islanders and Native Committee have reclaimed our heritage.

This committee was formed with like-minded individuals who were researching their ‘lost’ family lineage. Spending hours at the archives, researching family records and building their ancestral findings to make connections with their lost legacy.

Many of our ancestors were bought here as enslaved people, with many of them coming from New England following the Pequot War [1636- 1637] and the King Philip’s war [1675-1676].

This committee was formally established in February 2002, as the St. David’s Island Reconnection Committee. Their initial focus was to reconnect its Native lineages from North America, mainly links to the Mashantucket Pequot, Mashpee Wampanoag, and Narragansett tribes. In celebration of its genealogical findings, and with a strong desire to reunite, the Committee held their first Reconnection Festival on June 15th & 16th, 2002.

Our mission is to preserve, illustrate, exhibit, and promote the unique heritage of St. David’s Island, as well as other Native cultures in Bermuda. Our goal is to obtain a permanent space for a museum to house various historical items and information that belongs to the organization.

As Bermudians, we now have more opportunities to learn and explore our history as a people through educational talks, museum exhibits, and cultural events.

Hosting the bi-annual powwow is how we share what we, as committee members, have learned from our reconnected family, who have graciously shared with us some of our lost cultural traditions.

Our name, The St. David’s Islanders and Native Community is meant to embrace all who have native or indigenous roots. We want to be an organization that shares their knowledge and embraces others.

It is with massive fundraising that we are hopeful our Powwow to return in 2023. Our initiatives extend beyond the powwow, which is our main event to share our culture. We are collaborating with the Warwick Gombey’s to one day, have that museum that would show the symbiotic relationship between us. We are currently working with the Ministry of Education by building a curriculum to educate our young people of our heritage.

Again, we are honored that you have thought to preserve our contribution to our collective culture with this commemorative stamp. I would like to think of this stamp as a collective thank you from the community to the founding committee members, who had a vision to not only reconnect with the lost part of themselves, because of their belief in who they were. But also, to our ancestors whose contributions were not in vain. They live on through our collective efforts.

Commemorative Stamps Presentation Bermuda Aug 2022 (1)

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  1. Observer says:

    Indigenous doesn’t apply to people who were brought here by others already here.