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#1 Nov-29-2015 11:26:am

Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4337

An Evening with Evan Pritchard

An evening with Evan Pritchard

On April 1, 2003, I set out for a meeting of the "AHA" in Morristown, New Jersey, to listen to a talk being given by Evan T. Pritchard, Professor of Native American Studies at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York. I had already, by this time, written my first two unfavorable reviews of his book, NATIVE NEW YORKERS, and my intention was to put some hard questions to him, in this public venue-in front of an audience of historians. My plan was, however, scuttled, when I arrived to find that the "AHA" was NOT, as I had supposed, the "American Historical Association"-but the "Alliance for Higher Awareness"! Uh-oh. Anyway, I jotted down the following account, the next day, and sent it to a friend.


I did not challenge Pritchard, at this event, because it was clear that the fifty or so people assembled to hear him were looking for a religious experience, rather than a lecture on history and/or linguistics. This AHA group was not a chapter of the American Historical Association, but the "Alliance for Higher Awareness." These folks seemed to take this meeting as a spiritual service, and Pritchard knew just how to give them what they wanted.

Prior to the formal proceedings, I overheard Pritchard telling a woman that he had a distinct memory of one of his past lives, as a Hindu, in Madras, India.

A few minutes before things got started, I saw Pritchard "double-dipping" celery sticks in the vegetable dip. This doesn't bother a lot of people, but the thought of folks swallowing Pritchard's saliva repulsed me. Still, they were about to swallow a lot more than that from the mouth of the master!

A minister of Beloved Light Ministries--a branch of the Divine Intervention Church of Star Fuentes--began things by leading all of us in a meditation on the seven chakras in our subtle bodies. This lasted about twenty minutes.

Now, it was Pritchard's turn. He began with a "Song of Welcome," which he said was a Munsee song. I never heard of such a song in Munsee. Anyway, he sang it and got most of the group to "sing along." He claimed he was "authorized" by the Munsees to do this.

Next, he conducted a smudging ceremony; lighting some sweet grass and smudging each of us, in turn. While doing this, he played (on a tape player) what he said was "an Unami Washiniki song." (I've never heard of such a word nor such a song.) He said he was "authorized" to play this song, too!

Then, he prayed to "Kishi Manitou," and told the "Creation Story of the Lenape." This is that "Earth Diver" story he has at his website. It's a modern adaptation of a Lenape story. Pritchard claims it originated in Bayonne, NJ!

Now, he delved into his Micmac/Lenape philosophy. Animals have no word for time. There is no word for time in Algonquin languages. The "Great Spirit" and "Father Sky" are the same person. The word, kigenolewoagan ("sign"--as in "sign from God") comes from ki ('you'), ge ('teaching'), he forgot the syllable, no, le ('wonderful'), woagan ('state of being). All this etymological analysis is, of course, pure invention, on his part.

Hereupon, we were treated with a recording of his Unami and English poem, "You and I are like Water," complete with orchestral score. In his NATIVE NEW YORKERS, this poem refers to the Lenape westward migration. But, here, Pritchard finds an esoteric meaning in it. It refers not to leaving their homeland, but to the soul leaving the mundane sphere. He pronounces Lenape Hoking (as he writes it) with stress on the final syllable. It's actually one word, "Lenapehoking," with stress on the next-to-last syllable.

By now, he's talking about "midnight of the soul," "oneness with God," "living in this moment, now," and other pop-spirituality cliches. (Poor St. John of the Cross! He must have spun in his grave, hearing this misuse of his reflections!)

By this time, everyone in the room is in some sort of meditative posture (lotus position, bowed head, etc.) with their eyes closed. All but two, that is. While continuing his spiel, Pritchard is looking around to see how he's doing... and I'm watching Pritchard.

Next, Pritchard says there are four Lenape "Landkeepers." These are the spirits of four Lenape holy men, who guard the ancient homeland.. Their names will be familiar to you: "Neolin," "Wangomend," "Papunhank" and "Ol---" (I didn't get this fourth one, fully). {P. doesn't seem to know that John Papunhank was a Christian convert and a close friend of Zeisberger!} He says they once lived, but now live in eternity. You can pray to them for help. He instructed the group to "visualize walking with the Lenape Landkeepers." Ask them for advice. One may give you a "gift." They may come to your bed, at night, and tell you stories.

Here, he told his version of "Quail Boy." Again, he explains the legend in an esoteric way. It's an allegory of the soul shedding the body.

Now, he tells a Micmac story: The boy and the bear. Not sure what his purpose was in telling this one. Maybe it was a "time-filler."

Then, Pritchard tells us that the Lenape often lived in timelessness. In this state, there is a blue light around us. It is here that the Creator will tell you to do something.

Finally, Pritchard says he did his "vision quest" in the Rocky Mountains, when he was 16. God told him to go to New York City. Years later, he realized that God wanted him to write the Lenape history of New York, "from the Indian perspective"! (ETP claims to be 1/8 Micmac and part-Wampanoag.) The result is his NATIVE NEW YORKERS: THE LEGACY OF THE ALGONQUIN PEOPLE OF NEW YORK.

At this point, he told everyone to open their eyes and "come back" (from their individual reveries, I suppose). Here, we would take a ten-minute break, after which he would take questions. It being very clear that *THIS* audience was only interested in spiritual matters, I exited the Masonic Temple and headed home.

It was quite a performance! It was received well, and the "professor" sold a lot of books.

Last edited by sschkaak (Dec-01-2015 09:42:am)



#2 Nov-29-2015 11:28:am

Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4337

Re: An Evening with Evan Pritchard

Letter from Stephen Augustine, July 20, 2006


I hope you are Raymond Whritenour. I read your review of Pritchard's book on Native New Yorkers? And I agree with your assessment and criticism.

Another thing, Evan Pritchard came to New Brunswick in 1990 searching for Celtic ancestors (Mewers or Meyers) in the Miramichi area. I had been working with Mi'kmaq literacy at the time and he interviewed me about my work on Mi'kmaq history and language. I introduced him to my brother Joe Edmond Augustine and another elder Albert Ward. Evan was taken into a sweat-lodge by Elder Albert Ward and my brother. Sometime later in 1991 Evan Pritchard came up with a short book he called "Micmac Words and Phrases". He bounced some concepts and words off me and I shared a Creation Story which had been passed down in my family for many generations. It is the version that you will find on the internet, I don't know who put it on there. Evan Pritchard published the Micmac Phrase book and he put my name on it with his. That is how he got started with Native American knowledge.

Evan invited my brother and Albert Ward to do Mi'kmaq ceremonies in Beacon, New York and Evan apparently video and audio taped these activities, I assume to study. This is how Evan Pritchard became a Micmac. He has been publishing most of the material on Mi'kmaq history and language ever since. He has erroneously recorded and translated Mi'kmaq words and has published lots of sensitive information erroneously about our spiritual practices. Evan is not a Micmac as he says he is. I have sent emails to him warning him not to continue identifying himself as a Micmac or even as a descendant of Micmacs.

I am a member of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council as a Hereditary Chief and as a Keptin of Signigtog. The Grand Council is the traditional governance structure which represents all the Mi'kmaq Nation numbering about 35,000 people.

Evan Pritchard recently told me he was descended from the Moose family, when I confronted him at the British High Commission in Ottawa about his identity. There is no Moose family and I have never come across the name in my thirty years of researching Mi'kmaq history.   

I have noticed that he is now blogging himself as a descendant of Algonquian. How general can one get?

Please respond to me so that I know you have received this message.

All the best,

Stephen J Augustine, M.A.
Curator of Ethnology (Eastern Maritimes)
Ethnology Services Division
100 Laurier Street, P.O. Box 3100, Station B
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
J8X 4H2
(819) 776-8495     Fax (899) 776-8429



#3 Nov-29-2015 06:54:pm

Registered: Sep-11-2007
Posts: 968

Re: An Evening with Evan Pritchard


Last edited by Suckachsinheet (Nov-29-2015 06:58:pm)

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