July 26, 1979
Gérard Antoine (a.k.a. "Tsonakwa") Rancourt
November 30, 1979
Gérard Antoine (a.k.a. "Tsonakwa") Rancourt
February 19, 1980
Gérard Antoine (a.k.a. "Tsonakwa") Rancourt
“My people … believe that all creatures – the two=legged – are the creations of the same Great Father. And we have the same Mother as well, for the Earth is our Mother. And if we have the same father and mother, then we are brothers and sisters. We are all a part of the sacred web of life.”
- Gerard Rancourt
February 19, 1980
Gerard Anthony Rancourt aka Tsonakwa, showing children a small Gardner snake.
March 14, 1980
Greensboro Daily News
Native American Gerry Tsonakwa Rancourt, a Canadian Abenaki, will be visiting artist and story-teller on Thursday and Friday
A Canadian Abenaki?
But wait a minute, wasn't he born in Meriden, CT as the documents show and support? Politicians lie, and so do FAKE "Abenakis"
(just like FAKE Cherokee's lie)
March 19 1980
The Hi-Po Newspaper, Page 08
By Linda Cain - Staff Writer
Students shown native lifestyle
The High Point College community is learning about the lifestyle of the North American Indian through a group of days designated as Native Awareness Days. The days March 10-22, 1980 emphasize the art, dance, and music of a people whose culture is closely tied to the earth.
The Days were organized by Chip Aldridge as part of an Independent Study for Dr. Hawk.
Through the Native American Awareness Days, Aldridge "hopes to be able to enlighten people who have a limited knowledge of Native American ways, help them to know that Native America is a living culture, and give a broader understanding of their depth of art and understanding of dance."
Highlights of the week include an art exhibit by the graphic artist Allen R. Waters of Stoneville, North Carolina in the lobby of the Campus Center, a talk by Aldridge on Modern Native Social Dancing from a cultural perspective and a visit from Gerry Tsonakwa Rancourt.
Aldridge became interested in Indian and Indian Culture through the "Order of the Arrow" an Honor Organization in the Boy Scouts.
The organizer said he met Rancourt at an Order of the Arrow sectional conclave, where Rancourt was serving as a judge for dancing competition. Since then he has had contact with Rancourt at several pow-wows and seminars on Indian culture.
Gérard Antoine (a.k.a. "Tsonakwa") Rancourt, a Canadian Abenaki, is currently artist in residence and Programs Coordinator for the Charlotte Natural Museum. He has formally held positions with Metrolina Native American Association and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has also been associated with American Indians for development and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
During his visit to High Point College he will lecture on the religion and sociology classes and give a display of his art work.
He will give a fire-side story telling on March 20, 1980 at 8:00 p.m. in the Old Student Center. The following day interested students are invited to have lunch in the Faculty dining room with him.
The week will conclude with a Tipi Demonstration of the Plains-style Cheyenne dwelling between Roberts Hall ad Womans Dorm and a Pow-Wow.
June 08, 1980
The Intelligencer Newspaper – Page C-1
By William J. Bartman – Intelligencer Staff Writer
‘Trail of tears’
American Indian history is written with a string of broken promises
Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Naragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarce and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun
– Tecumseh, Shawnee leader of the Indian
By the time the dull, callous winter relaxed its grasp on the United States of 1830, the great Cherokee nation had weathered more than 100 years of the white man’s wars, diseases and whiskey.
But on May 28 of that year, the Great White Father in Washington established a “permanent” Indian frontier, west of the Mississippi. Removal of the several thousand Cherokee from their encampments in the east was to have been gradual. When the winter winds returned in 1838, however, they were rounded up into prison camps and sent westward on a merciless forced migration that took them from the land of the rising sun to a place where the sun set amid endless prairies and waning buffalo. One of every four Cherokees died from cold, hunger or disease along the way.
Forevermore, history would sadly remember this tragic trek as the ‘trail of tears.’
The Cherokee nation is no more. Some Cherokees, however, still remain. Many live on reservations, where suicide and alcoholism have become a part of the way of life. Others have escaped the reservations.
One such Cherokee is Oneida Parr, who was brought to West Virginia by her grandfather 10 years ago [ca. 1970] and later settled in Warminster, PA where she lives with her white husband, Joseph, and their daughter, Sacheen Heather, 5 years old. Oneida Parr is perhaps typical of the urban Native American, trying to recall a dying heritage while attempting to accept an unnatural world of mortar and iron.
In the Delaware Valley there may be as many as 6,000 American Indians, spread out between three states without any sense of community. And not all came here because a relative sent for them.
While the nation prepared for World War II, the Great Father in Washington again decided that some southern Indians must relocate. A reservation in North Carolina was determined to be unfit for human habitation. Rather than improve the reservation, the government dispersed the Indians throughout the country, promising them things they say they never really received. Many came to the Philadelphia area, where they found jobs in war-related industries.
Most remained here – Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey – raised families and adopted a new home.
“They’re there,” Oneida Parr insists. “They’re just hiding in the woodwork.”
Oneida Parr was lucky a second time. She found the only place in the region where Native Americans can feel some sense of community.
The United American Indians of Delaware Valley [UAIDV] is located in a three-story, government-owned building on Chestnut Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Only a few blocks away is Independence Hall.
The center represents a dramatic change from the Indian villages of the tribes that have made urban Philadelphia their home – the Rappahanocks, Saponi, Nanticokes and Mohawks. The orders which used to come from the great White Father now come from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW).
The ANA represents, among other things, a promise to provide community for American Indians.
The Indians have a history of broken promises. But many think that is a thing of the past. The pledge of a permanent Indian frontier west of the Mississippi was, of course, eventually broken. Expansion after the war with Mexico saw to that.
According to members of the UAIDV [United American Indians of Delaware Valley], promises to Indian are still being broken.
Some Indians organizations have had their ANA grants suspended in recent months. The UAIDV was among them. Others have been threatened with suspensions, the Indians claim.
Two months ago, the ANA suspended $17,835.00 remaining in a yearly $52,500.00 dollar grant to the [UAIDV] Indian group. The ANA said that the Indians had shown “a lack of corporate capability.”
The trail of tears was a journey of sadness
The grant was reinstated several weeks ago. The Indians said that was because of publicity generated in the wake f the May 23, 1980 ‘short walk’ protest, in which they trekked 28 blocks to HEW headquarters. The ANA said the money was given back because the UAIDV had met requirements.
Indian leaders remain skeptical and not that the grant runs out at the end of this month, when they must receive approval for a new allocation. The Indians fear that the suspensions are linked to an ANA need for money for a new program called the Social and Economic Development Strategy (SEDS).
During the last few months UAIDV’s executive director has been fired amid charges of lies and improper loan-taking. The financial director has resigned and so have many members of the board of directors.
There have been internal problems here,” admits Gerard Rancourt Tsonakwa of Philadelphia, acting executive director of the UAIDV. “But they have been no different from the types of internal problems that are found in other corporate groups.”
Edward Wisniewski, ANA Program Specialist, said the funds were suspended (in order to protect lenders funds). The eight-year old UAIDV has been under suspension “several times in the past,” according to Wisniewski.
The ANA grant, he explains, is one of two major annual grants for the center. The other is a $210,000.00 dollar grant under the Comprehensive Education and Training Act (CETA).
In addition to job referrals and placement under CETA, the UAIDV center provides a long list of services. Among them are informing Indian youth of educational opportunities, college placement and an alcohol and drug program.
Indians, Gerard “Tsonakwa” Rancourt points out, are the lowest economic class and lowest educated people in North America.
Alcoholism, he says, “Is our most crucial problem. Seventy percent of our men are alcoholics. I am a reformed alcoholic myself.”
The UAIDV had been planning a satellite center to service American Indians in Bucks and Montgomery counties. About 80 Indians from the Bucks and Montgomery counties are now active in the Philadelphia center.
“If we lost this center, we will never be able to organize the outside areas,” said Tsonakwa. “if we lose this center, the whole community will disappear.”
The ANA set six requirements on the UAIDV before the grant could be reinstated. Among them were a requirement for giving the reasons for the executive director’s firing, a formal management plan and a complete audit of the CETA grant.
Another requirement was the hiring of a certified public accountant. “They have had many penalties from the IRS in the past for late filing of their taxes,” Wisniewski says.
The Indians have claimed ANA wants to get rid of Tsonakwa.
Edward Wiesniewki said the ANA had only asked the UAIDV to “provide documentation” on how Tsonakwa was selected as acting executive director, to determine if it was “a fair and competitive process.”
Tsonakwa, who admits he is an “activist,” says 54 Indians had applied for the position. “I am an activist,” he says. “But the only trouble I’ve ever made is when I see people doing wrong. That’s the kind of trouble – the only kind of trouble – I think there should be in the world.”
UAIDV members appear unanimous in their support for Tsonakwa, a 37 year old Abenaki Indian from Quebec, who has spent years in the south, learning and teaching about Indian heritage and customs.
“Tsonakwa is bringing back the old ways I had known before,” says Oneida Parr. The Indian philosophy she says, is both simply and beautiful. There is just one father, they believe, the Creator of all things. There is one mother, the earth. The father gives life, and the mother sustains it. Humanity is one with all in nature.
“The Indians had ecology for years,” Oneida says. “They just didn’t call it that.”
Oneida grew up on an Apache reservation in Arizona. Her step-father was Apache. She is three-quarters Cherokee, as one of her ancestors married an English settler.
She recalls that in Arizona, she was “more accepted by the Indians than by whites.” The Indians tried to avoid getting into the towns whenever possible. Oneida Parr can recall being in Arizona towns and asking for a drink of water. The answer, she recalls, was, “Sure, you can have a drink of water for free, but it’’ cost you a dime for the cup.”
Born Oneida Wonaka 28 years ago, she met her husband, Joseph, during the second saga of Wounded Knee. They live in middle-American surroundings, but Oneida tries to retain her Indian heritage. Her husband, an honorary member of the UAIDV, wholeheartedly obliges the wish. Hence the name to her daughter, Sacheen Heather.
As with all who use the center, Indian and non-Indian, Oneida Parr is concerned it will close because of the financial problems it is having. She only learned of its existence a short it ago, and now feels her happiness will be very short-lived.