You might have read about changes surrounding Flying Cloud programming last summer, and I want to outline them here. We ended the long tradition of giving Flying Cloud names, which were names (typically) based on elements from nature that we felt represented an individual’s best qualities. These names were given by the whole community during a Naming Ceremony, during which anyone could speak to what they love and appreciate most about the person being named for all in attendance to hear.We now have a similar ceremony, called the Honoring Ceremony. During the Honoring Ceremony, new members of our community being honored receive Words. FC Words, like Names, are derived from elements of the natural world and our community and represent the things we appreciate and love the most about the individual being honored. Words are given during the Honoring Ceremony after everyone has spoken about the individual being honored. The difference is that they are closer to a poem in structure, typically being around ten words over two lines, and are not to be spoken as names.

These changes have been made largely because of an ongoing effort to move away from practices and traditions derived from Native American culture and ceremony at Flying Cloud, practices which have been a part of the camp for decades. These practices have brought us closer to the earth and each other, and we’re thankful for that. They have also had the unintentional consequence of alienating some Native American communities and individuals by using ceremonies and elements of native culture that were never ours. However, we still hold many of the values expressed and honored by these practices in the highest regard and hope to develop our own cultural elements at Flying Cloud that celebrate these values.

We respect and appreciate the power and impact Flying Cloud Names have had on generations of amazing, caring and thoughtful young people and adults. For that reason, while we no longer use FC names in the clearing, we recognize and support alumni who choose to continue to use their FC names beyond the clearing, in other F&W spaces. We hold you, and all that Flying Cloud has meant to you, both past and present, in the Light.

As with many processes and decisions at F&W, we plan to continue the conversation with alumni and community members in the coming year, as we began at the 2017 Fall Harvest Weekend. We also value the input and support of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, of which Bill “Flying Cloud” Cook was a member. We have a tremendous opportunity to honor our past, while seeking multiple perspectives to inform our future. For that, we are grateful for your willingness to engage in these topics, with Farm & Wilderness, and with the Flying Cloud community.

Feel free to get in touch with me at [email protected] if you have any questions or you’d like to continue this conversation

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