Society's history

Thanks to the professional help of the late Edward Wolak, an attorney-in-law from Clifton, New Jersey, the Polish-American Ethnological Society was established in 1976 to honor the memory of Bronislaw Malinowski. The Original Signatories of the PAES Charter were the following: Melanie CHELSTOWSKI, Joseph CHLEBECEK, Mary DOMBROWSKI, Olga HABURA, Dominick MacARTHUR, Wanda MacARTHUR, Zdravko MALJKOVIC, Barbara PIOTROWSKA, Andrzej SZATYNSKI, Danuta SZATYNSKI, Ryszarda SZCZERBANIEWICZ, Maria SZPALA, Andrzej WALA,and Josephine ZELISKO

From 1976 to 1981, the organization’s headquarters were located in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. The years from 1976-1985 were not very productive, save the restructuring the organization. By 1981 only three nominal members remained, and the organization relocated in Atlantic City, NJ. Here, the PAES/PATE underwent a sudden revival in 1984-85, with an influx of a new Polish, “post-Solidarity” immigrants. With an expert help of Dr. Aleksander Posern-Zielinski, a professional ethnogrpher from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, the Society’s Research Council could fulfill the plans that had been made for ethnological field work, and invite new proposed prospective members to join. As a result the organization recruited Krzysztof Kopczynski, an ethnographer; and the late Prof. Edmund Urbanski, a historian and the chairman of Polish-Latin American Studies at PIASA (PIN) in New York.

In 1987 Marta Bierska, the PAES/PATE Secretary, found an article about the revival of a native peoples in South Jersey, the Nanicoke Lenni-Lenape Indians, Inc. of Bridgeton. The next year PAES/PATE established its first contact with them, and by 1994 the Tribal Council allowed us to open an anthropological survey, conducted by Joanna Trzcionkowska, a young ethnography student from Warsaw University, Poland.

In a meantime Jerzy Kolakowski, a young camera man, working for the Polish TV “Kalejdoskop” in Philadelphia, enthusiastically “advertised” the society. He organized an evening with Jacek Fedorowicz (1991) for the society’s cultural department, and introduced us to another ethnographer from Warsaw University, Ewa Dzurak (1992). The latter became soon our third Research Council director, inviting her colleagues, Anna Engelking and Slawomir Sikora to become involved with the organization.

Since 1990, PAES/PATE held annual anthropological seminars, and by 2019 there were twenty five of such meetings. The late Dr. Krzysztof Brozi, from Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland, became a member in 1991. Years of the last decade of the century (and millenium) were very lively in terms of our scholarly and cultural activities. Thanks to the energetic personalities of our membership: Krystyna Baliszewska, deputy director and Polish Language editor; Krzysztof Baliszewski, business advisor and social help organizer; Jerzy Czyz, computer specialist and former webpage designer; Aleksander Podolak, an actor; Barbara Nazarkiewicz, a poetess; Jozef Swatowski, a sports and recreation promotor; and others, like Maria Gryga, Genowefa Lichon, Malgorzata Oberc, Stefan Saracen, Elzbieta Schowgurow, Boguslawa Stankiewicz, Adam Strozyk, Elzbieta Swider and Barbara Wala, who worked devotedly for the society, the PAES/PATEwas able to offer yearly Christmas Party (“Oplatek”), with an excellent meals and a joyful atmosphere, and to present its scholarly achievements proudly during the annual seminars. In addition, PAES/PATE organized some scholarly meetings with Slawomir Sikora (1995), an ethnographer, co-editor of “Konteksty”, a periodical published by the Institute of Polish Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland; with Prof. Aleksander Posern-Zielinski (1998), the director of the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology in Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland; with Justyna Olko-Bajer (2001), an archaeologist from Warsaw University, after her field research in Nakum, Guatemala.

In 1997, the Secretary, Igor Fedasz, and the Executive Director, Andrew Wala, successfuly completed a laborious paper work, required by the Internal Revenue Service in establishing the Tax Exempt Status Number for our Society. Since that year PAES/PATE is officially defined as a non-for-profit organization.

In 1998 Andrew Wala was invited to have weekly radio speeches for the Polish Radio programs in Philadlphia. After completing 200 radio addresses the author decided to print them in a book: Z Atlantic City mówi do Państwa… (From Atlantic City speaks to you…). Profit from the book sell was given as his donation to the society. The laborious work, of preparing the text in computer for printing, was done free of charge by Urszula Popielakand Marek Maciolek (2004).

In 1999 Prof. John J. Beatty, an anthropologist from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York joined the organization. In that same year Prof. Posern-Zielinski introduced our society to the quarterly “Tawacin”, and its Editor-in-Chief, Marek Maciolek. Since then until 2010, PAES/PATE has entered into a fruitful collaboration with Tawacin and Tipi Publishing House ( many of our scholarly works were issued in the quarterly, and Andrew Wala, the PAES/PATE executive director, provided his periodical article Glos z Scheyechbi(A Voice from Scheyechbi) for many issues of “Tawacin”. At the same time Marek Maciolek has became our technical editor, and society, thanks to his expert help, was able to print its anthropological papers into one book in 2001: Referaty Seminariów Antropologicznych 1990-2000 (Papers of the Anthropological Seminars 1990-2000).

In 2000, at the invitation of Prof. Posern-Zielinski, PAES/PATE was able to send two delegates, Krzysztof Kopczynski and Andrew Wala along with their papers, to the 50th International Congress of Americanists in Warsaw. Anna M. Czyz, accompanied them as an observer. Alas, due to minor organizational problems, only one paper, Indians of New Jersey in 19th and 20th Centuries, by Andrew Wala, was presented. The participation in the congress brought new contacts. Bartosz Hlebowicz, an ethnographer from Jagiellonian University, and Ph.D. candidate under guidance of Prof. Posern-Zielinski, became member of the society. Interested in the Native revival movements in the Eastern Coast of USA, Bartosz Hlebowicz was introduced by the Society to the Tribal Council of Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians, and, with their approval, began to conduct ethnological research among the members of their community for three consecutive summer seasons (2001-2003). In summary, from 1988 until 2003 the ethnohistorical and anthropological research had been undertaken by Andrew Wala, Joanna Trzcionkowska and Bartosz Hlebowicz, thanks to understanding and help of the Nanticoke Lenni-LenapeChairman, Mark Gould, and also to Liz Munson, Tina Pierce, Patricia Rossello, and many other helpful members of NLL community. The research resulted in four papers about history and present problems of Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, and culminated in the Bartosz Hlebowicz’s doctorate dissertation (2004): Formation of Ethnic Identity Among Native American Groups in the Eastern Coast of the United States. Case Studies of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape from New Jersey, and the Oneida Nation from New York.

The summer of 2006 saw the 30th anniversary of our organization. The celebration culminated on July 14th, with the meeting in the Community Room of the Waterview Condominium in Ventnor. Anna Podolak, a rising Polish American theatrical star from Manhattan, NY, gave us a wonderful recital of poetic songs. Her father, Aleksander Podolak, a Polish actor of stage and screen, accompanied her. This performance was a “birthday present” to PAES/PATE. With the cordial help of the young people from the outside of the society, namely: Edyta Kuzian-Gluszkowski, Maciej Gluszkowski, Agnieszka Debiec and Rafal Debiec, the 30th anniversary was celebrated solemnly.

In the same year, a member of PAES/PATE, and the director of the first Polish Archaeological Expedition to Maya site in Nakum, Guatemala, Dr. Jaroslaw Zralka, together with his associate, Wieslaw Koszkul, both from the Institute of Archaeology of Jagiellonian University, have achieved a spectacular success, discovering an undisturbed tomb of the Maya ruler.

Years of 2007-2009 witnessed a heated discussion between Andrew Wala and the editors/stuff members of the quarterly TawacinMarek Maciolek, Marek Nowocien, Dr. Bartosz Hlebowicz, and also Dr. Mariusz Kairski and Łukasz Krokoszynski from UAM – over the ethical aspects of the conquest of America, and later, with Dr. Tarzycjusz Bulinski, over a specific interpretation of problems, associated with the bording schools for Indian children. Although this discussion deeply polarized positions of the involved parties, it also led to a new interesting contacts forPAES/PATE. Zofia Kozimor, from France, excels in a profound moral analysis of the discussed historical events, and she has established a very positive relation with the society. She also has opened her webpage as another forum for PAES/PATE in discussing the neglected issues of morality in the conquest of Native Americans, the following physical and cultural genocide, and the results of colonization.

After several unsuccessful attempts in previous years, PAES/PATE finally established an informal branch in Poland, 2009. Although informal, it is under energetic direction of the well known writer, and specialist in the Indian spirituality, Leszek Michalik from Sztum. The society is hoping to extend its activity in our native country, and find there a new enthusiastic members.

The long awaited second volume of the seminar papers finally were put into print in November 2009. Its technical preparation belongs again to the indispensable expert, Marek Maciolek from Wielichowo, Poland. Indianie Kalinago i inni… Referaty Seminariow Antropologicznych 2001-2008 (Kalinago Indians and others… Papers of the Anthropological Seminars 2001-2008) was sponsored in part by Starostwo Kolobrzeskie and in part by Iwona Kolakowska, a hotel proprietor from Ustronie Morskie, Poland.

An energetic and dedicated member of our EU branch in Poland, Aleksandra Janowska, from Dept. of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, proposed to organize anthropological conference (an initial project by Leszek Michalik) under the title “To be Indian, is…”. The conference was sponsored in part by the Department of E&CA, and in part by PAES/PATE. The two-days conference took place on October 28 &29, 2011, and presented 12 interesting papers. Dr. Jerzy Barankiewicz, Andrew Wala, both from USA, and prof. Aleksander Posern-Zielinski from Poland, represented the PAES/PATE.

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We have published three volumes of papers presented during our annual seminars.

Cover of the first volume of seminar papers

Cover of the second volume of seminar papers

Cover of the third volume
Cover of the third volume