Sunday, June 10, 2012

Shorakapok tour yesterday

Harlan Pruden speaking at the Nature Center.  Photo: Jeff Dugan

Yesterday, Saturday June 9, 2012, a lecture and walking tour was led by NYC Parks Ranger Martha and Harlan Pruden, an Inwood resident and a member of the Cree Nation. 

The tour began with Ranger Martha describing her usual talk to school children about native peoples, their history, and what is commonly known of their day to day practices.  She said she always began by saying that native peoples did not generate garbage as we know it today and by asking the children to try to refrain from creating garbage for just one day.  She then shared the various items used as props for her lectures. She also described the planting style of native people who are known to have planted so that the plants intertwined and were mutually beneficial, such as corn with beans climbing its stalks, squash underneath to shade out weeds and keep moisture in the ground.

Harlan explained that he is dedicated to revealing the political and social issues for native peoples today and to demonstrating how misconceptions are promulgated in commonplace descriptions.  The intertwining of Ranger Martha's and Harlan's descriptions was very thought provoking for the tour.  Several people commented on how enlightening the combination was for them.
Ranger Martha speaking to the tour outside the Nature Center

The tour began in Inwood Hill Park inside the Nature Center and then went on a stroll around the marshland to the south, west to  Shorakapkok the rock formation just inside the woodland paths to Inwood Hill.  Passing the stone and plaque that describes the transaction between the Lenape and the Dutch of ownership of Manhattan Island, Harlan pointed out that the concept of private ownership was not a native concept.

We climbed to the caves and then Martha finished her portion of the tour at the spring near what the Parks Department describes as "Gaelic Field" the soccer field that was formerly covered by marshland.  Along the way, Ranger Martha pointed out the middens of Oyster shells that were the only garbage created by the native people.

We then passed Saturday farmers market, where we were reminded that native peoples had a planting ground just at that spot and beyond to the south and then climbed to the top of the hill in Isham Park, which is described in a New York Times article dated October 8, 1911, as a possible site for native ceremonies since burials of people and dogs had been recently located all around the hill near its base.   

Hope you can come out for next weeks tour which begins a little later:

 1:00pm at the Nature Center:

Where's the Water? Inwood's Springs and Wells of Yesteryear (and what became of them)
Don Rice co-organizer of “Lost Inwood” will expand his presentation at the Indian Road Café earlier this year:  “Running water wasn't available to Inwood residents until the later part of the 1800s. Before it became possible to simply turn on a faucet, how did people get fresh water to drink and use? The answer: a network of springs and wells which were spring-kled throughout northern Manhattan. We'll use our virtual dowsing rods to trace their story. Where were Inwood's springs and wells of yesteryear? Are any still around today?”

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