Posts Tagged ‘Native Americans’

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Porcupines: The Original Bark Eaters

Porcupine photographed by Mary HarrschWhat fearless animal has an adorable face, plows snow all winter and has a six-million acre park named after it?

One of 29 species worldwide, the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is the largest New World species, growing to 36 inches long and weighing as much as 35 pounds. That makes it the second-largest North American rodent behind the beaver, but still puny compared to an African crested porcupine which can exceed 60 pounds. It is also the only cold-hardy porcupine, and one of the few that regularly climb trees. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Native Foods On The Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving-BrownscombeThe winter of 1620 nearly wiped out the Pilgrims, who were woefully unprepared for life in the New world. Many historians feel they would all have perished if not for food provided by the Wampanoags, on whose land they settled. The following spring, the Wampanoags provided the Pilgrims with seeds to plant, as well as a tutorial (possibly an App, but we can’t be sure) on the production, storage and preservation of food crops such as corn, beans, and squash.

That fall – we’re not even sure if it was October or November – the Pilgrims gave thanks for Native American agriculture, and feasted upon its bounty for three days straight. The Wampanoags probably gave thanks that there wasn’t another ship full of Pilgrims on the horizon just then. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Native Foods: All About Cranberries

Cranberries - Keith Weller, Agricultural Research Service PhotoLike the political process, cranberries can leave a sour taste in your mouth. But unlike politics, whose bitter aftertaste cuts through any amount of sweetener, the flavor of cranberries is readily improved with a little sugar.

To say a fresh cranberry is sour is like saying Picasso and Monet are reasonably good painters. In fact it can have a lower pH value than stomach acid. It’s almost a wonder people ever started eating them, right? » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Great Pumpkins: Storing Garden Squash

Traugers-farm-bucks-county-largeLinus, the precocious, blanket-toting “Peanuts” character, waited faithfully for The Great Pumpkin all night on Halloween in spite of being disappointed every year. Perhaps his unwavering belief in the mythical pumpkin was spurred on by the fact that almost every year brings the world a bigger “great pumpkin” of the sort one can measure and – at least potentially – eat. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Lake Champlain Bridge History Tour Planned

Crown Point Bridge Lake Champlain by John WarrenOn Sunday, August 30, 2015, at 1 pm, history and views from the Lake Champlain Bridge will be the highlights of a guided bridge walk offered by the Chimney Point State Historic Site in Addison, Vermont, and Crown Point State Historic Site in Crown Point, New York.  Site manager Elsa Gilbertson (VT) and historian Tom Hughes (NY) will lead the tour.

Participants should meet at the Chimney Point State Historic Site museum on the Vermont end of the bridge to start.  Allow two hours to walk back and forth across the bridge during the tour that explores the 9,000 years of human habitation at this important location on Lake Champlain.  » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Maple Syrup Production and Slavery

Native Woman collecting sapThe sight of maple sap bubbling away in an evaporator pan, the sweet smell in the air and the camaraderie of sugarin’ season are welcomed signs of spring here in the Adirondacks. It also has an interesting history; there is a connection between maple sugar production, slavery in the United States, and socially responsible investing.

Early settlers watched Native Americans slash the bark of mature maple trees during the “sugar month” (even today the full moon in March is called the “Sugaring Moon”). As the trees released their sap from these gashes the clear sweet liquid would be funneled through a series of concave pieces of birch bark stitched together with reeds to the base of each tree where a sealed birch bark basket stored the sap. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Remembering Peace and Friendship

cathyblog1November 11, 2014 marked the 220th year of the Canandaigua Treaty, which was signed in 1794 by United States representative Colonel Timothy Pickering, and leaders of the Haudenosaunee Nations: the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora. The Canandaigua Treaty established peace, friendship, and respect between the Nations and the United States.

Each year leaders of these Sovereign Nations and others remembering and honoring the treaty meet at the original site of the treaty’s signing, a place called Council Rock.  Council Rock sits on the front lawn of the Ontario County Courthouse on Main Street in Canandaigua, NY. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sir John Johnson’s Escape: A Tale Retold

SJJ portait 2The legend of Sir John Johnson’s role in naming Raquette Lake has been written and re-written for more than a century.   Below is the earliest source I have found, from the 1891 Annual Report of the New York State Forest Commission.

Its name is founded on a bit of history, hitherto traditional. During the War of the Revolution, a party of Indians and British soldiers, under command of Sir John Johnson… passed through the wilderness on their way from the Mohawk Valley to Canada. It was in the winter time, and, on reaching this lake, the party was overtaken by a sudden thaw, which made further travel on snow-shoes impossible. As the Indians and soldiers did not want to carry their snow-shoes, or raquettes, as they termed them, they piled them up and covered them over, making a large heap that remained there many years. The expedition had reached the South Inlet when the thaw set in, and it was there, on a point of land, that the pile was made… Old Mr. Woods, the pioneer settler of Raquette Lake, heard this story from the Indians themselves, and often pointed out to hunters the decaying fragments of the raquettes.

Believing that “Old Mr. Woods” refers to William Wood, I was intrigued to unravel the mysteries of this folklore. Wood was known to be close friends with local Native Americans, and the passage continues with a reference to Woods “in company with ‘Honest John Plumley’, Murray’s celebrated guide”. Wood sold his land on Indian Point to Plumley in 1859. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mitchell Sabattis, Abenaki Guide and Boatbuilder

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 9.17.23 PMWhen I walk the land around Matthew Beach’s original hut and William Wood’s shanty on Raquette Lake’s Indian Point, I imagine the Abenaki guide Mitchell Sabattis pulling into their landings in a canoe or guideboat made by his own hand. Indian Point was a waypoint for many a traveler boating through the Central Adirondacks.

While it is impossible to know how often Sabattis visited those acres, we have written record of at least three occasions: his trips with Joel Tyler Headley in 1844-46, accompanying C. W. Webber in 1849, and an expedition of women who explored the region in 1873 (beautifully told in Barbara McMartin’s book To the Lake of the Skies).

Sabattis guided for my great-great-grandfather George Hornell Thacher in 1862 as he explored the region from a base camp Sabattis had on Blue Mountain Lake’s Crane Point. Even if Thacher and his guide traveled to Raquette Lake however, it’s unlikely they spent a night on Indian Point.  Sabattis maintained a campsite from 1852 to 1877 on Watch Point according to Ken Hawks, who now owns the property. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Case of the Indian Arrow Etched in Stone

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 9.50.31 PMMy cousin Stephen Fitzpatrick showed me a mark that is chiseled into a rock just outside the front door of our family’s little red one-room cabin on Indian Point. The mark vaguely appears like an arrow but with a crosshair at the top instead of a point. Stephen applied an ink dye to the mark so it is more visible in this photo.

Stephen remembers asking his mother about the mark, and she said that her father claimed it was there when he first came to the Point in 1910.

The mark itself is intriguing, but the mystery deepened when Stephen explained that the crosshair is actually a compass rose.   The large line runs almost perfectly north-south, and the smaller line is nearly east-west.

Curiosity piqued, I firmly slapped on my amateur sleuth’s cap. » Continue Reading.


Friday, July 25, 2014

25th Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Classic

Lake Placid LacrosseLake Placid Lacrosse is hosting more than 245 teams playing in 18 divisions of competition during the 25th Annual Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Classic, August 4-10 at the North Elba Show Grounds. More than 5,000 people are expected at the event. The film “America’s First Game”, followed by a lacrosse symposium, will be shown at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on Tuesday night, Aug. 5, at 7:30 pm.

Lacrosse is a Native American contact sport, originally played with large teams (100 to 1,000 or more) over a third of a mile field from sunup to sundown for days. Lacrosse was part of ceremonial ritual first described in writing in 1637 by Jean de Brébeuf, a French Jesuit missionary among the Mohawk in present day New York. Today it is a widely popular sport with of teams of 12, especially in the Eastern United States and Canada. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Raquette Lake: Why ‘Indian’ Point?

Stoddard from CragsWriting  in The Adirondack; or Life in the Woods (1849) Joel Tyler Headley remarked that Indian Point on Raquette Lake was so-named “because there was once an Indian settlement upon it”.  But until recently, the idea of large, permanent Native American settlements within the Adirondacks has been discounted by scholars. Ongoing research however, suggests that may not be the case.

On thing we do know for sure is that Adirondack interior was a seasonal hunting ground for the Iroquoian and Algonquin-speaking communities and there is considerable evidence that the Raquette Lake area was used extensively by the Mohawk.  » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Herreshoff Manor: Witness to Tragedy

P506 Herreshoff Manor 1892Photographs of the Herreshoff Manor that stood in today’s Thendara depict what could easily pass for a haunted house.  It seems that the building, which stood on an elevation of land not present today, overlooking then (1892) newly built Fulton Chain Station, would collapse with the next stiff breeze.

The story of this structure cannot be told without telling of the trials of its occupants:  Herreshoff, Foster, Waters, Grant, Arnold, Short and Sperry.  Tragedy would be the common thread among those connected with this building. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Women’s History: Some Notable Adirondack Women

Jeanne Robert Foster (Johnsburg Historical Society)The Adirondack Region of New York State is known for not only for its scenic beauty, but also for the strength and stubbornness of its people. This is especially true of its women. The early years of its history featured women who were particularly strong and resilient.

Phebe Cary was not only a woman, she was a full-blooded Abenaki. The story goes that at age 13 she was sold off by her father to William Dalaba. It is unclear if she was sold off by her father or whether William just paid her father a dowry. What is clear is that after William left money with her father, she was sent off – against her will – with a new husband to the 1857 wilderness of Bakers Mills, N.Y. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

General Nicholas Herkimer And The Battle of Oriskany

image001(7)During the critical Battle of Oriskany in August 1777, Continental forces led by General Nicholas Herkimer defeated the British army under St. Leger in the heart of New York’s Mohawk Valley. It was a hard-won victory, but he and his troops prevented the British from splitting the colonies in two.

In The Battle of Oriskany and General Nicholas Herkimer: Revolution in the Mohawk Valley (History Press, 2013), Paul Boehlert presents a gripping account of the events before, during and after this critical battle.

Although they did not succeed in relieving the British siege of Fort Stanwix, Herkimer’s citizen-soldiers turned back the British and protected America’s northern flank from attack. Herkimer was mortally wounded, but his heroism and leadership firmly placed him in the pantheon of Revolutionary War heroes. » Continue Reading.