Monday, July 10, 2017

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Two-Row Wampum Treaty renewed at High Falls bridge opening

HIGH FALLS – Completion and re-opening of the Route 213 bridge crossing in High Falls came as a relief to Marbletown residents on Saturday, who endured delays and detours since the former 80-year-old Rondout Creek span was demolished last January.

Clear weather and all-day celebrations marked the occasion, with a community fair, coupled by a solemn Native American blessing and peace treaty renewal.


Dozens attended Saturday's bridge reopening

Ulster County Clerk Nina Postupack presented the original Two-Row Wampum belt to Vincent “Eagle Spirit” Mann, Turtle Clan Chief of the Ramapough Lenape Nation.

The symbolic gesture was meant to acknowledge an agreement made on October 7, 1665, between Sachems of the Esopus tribes, and Richard Nicolls, first British Governor of the fledgling New York colony.


Postupack presented the original Two-Row Wampum belt to Mann

This ancient beaded wampum belt, together with a signed paper instrument, both reside in the Ulster County archives at Kingston. “To think, that we are here 352 years later, doing exactly the same thing,” Postupack said.  “This wampum belt is a sign of peace and hope. This is our legacy, this is our past, but this is also our future.”

Chief Eagle Spirit Mann, in turn, offered three feathers, to be kept in remembrance of this exchange, one for Postupack, another for Marbletown Supervisor Michael Warren, and the last for an unspecified third leader.

Mann also noted that the peace treaty was intended to be renewed annually, so long as the sun shines and the rivers flow downhill.

“For over 200 years, this treaty has not been renewed until this day,” Mann said.  “Our ancestors carried with them 17 sticks to show how many times our people had been injured by the actions of those who agreed to this treaty. I bring no sticks today, because I surely cannot carry them, as they are too many. What I do carry today with me is humility, thoughts of healing and forgiveness, just as our ancestors did. It is my hope that this peace and harmony, that was once so fragile, can exist between those of us who are living here today, and those who will yet come, in true peace and understanding between our peoples forever, a-ho.”

The ceremony concluded with burning of sage, and offerings of cedar and tobacco to the fire, together with drumming and songs dedicated to healing the water and honoring the town. Many members of the community participated, including Postupack, supervisor Warren, and county legislator Manna Jo Greene.


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