A Glimpse of the Lenape

The night before (page 7 of 7)

That's how, twelve days ago, word came back that something large with white wings or fins had entered the mouth of the river.
Ornamental bone comb

Ornamental bone comb

Photo courtesy of Lenape Lifeways, Inc.

This had happened before, within memory of the oldest people, but the visitors always stayed briefly and left. This time, the white thing remained, unmoving, for days. Then, it started to make its way upriver.

Messengers ran from band to band. People came to the headlands to watch its progress and guess what it was. A fish? A monster? An evil spirit? Or a visit from heaven? Finally, the people decided it was a kind of huge canoe or travelling house and must be carrying a great spirit, maybe Kishëlemienk himself.

Yesterday, it stopped just below the Tappan bay. Tonight, it's that fourth light, riding on the water.

Petroglyph of hands in red sandstone, 3000-1000 years ago

Petroglyph of hands in red sandstone, 3000-1000 years ago

Image courtesy Seton Hall University Museum, photography by John Stokes

Everything is ready. Feasts of harvest food have been prepared to welcome the visitors. The men have laid out feathers to wear tomorrow; the women have prepared their best clothing: tanned deer hide decorated with colored shells and porcupine quills. In the darkness, on the beach below, the long canoes are lined up. At kchinkwehële — sunrise — the glow will rise behind the SintSincks' camp. This strange night of the four lights will end. The Lenape will paddle out to greet the future.

The First People Slideshow

A Glimpse of the Lenape

Keep the Hudson River flowing!
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