Walking Backward into the Future Pilgrimage | East Coast June 2019
Larry & Deborah Littlebird and Dr. Greg Valerio would like to give a big shout out to all of the gracious hosts and friends (old and new) who we met gathered with along our route!
A journey for bearing witness to the American Indian Holocaust, through story, testimony and prayer. We visted significant sites of extinct tribes and First Nations people.
We carried water from the ancestral lands of Hamaatsa (New Mexico) for prayer offerings along the river-waterways of the East Coast where original tribal peoples once lived and thrived. Join us as we continue our pilgrimage across America for charting a way toward peace, justice and reconciliation.
The Sites (photos in slideshow):
New Haven,CT: Ft. Wooster Park, a significant memorial site and sacred grounds of the Quinnipiac Indians, now extinct.
Groton,CT: Gungywamp | Mysterious Stone Chambers. Now a Nature Preserve, this site is believed to be used by Pequot or Mohegan tribes or by 5th century Culdee Irish monks
Mystic,CT: Site of the Pequot Fort and Massacre. In 1637, the Pequot Fort was a fortified settlement of the Pequot Tribe when English Puritan troops ordered the village to be burned and the slaughter of an estimated 700 innocent men, women, elders and children inside while the village was sleeping. In 1889 a statue of Captain John Mason, was placed on Pequot Hill near the site where the massacre occurred. In the early 1990s, members of the Pequot tribe petitioned for the statue's removal, claiming offense at the commemoration of a killer of innocent people, and that its location was ground they considered sacred. After several years of debate, the statue was removed from the residentail roundabout circle where the statue previously stood has a "tree of life" planted by the Pequots.
Turner Falls,MA: Peskeompscut Massacre Site. On May 19, 1676, a band of English colonists under the command of Captain William Turner fell upon the poorly guarded Indian village of Peskeompscut near the falls at dawn, slaughtering many of its inhabitants. Hundreds of Indians were gathered at the falls to fish for the salmon heading up river. This multi-tribe gathering had been taking place for thousands of years.On that morning Captain William Turner and his men surprised the Indians while they were asleep. They fired into wigwams and chased fleeing old men, women, and children into the river and the falls, where they drowned or were shot to death. The attack, on what was then the Wissantinnewag-Peskeompskut fishing encampment, became one of the most significant battles of King Philip's War.
Bellows Falls,VT: Sacred grounds of the Abenaki Indians. Since the first settlements in Bellows Falls, numerous Indian graves have been inadvertently dug up throughout the village and near the falls. Additionally, two centuries of excavations for roads and building construction near the petroglyphs have uncovered numerous skeletal remains throughout the village and on the island leading to the bridge that crosses the Connecticut River. It has been documented that, “the whole distance across the island had, in a much earlier period, been used for an Abenaskis burial-ground. The bodies were uncovered sitting upright, having been buried in a sitting posture with the knees drawn up to the chin, in a circular hole dug deep enough so that the top of the heads came within a foot or two of the surface of the ground” (Hayes 1907:29). It would seem that the village was erected upon what could be one of the largest burial sites in all of Vermont, and perhaps in all of New England. Up from the river's edge, along the rocks that run contiguous to the west bank of the Connecticut River, and just south of the Great Falls, are located some of the most enigmatic petroglyphs in all of New England. This was and still is a very sacred place to the Abenakis.
Kingston,NY: Original homelands of the Esopus Indians at Rondout Creek at the Hudson River. The Esopus were a branch of the Delaware Indians known as the Lenape, and spoke the eastern Algonquin language Munsee. Their territory before the Esopus Wars encompassed much of today’s Ulster County near present day Kingston, NY. The Esopus Indians referred to the area as a “land of flowing water and high banks,” The story of the Esopus people, as is the case with countless native societies in the Americas, is a tale of genocide, enslavement, disease and dislocation. After suffering seven ‘trails of tears,’ the descendants of the Esopus natives have been living in cultural enclaves in Canada and in the reservations of Oklahoma, far away from their original homelands in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
Lancaster County, PA: Several sites of the Conestoga Indians, now extinct. In and around Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1763, occurred a bloody episode in history known as the Conestoga Massacre where Conestoga men, women and children were slaughtered at the hands of the “Paxton Boys”, a Scots-Irish militant group. The series of events that led to the atrocity included rumors in the commonwealth in 1763 that local tribes were joining Chief Pontiac’s call to attack colonists.
Philadelphia,PA: Penn Treaty Park on the Delaware River. William Penn's treaty with the Delaware Indians.
Photos by Deborah Littlebird