The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Immigrant Arrival (#atozchallenge)




     

A statue of Tawanka, a chief of the Lenni Lena...
A statue of Tawanka, a chief of the Lenni Lenape, stands in front of Macy's (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


         Often we might think of Manhattan as the landing point for immigrants to the United States.  Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries new arrivals were processed at Ellis Island within sight of the Statue of Liberty.  When they were allowed to set foot in their new homeland, a good many of them went to Manhattan first.  J. Lenni Dorner provides a twist in the immigrant arrival story with a story about what might be considered the first immigrants in Manhattan.                         

MANHATTAN

        This story was told around the corn fire by two of the Grandfathers. The Lenni-Lenape nation was dubbed "The Grandfathers" because they are the oldest of the Algonquian people and known for their wisdom. For those of you who don't know, the Lenni-Lenape were not a migrant nation. (The Lenni-Lenape have as much in common with Navajo as the 16th century Japanese had in common with the French.) (And no, I will not be referring to my people as "Delaware.")

The Lenape nation has three divisions, indicated by the Turtle, Turkey, and Wolf. The word "Manhattan" is a combination of the dialect used by the tribes and the spelling and alterations given by the Dutch. (There was no translate app 400 years ago, kids!) Enough prologue, onto the story.

"I have spoken with the Paleface Man. He claims his people traveled the big water to find peace. They wish to worship a sky god, about who they are glad to tell stories. Their leader had a bear spirit who could not hibernate. He chased all the birds from the forest so they could not sing to the sky god."

I look to my friend. "Are those your words, or the words of the Paleface Man?"

"His, I believe. He does not speak well. I think the trip on the big water has salted their minds."

I nod. "Will more come?"

"Yes. He says more must come. The sky god commands it. Some will travel back across the big water to bring more, in fact."

"It must be difficult to leave home and journey so far. They must have a place to call their own. A place where they can worship the sky god. We should give them protection, but independence. Unless they cast spells. Their use of names without fear of witchcraft on their soul is dangerous."

"They know so little of our world," my friend says. "Perhaps a place easy for the other palefaces to find. The people seem fond of where the Great Turtle let their floating home met ground. Beans and seeds were brought with them, so surely they know how to farm."

"They need to be able to farm, hunt, and fish in the area we allow them to settle. The palefaces want to provide for their own, which is good."

"If the home is a gift, they will not take it."

"Exactly. They do not trust the gifts of welcome we have given. They prefer their own way. Gifts were treated as trade, though what they gave has no function." My friend and I think on this. It is quiet for a long while.

"We cannot tell them where to live," I say at last. "That would make us no better than the bear leader they fled from. The wise course would be to get them to offer us a trade. The lower area of (Manahaxtanànk) Manhattan is of little use for our needs. It would suit them well. The area that would separate our peoples is easy enough for all to discern. If they agree to live there and leave our nation in peace, we will trade it to them."

"Land is alive. How can we claim to trade it?"

"They worship only a sky god," I remind my friend. "We can tell them that land is their own, and they will believe it to be so. You see how they are, acting as if all life is inferior. They would change the course of a river if it suited them."

"Wise leader, no one can change the course of a river."

I shake my head. "Though you have spent time among them, you have yet to know them. They do not hear when they think. Much danger comes from their minds. Perhaps a bear spirit is in all of them. Yes, I believe they could change a river. And they would command a mountain to move and the sun to always be overhead. We shall convince them that settling Manhattan is best for all of us. They must be kept close enough to watch, but not so close as to be a danger."

"Will you convince them?"

I sigh. "No, my friend. That duty must be yours. They fear speaking with a leader who carries a life." I rub my belly. A tiny kick greets my hand. "I shall speak to our Wolf and Turtle leaders."

And so it came to pass. Those with skin unable to protect itself from the sun would, indeed, ask for land. The lower part of the island, which became known as Manhattes, was offered. A popular legend is that the Dutch leader asked for land the size of a bull hide. It seemed too small an area for one to live, but the Lenni-Lenape leaders agreed that if this was all the land wanted, that it would be granted. The Dutchman then cut the hide into fine strips and wove it into a long rope. This was how they first marked the edge of their settlement. (For more details on THAT version of the story, please refer to: http://amzn.to/1RUuRpr )

More land would be asked for as the years passed. Then the asking stopped and the slaughter and slavery began. But it was, at first, a peaceful trade. 

       My thanks to J for this Manhattan story.  Be sure to visit the blog of J. Lenni Dorner to read the A to Z series which discusses the craft of writing fiction with a month full of #WriteTips.

        




58 comments:

  1. This made excellent, interesting reading Lee.
    Hope you have a good week.
    Yvonne.

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  2. What an interesting story! I loved reading it. I'll definitely check out J. Lenni Dorner's A-Z. Thanks for turning us on to her writing tips...

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Juneta Key did write the writing tip for today. A roll of the dice decided which book would be used each day. So there are many different authors mentioned, and many different writing tips put out there. Some from females, some from males, all from humans-- I couldn't find a good fiction writing instruction book from any dragons. Darn the luck!

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  3. They never should've said yes in the first place.

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    1. Saying no wouldn't have made a lick of difference, other than they'd have died faster and I wouldn't be here today. Two fully settled continents were taken over completely in a mind-numbingly short amount of time. When you look at the relative size of the European land mass in comparison to all of North and South America, it doesn't seem possible. How many people could have possibly come from that little area to take over ALL THIS. It's like one well-armed conqueror taking over the whole of Tokyo (the most populated city in the world). You'd think it wouldn't be possible. But yet, it happened. Freaky stuff.

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    2. It is still happening today, J Lenni. Just look at how the vocal minority runs over the majority on a variety of topics in this country's political environment.

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  4. It's so sad when ones have to feel the need to take, rather than be satisfied with what they own.

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    1. It's sad that those who were willing to be kind, share, and treat others fairly were not treated as such in return.
      I've seen kids get kicked out of pre-schools for that same behavior.
      Basically, this means that the "conquerors" lacked the social skills to survive our modern day pre-schools.
      I'm not sure the Dictionary has a proper definition for the words "uncivilized savages." But what do I know. LOL.

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  5. This made an absorbing read. Agree with Alex's comment above.

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  6. AH yes the old cutting the hide into very thin strips trick, I think the writing was on the wall from that point onwards.

    Thanks for calling by Mr B I hope your A to Z is going well. I have cut mine into very thin strips and hidden under the cat.

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    1. It was brilliant but shady. A trait still honored today.

      "I got her number. How do you like those apples?"

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  7. Thank you for a different perspective. Amazing what they went through.

    Meet My Imaginary Friends
    #AtoZchallenge http://www.kathleenvalentineblog.com/

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  8. Great post,Arlee. I used to love hearing stories from my grandparents. I learned so much and they lived through much tougher times than I have (let's hope it stays that way). Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I'm glad that you enjoyed.
      And I'm glad that enough members of my tribe survived to pass down such stories.

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  9. I don't think anyone can say now that the native Americans got a fair deal. BTW, this was a great read.

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    1. I'm glad you lost all your words. That doesn't sound right at all. Ha ha ha.

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  11. Fascinating read; thanks! How sad that what started out as a peaceful trade descended into chaos.

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    1. Find a way to use the lesson. That's why the Grandfathers sit around the corn fire and tell it. So we remember what was learned and find ways to apply the lessons to whatever is going on now.

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  12. Great Grandmother was so determined that her children and grands didn't follow the red robe that she would barely admit her native ancestry. She always diverted our questions towards the English/Underground Masons in the family(Grandfather's side). We tried so hard to get her to share her stories and to my knowledge we never succeeded. Glad someone has some to tell.
    Stephanie Finnell
    @randallbychance from
    Katy Trail Creations
    Stephanies Stuff

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    1. Many never overcame great hurts. Some believe that locking away certain truths is better. Others believe that only in shining a light on them and remembering can such horrors ever stop repeating.

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  13. This is a wonderful story. Thanks so much, Arlee and Lenni, for sharing it :-)

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

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    1. J here, sending my thanks for enjoying the story.

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  14. Great story that is sad in retrospect. Can you imagine if they said no at first?

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    1. Yes. My tribe would have been killed sooner. I wouldn't be here. That's what I imagine.
      Though... I can also imagine a high portion of the conquers dying sooner from eating the wrong foods (seriously, it took Europeans a long freaking time to understand how the potato works... I mean, really), and the rest just getting lost in the woods.

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  15. "they do not hear when they think" was and is an astonishingly accurate statement. Though they couldn't and still don't understand the positive effects of ambition, Native Americans are correct in believing they got the short end of the stick in terms of geography.
    Oddly, Manhattan is not a place I'd ever expect Native Americans to have been.
    Cool post, Arlee and kudos to J Lenni Dorner!

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    1. 12,000 years at least. That's how long we had Manhattan, according to the stories. There is some evidence of this. It's just not as tourist-friendly as Egypt's Great Pyramids.
      I know where there's an especially old rock wall that marked the line between Wolf and Turtle. It's only 6,000 years old though. We tried to get it declared an historical landmark, but it wasn't built high enough. (It's knee high and runs less than a mile long... didn't always, but much of it was knocked down.)

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  16. Fascinating and sad at the same time.

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  17. That is a super great story. I love learning about the origins of our area. I love the line about The Lenape were as similar to the Navajo as the Japanese are to the French. LOVE!

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    1. I've had to use that line several times to explain things to (white) people. Why we don't have totem poles, huge feather headdresses, tee-pees, scalps of enemies, or wiggle our tongue while crying "aaayyyeeeaa" to the heavens before a battle. Wrong tribe. Which usually gets a blank stare and a "there was more than one?" and then I'm just done. LOL.

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  18. I like the idea that we white people have a bear inside us. I think that was a great story I am just sad it is so much like the truth. I too am an immigrant of course.

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    1. It is considered a truthful story around the corn fire. I've never seen it in a history book. But only those who win the war get to write the history books.

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  19. First time I've heard this story, but I bet there's more than a grain of truth to it.

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    1. Yes. Several grains. One might say the silo is full.

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  20. Thank you for sharing this story with us. My family has also dealt with the unfairness of the white people toward the Native Americans. My ancestry includes those Cherokee caught up in the Trail of Tears...and those that forced them onto it. I will never understand why the English were so greedy, had it in their minds to take over everything, everywhere. :(

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    1. Sorry to hear you understand so well. I mean that with my whole heart.

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  21. Well Done~ It saddens me how many have been hurt in our history's past.

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    1. It's like that almost everywhere I suppose.

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  22. Hi there! First year A to Z and I crazy but, a good crazy. Thank you for host!
    Best Wishes,
    Annette

    My A2Z @ Annette's Place | Follow Me On Twitter

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  23. History can be a painful reminder and a tough teacher.

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  24. Interesting... History is interesting .. makes us learn from our mistakes.. or learn to revive whats lost.. A good read..


    http://serendipityofdreams.blogspot.in/2016/04/jukebox.html

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    1. Learning from history is the best way to not make old mistakes. Better to find original, new errors-- far more memorable to solve those.

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  25. What a great story. I kept thinking of a small town close to me, Lenni.
    History is fascinating, we need to keep it alive.

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  26. A sad tale - tragic in fact. Might have been so different...if only. :-(

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    1. Ah yes. If only the settlers had wanted to mingle our ways, blend our cultures. So much could have been learned from each other. Thomas Jefferson acquired enough knowledge from our tribe to go change the course of the world.

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  27. My thanks to everyone who read and commented with a special thank you to J.Lenni Dorner for presenting the story and following up on comments.

    Excellent post for my Manhattan theme!

    Lee

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    1. Always glad to step up, Arlee. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

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Lee