Native American Burial Site

 

NATIVE AMERICAN BURIAL SITE

At the intersection of Franklin Street and Industrial Highway

POTTSTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

 

Site for Proposal - 2IMG_0767

 

Franklin and Industrial Highway

In the year 1859, workers clearing an area on the south side of the Borough unearthed skeletal remains and artifacts of an ancestor of the Lenni-Lenape people.  Over a period of time many more remains and artifacts were unearthed in the area.  All remains and items have been lost through means we know nothing about, but we do know that they were exhibited locally at one time and are led to understand they were later in the possession of the Hill School before disappearing in time and memory.

In the year 2000, the then mayor of our Borough, Ann Jones, brought a number of local representatives and Original People representatives together to initiate a project that resulted in the dedication of the memorial pictured in these photographs.

This memorial is a dedication and remembrance of the people whose spirits inhabit these grounds and the memory of the people who were present ages before others who now occupy this land.  Unfortunately, the maintenance and care of this site has been neglected over time and its message is lost to all but a few individuals.

In 2012, I began a personal effort to clean up the site by clearing the overgrown area of weeds and trash. In October 2013, during the Pottstown Cares Cleanup, Mayor Bonnie Heath and I were cleaning the area when she suggested that a PowWow in Pottstown might be a good way to bring attention to the site and help create interest in its appearance.   After discussing this idea with Pat Harbach and Joe Camaho, who were involved in the original dedication, we took the idea to Borough Council and received their endorsement to move forward with the idea.  Council offered their support and with the help of our Police Chief and other volunteers, we were able to prepare the site for an official re-dedication on May 3, 2014, preceding our First Annual PowWow on Manatawny Creek.

This is the dedication that I made on that day:

All of us most likely have experienced the challenge of attempting to ignite an engine that simply does not seem to want to cooperate

We turn the key, pull the cord, kick down on the starter mechanism

We hope the next try will work

Sometimes we get angry, we talk to the machine, we curse 

In the year 1999 our Mayor, Ann Jones, along with a willing community, set out to remind us about an important part of the history that accompanies this small parcel of land that sits atop the land known as Turtle Island to the original inhabitants – The Lenni-Lenape 

These woods, this river, these grounds, were where the Grandfather Tribe hunted and fished

They moved through these paths and along the waterways as care-takers of Turtle Island

They lived here for many thousands of years 

And they died here

As this plaque informs you: On this site  in the year 1859 Borough workers setting out to clear some mounds, fields and rough ground for whatever purpose the Borough felt it necessary, unearthed skeletal remains of one of those inhabitants 

He was buried with implements to help him along on his journey to that next stage of his life

Artifacts included weapons and hunting equipment and items to help him feed himself

Through her efforts Mayor Jones was able to bring about the memorial we are gathered around on May 6, 2000

This parcel of land that the memorial sits on was acquired through the generous offering of the family of Tim O’Connor, owner and operator of Humphrey’s Flag Company, the same business located behind us and responsible for the electricity we are currently using to speak to you.

 This Rock, which came from Ringing Rocks, which exists as a result of Glacial movements, is appropriate

Rock is an important element of our creation

If you look at it from a certain point you will see a head of a Tomahawk

 In the year 2010 a young man by the name of Michael Geyer found this spot needing

As a result of his efforts he took to make his Eagle Scout Project one that would bring a new life to this site

Because of his efforts, this Pergola, This Sitting Bench and many plantings renewed the interest in this sacred ground

 Again, the engine faded

The site became needy

But this history, the spirits that protect this land, the people who will not be forgotten

They are the fuel that will help us to re-ignite this site

 Thank you for your part in helping to kick-start this effort once more

We will Celebrate

And we will not let this effort fail

 Plans to enhance this landmark will ensure this promise

My first and primary concern about the site is to enhance its appearance with indigenous plants. On Arbor day this year I added a dogwood tree to the site and it has struggled to get into gear, but lately, after a good deal of regular watering, it does appear to have taken hold.

While I am interested in improving on the appearance of this site, I need everyone to keep in mind the need to respect the sanctity of these grounds.

These are my thoughts on improving this site:

  1. Install lighting to highlight the monument in the evening hours. At this time, once the sun goes down the site is barely visible, if at all. Ideally a solar lighting system would work best since there is no apparent source of electricity in the area.  If the panels were mounted discreetly atop the pergola I believe the source of power would be incredible.
  2. The pergola offers a great opportunity for a vine of some kind and I believe it would enhance the living nature of the site.

I would like to design a garden here with a number of sitting stones for students to sit at or around during story-telling events. The primary problem with this plan is that there is no ready access to a water source. I do believe that  there could be a possible solution to this problem through discussion with the owners of Humphrey’s Flag Company.  There are a number of plants that have been recommended to be planted here and I believe that it would be helpful to prepare signage along with any plantings in order to make this garden a learning location as well as a place of solace, (I would hope to create an annual planting of the Three Sisters, ”Corn, Squash and Bean”, as well).

  1. I have discussed the possibility of placing a sculptured Lenni-Lenape figure at the site. Ryan Procsal, a local wood-work artist, and I have discussed this and he is willing to work with me on this project at just the cost of material.

5 I am intent on creating a Medicine Circle in this location.  There are a number of variations that can be reflected here, but the idea here is that it would be a place of learning and would have signage explaining its purpose.

  1. I would like to place examples of Native American Petroglyphs in areas around the garden … I would hope to include signage about these records from the past and the stories they may have told…

This is my hope…it is my vision

W. Ronald Williams