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DIVERSE DOCUMENTS: OUR VARIED HERITAGE by S. Gardner

A guide to selected historical documents, events, places, and other material focusing on Black History, Native Americans, and other racial minority populations in the Town of Warwick.

Discussion: Native Americans

THIS SECTION IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION

DOCUMENTS:

  1. Image of Signature of Chuckhass
  • Explore: This is from a land grant patent given in 1702/1703 by Queen Anne of England to a group of land investors that covered a vast area that hadn't been properly mapped, and included what we call today the Town of Warwick.
    • Which part of this image is the "signature" of Chuckhass?
    • Why did it look that way?
    • Do you think the Lenape leaders understood what this document meant?
    • Why were local Native Americans asked to sign it?
  • Explain: When conducting this land transaction, it is doubtful that the Lenape really understood that the "patent" meant that Queen Anne, a ruler far across the sea who now claimed this area, was giving their homeland and all the rights to it to these men, and that their tribe would essentially hold no "legal" title to any of it as far as the English were concerned.
    • Adam Wisner, who was a Lenape interpreter, said  in 1785 during the Wawayanda -Cheesecocks Patent trial that the term "Wawayanda" meant "egg shaped."  The Lenape did not have a written language. Does the pictogram that Chuckhass used for a signature look like a "C",  like an "egg", or like the winding of the stream with the same name?
    • Documenting the right to occupy Lenape lands was important to the invading Europeans, who in order to have their actions not come under criticism in Europe or be challenged by another country, had justify their actions as being "honest", "legal", "Christian", "helpful" to the tribes, etc.

2. The Goshen Treaty of 1745

  • Explore:  The Orange County Lenape did not trust the colonizers.
    • Why do you think there was mistrust, and that a formal treaty ceremony had to take place, in order for the Lenape to move back into Orange County?
    • What did a wampum belt mean?
    • Adam Wisner of Mt. Eve in Warwick appears as an essential interpreter in dealing with the Indians in this treaty.  How do you think he gained such an extensive knowledge of their language and culture?
  • Explain:  The colonial powers of France and Britain were in continuous competition in North America, and the various Lenape cultural groups were being pushed steadily westward away from their traditional homelands, even as other tribes there were trying to defend their territories also.  Pennsylvania's "Walking Purchase", a treaty which in 1737 deceived the Lenape out of a huge tract in Pennsylvania, had further weakened the trust between the indigenous people and the colonists.  The French and Indian War, part of the Seven Years' War between France and Britain, would erupt on a wider scale in 1754.

3. Historical Marker for Chuckhass

  • Explore:  Read what the historical marker says.  What do you think it tells us about the attitudes of the Europeans?  Does it tell us much about the Lenape?  When the marker was erected, what do you think those setting it up intended to focus on?  
  • Explain:  The most active time period of erection of historical markers in our Town was the early decades of the 20th century.  Our understanding of the founding of the community was focused on European migrant heritage, and not on commemorating the first people who were here, or an appreciation for their culture as of equal importance to that of the "settlers."

Discussion: The African Enslaved

1.  Slavery in New York

  • Explore: 
    • Why do you think that New York in 1777 was not considering immediate freedom for the enslaved?
    • Why do you think that the language expressing that all men regardless of race had a right to be free was removed from the draft of the New York Constitution?
    • Can you think of other times in U. S. history that compromise on important issues in order to get something accomplished had a result that was destructive to the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence or other founding documents?
    • Do you think that owning slaves disqualifies leaders in our history from being learned about and honored?
  • Discuss: 
    • ‚ÄčThe subject of slave ownership by our country's founding generation has been debated for many years.  The question of whether or not a someone admired for some actions and leadership should be removed from study for moral failures and/or crimes in other areas will never be entirely satisfied; it is a continuing discussion.  If moral purity is required for greatness, does anyone qualify?

Discussion: The Underground Railroad, Wilmot Vail Memoirs

The news article giving Wilmot Vail's recollections of being a "conductor" of the Underground Railroad is one of the few primary source documents describing in detail a route running through Orange County.

EXPLORE: 

DISCUSS:

  • Why are there so few documents about the Underground Railroad?
  • Were the "conductors" safe when they helped those fleeing slavery?
  • Why do you think that there isn't much written about the "routes" through this area?