Submitted by brent.spodek on Wed, 02/13/2019 - 3:25pm
My mentor Ruth Messenger honored this community in the fall, when she taught at Open to the Sky. She opened her talk by acknowledging that we were meeting - and living - on land that had once belonged to the Lenni-Lenapi tribe and that had never been ceeded. When I asked her about it, she pointed out that so much of the work she (and I, once upon a time) did at American Jewish World Service had to do with supporting people who had been displaced from their land and that it was always easier to point out the sins of others than it is to acknowledge ones own sins. So, as someone who travels extensively, she has taken on the practice of learning at least a little bit about the people native to the places she visits and sharing what she learns.
Inspired by Ruth, and helped by my friend Ava Bynum, I've started to learn a little more about the Lenni-Lenapi, the native tribe which once populated what is now Beacon. They lived rich and complex lives in this region before being more or less wiped out by Europeans. To paraphrase my teacher R. Abraham Joshua Heschel, none of us are guity of that genocide - it happened centuries before any of us were born - but we who live on this land are in some small way responsible. I want to share this brief and accessible article about the native history of this region in the hope that it will help us all shoulder our responsibility more honorably.