Updated: Aug 31
Oct 10, 2022
A while ago I came upon this bronze weathered plaque when looking at a bridge on the banks of the Allegheny River in Ohio. Curious, I paused and read the inscription. It saddened me. Here was the site of a Leni Lennape village, described as one of the largest and most important Indian Republics, which also acted as a refuge for other tribes and survivors from conflicts brought on by European invaders, and all that remains was this small plaque to commemorate of all things…their massacre.
There is so much more to their history than this bronze plaque. The plaque doesn’t tell the story of the aftermath of the Walking Purchase that stole their homeland. It doesn’t tell the story of the European plagues and diseases that ravaged their people with whom had never experienced diseases such as these and had no immunity. It doesn’t tell the story of who they were and how they lived. You can’t see the Lennape women tending fields and cooking food while the men hunted and fished, and their children ran and played along the river bank. It is just a lifeless bronze plaque that few people know is there and even fewer take the time to read.
Yes, I know today is “Columbus Day”, but it is also Indigenous Peoples’ Day. A holiday that commemorates Native American peoples and their histories and cultures. Much of that history is lost, and what is left is mostly hidden, forgotten or hardly taught. The teaching of true history – American and World – is critical to our understanding current events and should be a curriculum in every classroom. Learning the true history of the indigenous as well as that of all people who make up and who have contributed to this country (Black, Asian, Hispanic, etc) will shed light on the ignorance of those who oppose what is being labeled as “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) and those who violently protest against it in school board meetings and at political gatherings. To undertand who we are as a country and as a people, we must understand all of “our” history, the good, the bad, and the history of all.
History does not repeat itself and we are not bound to some inescapable destiny. Also true history is not mythology nor is it selective. There are lessons to be learned from all these historic facts that we urgently need inorder guide us into the future.