In a new exhibit, “Mapping Native New York”, mounted by Clarkson’s Beacon Institute, author and educator Evan Pritchard presents a series of large wall maps detailing the world of Algonquin Civilizations who were original inhabitants of the Lower Hudson Valley, including Dennings Point.
On October 16, in honor of Indigenous Peoples Week, a public event entitled “Mattawan: People and Land Are One” was presented by Pritchard to open the exhibit at Clarkson’s Water Ecology Center. Pritchard presented the Algonquin perspective on the naming and meaning of population centers, natural features and common animals in the area of Mattawan through image, story and ceremony. Mattawan, which means “where two waters meet” is the Algonquin name for the area where Fishkill Creek meets the Hudson River.
For Pritchard, a descendant of the Micmac people (part of the Algonquin nations) and founder of Center for Algonquin Culture based in Rosendale, NY, the map exhibit is the culmination of over 10 years of dedicated work interviewing elders and other members of native nations, poring over public records, and visiting sites to ground-truth map details.
Algonquin-speaking people of the Lower Hudson Valley are known as Lenni-Lenape or “the real people”, and near Denning’s Point they included members of Waoraneck, Esopus and Wappingers nations.
Featured maps, displayed on 6 foot tall panels, depict the thriving native civilizations who inhabited what is now Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties, and areas from New Jersey to Rhode Island. Villages, tribal territories, trade routes, river crossings, council fire sites and portages all combine to place the viewer in the context of humans who lived in the area for thousands of years before the time of first European contact.
“Mapping Native New York” will remain on view through the new year at Clarkson’s Water Ecology Center in Dennings Point State Park.