July 11, 2022
Tomorrow marks exactly three weeks since I drove away from a friend’s house, my minivan freshly repaired by a wonderful and fair mobile mechanic, and began this big adventure of exploring and learning about ancient and sacred sites of Turtle Island. Along the way I’ll also offer prayers at places of massacres, where the dead deserve to be honored, and I’ll deliver some goods to the Lakota naion.
For those who may not be aware, Turtle Island is the name given by Native Americans to this continent. It’s based on a Haudenosaunee creation story.(1) Interestingly, I was born in what is now the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, the home territory of the Turtle Clan of the Lenape.(2)
For much of the first two weeks I was visiting with friends old and new in West Virginia and a dear cousin in rural Ohio. It was a blessing to spend time with these folks; then at one point it became very obvious to me that I needed to get on the road and do what I was meant to be doing!
After one week, I’ve settled into a bit of a routine. Because my finances are limited, I’ve been utilizing the camping areas advertised through hipcamp.com. Generally these are somewhat humble sites on someone’s farm or residential acreage. I like the fact that the sites are generally affordable and also that I have a fair amount of privacy out in the midst of nature. I often begin my day early, before it gets too hot, at one of the historical sites I’m visiting.
Right now I’m in the midst of learning about the great earth mounds and earthen enclosures of Ohio. I explore these sites for a while and then I often take myself out to lunch so I can write and cool off a bit. Then I’ll mosey to my campsite where I’ll slow way down and enjoy the trees and birdsong. About dusk I’ll crawl into the back of my minivan onto the comfortable mattress on the platform that my brother built for me. In the morning I’ll either return to the site I visited the day before, or I’ll wander on to the next one. I try to take my time. I don’t want to be a tourist who takes a few pictures and then zips on her way. I want to learn about and feel and experience this sacred world.
For those who want to follow along, here is a rough itinerary of where I hope to visit and explore the first couple of months:
- Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
- New Concord, Ohio
- Gnadenhutten (site of massacre), Ohio
- Newark Earthworks, Newark, Ohio
- Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Chillicothe, Ohio
- Seip Mound, Bainbridge, Ohio
- Serpent Mound, Peebles, Ohio
- Mounds State Park, Anderson, Indiana
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Effigy Mound Preserve, Whitewater, Wisconsin
- Effigy Mounds National Monument, Harpers Ferry, Iowa
- Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dewey, South Dakota
- Wounded Knee (site of massacre), South Dakota
- Bear Lodge (Devil’s Tower), Wyoming
- Bighorn Medicine Wheel, Wyoming
- Bear River (site of massacre), Preston, Idaho
This is both a spiritual journey for me and a learning experience. I’m kind of on an unpaid sabbatical. My plan is to share with you much of what I am learning and experiencing. Our schools teach us very little about the true history of indigenous people and it’s time for that to change. In addition, very few Americans know about these earth mounds, of which there are SO MANY, most of which are around 2000 years old! This is ancient history indicative of a people who held great knowledge and who deserve to be remembered. I consider some of these sites on par with other sites around the world, like the stone circles in the United Kingdom and the pyramids of Meso-America. In fact, the Hopewell Cultural sites are in the process of being considered an official World Heritage Site. This is important as many of these historic mounds are being lost at an alarming rate.
I intend to post once a week on this site and I also post regularly on Facebook.
For those who feel inspired to support me on this journey, I would be most grateful!
Meanwhile, blessings to each one of you.
And remember, we are all related. <3
(1) The Haudenosaunee are traditionally known as the Iroquois, but that’s not a “polite” term for them. The Haudenosaunee is the name they call themselves.
(2) Many people know the Lenape as the Delaware Nation. But Delaware is the name of a lord, the first (white) governor of Virginia: Lord De La Warr. So, not only is Delaware the name of a white man, he’s a man associated with Virginia, which is not even Lenape territory. Oy vey. Lenape is what the people call themselves. It means “people” or “original people.”