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Mahican National Park

Updated on July 6, 2012

The politics of establishing a new park

One would think that I would never be the one who is asking for a Mahican National Park. I am the author of a historical fiction novel about my actual family migrating out of Ireland. However, when I learned that the few historic Mahican sites that are left are being threatened ( even after they have been preserved) I felt compelled to get involved. The Mahicans lived in the Hudson Valley for over ten thousand years. Most would feel comfortable assumming there is a local park, museum, historic sites with tour guides...right? You guessed wrong.

Actually, there is close to none. Papscannee Island Natural Preserve is the only place I can think of and no sign or monument indicates the long Mahican history of the preserve. As a matter of fact the New York State Museum has almost no Mahican exhibits. It never has. They do have many exhibits related to Hodenesaunnee life and culture. There is only one area, one area only where very old statues sit in a lonely wigwam next to one small display case. This is the State museums only Mahican exhibit. After ten thousand years this is what they get? This is completely unacceptable.

For many, many months I have contact our State and local Governments to change this. Instead of finding a ton of support for my great idea of forming a Mahican National Park Site most politicians have not made an effort to get back to me. One did. That is Paul Tonko. I guess he is just that kind of guy. He works hard and does his darn job. That is what we pay him to do.

I will share with you ( my readers and followers) my proposal and explain his response. My proposal is as follows.

1.) To acquire the land of the Kenwood Convent of the Sacred Heart on Rt. 32 in Albany, New York. This is a large piece of property where there are trails, a former school building and church, gardens, and parking. This site is an ancient Mahican hunting ground. A special type of arrow points have been found along the Normanskill Creek. I would like to see this land be the home base for the park. The land reaches the Normanskill Creek where the land decends into the river. There are two deep gorges and a high peak that ascends out of the center. This is a unique and beautiful land formation to attract visitors. This home of a former private school has recently layed off long time working staff. I would like to see these men back to work on a new mission at the same work place.

2.) From the Normanskill I would like to see the contruction of a walking bridge to the Hudson River. Where the Normanskill meets the Hudson I have requested a boat launch be built to transport tourists to other historic Mahican sites along the river.

3.) The establishment of a new Mahican National Park must include Papscannee Island Natural Preserve. This is a sacred site as well as a place of historical events related to Mahican history. Right now some awful individuals are trying to destroy this beautiful place by building a BRIDGE over this preserved land. If that is not enough the Town of East Greenbush is planning to ignore the fact that this is preserved and build a boat launch on the site. What are they thinking? The Highway Department contacted the Mahican people on this matter and said, ' have not signed off the rights to this land... Can you send that out for us soon?" If they dare do anything to obstruct this place I am organizing a major multiorganizational-grassroots protest to address this injustice.

4.) I would like to see riverfront land in the City of Rensselaer be preserved and part of this park. This land was once part of an island where a Mahican village once stood and a war chief fortress along with a whole Mahican stockaded town. Right now it is proposed to be the site of a high rise condo structure right on the River. No one is ever going to make money on it, and I feel it will end up roach infested housing projects. Chances are the county will end up buying it out a few years from now costing the local tax payers money.

5.) Other riverfront land in Rensselaer is owned by RPI and is not in use or for sale. It possesses two hundred year old Elm Trees and a long stretch of woods and pebbled beach. Elm trees are sacred in Mahican culture.

6). Fort Crailo is a museum at this time. I would like to see this part of the park.

7.) Peobles Island is a National/ State and historic park at the present time. This area costs nothing as well. Albany, N.Y. also has Corning Preserve and Castle Island Park along it's riverside. These places already exist.

Many parks around the nation are the life blood to the areas economy. Sweet Auburn M.L. King, Jr.'s neighborhood has been preserved as a National Park. Millions of people from around the world visit these National places. In these tough economic times I am suggesting a way to create green jobs in New York State and I am finding little to no political support. As I said before, one politician who works for the people got back to me. Here is his response. As you read, you can understand right away this was not a routine informal letter for a general unspecific response. His team actually read my proposal and knew what it was about.

'Thank you for contacting me regarding a new National Park in the Capital Region...I am aware of the location you mentioned. I recognize that the area holds a significant historical value in addition to it's natural beauty, and that a National Park in New York's Capital would certainly be a great benefit to the region.'

Paul Tonko goes on to explain to me about Congressman Hickey's introduction of the H.R. proposal number 2452 that would give the go ahead for an evaluation of the Hudson Valley for a National Park Proposal. Tonko is the founder and co-chair for the National Heritage Area Caucus in our U.S. Congress. Both individuals want further study of the region, more registered historic places recognized, and continue to encourage other Americans to learn more about our area of the country.

Tonko also notes in the close of his letter that if I would like to continue my pursuit he directs me to the leadership offices in the National Park Service. I feel that he will prioritize policies that will create green jobs.

Unfortunately, I cannot get the State of New York to give me the declaration I need to seek federal assistance in creating a National Park. All I need them to do is declare all these places historic Mahican Sites( many are ) and I can continue. Please contact the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo and ask him to declare these places historic sites. And, please tell him to stop the Empire Rail Bridge project over Papscannee Island Natural Preserve as well as not allow the Town of East Greenbush to disrespect the wishes of the Native American people by putting a marina on Papscannee Island Natural Preserve.

For more information on these matters see hubpages 'Last of the Mahican Lands'

by Joanne Kathleen Farrell, author of Liberty for the Lion shield

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