Day 2: Schodack Island to Coxsackie
Everyone awoke full of energy and well-rested. Schodack Island Park was a wonderful location to stay along the river, where you could hear the crickets and not be disturbed by trains or bright lights. The day dawned sunny and calm and stayed that way. We also awoke to find ourselves on the front page of the Troy Record!
There were many onlookers at the park as 148 paddlers launched in 76 canoes and kayaks. While the spectacle drew them in, the questions they asked provided excellent “teachable moments” about the Two Row.
On the river, members of the Tonawanda Seneca youth group sang to keep rhythm. It seems to have worked well, as all the paddlers arrived in Coxsackie before most of the ground crew! It left us significant time to socialize with the locals – we are camped in a much more public place tonight and had many curious people stopping by, and wishing us well, including the Mayor of Coxsackie.
Educator Mike McDonald (Mohawk) from Akwesasne gave an inspiring explanation of the Two Row Wampum, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Great Law of Peace, and their influence on American and world history. Aya Yamomoto, a campaign organizer and recent graduate of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, explained the relevance of the Two Row Wampum to her degree in environmental biology, and for our future, giving a sneak preview into tomorrow night’s theme of “Protecting the River of Life.”
The evening wrapped up with a powerful reading of the campaign’s Public Declaration of Intent by Steering Committee member Jack Manno. Clipboards were circulated throughout the audience for people to add their names to the pledge, and people received postcards with the words of the pledge on them to remember them.
The perfect end to the night was another social dance, led by the Tonawanda Seneca youth, in the picturesque pavilion in the park. People are amazed at their energy – after paddling all day, they still have the energy to dance at 10 pm! They invited all onlookers to join them in the dancing, and quite a few did. Good energy was abundant.
Today we expect to arrive at Dutchman’s Landing in Catskill around 4:30, but if the wind is at the paddlers’ backs like it was yesterday, it may be earlier. From about 5:30 on, local and statewide environmental groups have been invited to table at the boathouse at Catskill Point Park. Around 6:30 we’ll start the evening program with a “fracking song sing-along” led by Central New York singer-songwriter Colleen Kattau. Oren Lyons will speak at 7 pm about “Protecting the River of Life”, followed by updates from environmental leaders on the issues facing us today. We learned today that Chief Gus High Eagle of the Dakota Unity Riders will join us as well.