Our First Day on the Water
What a wonderful start to our epic journey! Hundreds of indigenous and ally paddlers and their supporters gathered at the boat launch in Rensselaer in the pouring rain for our rousing send off. The rain cleared away long enough for most of the send-off ceremony. As Tadodaho Sid Hill gave the Thanksgiving Address from the shores of the River That Flows Both Ways, a hummingbird even came to join our well-wishers.
Local political leaders also come to send their good wishes for our voyage. Congressman Paul Tonko, Mayor of Troy Lou Rosamilia, Albany City Councilor Dominick Calsolaro, and a representative from Senator Gillabrand’s office all offered good words and well-wishes for our journey. Dan Dwyer, the Mayor of Rensselaer, also arrived as the last paddlers were launching and shared his well-wishes with the Haudenosaunee leaders there.
And then we were off! It was a beautiful sight to see the two great long rows of paddlers, native and and non-native side by side setting off down the Hudson. The rains and wind came back, but our paddlers persevered down to Henry Hudson Park for a lunch. About six paddlers found it to be more challenging than they expected and were assisted by our safety boats and the US Coast Guard Auxillary with us safely to the lunch stop. It is a good reminder that this is a serious river that deserves all our respect.
Despite the weather, a pair of eagles and a great blue heron joined us on the water for a while and everyone was in high spirits. The weather cleared for our final leg and we made our triumphant entrance to Schodack Island State Park. Jun-san Yasuda of the Grafton Peace Pagoda was there at both the launch and the send off, drumming her prayers for us. At dinner, Etoqua welcomed us on behalf of the Mahicans to their territory, as this was the site of their Council Fire in the time of the Two Row Wampum Treaty.
In the evening, the young paddlers from Tonawanda Seneca sang for us and we all shared in social dancing. We are all tired but determined and full of joy to be on this great journey together. More photos coming tomorrow!