Paddling and Walking to Honor the Two Row
Ithaca residents have taken it on themselves this spring to organize local demonstrations of support for the Two Row Wampum, including a float in the Ithaca Festival parade on 5/29, and their own paddle and walk from Stewart Park in Ithaca to the Cayuga SHARE Farm near Union Springs over three days.
The sun shone brightly on the first day, and Cayuga Lake was calm and inviting. Eight canoes and kayaks, as well as one paddleboard launched from shore. An equal number of walkers departed from Stewart Park after a morning gathering that attracted a crowd of 45 supporters, many of whom would join the walk or paddle at some point over the journey, or volunteer as ground crew.
The paddlers passed by the salt mines, saw two foxes, and three blue herons. The water stayed clear, and glassy calm the entirety of the first day. The walkers sang all the way up the hill on Route 34!
In the evening, some people returned to Ithaca to give statements in
support of the resolution being considered by the Ithaca Common Council. It passed unanimously, as it did in the City of Albany and the Town of Croton on Monday evening.
The second day began with a downpour and never quite stopped raining. That did not dampen spirits however, and the paddlers and walkers continued on their journey. The paddlers in particular reported it being a special experience out on the lake in the mist and the rain, where no boundary existed between water and sky.
I only planned on recording the walkers for a short bit as they headed out of Meyers Point Park, but found myself carried away and up the hill by the good spirits, drumming, and singing of the walkers. Even though we were walking along a busy rural highway, the act of slowing down and walking allowed me to see the world around me more clearly. I had time to study the front yards and fields, and to engage in conversation with the other walkers. It was very peaceful. Time ran on a natural scale again. Three miles and the equivalent of 40 flights of stairs later, I reluctantly departed. Among many experiences, I apparently missed horses and cows dancing to Craig’s drumming.
The walkers and paddlers arrived well ahead of schedule (spurred on by the promise of being dry, no doubt) at the Friends Meeting House in Poplar Ridge. There was yet another evening of good food, dancing, and good conversation.
The meeting in the Quaker Meetinghouse was very powerful, and even though it was a friendly crowd, they asked very pointed questions, seeking answers to the questions their neighbors often asked among themselves, although never directly to the Cayugas.
Dan Hill emphasized the need to be in dialog with each other. All the answers are not known, and they can only be worked out by talking. This is where the links of peace, friendship, and respect in the Two Row Wampum can guide us. Dan also emphasized the need to work together to protect the environment on which we all depend, citing fracking as a very real threat to all of us.
Friday morning was gray but the rain held off. That didn’t stop Dan and Donna from wanting to get wet, it seems, as they swamped their canoe halfway through the paddle, getting back in from a stop on shore!
The crowd at Wells College cheered as the paddlers rounded the point. Soon after, the drums of the walkers could be heard. Side by side they arrived at the boathouse at Wells College, to be greeted by the college President, Lisa Marsh Ryerson. Vic Munoz, Wells College professor and organizer of their First Nations and Indigenous Studies program, organized a lovely reception in the boathouse.
Everyone said it was a powerful experience, a chance to get to know each other and our different cultures, develop friendships, and deepen relationship with Cayuga Lake. And of course, good food always helps to bring people together. John said this may be the first walk/paddle that he came back from where he may have gained weight!