Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Filming on Franklin: Native Networks

A documentary team from the Smithsonian's Native Networks set up shop in The Pulp & The Bean on Monday to tape an interview with Tiokasin Ghosthorse, the Lakota musician-storyteller-activist who hosts First Voices Indigenous Radio on WBAI at 10AM every Thursday. Look for his and other voices in an upcoming documentary.

It's easy to forget the history of the original residents of Brooklyn amidst 400+ years of densely-packed urban buildup, but like the rest of the Western Hemisphere, Brooklyn was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples including the Lenape (also know as the Canarsie) and the Rockaway. More recently, New York City has hosted significant populations of indigenous people from all over the Americas, including the Taino of the Caribbean and, perhaps most famously, the Mohawk ironworkers who built New York's high rises and turned ten square blocks of Gowanas/Boerum Hill/South Brooklyn into "Little Caughnawaga."

1 comment:

  1. In addition to the indigenous peoples who lived on this island before it became a sprawling city, this area, Manhattan in particular, was extremely biodiverse. A recent museum exhibit, and accompanying book[1] called "Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City" tried to reconstruct the physical landscapes of pre colonial New York. They note that according the historical records Manhattan may have been as biodiverse any rain forest. To oversimplify; the glaciers from the last ice age roughly stopped at the Hudson, so on Manhattan (with plenty of spillover into Brooklyn) you had several biomes overlapping right here.

    What's really sad to think about is that indigenous people lived and hunted around here for millennia without collapsing the ecosystem. But it was only about a century after Europeans arrived that one of the greatest animal habitats ever to exist on earth was emptied of many key species for fun and profit.

    When you think of NYC as a "rich" place, its usually not in terms of biodiversity, but 400 years ago, that was undeniably true.

    [1] http://www.amazon.com/Mannahatta-Natural-History-York-City/dp/0810996332

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