ContentsPreface Introduction PART I The Hidden People PART II In the Land of the Ancestors PART III The Boy on the Bicycle55PART IV "I Am Sorry to Inform You..." PART V A "Working" Mother PART VI Changing Times PART VII A Woman's World PART VIII Native Pride PART IX Full Circle PART X Modern Life PART X I The Last Word "Wanishi" ("Thank You") Lenape Languages: A Brief Primer Lenape Myths: A Sampling Notes Bibliography Credits and Permissions
Chapter 1I was fourteen years old the first time I set eyes on my husband. I knew he was the man I was going to marry someday, and I did, when I was eighteen and he was twenty.I was born Marion Doris Purnell on April 25, 1922, but my Indian name is "Strong Medicine." I was given that name about thirty years ago because I know a thing or two about plants and herbs, and because it suits my personality -- or so I'm told. People have come to me for advice, all of my life. They know I will give it to 'em straight!I was born in Bridgeton, New Jersey, and I have lived nearly all my life here, on the same stretch of road. It's in the southern part of New Jersey, near the Delaware Bay. Most people don't even know this part of New Jersey exists. It's beautiful country, mostly farmland and marshes.When my husband and I were coming up, our tribe was in hiding. We were a hidden people. You wouldn't have been able to tell because we went about our lives like other people. We dressed like white people, we had "normal" jobs, we went to church.But we were Indian.Even today, you probably would not recognize us because we wear regular clothing, live in houses, drive cars, and eat the same kinds of foods you do. We do not live on a reservation, and only at Powwows and tribal gatherings, or for special occasions, do we put on our feather headdresses, beaded clothing, moccasins, and face paint in remembrance of early life.Of course, there are other differences. We live the Indian way, and always have. We have reverence for God and all living things. We are a very tight-knit group, and we help each other. We revere our children and our Elders. We don't live for the moment, the way many Americans do, and we are not as likely to be motivated by material things or by money. Integrity and honesty are extremely important to us.Many white people have a very rigid idea of who Indians are. There is no "typical" Indian any more than there is a "typical" black person or "typical" Jewish person. But when people think of Indians, they think of the stereotype of the Plains Indians, riding horses and hunting buffalo. You know, the guys who killed Custer. They think we all live on a reservation somewhere. Well, it's simply not so. It's not really their fault for thinking that, though. There are so few books out there that tell the true story of Indians. Some of it's our fault because we don't like to talk to outsiders, so it's hard for people to get good, firsthand information. As for the movies, well, I will share my opinion about that later.It's important that people understand that not all tribes are alike, nor do we look alike. Many of us, especially on the East Coast, have some ancestry other than Indian. That's because in the East we've been coexisting with white people -- and black people, too -- for almost four hundred years.My mother, for example, was Lenape with a little white blood. My father was Indian, too, on his mother's side, but he was also part black. His great-grandmother was a slave in Maryland. If you look at my family tree, it's very complicated in terms of race. But I'm more Lenape Indian than anything else. And that's how I was raised.My husband's name was Wilbert Gould, though most people knew him as "Wilbur Junior." His Indian name was "Wise Fox." He was Lenape but he had a small amount of white blood -- Irish. He had blue eyes!People will say to your face, "Well, you can't be Indian if you have blue eyes" or "So-and-so's not Indian. He looks black, so he must be black!" People can be downright rude about it. We're a little tired of...
Amy Hill Hearth (Author)
Amy Hill Hearth is the Peabody Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Having Our Say. She lives in New York City. To learn more about Amy Hill Hearth, visit www.amyhillhearth.com.