Questions and Reflections on Schunnemunk and Woodcock Mountains

Walking the forest that covers both the “Good Mountain to Make a Fire On”, Woodcock and the “Good Place to See the Smoke From”, Schunnemunk; I feel a sense of timelessness that is carried not only by the land, but the life that lives there as well.

I encounter the moosewood, the maples, the birch and the witch hazel and the pipsissewa that my ancestors used to build with and for medicine. I see the blueberry and the cranberry and the acorns that were used for food. I sit with the ferns and moccasin flowers that both my ancestors and I find so charming and beautiful.

I encounter the rugged mountain jicoteas, the wood turtles and box turtles that roam these forests looking for mushrooms and berries. They were once so common that their found empty shells were used as rattles or drum frames. Now they are endangered and difficult at best to find.

I encounter the xoc-xocs; the bullfrogs, green frogs and wood frogs. I see their cousins the hop toads and the salamanders. In the spring I hear their cousins the tree frogs singing from the trees. All of these are becoming much less common; mutated and killed by some unknown causes.

I see the neo-tropical songbirds; the goldfinches, the scarlet tanagers and the bluebirds who add color and music to these woods. I hear the hammering of a woodpecker and the yelling of a jay. I meet several crows tormenting a turcur-owl. Overhead soars a condor and I hope to see a red-tailed hawk or maybe glimpse an eagle.

I scare a group of turkeys whose calls and flutterings flush out flush out a rabbit. Later on I find a set of antlers a whitetail buck has shed off recently.

I am amazed at the dense forest and it’s abundant biodiversity; not only in the year 2001, but in such a highly developed densely populated area. New York State has always had a solid record with the environment. The last two gubernatorial regimes have matched Teddy Roosevelt’s efforts to preserve and protect our natural heritage. It has been a difficult process at best; rife with petty politics from all sides.

Previously, before the surrounding areas had become so developed and populated, a lost or disconnected parcel of land was not so crucial. Now, however, we are faced with several compounding problems.

We are left with fewer and fewer natural places and those are feeling an intensified demand for recreational use by a desperate suburban population.

We have pollution from the sky from manicured lawns and heavy auto traffic that is decimating and affecting our native species.

We also have isolation of these natural places so that each has become a singular oasis in a vast and growing suburban wasteland.

In this historical moment of reaffirmation and rededication of the abiding American identity, we have a window of opportunity to bequeath to Americans to come a significant representation of the Manahatouac environment that has thus far nurtured our preeminently creative and ambitious regional culture.

In the larger scope of histories written by Americans to come; there will be increasing acknowledgement that American culture is less a fortuitous synthesis of progressive trends from European societies converging on an empty field of engagement than an organic growth of a sometimes roughly fitted graft on a rootstock of preexisting Native culture and environment.

During the American Revolution, General Bergoines’ Hessian mercenaries found the Hudson Valley’s primordial forested hills wrapped in thunderheads a more daunting environment than any for which their European experience had prepared them.

Sigmund Freud stated; “there is always an Amerindian element in the American personality.”
Thomas Jefferson conferred with Iroquois Speakers on the conduct of a confederacy.

The growth center of the American experience is only imperfectly represented by the shifting center of the body politic, the quarterly market trends or the latest technological innovations.

We must seize this opportunity to confer on Americans to come their opportunity to inform their character and intelligence in direct relation to the primordial American environment that has thus far informed America’s political, intellectual and artistic achievements.

I hope and trust that many here will contribute to these hearings pertinent reminders of the foreseeable economic, environmental and recreational benefits we may secure: the critical watersheds and aquifers that will be preserved; the climate moderating effects of forested land with the consequent energy conservations; the linking of wild areas providing more viable home ranges accessing grater genetic diversity for populations of many species and longer routes of continuous immersion in the wild lands environment for recreational and educational purposes.

I hope and trust that all these topics will be thoroughly reported and considered. Therefore I ask that we take this moment to support one another in reaching beyond the event horizon of our present state of knowledge which, even within it’s limitations, impels us to assume responsibility for far reaching consequences and consider, with the eye of wisdom, the hills where generations to come will seek and discover their American identities; create sciences, politics, arts and economies that I hope and trust will evolve the American dream toward potentials that we in our present moment honor yet only partially grasp. It is not for us to define or measure the American dream, but to make our contributions and pass on the living roots.

The bear went over the mountain,
The bear went over the mountain,
The bear went over the mountain,
To see what he could see.

He saw another mountain,
He saw another mountain,
He saw another mountain,
That no one had seen before.

That no one had seen before,
That no one had seen before,
He saw another mountain,
That no one had seen before.

Vote yes on purchasing and preserving Woodcock and Highlands Greenway lands.

For Cacimarex Matouac Taino Council

Behique Raymundo Wesley Rodriguez, M.S.

And Chuch’kahau Arthur Joseph