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Indian Reservation in the Watchung Mountains - Term Paper Example

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Indian Reservation in the Watchung Mountains

This belief that Columbus was in India was later refuted by Amerigo Vaspucci after whom the continent was named. History of original inhabitants of this continent encompasses a broad range of cultures and uniqueness. American Indians, as they are commonly referred to, varied greatly from region to region, as did their reactions to European settlement.
The Watchung Mountains in New Jersey, whose natural beauty characterizes the locale, came into existence some 125 million years ago when volcanic eruptions covered the area with two thick lava flows (Meisner, 2002) 1. Millions of years of geophysical transformation gradually exposed the basaltic jutting edges of the buried lava and came to be known as the First and Second Mountains of Watchung. Between them nestled a broad fertile valley through which flows the Green Brook and the peaceful valley-river, Passaic 2. The name Watchung is derived from an Indian word meaning "on the hill" or "high place". A large Native community known as the 'Lenape' or 'Delaware Indians' lived in this area that they called 'Lenapehoking', which meant land of the Lenape. Delaware Indians are a closely-knit Native American group of the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock. In the 17th century their territory included all of what is now New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, Southeastern New York State, Northern Delaware and a small part of Southeastern Connecticut. As part of the Eastern forests Lenapehoking had many rivers, streams, lakes and dense forest with rich wildlife. The Passaic River was integral to the Lenape existence, providing transportation and sustenance. Two branches of the Great Minisink Trail, known as the Indian highway between the shore and the Delaware River, ran along the Passaic. Many Indian tribes lived along these riverbanks and islands.

When settlers arrived from Europe in the early 1600s, some Lenape were living in large villages of two or three hundred people but clustered in small bands of 25 to 30 people. A remarkable history of the Delaware, in the form of pictographs, was located by the French scholar Constantine Samuel Rafinesque in 1836. Known as the Walum Olum, it depicted Delaware migrations and changes; its claim to antiquity, however, is questioned. We know little about the nature and extent of the Indian presence in the Watchung Mountains. They left little history. A few arrowheads and grinding stones have been found along the Passaic River. A number of artifacts found here and some old land transfer documents are the only evidence that Lenape roamed this place long before European settlers arrived. Raritang River snaking through the present Hillsborough Town and the surrounding area were first explored by the Dutch in the mid-seventeenth century. At that time the area was occupied by the Lenape Tribe. "The district was inhabited by a community called 'Raritangs' who lived along a fresh water river, that flows through the center of a lowland which the Indians cultivated", wrote Cornelius van Tienhoven, secretary of the New Netherlands in 1650. "This vacant territory situated between two high mountains far distant the one from the other. It is the handsomest and pleasantest country that ...Show more

Summary

In 1492, when Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador, he was welcomed by brown-skinned people whose physical appearance encouraged him to assume that he had at last reached India. He, therefore, called them 'Indios' or Indians, a name which, however mistaken in its first application continued to hold and has since won general acceptance, except in strictly technical writing, where the more exact term 'Native American' is used…
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