No sign of British fort at casino-site digArchaeologists working at the SugarHouse casino site between Fishtown and Northern Liberties have concluded their field work without finding any trace of a Revolutionary-era British fort, a casino spokeswoman said yesterday.
But the abundance of Native American relics unearthed during the dig, some dating back 3,000 years, has drawn the interest of a New Jersey band of the Leni-Lenape Indians.
Casino spokeswoman Leigh Whitaker said archaeologists from A.D. Marble & Co. of Conshohocken found "thousands of artifacts," ranging from Indian artifacts to fragments of pottery.
"The field work is complete," Whitaker said. "The next step is for our archaeologists to catalog all the items that they did find."
The Sand Hill Band of the Lenape has made an official request to Gov. Rendell to view the artifacts.
"We thought what they would mostly find would be colonial things," said Chester Shadow Walker Robinson, a Cherokee chief from New Jersey. "We know there was a Lenape burial ground in that area." He said that if there were any human remains, "we'd like to reclaim them for proper burials."
Laura Zucker, a spokeswoman for the Sand Hill band, said the descendants of the Lenape also have asked the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission if they could inspect the items. Under an agreement with SugarHouse, the commission will eventually take possession of the relics.
"We want to see if there are any ancestral relics or items of antiquity, and sit down to discuss what will become of them," Zucker said.
Whitaker said many of the Native American items were stone fragments from tool-building. Many were found near an ancient hearth on the 22-acre site, between Northern Liberties and Fishtown on Delaware Avenue.
Historians say ancient trails that were heavily used by tribes - which became Frankford and Germantown Avenues - ended near the waterfront. Before the arrival of European settlers, tribes would encamp on the Delaware to fish and hunt, returning to inland settlements in the winter, said Ken Milano, a Kensington historian.
The absence of any evidence of the British redoubt from 1777 has disappointed local historians, who pressured SugarHouse to look for it. SugarHouse released an early archaeological report in 2007 that made no mention of the fort. Neighborhood experts produced 18th-century maps pinpointing the fort to a location under what became Penn Street.
Whitaker said archaeologists looked for evidence of the small fort on Dec. 3 and 4. She said archaeologists found that the area had been "highly disturbed," perhaps when utility lines were installed decades ago.http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/20091225_No_sign_of_British_fort_at_casino-site_dig.html
(emphasis added by me)
William Penn was greatly interested in the Indians and even before coming to America, he had established a policy of making honest agreements of peace and consent with the Indians. King Charles II had made Penn the absolute owner of the entire province, but Penn did not agree with the king that "the savages" had no more right to the land than did squirrels and rabbits.
In 1862 Penn arrived in America and quickly made it his business to get to know the Indians well. He even learned to speak the Lenape language and liked the melody of its words. The Indians called him Miquon, the word for quill in their language or Brother Onas, using the Iroquois word. Penn entered into cordial negotiations with more than twenty sachems because no single leader could speak for the Lenape people and that is how Penn got to know Tamanend.
TAMANEND AT PERKASIE, MAY 1863
In May 1863 Penn mounted his white horse and rode north to an Indian village called Perkasie, the present site of Silverdale in Hilltown Township, Bucks County. There Tamanend and his son, Yaqueekhon, received Penn with great hospitality at a feast of venison, roasted acorns, and boiled hominy. A short vigorous man of 39, Penn joined the young men in leaping and dancing to Indian singing and the beating of drums.
Penn began by winning the trust of the Indians for his purpose of establishing a league of peace and amity. Then he laid the groundwork for buying tracts of land. He wanted to make sure that all Indian claims to land were settled before he would take the next steps of surveying parcels of land and selling them to European immigrants. And Penn reserved to himself exclusive rights; no settler was permitted to buy land from the Indians as they did across the river in New Jersey.
Penn's ideas of land as property for exclusive and personal use and the Indian concepts of the land as our mother were worlds apart. Furthermore Tamanend's people knew nothing about the English legal system of written deeds of sale and legal title to permanent land ownership.
For Europeans personal ownership of land was an intense and lifelong concern. The possibility of owning a big tract of of land was the magic of America. Buying land was the way for a European to gain personal liberty, to accumulate wealth and status, and to insure security in old age.The Lenape Indians, however, already had liberty and security in their communal society where individual wealth was of little importance. To sell land was as incomprehensible to Tamanend as it would be to sell a bushel of tomorrow's sunshine.
“Perhaps more than anyone else, the Native American community faces huge challenges that have been ignored by Washington for too long. It is time to empower Native Americans in the development of the national policy agenda.” President Obama
“We’ve got to make sure we are not just having a BIA that is dealing with the various Native American tribes; we’ve got to have the President of the United States meeting on a regular basis with the Native American leadership and ensuring relationships of dignity and respect.” President Obama, Elko, NV, January 18, 2008