In early November the Bronx River Alliance sponsored one of its Bronx River canoeing events in tandem with a riverside celebration of Native American Heritage Month, co-sponsored by Moskehtu Consulting. This beautiful partly-sunny day was a perfect time to make a connection with the Native American spirit of the region – and for fall foliage, Bronx style.
The site was at the end of the Mitsubishi Riverwalk, an 0.4-mile trail that begins just outside the Bronx Zoo's Boston Road entrance. The path runs through verdant forest along a short stretch of the Bronx River, passing an 1840s dam, and ends at a small clearing and boat launch. There, representatives of Native American culture awaited in a gathering called Moskehtu Village, ready to share objects and knowledge about herbology, cooking, clothing, music, and other aspects of indigenous culture.
It's easy to get here by subway. It's just a short walk from the Pelham Parkway station on the 2 or 5 train. (There are even stained glass panels at the above-ground stations along the line to get you in the mood for nature.)
The Riverwalk affords a wonderful mini-escape from the urban landscape.
The dam provides a window into the long history of human use and manipulation of the Bronx River.
At the "Village" the river beckoned irresistibly. Canoeing on the Bronx River is something Mrs. Odyssey, in particular, has been wanting to do for years.
We signed up to canoe and visited the displays while waiting our turn.
The term "moskhetu" refers to medicinal herbs, from a root meaning "pasture," "grass," or "green," according to the Smithsonian Institution's 1903 Natick Dictionary. ("Natick," I've just learned, is not only a pretty suburb of Boston, it's another word for the Algonkian language more often today known as Wampanoag.) This historic lexicon, complete with an introduction by none other than Edward Everett Hale, is available via a Google search.
We got our canoe, and after a quick mini-lesson in steering from a friendly Bronx River Alliance staffer, we set off. "Don't go past the second bridge," we were told, so as not to get swept over a waterfall. Oh, the hazards of big-city living.
For more on the Mitsubishi Riverwalk, which has been welcoming visitors since 2004, see the Hidden Waters Blog. But don't just read about it. Come and walk it for yourself. And for the optimum experience, pick a canoeing day!
All photos © Jon Sobel, Critical Lens Media