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Native New Yorkers: The Legacy of the Algonquin People of New York [Paperback]

Evan T. Pritchard
2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 1 2007
A comprehensive and fascinating account of the graceful Algonquin civilization that once flourished in the area that is now New York.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

An author of Micmac descent who is currently professor of Native American history at Marist College (Poughkeepsie, NY), Pritchard has produced what is ostensibly a scholarly monograph on the history and culture of the Algonquin peoples of New York, though much of the emphasis is on the Munsee peoples who inhabited present-day New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson River Valley. Though it is presented with a scholarly apparatus, it will best serve as either a guidebook or history for lay readers. Academic audiences, however, will be sorely disappointed by Pritchard's dependence on uncorroborated sources. For example, the author states that present-day Washington Square Park in Manhattan served centuries ago as a major gathering point for the Lenape. His evidence for this claim is his own logic, since archaeological evidence is unavailable. Repeatedly, the author describes meticulous details about features buried under tons of concrete and asphalt with questionable evidence to support his theories. Obviously, valuable modern oral traditions have been extensively used in the construction of this work, but even they require some level of corroboration for descriptions of places that haven't existed for centuries. Recommended for public libraries in New York and contiguous states. John Burch, Campbellsville Univ. Lib., KY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Those curious about the origin of native place-names dottingNew York City and its environs will discover a wealth of informationin Pritchard's compendium about its original inhabitants. A historianand linguist, Pritchard sketches verbal tours that amble aboutManhattan, Long Island, and the Hudson River Valley, explaining themeaning of hundreds of names, such as the Shawangunk Mountains: "theplace where you go south." Contrasting a location's present look withits bucolic past often prompts Pritchard to delve into a spectrum oftopics: the local network of trails and ferry crossings; the peoplesso connected and their items of trade; and the nature of Lenape--thegeneral name for the Algonquin groups of the area--civilization. Thislatter interest leads him to relate factual material, such as theLenape's diet, but especially their spiritual outlook as captured inoral history and dream visions, including his own. Folding in Europeancolonization and the subsequent dispersal of the Lenape, this work,although loosely organized, is an intriguing palimpsest of the worldstill readable amid the modern city. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

2.1 out of 5 stars
2.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Real scholars wouldn't buy this book. Sept. 29 2002
Format:Hardcover
This book doesn't deserve any stars. I am a member of a Mohican research group that has been in existence for several years with the cooperation of the Mohican Nation. The group includes Shirley Dunn, a published author of two books on the Mohicans, based on primary sources of information and very well received by historians. Pritchard did not base his work on the leading scholars of Mohican history: Shirley Dunn, Patrick Frazier, Ted Brasser, or Lion G. Miles. Instead he used novels written for young adults! I have also found mistakes in the Mohican chapter independent of Mohican history as well. It's sloppily written since Pritchard is not clear when he seems to be extrapolating from other northeastern algonkin cultures, borrowing from stories (besides the novels) or engaging in speculation. Only someone who doesn't know anything about Mohican culture or upstate New York would think this book was any good. He has done my Mohican ancestors (including the infamous one who should have been in the book but wasn't) a complete disservice. The author has set back Mohican historical research two hundred years and we will spend years refuting what he has passed off as research.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "HORRIBLE" June 26 2002
Format:Hardcover
This is, absolutely, the worst book ever written about the Lenape Indians. It is full of uncorroborated statements, gross errors of fact, bizarre assertions, and linguistic gibberish. There is almost no statement regarding the language, history or religion of the Lenape Indians which bears any resemblance to the findings of any linguist, ethnohistorian, anthropologist or archaeologist who ever wrote anything on these subjects. The "Unami Delaware" poem, on pages 210-213, uses words NEVER known to any Lenape speaker! There is almost nothing in this book to recommend it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very important start Aug. 28 2002
Format:Hardcover
It's obvious that this book generates a lot of heat. I found this book to be inspiring and eye opening about an important subject that to date has rated a zero on the scale of public awareness.
The true "native New Yorkers" were in fact Native Americans. They made overwhelmingly important contributions to the creation of what we call the United States of America that have been completely edited out of the history books. (I guess the scholars took off that day.) The New York metro area and Hudson Valley are *saturated* with native history and Pritchard does a great job of bringing this history back to life. I defy anyone to read "Native New Yorkers" and not have his view of the portion of the earth called New York changed permanently. Is the scholarship in this first major effort to expose a long buried history flawless? I don't know. I'm sure if there are corrections to made, as there are in every book, they will appear in future editions. I encourage those who found flaws with the book to take advantage of the consciousness raising this book will accomplish and bring their own knowledge about this important subject to the public.
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4.0 out of 5 stars review from munsee July 12 2002
Format:Hardcover
I am surprised to see and read the negative reviews about Native New Yorkers
No doubt no one knows everything except for those critics who are so willing to condemn without adding anything of their own to the search for truth and wisdom
I found Native New Yorkers to be a decent and honest piece of work in surveying the original peoples of the New York area and their place in and relation to the land where our forefathers have rested for millenium
My discussions with those who know the Munsee-Delaware language allow me to feel quite firm in acknowledging the efforts of Mr. Pritchard in relating both the pronunciation and meaning of the various words and groups of wording that are provided in this book
Looking beyond the personal kinds of issues that are often brought into the realm of history and knowledge, we can only appreciate the work of those who endeavour to uncover the long lost past and to bring to light what has been trodded carelessly upon for ages
I have found Native New Yorkers to fill an important gap in the history of the city and state of New York and to be a vehicle which may inspire others to learn and perhaps help to uncover more of the history, culture and language of our people, the Munsee-Delaware
Although we are now far and in time distantly removed from our original and ancient homelands, Native New Yorkers assists us further in re-establishing the connection that we have been working on for some time now
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1.0 out of 5 stars Linguistic Information is Wrong Jan. 5 2004
Format:Hardcover
I can't personally speak to the historical accuracy of this book, but the purportedly Lenape and Mohican words in this book are not. The author indiscrimately mixes and matches syllables from words in Algonquian languages to come up with Indian "words" no native speaker would ever have used, then puts them together into ungrammatical sentences. Some supposedly Lenape words bear no resemblance to the Lenape language at all, and I suspect that they are actually corruptions of southern Algonquian words (i.e. Indian tribes in Virginia and South Carolina).
You won't learn anything correct about the original languages of New York from this book, in other words. Given the shockingly slapdash linguistic treatment, I can't recommend trusting the history, either.
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