Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Adirondack Country, William Chapman White (3)

New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1954.

Why read it? The history of the Adirondacks, the names, the lakes, the peaks, the guides and impressions of the tourists and the seasons. “As a man tramps the woods to the lake…he knows he will find pines and lilies, blue heron and golden shiners, shadows on the rocks and the glint of light on the wavelets, just as they were in the summer of 1954, as they will be in 2054 and beyond; he can stand on a rock by the shore and be in a past he could not have known, in a future he will never see; he can be a part of time that was and time yet to come.”

“One of the common phrases is ‘over to’ rather than ‘over at’ — ‘He lives over to Lake Clear. ’ ” P. 38. ……….. “ ‘At this point,’ guides on Lower Saranac Lake used to say, ‘An Indian maid jumped from that rock, sixty feet above the water, and killed herself all because her father would not let her marry the brave she had chosen’; …similar stories are told about other rocks on other Adirondack lakes.” P. 49. ………. “Some of the early French spoke of the mountains of at least one range as ‘the Peru Mountains,’ sure it contained the same sort of fabulous mineral wealth; a town near Lake Champlain and a bay on the lake still bear that name, which the Adirondack people pronounce ‘P’ru.’ ” P. 50. ………. “ ‘Adirondack’ was not the name of one tribe but an insult applied to various groups….” P.51. ………. “The word ‘Adirondack’ is authentic Iroquois and is supposed to have been a term of derision spat at the Algonquins, who were forced to live on tree buds and bark during severe winters.” P. 52. ………. “Kayerderosseras’ meaning ‘Lake Country’; ‘Ticonderoga,’ usually translated as ‘where the waters meet’; ‘Schroon’ River or lake, meaning ‘large lake,’ from the Indian word ‘Scaniadaroon.’” P. 52. ………. “Guide books translate ‘Saranac’ as an Indian word meaning ‘The Lake of Fallen Stars’; this is fitting, pretty and bogus…more likely the word came from an Indian term ‘S’nhals’nek,’ meaning ‘the entrance of a River into a lake’—a description of the Saranac at Plattsburgh.” P. 52. ………. Mt. Marcy named for the New York governor. The poetic Indian epithet Tahawus, ‘he splits the sky.’ ” ………. “The Iroquois generally sided with the British in the Revolution; when the Americans triumphed, the Indian land claims shifted to shaky foundations; in treaties with New York State, in 1787 and in 1795, the Iroquois ‘ceded and released to the people of New York forever all the right or title of said nation to lands within the state and claim thereto wholly and finally extinguished’; for this the Indians received sixteen hundred dollars.” P. 54.

To be continued.

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