White Pine and Peace

Growing amongst the overgrown hedge I had removed from the back corner of our yard was a white pine I wanted to keep. I wanted it freed from the cedars that crowded it. I love white pines.

When I worked as a reporter in Montgomery County, NY in the late 1980’s, I had the privilege of meeting Mohawk Chief Jake Swamp. Chief Swamp founded the Tree of Peace Society in 1984. For native peoples in this area the white pine was the tree planted to represent a peace treaty that brought together warring nations into the Haudenosaunee, also known as the “League of Peace and Power” or “Iroquois Confederacy” to us white folks. This story is referred to as the story of the Peacemaker.  Jake Swamp traveled the world sharing the story of the Peacemaker and planting this “tree of peace.” It is a story we need to keep telling.

This is what I love about this journey at home on this land.  I have not thought about Jake Swamp in a while. He passed away 1 1/2 years ago. Now, every time I am out in my yard, I see that tree and think of it as a symbol of peace and all that might mean.


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