When I was writing the book Salem County: A Story of People, it occurred to me for the first time, I regret to admit, that when the Quakers and the Dutch handed over to the Leni-Lenape a trifling amount of trinkets, the Native Americans were, of course, grateful and were more than willing to share the land, but they didn’t figure out until much later—too late, of course—that the tokens they had accepted from the white men had purchased the land they never owned in the first place. All those thousands of acres now belonged to the newcomers, and the Leni-Lenape could continue to use and enjoy the land only insofar as the white settlers allowed.
Years later, while composing this book, from time to time I reflected on those distant transactions and how the Leni-Lenape must have been dumbfounded and not a little angry to learn that those squiggly lines on paper translated “bought and sold,” “paid in full.” Also occasionally, I imagined little groups of Leni-Lenape women descended from ancient Asian sojourners scratching in gardens where now families with shallow roots in the Garden State live in mammoth, mortgaged mansions.
Fortunately, I also have envisioned Leni-Lenape ghosts hovering above the land they never owned but only tended and offering their guarded approval of how men and women of many races, nationalities, and cultures are today caring for what remains of their and the Europeans’ “pleasant and profitable country.” Most certainly the
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Publication information: Book title: Tending the Garden State: Preserving New Jersey's Farming Legacy. Contributors: Charles H. Harrison - Author. Publisher: Rutgers University Press. Place of publication: New Brunswick, NJ. Publication year: 2007. Page number: 160.
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