The First of May is Tamanend Day!
The prow of Market Street presents a statue of a remarkable Philadelphian, quite legendary and beloved during the eras of Franklin and Washington, yet sadly forgotten in modern times. His name is Tamanend, the affable one, and graced the earth from 1625 to 1701. Chief Tamanend was a respected leader of a Leni-Lenape clan that inhabited the region destined to become The City of Brotherly Love. During the 1680s and 90s, Tamanend signed peace treaties with William Penn under the shady Elm Tree at Shackamaxon, now Penn Treaty Park just up river. Tamanend was known for his exceptional efforts at peace and friendship between the Native American tribes and the European settlers led by William Penn.
According to the plaque on the plinth, Tamanend stands atop a turtle, representing Mother Earth. The eagle, a messenger of the Great Spirit perched upon his shoulder, carries a wampum belt. This belt depicts a white man holding hands with a native man and recognizes the treaty of peace that Lenape leaders shared with Penn and his followers to Pennsylvania. That pact reads “To live in peace as long as the waters run in the rivers and creeks and as long as the stars and moons endure.”
Although Penn lived out his promise of Peace to the Leni-Lenape, successive generations of colonists were not so kind or generous and forced dispersal of this Native American tribe began. At the same time, the tradition of Tamanend was elevated to mythic proportions as colonists sought a native patron saint and began to call him “Saint Tammany” or “King Tammany.” By the 1770s, the legend of Tamanend or “Tammany,” became famous throughout the colonies from incorporated Tammany societies formed in his honor, with the chief symbolizing national unity in the face of the British crown. George Washington, John Adams, Patrick Henry and others attended Tammany Day festivities that were celebrated on May 1st, replacing the European tradition of May Day. Bells were rung to honor this man of exceptional integrity. Now I ask you, fellow citizens, to keep this tradition of Tamanend Day in your hearts and to ring a bell at dusk each year on the First of May to honor this man. By doing so, we recognize the spiritual communion with the earth and sea and sky that our native forebears respected so deeply. We also honor that Spirit within us to live in peace and harmony with each other.
BELLS RING OUT!
In commemoration of Chief Tamanend and William Penn’s peaceful agreement to live as friends in harmony, we are celebrating the Native People’s cuisine with a “Penn Treaty Parfait”. Housemade ice creams to be presented at the fête are all made from fruits and gourds indigenous to this area, including “Paw Paw Ice Cream,” which will be enrobed in toasted maple pine nut dressing, with a finale of homemade Penn Treaty Popped Corn (available at Shane Confectionery) flavored with black walnuts, molasses, and sorghum. We hope this puts a “wampum” on your appetite and reminds you of the virtues agreed upon three hundred and thirty years ago.