On Saturday, June 20th the Delaware River Greenway Partnership held a formal naming ceremony for the Tinicum/Nockamixon hub of the Pennsylvania Highlands.
A baker’s dozen of stalwart souls braved the Saturday downpour and stood by a giant rock in the woods to give a name to the wooded Highlands resource concentration Hub that covers Tinicum Bridgeton, and Nockamixon Townships. Permission was obtained from the PA Game Commission to hold the ceremony at a site in Game Lands #56, which is central to the hub.
Shelley DePaul, assistant chief of the Lenape Nation of PA, and the first woman to hold this position, conducted the ceremony formalizing the occasion. Chief DePaul first lit cedar and sage leaves, allowing each participant to inhale the smoke and thus open his or her mind to the importance of the ceremony. Calling on the Grandmothers and Grandfathers of the four cardinal compass directions, Chief DePaul asked them to protect the resources of this very special area, and named it the Welakamike Woods, a “good place” in the Lenape language.
Supervisors and interested citizens from the communities ignored the weather to celebrate the occasion, along with Tinicum Conservancy board members and Delaware River Greenway Partnership President Marion M. Kyde. Umbrellas were also in attendance.
The Welakamike Woods joins other Highland Hubs with Lenape names – the Unami Hills and the Conewego Mountains, both further to the southwest. The aquifers and watersheds of the Pennsylvania Highlands provide drinking water for millions, and habitat for many endangered plants and animals –“good places” indeed, for all who depend on these resources.
Research has shown that people are more protective of a stream or landmark when they can put a name to it. Adding the Welekamike Woods to the Highlands map will give the people of Pennsylvania a new focal point for resource protection.