I shook my head, slowly at first then more resolutely. It was not a question of money, andcertainly not of freedom. In truth, I felt as free at that moment as I ever did in my former Whiteworld. And why would this man, whom I did not really know (and who did not really know me),make such an offer? I thought long and hard, then responded.“Mister Murchison, this is not a new thought to me, returning to your Yangwe world[
here I used my word, not his
]. But I have made my peace with these Lenape people. Yes theseare the same people who killed my father and cousins on the river. Perhaps these are the same people who burned my village and killed my neighbors when I was but three years old. I do notknow. But I do know this: In the three winters I have lived with them, I have received nothing but love and acceptance from them. It is not that I do not miss my White family. It is that now Ilove my Lenape family more.”A look of surprise crossed the trader’s face when I said this. He nodded thoughtfullywhile I continued:“When I lived among the Whites, I heard many stories, horrible stories, of Indians killingWhite settlers and burning White villages.
village. Now I live among the Lenape. Now I hear of Whites killing my Lenape brothers and sisters and uncles and burning Lenape villages.
village. I myself have witnessed British troops burn enough maize to feed our village for a year.We are all watching the Lenape being pushed ever toward the setting sun, out of sacred lands wehave used since the beginning of time.”The trader did not respond immediately, so I kept going:“Sir, I am Lenape now. I choose to stay that way.”We looked at each other, a White boy dressed in Indian clothing and a White mandressed nearly the same, speaking both Indian and English. He nodded and said gravely, “Master Racer, you are learning a great deal here among the Lenape. You are growing up wisely. I wishyou long life and good health.”And then, in Lenape, he added with a twinkle, “Làpìch knewël”.I will see you again.He offered to shake my hand, a custom completely foreign to the Lenape. I shook myhead slightly. We were done; we parted company. I did see Murchison half a dozen times in later years. To this day we each maintain a great respect for the other, and when we address each other it is always in the cordial, stately cadence of the old language of the Lenni Lenape.
* * * *
It is a beautiful night. There is a large gathering of people who have come together for the ceremonial. Now the sun has set. Inside the dance area attendants have brought in the fire. People are sitting around visiting, and waiting. Then, the deep, resonant sound of the water drum begins. A steady beat is soon followed by the singing of the drummer. He is singing a song for the women to come out and dance. On either side of him sit other singers. They have gourd