A visitor to Wissahickon Park, if they hike to the right place, can see the 15 foot tall stone statue of a Native American warrior. The statue is meant to honor the Lenape who were the first settlers in this area. However, the statue is historically inaccurate in terms of the depiction of the warrior (not the correct headdress etc). More poignant and for Marion at least, disturbing, is what the statue really represents in terms of the Native American experience as a result of colonization in the early Americas. There is much talk today about preserving monuments - it made Marion wonder, what if these monuments could actually SPEAK? What would they say?
The song is part of Marion's Philly Song Series project. The Lenape used at the end of the song is with very special thanks to representatives of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe for assistance in ensuring proper phrasing and pronunciation. The second phrase in particular has special meaning to them and reinforces the message of their tribe that 'they are still here'. More information about their tribe can be found at http://www.nanticoke-lenape.info/.
CREDITS: Marion Halliday (Songwriter; Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocals), Donna Bostock (Bass, Drums, Backing Vocals), Jane Halliday (Fiddle, Banjo Uke, Backing Vocals), Jim Salamone (Electric and Ambient Guitars). SPECIAL NOTE: This song is part of Marion’s ‘Philly Song Series Project’, where she has written a number of songs inspired by a Philadelphia-area historic event or location. More on this project can be found at Marion’s website at @marionshalliday.com//philly-songs-project. SPECIAL NOTE: The last verse of this song, which is inspired by a statue in Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Park meant to honor native peoples, was constructed with help from the Nanticoke-Lenni Lenape Tribe who ask that people remember ‘they are still here’ – learn more about them at http://www.nanticoke-lenape.info.
IF STATUES COULD SPEAK
They made a park out of my grave
After my people they had slain.
They carved my image out of stone,
Then they placed it on a hilltop alone.
I had a woman and a son.
I had a family, like their own.
All my arrows and my innocence-
no match for their guns and ignorance.
If I could speak, what would I say?
If these stone lips could move,
What would it prove anyway?
Who was the first in this place?
Not their people, but my race.
Ask the wind, or the stars, or the gentle rain,
or the whispering stream that bears my name. (Cho)
Naxuhàni ala hate (I am alone forever)
Nteshwasihena ala hate (We lived through it)