For months, Native Americans have been scouring fields in southwestern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, finding proof of their Native American ancestors who once called it home. Discovered artifacts include pottery shards, stone tools, and beads to name a few. Seven new archaeological sites have been registered with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Why is this of great concern? Why instead of joy is there anger and anxiety? These sacred grounds have been located along the path of a proposed natural gas pipeline which will take gas to be shipped from Cove Point, Maryland to companies and people overseas. None of the gas will be used for the community. Will all the findings and work make a difference in the ultimate location of the pipeline . . . Who Knows?
August 2014, Williams Partners (Williams), the Oklahoma-based company that will build the Central Penn Line South pipeline, told federal regulators its survey of “cultural resources” along the proposed route was nearly complete. There is, the company acknowledged, a “significant degree of cultural resource sensitivity” in Lancaster County; so the company devoted extra time and scrutiny to investigating the path.
The maps haven’t changed – The route still cuts through several known archaeological sites, including Conestoga Indian Town — perhaps the most important Native American cultural site in Pennsylvania.
Williams officials say the maps will change by the time the company submits its official application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in March 2015. Williams will not say exactly how the maps will be revised. Native Americans and their allies are not taking the company’s word for it. Why should they? What has been the experience of the Native American with companies when it comes to protection of sacred grounds?
If all else fails, members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) last week reiterated a vow to block bulldozers to stop the pipeline from being built: “Everyone has been telling [Williams] about how sacred this land is, and it means nothing to them,” said Carlos Whitewolf, a local Native American leader. “We have gotten support from a lot of AIM members, from out-of-state as well,” he said. “When the time comes, we will have some people down here.”
As part of its cultural resource survey, Williams dug at 15-meter intervals along a 300-foot-wide corridor paralleling the proposed path, looking for artifacts. The company has worked closely with the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission; detailed survey reports won’t be publicly available until the company files its application later this year.
Federal law requires pipeline companies to conduct surveys and attempt to go around — even under — any cultural resources they find. In addition to evaluating the route, Williams reached out to 35 Native American tribes, seeking input. But NO ONE reached out to the local Native American opponents of the pipeline – the Native American residents of Lancaster County.
“It would have been nice if Williams had put something in the newspaper, ‘Calling all Native Americans,’ ” said MaryAnn Robins, President of the Circle Legacy Center, a local Native American group. “I have no qualms about going to meet with [the company]. In fact, I challenge them to meet with me.”
In part, the disconnect may be due to the fact that the last of the Susquehannocks, or Conestogas, who once populated this area were killed in the infamous “Conestoga Massacre” of 1783; the tribe no longer exists. But Robins, who traces her lineage to the Onondaga, said Native Americans share a sense of collective history — and outrage when they think it’s being defiled.
The Circle Legacy Center drafted a letter it hopes to have published in Native American newspapers with national circulation, including Indian Country Today and the Native American Times. “We collectively condemn the planning, authorization and construction” of the pipeline, the letter asserts. Of particular concern is the pipeline’s route through “Conestoga Indian Town,” land set aside for the Susquehannocks by William Penn in Manor Township; it is, the letter asserts, “the most significant Native American site in all of Pennsylvania.”
Current maps show the pipeline bisecting it, running between the site where six Susquehannocks were slaughtered during the “Conestoga Massacre” to the northeast, and “Indian Round Top,” which some Native Americans also call “Chief’s Hill.” It may be the burial site of Chief Civility, the last of the Susquehannock chiefs. “Nearly the entire block between Brenneman Road, Safe Harbor Road, Indian Marker Road, and Highville Road was Conestoga Indian Town,” said Darvin Martin, a local historian who has studied the area. “There are certainly graves throughout,” and even if Chief Civility is not buried on Indian Round Top, Martin said it almost certainly was used as a sight tower to send smoke signals north and south.
MaryAnn Robins is more succinct: “its sacred grounds.”
Opponents of the pipeline are organizing, trying to draw national attention to the cause, reaching out to Hollywood and music industry celebrities they think might be sympathetic. Pipeline opponents have also sent pleas to actor Leonardo DiCaprio, singer Neil Young and ESPN host Keith Olbermann, among others, seeking support. The group also has taken to social media with its “Save Lancaster County’s Sacred Native American Grounds” page. The threats, or promises, to take physical action were reiterated, when Whitewolf told a crowd at a Conestoga Fire Hall pipeline meeting that “We will show up in big numbers, and you will have a war on your hands.” Gene Thunderwolf, another local Native American opponent: “We are not afraid to occupy.”
Robin Maguire says there is no promise the route of the pipeline will change. Williams has long known about Conestoga Indian Town and other culturally sensitive sites along the route. “Six months ago we had a private meeting with Williams,” she said. “We showed them all our findings and they were blown away by what we showed them. Now here we are, looking at these same maps again.” Ms Robins is not willing to bet they’ll change. “There’s so much cultural history around here,” she said. “We can’t let them just erase it away.”
Let’s look at the Susquehannock History.
The story begins with Captain John Smith of Jamestown fame, who, while exploring the upper Chesapeake Bay in 1608, had the first recorded European encounter with the native people known as the Susquehannock. That name, as well as the name for the Susquehanna River, is derived from the word Sasquesahanough, a descriptive term used by Smith’s Algonquian interpreter to mean People at the Falls, or People of the Muddy River. Historically, we often come to know tribal groups by the name that others call them, and not what they call themselves. Of course, this trend arises naturally from the fact that most tribes simply call themselves the People, and all others are the Others. How they differentiate among groups of others is how a name becomes attached to a tribe.
In the case of the Susquehannocks, colonial history records numerous names which can be associated with this tribe. The true nature of their society, whether composed of a single tribe in a single village, or a confederacy of smaller tribes occupying scattered villages, will probably never be known, since Europeans seldom visited this inland region during the early colonial period. It’s likely that the Susquehannocks had occupied the same land for several hundred years. What is known is that at the time of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia, the Susquehannocks controlled a vast territory, composed of the Susquehanna River and its tributaries, from what is now New York, across Pennsylvania, to Maryland. They had a formidable village in the lower river valley near present-day Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when Captain Smith met them. He estimated the population of their village to be two thousand, although he never visited it. Modern estimates of their population, including the whole territory in 1600, range as high as seven thousand. But the story of the Susquehannocks has a violent and tragic end. Within a hundred and fifty years, this once powerful tribe was completely obliterated.
During the 1600′s, the Susquehannocks, like many eastern tribes, were constantly forming alliances and waging wars with their neighbors, both native and European, for control and profit. Historically, the Susquehannocks had always been allies of the Huron and enemies of the Iroquois. During this time they were known to combat other tribes as well, such as the Delaware to the east, the Powhatan to the south, and the Mohawk to the north. Besides control of their native land and its natural trading routes, the Susquehannocks were fighting for the profits of business with the European fur traders. They were perhaps the only tribe to achieve friendly relations with all the Europeans: the French, the Dutch, the Swedes, and the English, at one time or another. They signed treaties with colonial governors of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.
But the price of constant warfare, along with the ravages of disease, took its toll. As warriors were killed in battle by the hundreds, their numbers quickly declined, and the social structure began to fail. Smallpox epidemics devastated their population at least twice. Many Susquehannocks left their homeland to join other tribes in New York, North Carolina, and Ohio. By the end of the 1600′s, only a few hundred Susquehannocks remained as an identifiable tribe. After migrating as far away as Virginia, they returned to their ancestral home to build a new village, where they lived under the protection of the provincial government of Pennsylvania. Here they were known as the Conestoga, referring to the name of their village, Conestoga Town on the Conestoga River. Some historians have suggested that Conestoga may well have been what the Susquehannock called themselves all along, but the evidence is circumstantial at best.
Conestoga Town quickly became an important center for trade and treaty signings. William Penn himself visited in 1700, as did several succeeding governors of the Commonwealth. Its importance may have been more symbolic than practical, for here was a genuine Indian community, friendly to the colonial settlers, within easy travel distance of the politicians in Philadelphia. The historical record is replete with references to the politicking at Conestoga Town during the first few decades of the 1700′s, but it is remarkably vacant of any meaningful insight into the daily life at Conestoga Town (or even exactly where the town was located!). Although no official censuses were kept, documents of the day suggest that the population of this small, isolated tribe declined steadily, from more than a hundred to a few dozen, within two generations.
The final chapter of the Susquehannocks is well documented in the historical record. In 1763, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawas led uprisings against settlers in the Great Lakes region, including western Pennsylvania. Although the Conestoga were peaceful farmers and craftsman, with no connection to the rebellion in the west, they were attacked by a vigilante group known as the Paxton Boys, who found the Conestoga an easy target. The Paxton Boys murdered the six people they found in the village. The provincial council ordered the rest of the Conestoga to be taken into protective custody, but the measures failed. The Paxton Boys broke into the workhouse and slaughtered all fourteen members of the tribe. Two residents of Conestoga survived the attacked only because they had been away working at another farm. They were a husband and wife known as Michael and Mary. Governor John Penn eventually issued them papers of protection until their death. When they died, the history of the Susquehannocks died with them.
Final Census of the Conestoga, recorded by Lancaster County Sheriff John Hays, 1763
Murdered at Conestoga Town:
• Sheehays • Wa-a-shen (George)
• Tee-Kau-ley (Harry) • Ess-canesh (son of Sheehays)
• Tea-wonsha-i-ong (an old woman) • Kannenquas (a woman)
Murdered at the Lancaster Workhouse:
• Kyunqueagoah (Captain John) • Koweenasee (Betty, his wife)
• Tenseedaagua (Bill Sack) • Kanianguas (Molly, his wife)
• Saquies-hat-tah (John Smith) • Chee-na-wan (Peggy, his wife)
• Quaachow (Little John, Capt John’s son) • Shae-e-kah (Jacob, a boy)
• Ex-undas (Young Sheehays, a boy) • Tong-quas (Chrisly, a boy)
• Hy-ye-naes (Little Peter, a boy) • Ko-qoa-e-un-quas (Molly, a girl)
• Karen-do-uah (a little girl) • Canu-kie-sung (Peggy, a girl)
Survivors on the farm of Christian Hershey:
• Michael • Mary (his wife)
The fate of the Susquehannock was by no means unique. In fact, it was worse for most eastern tribes. In the first few decades of colonial settlement, native peoples who inhabited the coastal regions, including whole tribes, were wiped out at an astonishing rate. Many of their names are lost to history. For the Susquehannock, although the tribe ceased to exist as a consolidated community, their legacy remains with the descendants who survive to embrace their lineage, and with the name that will never be forgotten. As long as the Susquehanna River flows to the sea, we will remember the Susquehannocks.
Our job now is to protect where our Native American ancestors lived and their burial sites from ultimate desecration and destruction by Williams. It is a matter of history, honor, and respect for our Native American ancestors.
The fourth and last Sunday of Advent is for the celebration and representation of Peace. Let’s read our scripture passages, the first being from the first letter to the church of Corinth. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (NASB)
4 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.
3 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself.
4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.
5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
Our second passage of scripture comes from the gospel according to Luke Chapter 3, verses 1-6 (NASB) . . . .
3 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;
4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.
5‘Every ravine will be filled,
And every mountain and hill will be brought low;
The crooked will become straight,
And the rough roads smooth;
6And all flesh will see the salvation of God.’”
Today we light four candles, the “Prophecy Candle” (purple), the “Bethlehem Candle” (purple), the “Shepherd’s Candle” (rose) and the fourth and last purple candle, oftentimes called the “Angels Candle,” represents peace.
Let us pray, Father we thank You for bringing us through this time of preparation to receive Your Son, our Lord and Savior. What a magnificent gift You have given and are giving us when He returns to gather His brothers and sisters, Your children, Home to glory. Keep us ever mindful of the price You paid when He came to earth in human form, totally human, yet totally divine, in His precious name we pray, Amen.
On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the “Bethlehem Candle,” symbolizing Christ’s manger. As we begin our Celebration of the Second Sunday of Advent, let’s join together and read from the letter to the Romans, chapter 15, verses 4-13 (NASB) . . .
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,
6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,
9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written,
“Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles,
And I will sing to Your name.”
10 Again he says,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord all you Gentiles,
And let all the peoples praise Him.”
12 Again Isaiah says,
“There shall come the root of Jesse,
And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles,
In Him shall the Gentiles hope.”
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lets now read together from the gospel of Matthew. Matthew 11:2-10 (NASB)
2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples
3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”
4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:
5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the gospel preached to them.
6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
7 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
Advent-wreath-wk2-m8 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces!
9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger Who will prepare Your way before You.’
Let’s pray, Father we thank You for Who You are and for all the ways You show us Your love. Through the Prophets of old You gave us a promise and we see You have fulfilled it. We can therefore learn from this that Your word is tried and true. You will always keep Your promises. Thank You for showing us Your love as we prepare for the birth of our Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
Our second reading is from the book of the gospel of Luke, chapter 21:25-33 (NASB) . . .
25 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 Then He told them a parable: Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Let us light the first candle of Advent. This candle is typically called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah. (Light the first Purple Candle)
Father we thank You that You love us enough to send us Your son for our redemption and new life. Prepare us for the day of Your coming again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Celebrating Advent involves spending time in spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas. In Western Christianity, the season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24. In 2014 it begins on Sunday 30 November and is celebrated each Sunday after that until it climaxes on 24 December.
What is Advent?
Advent is a period of spiritual preparation in which many Christians make themselves ready for the coming, or birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Celebrating Advent typically involves a season of prayer, fasting and repentance, followed by anticipation, hope and joy.
Many Christians celebrate Advent not only by thanking God for Christ’s first coming to Earth as a baby, but also for his presence among us today through the Holy Spirit, and in preparation and anticipation of his final coming at the end of time.
Definition of Advent
The word “advent” comes from the Latin “adventus” meaning “arrival” or “coming,” particularly of something having great importance.
The Time of Advent
For denominations that celebrate Advent, it marks the beginning of the church year.
In Western Christianity, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24. When Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, it is the last or fourth Sunday of Advent.
For Eastern Orthodox churches which use the Julian calendar, Advent begins earlier, on November 15, and lasts 40 days rather than four weeks. Advent is also known as the Nativity Fast in Orthodox Christianity.
What Denominations Celebrate Advent?
Advent is primarily observed in Christian churches that follow an ecclesiastical calendar of liturgical seasons to determine feasts, memorials, fasts and holy days:
Anglican / Episcopalian
Today, however, more and more Protestant and Evangelical Christians are recognizing the spiritual significance of Advent, and have begun to revive the spirit of the season through serious reflection, joyful expectation, and even through the observance of some of the traditional Advent customs.
Origins of Advent
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Advent began sometime after the 4th century as a time of preparation for Epiphany, and not in anticipation of Christmas. Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Christ by remembering the visit of the wise men and, in some traditions, the Baptism of Jesus. At this time new Christians were baptized and received into the faith, and so the early church instituted a 40-day period of fasting and repentance.
Later, in the 6th century, St. Gregory the Great was the first to associate this season of Advent with the coming of Christ. Originally it was not the coming of the Christ-child that was anticipated, but rather, the Second Coming of Christ.
By the Middle Ages, the church had extended the celebration of Advent to include the coming of Christ through His birth in Bethlehem, his future coming at the end of time, and his presence among us through the promised Holy Spirit. Modern-day Advent services include symbolic customs related to all three of these “advents” of Christ.
Advent Symbols and Customs
Many different variations and interpretations of Advent customs exist today, depending upon the denomination and the type of service being observed. The following symbols and customs provide a general overview only, and do not represent an exhaustive resource for all Christian traditions.
Some Christians choose to incorporate Advent activities into their family holiday traditions, even when their church does not formally recognize a season of Advent. They do this as a way of keeping Christ at the center of their Christmas celebrations.
What Are the Colors of Advent?
Advent Colors and What They Symbolize
Purple has traditionally been the primary color of Advent, symbolizing repentance and fasting. Purple is also the color of royalty, demonstrating the anticipation and reception of the coming King celebrated during Advent. Today, however, many churches have begun to use blue instead of purple, as a means of distinguishing Advent from Lent.
Pink (or rose) is also one of the colors of Advent used during the third Sunday. It represents joy or rejoicing and reveals a shift in the season away from repentance and toward celebration.
White is the color of the center Advent candle, representing purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.
Symbols and Customs of the Advent Wreath
The Advent wreath is a circular garland of evergreen branches representing eternity. On that wreath, five candles are typically arranged. During the season of Advent one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday as a part of the Advent services. Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah.
Each week on Sunday, an additional candle is lit. On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the Bethlehem Candle,” symbolizing Christ’s manger.
On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the “Shepherds Candle” and it represents joy.
The fourth and last purple candle, oftentimes called the “Angels Candle,” represents peace and is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.
On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the “Christ Candle” and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world. The color white represents purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.
Celebrating with an Advent wreath during the weeks prior to Christmas is a great way for Christian families to keep Christ at the center of Christmas, and for parents to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.
(4)I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. (5)They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed. (6)This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. (7)The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them. (8)O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:4-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
No matter what country, background, or ethnicity we may have, all of us have experienced disappointment in our lives. Whether it is a desire to serve the Lord in ministry, or a plan to expand a business, or the hope of a bride in her new marriage, things don’t always turn out as we had hoped. These are times of “shattered dreams.”
There was a time in several friends’ and my own life where it seemed as if everything kept derailing – no forward momentum but lots of backwards falling. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick . . . ” is the way the Scripture puts it (Proverbs 13:12 NASB). Yet we learned to move forward and not give up, in spite of heartaches and what seemed like failures. We learned that friendship are huge helps in times of trouble, as are our deepening relationship with the Lord. And we learned that what we THINK we see, may not be what God is doing!
And there is good news! The second part of Proverbs 13:12 which we rarely hear says “. . . But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” God is all about life. The reason Jesus went to the cross is to allow us access to life – both here and throughout eternity (John 3:16). When God created the earth and all that is in it, He commanded all of it to prosper and bring forth life. He asks us to be the vessels of His “River of Life,” the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t break “bruised reeds,” people who are sad and hurting. He came to bring us LIFE and that MORE ABUNDANTLY (John 10:10).
When it seems like there is no hope, there is God who creates the dawn. When the dreams appear to be dead, there is the God of resurrection! Tomorrow is a new day for us all. What happens today may be the stepping stone to the breakthrough you have waited for. Faith is built on what we can’t see, but we know God has in store for us. May the fulfilled desires of your heart come quickly, and may all that delays your hope be destroyed by the blessings and love of our Savior!
(This information is taken by permission, from “Whispers of Heaven” written by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyrighted 2011.)