Remembering Jake Swamp
Jake Swamp — Mohawk chief and spiritual leader, planter of peace trees — died unexpectedly a week ago. More here and here from Indian Country Today. And here from the Cornwall Ontario Standard Freeholder.
He was 68, but seemed centuries older than one life span. Maybe that was because he confronted ageless questions, and practiced ageless rituals to try to heal the modern world. He was often found at international gatherings, at the U.N., in the Hague, with the Pope, planting a northern white pine tree to symbolize peace.
He was a public face of often very private traditional Mohawks – opening ceremonies with a prayer in the Mohawk language, and teaching locally and worldwide about the Haudenosaunee.
We’ll share a story from our 2002 archives, during tomorrow’s 8 O’clock Hour.
Martha – Jake was very down to earth. Some years ago when the road blocks were up and bullets were flying Jake Swamp spent the night hunkered down in that chaotic environment. The next day, as scheduled, and true to his calling, he was at a local school district planting a peace tree.
I remember his being a part of the opening ceremonies of the Adirondack Park Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths 20 years ago. He planted a peace tree – I think it is still there, near the main entrance to the building… although quite a bit taller! I will pay that tree a visit and my respects to Jake Swamp the next time I am there.
I heard both Jake Swamp and Ernie Benedict recite the beautiful and lengthy Mohawk Prayer of Thanksgiving during the political strife at Akwesasne. The beauty of the Mohawk language and the depth of feeling and belief held by both men was inspiring.
Nyawa and thank you Jake Swamp for your friendship, smiles, outreached hand, laughter and care for Turtle Island. Your life of teaching, peacemaking, love and understanding across so many cultures and across so many boundaries will shine a light and a right path for all of us as we journey on.