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The Lenape, Lucretia Mott and learning

When I lived in Fishtown I learned a little bit about the Lenape from historians and activists involved in the Penn Treaty Museum and Penn Treaty Park. I have since learned that all of Philadelphia and much of the region is occupied Lenape land. The Lenape, like other First Nations in regions where maple, especially sugar maples are common, tapped trees and made maple syrup and sugar, at least that is what I am learning so far. They taught these techniques to European settlers.


Philadelphia is also known for its large Quaker population and Abolitionist leaders working to end the enslavement of Africans in the Americas. Benjamin Rush penned a letter to Jefferson, who enslaved people, to advocate for maple sugaring as a way to counter the power of slavery, which was used to produce cane sugar. The Free Produce Movement was a strategy to have people buy and trade products that were not made using slave labor. This article shares the history of Lucretia Mott and the Free Produce Movement and references Maple sugar.


It's not possible to engage in much of anything in our country without connecting the dots to the occupation of Native American land, and to slavery. I have much more to learn and often approach activities with a naive zeal that has a lot to do with my whiteness and the privileges that come with it. I also am curious and interested in doing this (maple tapping) well and with love for the land, the trees, and the people and communities that make maple syrup possible and right now primarily get it from New England rather than here at home in Philadelphia.


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