Guest blog – Arrow Park, NY blessing (day one)

Arrow Park, NY  (September 30, 2011)  –  I had the privilege to attend the welcoming celebration of the NLM healing totem at Arrow Park, which is adjacent to Sterling Forest and the Appalachian Trail — about one hour north of Manhattan.

Arrow Park is the home of a Healing Totem, dedicated by master carver, Jewell James in honor of the victims of the September 11 attacks.  In 2002, the Lummi Indians dedicated this Healing Totem and marked Arrow Park as a special place of healing.  Since then, Arrow Park has been the site of programs by the New York City Fire Department, such as an annual tree planting to honor 9/11 victims.

A man and a woman stand near the podium, while others sit along the back edge of the speaker's platform. The healing totem lays horizontally behind the platform, strapped to the flatbed truck on which it is being transported.

The speaker’s platform at Arrow Park, with the healing totem behind it. (Photo: courtesy of Kathy Cravedi)

In the past several years, Arrow Park hosted other healing programs for children and families. For example, Calvary Hospital in New York sponsors an annual camp for children who have lost a loved one. Arrow Park also is the site of professional training programs about bereavement, suicide prevention, and post traumatic stress disorder.

The day began with activities such as hiking and boating, while music filled the background.  A video was shown in the pavilion chronicling the journey and dedication of the 2002 Healing Totem.

More than 100 spectators attended a welcoming ceremony by the lake. The Redhawk Native American Arts Council, maintained by Native American artists and educators who reside in and around the New York City area, praised the beautiful surroundings and paid honor as well as respect through song.

Malachy Corrigan, Director, New York City Fire Department Counseling Unit, and Kim Ahearn, Program Director, Family Programs from the New York City Fire Department praised the Lummi Nation for their role in healing. Eve Bucca, who lost her husband on 9-11, also thanked the Lummi Nation for honoring and healing past loss.

Kurt Russo, Director of Native American Land Conservancy, told the journey of the NLM Healing Totem that started in Washington on September 12 and will end at the National Library of Medicine after leaving Arrow Park.

Fred Lane, a photographer and filmmaker with the Lummi Indian Nation, who participated in both the current and the 2002 Healing Totem journeys, asked attendees to remember our loved ones and ancestors.  “The great you do in your life will come back to you when you are gone,” Lane said.

Jewell James played a beautiful song on a wooden, carved flute. “No matter who we are racially or religiously, we are all human beings,” he said.

James explained the meaning behind the markings on the NLM Healing Totem. He praised  NIH, NLM, and NLM’s Director Dr. Donald Lindberg for recognizing, bringing attention to, and preserving the traditional healing and medicines of Native Americans. James added the NLM healing totem journey is a way to awaken Indian Nations and remind them to practice and protect their traditional healing practices.

Other members of the NLM Healing Totem journey team were introduced and the ceremony concluded with Paul Dolan and his wife, Joanne, who recognized the volunteers and supporters who coordinated the preservation of 462 acres of land along the Appalachian Trail to Sterling Forest.

During closing remarks, Chief Perry, Ramapough Lunappe Nation thanked everyone for working together. And Fred Lane presented Paul Dolan with a whale necklace from the NLM Healing Totem journey team, resulting in the singing of the “whale” song.

I was moved by the beauty and symbolism of the 9/11 and the NLM Healing Totems, and I was especially touched by the healing programs offered at Arrow Park.

Renae Barger
Executive Director
National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region
Health Sciences Library
University of Pittsburgh


2 thoughts on “Guest blog – Arrow Park, NY blessing (day one)

  1. It is amazing how this park will give you peace and serenity. I wouldn’t be surprised that many find themselves healed after a trip to this park. I am moved by how much people whose lives it has touched one way or another.

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