Week 4: Papscanee Island Nature Preserve

On July 19, 2023, the Water Justice Lab met with Rainer Posselt, a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohicans, before taking a field trip to the recently rematriated Papscanee Island Nature Preserve with Wanonah Spencer and her daughter Gracie Spencer, also of the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe.

Rainer, who has worked across tribal initiatives and specializes in mental health, also has an interest in food sovereignty and local plants and herbs. Through a virtual slide presentation, he guided us through the biocultural role of native and introduced plants we were likely to encounter at Papscanee, and answered our questions about Stockbridge-Munsee agricultural practices and relationships with the river.

Above: Plants Rainer introduced us to that we were able to find at Papscanee, including, left to right Pkuwiimakw/Joe-Pye-Weed, Stinging nettle, and jewelweed and poison ivy growing together. As Rainer explained, jewelweed can sooth skin exposed to poison ivy, and they are often found growing in close proximity.

After our conversation with Rainer, we spent the afternoon exploring Papscanee, spending the majority of our time at the shore of the Mahicannituck/Hudson River admiring the tall trees, herbs and mushrooms, and soft-edged shoreline (so different from the seawalls and boat ramps of our riverfront experience in Troy). For more information on the rematriation of Papscanee Island and its historical and contemporary significance, please visit our 2022 field trip page, which includes an interview with Sherry White of the tribal historic preservation office.

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