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York Indian Legend Might be Real

What about the rock pile?

According to Nowell, the current stone "memorial" to St. Aspinquid is a modern assemblage. It was built in the 20th century, he says, as part of the Indian-themed ski resort that sported names like Wabanaki Trail and Wampum Path. An earlier rock pile, however, Nowell says, did exist nearby. That pile, including a stone obelisk, is visible in an 1890 photograph, but was bulldozed to make way for the ski resort. Nowell is preparing a collection of historic family photos that, he says, will document the migration of the memorial rock pile. An earlier sign at the memorial encouraged visitors to "Add a Stone".

But long before the sightseers, Don Awalt says, Native Americans have been carrying stones from Canada to the top of Agamenticus, both with respect for St. Aspinquid and in memory of the land their ancestors once occupied. Bringing a stone on a pilgrimage, he says, is an ancient tradition, like carrying flowers to a grave, not just an amusement for tourists.

Awalt, whose research on Aspinquid successfully led to a Native American memorial area in Halifax, says residents of York now have a similar opportunity to designate a sacred space.

"You have so very few places anywhere near an urban environment where you can celebrate your First Nation’s heritage. This place [Agamenticus] is historically and spiritually significant to the Mi’kmaq. Now you can use it to celebrate that heritage."

Asked whether the site of the modern rock pile should be moved, Awalt says: "How’s this? You give us permission to dig up your grandfather, and I’ll give you permission to dig up mine."

Copyright © 2008 by J. Dennis Robinson. All rights reserved. Robinson is editor of the history web site SeacoastNH.com and author of the award-winning history of Strawbery Banke Museum, available in bookstores, on Amazon.com, and in the museum gift shop.

 

 

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