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Our Undying Past

A powwow with a purpose

Ron Williams at the Lenni-Lenape burial ground (Reading Eagle photo by Susan Keen).

History glows underfoot wherever we walk. Some people feel it, others not so much.

Ron Williams is the sort who does. He’s part Apache, an educator from the Southwestern U.S. who now lives in Pottstown, Pa., near Philadelphia. It seems a certain spot along the Schuylkill River in Pottstown has called out to him. It’s a small lot behind a factory—but sacred because of the Lenni-Lenape remains and artifacts found there in 1859.

Mr. Williams began visiting the burial ground, marked with a memorial boulder, to meditate, and “I made a promise to the souls laid to rest here that their place would be useful and remembered,” he told the Reading (Pa.) Eagle.

Next weekend, May 2-3, the general public will have a chance to help Mr. Williams’ campaign to revitalize the memorial by attending a benefit powwow he’s organized. Powwows are always good family fun. This one—the Second Annual Powwow on Manatawny Creek--gives you a chance to do good and enjoy yourself.

The memorial site got a facelift in 2010 when the Eagle Scouts built a pergola and bench and the town’s police chief donated flowers. Williams, a member of the Pottstown school board, wants to expand on that work. He’s been raising funds to add a medicine wheel, a sculpture commemorating the Lenni-Lenape, a wall for visitors to sit on, and educational signage.

I spoke with Mr. Williams recently and got a sense of how the project has gripped him. “The whole idea is to keep awareness of the Native American legend in this region,” is how he put it to the Pottstown Mercury. “The way we’re going to do that is developing the memorial and continuing to remind folks that the [area’s] heritage goes back beyond 1492.”

If you’re anywhere in striking distance, consider attending this special powwow next Saturday or Sunday. Activities kick off at 10 a.m. at Pottstown Memorial Park, also known as Manatawny Park, at 75 West King St. in Pottstown. You can also visit the burial ground, at Industrial Highway and Franklin Street, about 10 blocks east of the park.

Meanwhile, Mr. Williams can be contacted at naheritagecircle@comcast.net.
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