Tappan is an historic town in Rockland County, NY with many revolutionary war and colonial landmarks. It is also the name of a Lenape Indian tribe who inhabited the region on the west side of the Hudson River that is now Rockland County, NY and Bergen County, NJ at the time of European colonization in the 17th century. Lenape tribes were named according to where they lived. Tappan was most likely derived from the Algonquian language Lenape. Early Dutch settlers called this area New Netherland, and spelled it as Tappaen.
Like most Native Americans, the Lenape were skillful healers. Every family knew how to cure ordinary illness and injuries with plants and herbs. For serious physical problems they consulted two kinds of medical practitioners: the nentpikes, or herbalists, and the meteinu or medew, who claimed to be able to cure illness of supernatural origin and chase away evil spirits. Both types of practitioners usually started their profession as a result of visions. Experienced older professionals would then teach them how to diagnose illness, select and use plants, herbs prayer and rituals for healing. The Lenape also used sweat lodges for all illnesses.
Very few people lived to be older than 35 years old. The dead were laid in shallow graves with tree bark or grass mats and clay pots filled with food to sustain the dead through the journey to heaven. They believed that the souls of good people with to live with the Great Creator Kishelemukong, but evil souls were not allowed to enter the “happy hunting ground.” They believed that the Milky Way was the path to heaven. When a person died, people never said their name again because it would bring sadness to the family. Today, most of the Lenape are living in Oklahoma and Canada.
We have learned much about natural medicine from our Native Americans and indigenous healers all over the world. Hopefully we will continue to integrate these practices with our modern medical treatments for a more holistic approach to health and healing.
Native American Healer
- It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
- I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!
- I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
- I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.
- I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day.
- It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done.
- It doesn't interest me who you are, how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
- It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else fades away.
- I want to know if you can be alone with yourself. and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
- I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you co the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.
- It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk the adventure of being alive.