November 29, 2011

Shikellamy Marina. Photo courtesy Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau


By Julia Ferrante

LEWISBURG, Pa. - As Bucknell University Professor Katie Faull sought to uncover the long-buried story of Moravian settlers in the Susquehanna River Valley, again and again she was struck by the stunning natural beauty and historical significance unknown to most visitors to the area.

The professor of German and humanities, who is translating diaries left behind by the Moravians during the colonial period, shares her observations in a new driving tour brochure published by the Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau. "Native Paths" is the first brochure of its kind for the agency, which promotes tourism in Union, Snyder and Northumberland counties, said Executive Director Andrew Miller.

"Since I have been doing my research on the Cultures at the Confluence and the Moravians who settled here, I have come to see the valley in a very different light," Faull explained. "I wanted to share those insights with visitors to the area."

Connecting the dots
The brochure highlights historic sites from the colonial period, "when Native Americans, colonists and Europeans came together to trade, negotiate and live." The driving route "follows common paths used for exchange, communication, hunting and war for Native peoples for centuries before the arrival of the European settlers."

Miller got the idea for the project when he heard Faull speak at several events about the history and natural beauty of the region.

"When she spoke, she did so with such knowledge of the history, and the room would just go silent," Miller said. "The majority of these places are not tourist attractions. Some of them have been highlighted in the past but never in the context of Native American history. This is the first time we are connecting the dots of history."

Faull has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for Humanities for her collaborative research and translations of the mid-18th-century Moravian diaries, most of which were written in German. || See Bucknell news story and Ask the Experts.

Cultures at the Confluence
Her research is part of a larger, cross-disciplinary program at the Bucknell Environmental Center, Cultures at the Confluence, which involves several efforts to uncover and highlight the history of the Susquehanna River Valley. The confluence is the place where the North and West branches of the river meet, in Sunbury. || See Bucknell Magazine story.

Miller asked Faull to write the text, relaying the story of her discovery as if she were getting into a car or kayak or walking along the shore of the Susquehanna River, he said. Faull donated her time to the project.

Historic path
The brochure includes eight recommended stops, including Shikellamy Overlook in Sunbury, which offers a panoramic view of the confluence; Shikellamy State Park Marina, where Native American leaders lived and opened their homes to Moravian missionaries; the Warrior Path to Montoursville, used for war parties and trading for the Iroquois; and Selinsgrove's Isle of Que, another Native settlement.  

"I wanted to highlight the importance of the valley in colonial times and also because the area now known as Sunbury is considered the capital of the Woodlands Indians in the 18th century," Faull said.

Cindy Inkrote, director of the Northumberland County Historical Society, helped with the project. She said the brochure offers "a wonderful opportunity to follow the pathways of the Susquehanna River Valley's early inhabitants and to become more aware of the interaction of those cultures."

"Dr. Faull's translation of the Moravian diaries brings a new level of understanding to what took place during the 18th century at the Susquehanna's confluence," she said.

To request a free "Native Paths" brochure, go to the visitors bureau website or call 1-800-525-7320 or 570-524-7234.

Contact: Division of Communications

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