Monday, October 14, 2019


Harlem Bespoke:  The original people of Harlem was of course the indigenous Native Americans known as the Wecquaesgeek and the island was actually called 'manaháhtaan' which is a derivative of a word in the Munsee dialect of the Lenape language of which the early settlers did not fully understand phonetically.  Manna-Hatta was what the men of Henry Hudson company eventually documented in 1609 and the original people of the land would be called Manhattoe by the European arrivals because it was probably much easier for associate the people with the land then to remember than the proper name.  One early European observation of the Wecsquaesgeek mentioned that the local population were tall, with slender waist, broad shoulders, black hair, good complexion, snow white teeth and a regal bearing.

Manaháhtaan had a few translation but Island of Many Hills appeared appropriate especially in upper parts of the land which would become Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights.  The Wecquaesgeek claimed the majority top two-thirds of Manaháhtaan as hunting grounds and the Canarsee from Brooklyn traversed the lower section of the island where the first Dutch settlement would eventually be established.  In 1626 the infamous transaction set up by the Dutch with the Canarsee would exchange ownership of Manhattan to the Europeans for the equivalent of $24 dollars at the time.  What is widely not known is that Manaháhtaan was considered mostly Wecquaesgeek land and the Carnarsee had a much smaller claim on the island. 2019

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