Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Morning History Lesson
Man-Dad is golfing this afternoon, so he took the car instead of his work truck. Man-Dad is a real golfer. He doesn't get in nearly enough golfing, and this afternoon is a work-golf-function, so that is a bonus! Doesn't Booker look sad sitting by the golf clubs? Clubs out mean that Man-Dad is leaving soon.
That left H-Mom without transportation to the dog park, so it was a "power walk" morning instead. It was dark when we left the condo before 7am, and we headed along the riverwalk on the south side of the New River. Up and across the Andrews Street drawbridge ... around to the riverwalk on the north side of the river, then west through the Riverfront, Old Fort Lauderdale, and the Symphony Center.
H-Mom decided to walk all the way to the end of the paved riverwalk path, which goes to Sailboat Bend and Cooley's Landing, the site of the Cooley Massacre. Sailboat Bend is a long stretch of slips and ramps that is full of sailboats. Lots of boaters live in or pass through Fort Lauderdale. With the Atlantic, the New River, and its series of canals, Fort Lauderdale is a boat-friendly destination. Booker and H-Mom walked along the dock planks all the way past the sailboats. It was both early and a workday, so the docks were very quiet.
At regular intervals along the docks are signs warning boaters to be aware of the New River's most quiet, gentle residents: manatees. They are very shy, and don't move quickly. They are constantly in danger of being injured by boat propellers, and there are cautions everywhere to help protect the manatees.
It is very rare to see them from the shore, but boaters often see them floating along in the New River. If we look out the window of the 19th floor elevator lobby down to the river, on very rare occasions we can spot the large grey silhouette of a manatee coming to the surface for air before disappearing casually back to the deeper water.
The very west end of the river walk is Cooley's Landing, where there is a historical marker for the Cooley Massacre. In 1836, William Cooley returned from a trading trip to find his wife, children and the children's tutor brutally murdered by Indians. Cooley was one of the original settlers of the area that is now Fort Lauderdale. He cultivated and milled arrowroot, and at first maintained a friendly relationship with the Seminoles. The conflict and attack on his family sent many white settlers running from the region. This was one of the precipitating events of the Second Seminole War, and the establishment of a military outpost that was named Fort Lauderdale.
White man's settlement of indigenous people's lands has contributed many tragic stories to our country's history. The Seminole Indians were eventually pushed deep into the inhospitable Everglades, where they adapted and tried to maintain their culture.
Today, the proud Seminoles are the only Indian Tribe in North America never to have signed a Peace Treaty with the U.S. government and one of a handful that was never conquered. The tribe operates out of headquarters in Hollywood, Florida; the Seminoles own more than 96,000 acres statewide, with much of its reservation land located deep in the Everglades on the Big Cypress reservation. (Remember Anna Nicole's death? It occurred under Seminole jurisdiction at the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood.)
In modern Fort Lauderdale, there are more curious potentially life-threatening hazards than Indians. One study suggests that more than 150 people worldwide are killed by falling coconuts - 15 times more than are killed by sharks. Although these figures may not be well-documented, it is suggested that pedestrians avoid walking under coconut-laden trees, and that you do not park your car under palms.
On the way home this morning, H-Mom and Booker passed city trucks doing their regular "coconut removal." We don't want tourists bonked on the head! Booker is getting so accustomed to his "city life" that he doesn't bark at huge trucks, WTFs or other dogs out enjoying the morning very often any more. And he has absolutely no interest in coconuts, either.