An Esopus Girl Story

Submit stories to by April 15, 2017.

Manveht was born in the summer near the Esopus River. Her people had explored and lived on the surrounding land longer than many of the tallest trees had stood. Many summer days, after helping her mother gather corn, beans, and squash in the fields, Manveht would jump in the river to swim, cool off, and enjoy the beauty around her.

As summer changed to fall and fall to winter, Manveht was always very aware of the changes in this land she called home. The trees that once were covered in green turned beautiful shades of orange and red, but soon fell off when the winds turned cold and the snows came. With each change of season, new jobs would arise to occupy her time.

During the spring, one of Manveht’s favorite jobs was collecting sugar from the trees in the morning. The small hollowed out sticks stuck in the maple trees would receive the sap. Then it would drain into a collection bowl below. Manveht would take the clear, watery sap and boil it over the fire until it became sweet and brown. If she were allowed, she would have poured the syrup on everything she ate! It was so good and sweet!

Some of Manveht’s other duties included helping her mother make clothes from animal hides, molding clay into pots, and weaving. She also loved to make dolls from cornhusks.

Manveht’s family lived in a circular wigwam made of sapling trees and bark. To Manveht, the wigwam felt big, fore she could stretch her own body three times, head-to-toe, before she touched the other side. She loved her wigwam because it was warm and comfortable. It kept out the rain and snow and coldest winds. But mostly she loved it because it was where her family gathered together for their meals at the end of the day and being with her family always made her feel warm and safe. 

Storytelling was very important to the Esopus tribe. Manveht loved to listen to her Elders tell legends of their ancestors. Sometimes she even made up her own stories to tell. Her favorite legend growing up was about the Wemahtekenis (weh-mah-teh-guh-neese), which were magical little people of the forest. She liked those creatures because they were funny and always causing mischief.

Manveht’s mother was one of the sachems (leaders) of the tribe. Manveht was raised to also one day have great influence over her people. Her mother’s duty was to be a peacemaker. She would sit in council meetings, consider the issues of the tribe, and propose ways to keep peace during times of war.

Manveht didn’t remember a lot about her father because he died when she was very young. Mother told her that he had died while protecting the tribe and their land from invaders. She eventually learned that these men were from a land called “Europe,” which was across the large water (ocean) from her land. These men sought out the beautiful Munsee land to build trading posts and homes made of stone. Manveht wished the white men from Europe and her tribe could live peacefully, but war seemed to follow these men wherever they went. She hoped that one day when she became a sachem, she could help in the effort to make peace.

Additional Information

In 1677, Manveht’s name appears on the 1677 Indian Deed, which was an agreement made between the Esopus and the French Huguenots to trade a section of their native land for things like clothing, tools, gunpowder, and wampum (polished shells that were turned into beads and used as currency).

Historic Huguenot Street invites you to take this information about Manveht and to write a story or poem from the perspective of Manveht. Imagine Manveht has been asked to share her writing with her tribe. Here are some ideas for brainstorming, but feel free to be creative!

  • Manveht talks about her hopes and dreams for one day becoming a leader of her tribe. What might she want to accomplish as a sachem?
  • Manveht is walking in the woods one day when one of the Wemahtekenis appears and gets in her way! What happens between them and how does Manveht handle the creature?
  • Manveht imagines the first time her tribe met the Europeans. What might have occurred between them?

In her story, be sure to describe how Manveht might have felt in those situations – excited, peaceful, nervous, frightened, etc. Describe her surroundings – the forest, a wigwam, the river, etc. You might also want to describe her relationship with her mother and her role as a young girl in the Esopus tribe.

Two winners (one from each age group, 7 to 9 and 10 to 12) will have their stories read aloud at the event and will take home a prize.

Much of this info came from: