History of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and more.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021. New York City – It is Cinco de Mayo (May 5). Mexicans commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Powerful European invaders got defeated by a small Mexican army.

Some people in the United States of America think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16.

But this is not about 5 de Mayo. It is about the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. BBG is a beautiful botanic garden in the borough of Brooklyn, New York City. There are thousands of flowers in the Garden every spring and summer. This is one of my favorite places in “The City That Never Sleeps.” Watch the videos below.

VIDEO: National Arbor Day (Tree Day) in the U. S. 2021.

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Videos on my YouTube Channel will be mostly in Spanish (you can learn Spanish with me)
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VIDEO: Brooklyn Botanic Garden and thousands of cherry blossoms.

Brooklyn, situated at the southern tip of Long Island, was originally inhabited by the Lenni-Lenape. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden stands on Lenape land.

A Native American family poses for a portrait around 1900. Photo via Brooklyn Museum
A Native American family poses for a portrait around 1900. Photo via Brooklyn Museum

The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape People say on its website nanticoke-lenape.info, “The history of our tribe in its homeland goes back over 10,000 years. We are the descendants of those Nanticoke and Lenape who remained, or returned, to our ancient homeland after many of our relatives suffered removals and forced migrations to the mid-western United States or into Canada.

Our Lenape ancestors were those who inhabited New Jersey, Delaware, southern New York and eastern Pennsylvania at the time the Europeans came. We called ourselves “Lenni-Lenape,” which literally means “Men of Men”, but is translated to mean “Original People.” From the early 1600’s, the European settlers called the Lenape people “Delaware Indians.”

The first treaty that was signed by the United States government, after its Declaration of Independence, was with the Lenni-Lenape (also called “Delawares”) in 1778 during the Revolutionary War. The revolutionary government promised that if the “Delawares” helped their fight against the British, they would be given statehood in the future… a promise that was not kept. Because of continuing conflict with European settlers encroaching upon Tribal lands, many of the Tribe’s members were killed or removed from their homelands. Some were able to continue to live in the homeland, however, they lived in constant fear. Those who remained survived through attempting to adapt to the dominant culture, becoming farmers and tradesmen.”

According to the American Indian Community House, in 2019, there were 118,000 Native Americans in New York City. The Community House represent up to 73 different tribal nations in New York City.

November is National Native American Heritage Month. According to census.gov, “The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. The event culminated an effort by Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet Nation who rode across the nation on horseback seeking approval from 24 state governments to have a day to honor American Indians. More than seven decades later, then-President George H.W. Bush in 1990 signed a joint congressional resolution designating the month of November “National American Indian Heritage Month.””

Cities and states across the United States of America are rejecting the federal holiday of Columbus Day and celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead to honor centuries of indigenous resistance. On Tuesday, May 4, 2021, NYC Department of Education said that public school students in New York City will not celebrate Columbus Day anymore. New York City public schools will still close on the second Monday in October, but they will celebrate “Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day.” When the calendar was initially put out on Tuesday morning, it referred to the date solely as Indigenous People’s Day, but some politicians said the name change was insulting to Italian Americans. By the afternoon, the education department said October 11 will be known as Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day. Italian Heritage Day? Are Italians proud of rapist, criminal, white supremacist Christopher Columbus?

On Friday, April 23, 2021, former United States Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum, a senior political commentator at CNN, dismissed the influence Native Americans had on the United States of America. Santorum said, ““We birthed a nation from nothing; I mean, there’s nothing here. I mean, yes, we have Native Americans but candidly, there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

New York State Assemblymember, Yuh-Line Niou said on Twitter, “Our tribes are alive and thriving. Everything we know day to day has our native cultures embedded. We are on their land. We eat their food. Use their words. Drink their water. Pennsylvania tribes are Lenape, Susquehannock, Shawnee, and Iroquois.”

A petition started by IllumiNative on actionnetwork.org says, “Recently, Rick Santorum perpetuated a myth that whitewashes American history and attempts to erase Native peoples. The contributions of Native Americans are everywhere – our history, our land, and our culture are so important and meaningful that they were stolen by the very people who came to these shores. Despite these attempts to erase us, we continue to thrive.

American history that does not include Native peoples is a lie and Rick Santorum is fueling white supremacy by erasing the history of Native peoples. Allowing him to spread racism and white supremacy to the American public is reckless and irresponsible.

CNN must do more to include Indigenous and diverse voices in its programming and fire Rick Santorum.” (Click here to add your name.)

On Tuesday, May 4, 2021, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the nation’s first-ever Indigenous Cabinet secretary, told HuffPost (in a Zoom interview, which you can watch here): “It’s unfortunate that (Rick Santorum said that “nothing” was in what today we call United States of America before white invaders arrived), first of all, that perhaps we haven’t done a good job of educating Americans about Indian history, because Native American history truly is American history. When we think about the influence that Native Americans have had on the forming of the United States, right? The U.S. Constitution is based on the Iroquois Confederacy. Native Americans from some tribes here in this country have some of the oldest democracies in the world.”

The United States of America Senate paid tribute to the Iroquois with a 1988 resolution stating: “The confederation of the original 13 colonies into one republic was influenced by the political system developed by the Iroquois Confederacy, as were many of the democratic principles which were incorporated into the constitution itself.”

“European colonizers tried to eradicate Indigenous people by forcibly removing them from their lands, slaughtering them, infecting them with new diseases, rounding them up and putting them on reservations, breaking treaties with them and taking their children from them and putting them into boarding schools to assimilate them into white culture,” writes Jennifer Bendery on HuffPost.

Rick Santorum’s comments are nothing new. Trying to erase the millennia-long presence of Native Americans in New York City and in the United States of America is nothing new. White supremacists and Black supremacists have been dismissing the presence and contributions of Native Americans for a long time. Those that want to erase Native Americans are a minority. They will never succeeded. The influence of Native Americans is everywhere.

In addition to traveling by water, the Original People (Lenni-Lenape people) moved through an extensive system of trails, many of which became major roads of New York City.

For example, Kings Highway and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn follow Lenape trails. Flatbush Avenue is on the west side of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. One of the entrances to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is 455 Flatbush Avenue.

This 1946 map shows how Native American trails became the streets and avenues of Brooklyn. The map is courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society.

The map is titled “Indian Villages, Paths, Ponds and Places in Kings County.” It was published in 1946 by James A. Kelly, who was the Brooklyn Borough Historian from 1944 to 1971.

Should the Brooklyn Botanic Garden have plaques at every entrance, like the plaque at Columbia University?

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden stands on Lenape land. When you visit the garden, remember that you are standing on Lenape land (the same thing can be said about Prospect Park. Activists say that we live on stolen land).

A plaque commissioned by the Native American Council at Columbia University. Photo courtesy the Native American Council.
The plaque says: “IN HONOR OF THE LENAPE PEOPLE. The Lenape lived here before and during colonization of the Americas. This plaque recognizes these Indigenous people of Manhattan, their displacement, dispossession, and continued presence. It stands as a reminder to reflect on our past as we contemplate our way forward.”
A plaque commissioned by the Native American Council at Columbia University. Photo courtesy the Native American Council.
The plaque says: “IN HONOR OF THE LENAPE PEOPLE. The Lenape lived here before and during colonization of the Americas. This plaque recognizes these Indigenous people of Manhattan, their displacement, dispossession, and continued presence. It stands as a reminder to reflect on our past as we contemplate our way forward.”

“A Living Land Acknowledgment is a statement that recognizes the indigenous peoples who have been dispossessed from the homelands and territories upon which an institution was built and currently occupies and operates in. For Brooklyn, it was originally the “Lenapehoking” or the Land of the Lenape,” says Natiba Guy-Clement on the website of the Brooklyn Public Library (www.bklynlibrary.org).

The Brooklyn Museum says on its website BrooklynMuseum.org, “The Brooklyn Museum stands on land that is part of the unceded, ancestral homeland of the Lenape (Delaware) people. As a sign of respect, we recognize and honor the Lenape (Delaware) Nations, their elders past and present, and future generations. We are committed to addressing exclusions and erasures of Indigenous peoples, and confronting the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism in the Museum’s work.”

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is next to the Brooklyn Public Library and the Brooklyn Museum. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden can have a similar message on its website www.bbg.org.

This is a brief history of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Grading the land for the southern part of the garden with horse team, 1916. Photo by Louis Buhle.
Grading the land for the southern part of the garden with horse team, 1916. Photo by Louis Buhle.

“In 1897, as the city moved toward consolidation, legislation reserved 39 acres (16 ha) for a botanic garden, which was founded in 1910. Initially known as the Institute Park, the garden was run under the auspices of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, which until the 1970s included Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and Brooklyn Academy of Music.”_Wikipedia.org

1910: Garden founded with botanist Charles Stuart Gager as director. The Olmsted Brothers firm laid out the original site plan.

1911: Brooklyn Botanic Garden officially opens on May 13.

1912: Harold Caparn appointed the Garden’s landscape architect. Caparn would go on to design much of the grounds over the next three decades.

Friday, April 30, 2021. Brooklyn, New York City – Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Javier Soriano/www.JavierSoriano.com
Friday, April 30, 2021. Brooklyn, New York City – Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Javier Soriano/www.JavierSoriano.com

1915: Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden completed by landscape designer Takeo Shiota. It was one of the first public Japanese gardens in the United States.

1921: Lily Pool Terrace dedicated.
Cherry Walk planted.

1925: Bonsai Collection formed through a gift of 32 bonsai from local plantsman Ernest F. Coe.
Shakespeare Garden opens, the gift of Henry C. Folger.

1928: Dedication of Cranford Rose Garden, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Walter V. Cranford. Though the garden has been renovated several times since its opening, several of the original plants remain today.

4/20/2018. New York City - Tulips. Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Abril 20, 2018. Ciudad de Nueva York - Tulipanes. Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn. Photo by Javier Soriano / www.JavierSoriano.com
Friday, April 20, 2018. Brooklyn, New York City – Tulips. Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Javier Soriano / www.JavierSoriano.com

1933: Magnolias planted on Magnolia Plaza.

1941: ‘Kanzan’ cherry trees planted to establish Cherry Esplanade.

1996: Garden website, bbg.org, launched.

2012: Diane H. and Joseph S. Steinberg Visitor Center opens. The LEED Gold–certified design by Weiss/Manfredi includes geothermal heating, rain gardens to absorb run-off, and a living roof planted with native grasses and wildflowers.

6/6/2017 NYC – Beautiful roses at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Hermosas rosas en el Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn. Photo by Javier Soriano/www.JavierSoriano.com
Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Brooklyn, New York City – Beautiful roses at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Martes 6 de junio de 2017. Brooklyn, ciudad de Nueva York – Hermosas rosas en el Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn.
Photo by Javier Soriano/www.JavierSoriano.com

2020: Today, the Garden comprises 52 acres.

2021: Due to COVID-19, advance tickets are required to enter. Face coverings are required. Conservatories, interactive exhibits, and some outdoor areas are closed.

According to BBG’s website BBG.org, “When Brooklyn Botanic Garden was founded more than a century ago, New York City area was quickly being developed into a cityscape of buildings and paved roads. Creating a public garden was one way to ensure that some green space remained. Today, the Garden has come to represent the very best in urban gardening and horticultural display.”

April 2011. Brooklyn, New York City - A gorgeous magnolia at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City.  
Photo by Javier Soriano/JavierSoriano.com
April 2011. Brooklyn, New York City – A gorgeous magnolia at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City.
Photo by Javier Soriano/JavierSoriano.com

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Videos on my YouTube Channel will be mostly in Spanish (you can learn Spanish with me)
Click the link to go to my YouTube channel AsiEsNuevaYork: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3dC5iO9Rd8BeflpH8pW_iw

Updated on Friday, May 7, 2021.

May 2, 2017 NYC - Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn. Photo by Javier Soriano/www.JavierSoriano.com
Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Brooklyn, New York City – Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Martes 2 de mayo de 2017. Brooklyn, ciudad de Nueva York – Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn.
Photo by Javier Soriano/www.JavierSoriano.com

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