It would have been a grand thing to have written 50,000 words about the esoteric beauty and ritual of these splendid people. But sadly they were razed before anyone bothered to notice and make an account. And I really did search, reading volumes, studying maps and pictures, hoping for glimpses here and there; I found a few. Revisionist history wants to close the door on our darkest moment, a holocaust too withering, too indescribable to be faced. But know that no matter how flawed my writing or grasp of the complexity I have been steadfast in pushing that door open again.

Today, in the age of Facebook, we are incapable of conceiving what it might have been like to paddle a dugout canoe through a thousand miles of waterways to sit in ritual with a distant village. We cannot imagine a society where food belongs to the collective, where individuals deny personal ambition a seat at the table to insure their tribe survives, and survives well. We believe that the internet connects us more completely than we have ever been connected. Think again. Connectivity is a tribe that plants, ministers, harvests and grinds a thousand acres of corn for its people with a few stone tools.

It is somehow absurd that for the purpose of a glimmer of comprehension I was required to organize these essays by state knowing that every hunting party traveled throughout the entire Potomac River Basin in a single season. All of these tribes, and there were many, lived interconnected lives. Extraordinary trade routes were established and outposts were maintained, where friend or foe set aside his weapons to wheel and deal for the things needed most by his people.

Cacapon Mountain was there, She saw it; from the moment The Human Beings arrived to the dark day when they disappeared from history. Their bones fed the trees that cover Her still and whisper the hidden truth: Without pristine wilderness, the cathedral of the human heart, we are lost. Every inch of the Potomac River Basin is a graveyard. Do we, as a people, bulldoze the resting place of our ancestors to pave another parking lot for yet another cascade of condominiums? If an ounce of decency remains in us how could we say anything but no? Remember the people who stepped softly on the Earth for unknowable millennia, before memory, before the spirit of ambition got us by the throat. Let Her breathe again, rest beyond a troubled heart and heal without fear of reprisal. Let the spirits of our ancestors walk the forest again, hunting the spirits of animals and gathering the spirits of plants. Let them live in the beauty of wild places, cloaked in the mystery of a sacred landscape. You can do this and in doing so embark on a journey of enlightenment that seeks no destination. Amidst a vast diversity of culture, language, and ritual, sometimes as friends, other times as enemies, there is one element of continuity, and that is the land.

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