People can be forgiven if they mistake the Hiawatha of poetic lore with the historic Native American who was credited with forming the Iroquois Confederation.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” presented Hiawatha as a Native American female whose sole connection to the historical figure is a common name.
The historic Hiawatha lived about 500 years ago in the area that later became New York. Along with the Prophet Daganawida, The Great Peacemaker, he created a constitution known as the Great Law of Peace that enabled the Iroquois peoples to become one of the strongest forces during America’s Colonial period.
Key to Hiawatha’s success in uniting the groups is the lesson of forgiveness.
Two branches of the Ocean County Library will present a children’s program (ages 5 to 12) based on the early life of the Iroquois hero.
Hiawatha is portrayed in the program as a curious youngster who decides to disobey his grandmother and seek a vision alone in the forest. There he finds a sacred cave and enters a magical world full of talking animals and fantastic spirits. There he also meets The Peacemaker, a wise Mohawk, who teaches him a wonderful lesson.
The Catskill Puppet Theatre uses full sets, exquisitely crafted puppets and Native American flute and drum recordings to tell how Hiawatha, with help from his friends Bear and Turtle, discovers the pathway he must follow to become a great leader.
“Hiawatha” will be presented at the Long Beach Island branch Friday July 20 at 11 a.m. and later at the Lakewood branch at 3 p.m.
The programs are sponsored in part with funding from an OceanFirst Foundation Arts and Cultural Grant and the Ocean County Library Foundation.
This program is free and open to the public. Registration is required. For more information or to register go to the Web site www.theoceancountylibrary.org or telephone (732) 349-6200 or (609) 971-0514. Registration for the LBI program begins July 6 and for the Lakewood program July 7.