The Last Algonquin
Like E.T. the last Algonquin was a being stranded in an alien culture. The last of his tribe and living in prehistoric fashion, he chose to live out his life as an Indian, completely separate from modern day culture. Like E.T. he chose to reveal himself to a small boy. There is something infinitely sad about the extinction of the last of its kind, whether it is an animal species or even of a primitive human tribe with its own distinctive culture. What has gone can never be recalled. His name was Joe Two Trees. This is the amazing true story about an ancient Algonquin brave whose hunting grounds had once been between Manhattan Island and the lands around it, and who lingered into the 20th century.
In the 1850s Joe Two Trees and his parents were the last of an Algonquin clan living in the area that is now part of a New York City park. Theirs and another family were the only ones who did not move north or west when the clan was displaced by European settlers. When Joe was 15 his parents died, and every Indian that he had known was either dead or vanished. He believed he was the last Indian alive. Left alone, he set out to enter the white man's world into Manhattan. He was dumbfounded at the paved streets, horse drawn wagons, and more people than he had ever seen before. He tried to understand the whites who increasingly surrounded him. It wasn't long before he was robbed, and almost killed, so he abandoned city life for the countryside, living off the land, wandering from place to place with his dog looking for his people. For eight years he tried to figure out how to best make it in a white man's world. Joe worked as a farm hand, and as a laborer in Pennsylvania coal mines. He found friends, an African slave and an Italian shopkeeper, and even romance. But he suffered bigotry and again nearly died from a group beating he received simply for being different. Joe chose, therefore, to live alone as an Indian. He returned to his Hunter Island home in the Bronx, dazed and depressed, a man living outside of his time.
Two Trees lived in the woods in a kind of bower made of vines and branches. This is still a sparsely populated area, which may explain how a young Boy Scout, the author’s father, came to meet the old Indian, wrinkled and lean to the point of boniness. His clothes were made of fur, cloth and leather. He lived on plants and fruits in his garden and the fish in nearby waters. He used predatory insects like the praying mantis to keep his plants free of insect pests. A great black dog and his memories of his people kept him company.
It was 1924 when young 12-year-old Kazimiroff, while exploring the woods, met Joe. A friendship grew up between the white boy and the old Indian.
“Often in loneliness Two Trees would go to the old places of his tribe, but there was only the white boy.” He taught the boy how to fish, make clay pots and arrowheads, and over a period of time recounted to him his own story and that of the Algonquin, of whom he was the last.
The Last Algonquin is a narrative, detailed in its revelation of the ancient Indian ways, and more vivid in its picture of the collision between the primitive and the contemporary. In such a clash there can be only one result.
Joe Two Tree’s journey is a fascinating yet melancholy tale which might never have been told but for the white boy’s curiosity. One hopes Joe Two Trees has joined his ancestors in the world of spirit.
It is the story of one man's quest for dignity and peace.
"A beautiful and affecting story - a quest, a mythic adventure and journey" New York Times
"This classic will live forever" Michael Blake - Academy Award winning screenwriter Dances with Wolves
Contact: Phil Moyer - Arizona Film Productions PH# 928-300-4919