City

It’s Turkeytown and Turtletown, too.


Leni Lenape sculptures

One of the Leni Lenape sculptures in Fishtown. Photograph by Alexander Heller.

Did you celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday? Fishtown certainly did, beneath the steady gaze of its new light-pole toppers: the wild turkey and white wolf on Columbia Avenue near the I-95 overpass. On the other side, there’s a whole bale of turtles (seriously, that’s what a bunch of turtles is called; we looked it up) holding lampposts on their backs.

Leni Lenape sculptures

Photograph by Alexander Heller.

The clutch of critters represents the three clans of the Leni Lenape (it’s Leh-NAH-pay, FYI), who once lived, laughed and loved where our town’s beautiful people live, laugh and love today. Of the trio, the turtle is the most important, part of the Iroquois creation myth that lent us the expression of the problem of infinite regress known as “turtles all the way down.”

Artist Donald Lipski, a New Yorker who once dwelled in Fishtown, created the life-size sculptures in collaboration with local artist-brothers Christopher and John Collins. Lipski told the Inquirer he appreciates the juxtaposition of the ancient animal totems with newfangled carriers of electricity, referencing William Penn’s signing of a treaty with the Leni Lenape beneath the Penn Treaty Elm that once stood nearby. Like all we love about Philly, the menagerie’s the perfect marriage of old and new.

Leni Lenape sculptures

Photograph by Alexander Heller.





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