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Shakamaxon
for String Orchestra
(2008) - 30'
by Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate

String Minimum: 4 4 3 3 2


Shakamaxon is the historic Lenape Indian village that bordered the current city of Philadelphia. It was there, under an old elm tree, that Chief Tamanend was a signatory to the 1682 treaty between William Penn and the Lenape Indians. The old elm tree blew down in a storm in 1810, and is now the location of a park named Penn Treaty Park.

Dedicated to Sharon Nolte and the descendants of Chief Tamanend, Shakamaxon is a remembrance of that old village and the tree under which the treaty was signed.

The first movement is the composer's imagining of sitting under the tree and feeling the presence of the village's original ancestors. Fragments of an old Lenape social song are heard throughout this movement. The second movement is very energetic and rhythmic and abstracts Lenape Skin Dance and Moccasin Game music. Moccasin games can be very intense and have always fostered healthy competition within American Indian communities. This movement is meant to depict the natural banter of the game, and to honor the determination and perseverance of the Lenape people.

Shakamaxon was commissioned by the Philadelphia Classical Symphony and premiered May 9, 2008 with Karl Middleman conducting.

Shakamaxon Treaty
Benjamin West's William Penn's Treaty with the Indians, painted in 1771

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