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Chapter 1 - The Sentinel Story

I am born. I am not sure what year it was. Trees don’t pay much attention to such things, but I’ve overheard admiring visitors say I may be about 400 years old. They seem amazed at my trunk’s 32’ circumference and 9’ diameter. They say I am a white oak. So that’s what I am – who knew. I’ve seen many people and animals pass my way. While I was still young, people started cutting down trees all around me. They used stone axes – it took quite a while. I was always sure I’d be next, but I wasn’t. They used the logs to build nearby buildings. I don’t think they obtained building permits. With only open space on all sides and roots deep in fertile soil, I grew really fast. Since I didn’t have to compete with other trees for light, I was able to send out branches closer to the ground, and eventually became the massive tree I am today. I never knew why they chose me as the tree to keep, but I’m grateful they did. The people of that time used me to help them hunt. They put food at the base of my trunk and lured unsuspecting deer into the open where bows and arrows found their mark. At times, they even held ceremonies in the shade I provided.

I’ve heard many names mentioned: Ottawa, Iroquois, Wyandot, Shawnee, Miami, Kickapoo, Delaware, Tecumseh, Mad Anthony Wayne, William Henry Harrison, Johnny Appleseed and many, many more. Men and women arrived who were different than the people I’d grown accustomed to. They cut down more trees and farmed with horses. The other people just disappeared. But I kept growing. Eventually, the farmers began using noisy machines to do the work, and the horses mostly disappeared. New names appeared: Casterline and Huysman to name a few. Then a concrete ribbon was poured just north of my shadow that stretched from horizon to horizon – they called it I-75.

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