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SUNY Plattsburgh lecturer begins walk "Corridor of Amity" in honor of Quadricentennial

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (May 16, 2009)-- Kevin Dann, a lecturer in the history department at SUNY Plattsburgh, has embarked on a quest to gather a history of peace, friendship and courage as he walks what he has dubbed the "Corridor of Amity."

His 45-day trek from Montreal to Manhattan will take him through the Richelieu, Champlain and Hudson Valleys in honor of the Champlain Quadricentennial. These areas are well-known for historic battles, but Dann is setting out to capture an alternative history as he travels.

Dann points to an often untold history, one of peace and friendship.

"Amity was the dream of Samuel de Champlain and his backer Henry IV when Champlain set out to explore North America, hopeful that in this new land, there might unfold a community of peace and concord, unlike their own war-torn nation," Dann said. He added that Henry Hudson also had thoughts of Amity as he sailed past the island that later became known as Manhattan.

To gather these stories, Dann will stop at schools, libraries and civic organizations and work with area residents to add at least one historic site or individual to the map he is creating.

This historic map will serve as an alternative to those indicating battle locations. It will mark where courageous and creative acts of dissent against economic, racial, social and political violence took place. It will highlight individuals like Cyrus Pringle, a Charlotte, Vt., farmer who refused service during the Civil War and who, as a result, was tortured in a prison camp until President Abraham Lincoln intervened to have him released. It will also indicate locations like the Dannemora prison, where, in the 1930s, a Catholic priest triumphed over all odds to build the St. Dismas church as a work program for the prisoners.

"One of my biggest hopes is to mark sites like Crown Point and Ticonderoga not as the site of forts and battles, but for some perhaps small but significant story of peacemaking - crazy, idiosyncratic tales of overcoming old animosities," said Dann.

"By joyfully, mindfully walking the length of these valleys, I hope to knit them together in my heart and also knit together the residents of these regions who have in their heart a desire for new stories, new maps, new dreams. Instead of astrolabe and arquebus, I will be packing stories of amity," Dann said.

Check out the news coverage of Dann's trip at http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/84969/, http://www.wptz.com/news/19465007/detail.html and http://www.necn.com/Boston/New-England/2009/05/28/Vermont-man-embarks-on/1243562334.html.

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