Sunday, May 08, 2011

Lake Mohawk NJ

 Princess Esther White Deer

My mom spent her teenage summers at the exclusive Lake Mohawk resort community.  Her adult vacations were an annual week staying with my dad's aunt in Somers Point NJ.
The private resort community opened on June 26, 1927, with a young full-blooded Mohawk woman, Princess White Deer, in attendance. She sang on Broadway in a number of shows, including the Ziegfeld Follies, and the Plaza was named in her behalf and the lake in honor of her tribe.
Princess White Deer was a Ziegfield attraction for her stylized Indian dances, some to jazzy music, with many costume changes. How the Princess became involved with a wealthy white lake resort development  isn't explained. Maybe her New York agent got her the gig. Maybe she had devoted fans. But the Arthur Crane Company had alpine chalets & country club memberships to sell. Her father, Chief Running Deer, also put in appearances with full ceremonial feather headdress. I heard about them - they were legendary - but long gone.They were genuinely involved with the Iroquois Nations. But northern New Jersey had been settled by the Lenni-Lenape, not the Mohawk. Most Indian-sounding names in Jersey, like Lake Hopatcong, are corruptions of Lenni-Lenape words.

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