Relearning Highlands History

The conservation community across the country is in a moment of reckoning: we are acknowledging our beginnings and taking responsibility for making land conservation more inclusive.

Like many land trusts, HHLT was formed in the 1980s with a mission to protect natural resources in our region. As we evolve as an organization, we acknowledge the inequities in past conservation work and we will promote more projects with relevance to people of all backgrounds, especially those who have been historically excluded.

On June 5, 2020, HHLT issued a statement about racial inequity and highlighted the need to amplify the stories of communities of color in the Hudson Highlands, among other initiatives. We made a commitment to use our platforms to share stories of and from People of Color throughout the history of the Hudson Highlands. This new series “Relearning Highlands History” is our attempt to deliver on that promise.

Nowhere are racial inequities more evident in the history of the Hudson Highlands than in property ownership. Our first story in this series is a seminal story for relearning our land history. It is the story of Chief (Sachem) Daniel Nimham and the Wappinger Tribe’s challenge to the Philipse Patent, covering what is now Putnam County. Thank you to Peter Cutul of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for writing the first article of this series.

We will continue to share stories of and/or from People of Color in the Hudson Highlands on our blog and in our monthly newsletter. We’d love to hear from you, too. If you have a story to share, please email or

Read Articles in This Series

Land Heist in the Highlands: Chief Daniel Nimham and the Wappinger Fight for Homeland by Peter Cutul, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation

People Not Property: Stories of Slavery in the Colonial North presented by Historic Hudson Valley

Antislavery in the Mid-Hudson Valley: An Interview with Peter Bunten

Who Built the Stone Walls of New York? An Interview with Susan Allport, Author of Sermons in Stone

Black History and Culture in Putnam County, by Cassie Ward, Putnam History Museum

Land Ownership and Social Justice: How Our Cities and Towns Became Segregated, on Richard Rothstein’s book The Color of Law

Creating a Black and Native American Heritage Trail in the Hudson Highlands

Revisiting the End of Slavery in New York for Juneteenth

Tree Inequity in the Hudson Highlands

Reflections and Accountability: Looking Back at Our Statement on Racial Inequity and the First Year of Relearning Highlands History

Indigenous Land Acknowledgements: Recognizing and Honoring the Original Stewards of the Land