Underground Railroad historian Anthony Cohen looks at foraging and more inside Tuckahoe State Park in the Rooted Wisdom film series. Image from film's trailer.

Film Debuts Celebrating Harriet Tubman’s 200th Anniversary

The Big Dipper, the Drinking Gourd and the North Star were celestial guides used by freedom seekers along the Underground Railroad. As important as the constellations was the land through which they traveled. 

In the film series Rooted Wisdom: Nature’s Role in the Underground Railroad, narrator and historian Anthony Cohen shows us the ways in which the land played its own unique role through a four-seasons look at Adkins Arboreteum (inside Tuckahoe State Park in Caroline County, Md.), which he describes as “a place where history and nature meet.”

The work debuts online and in person next week, in time for Harriet Tubman’s 200th birth anniversary, celebrated across Maryland.

The 25 minute film and its companion piece features land that has remained much the same since Harriet Tubman and  her fellow freedom seekers crossed its trails, woods and water in their determination to be free. It highlights the ways in which these men and woman used their everyday knowledge of the land to survive on the Underground Railroad. Naturalists and historians can appreciate their expertise in foraging the woodlands for game such as the abundant muskrat and local, edible plants including sassafrass, shadbus and acorns. These foraging skills also led freedom seekers to ceate substances that helped them elude capture, disguising their scent from hunting dogs or by repelling them.

Rooted Wisdom: Nature’s Role in the Underground Railroad opens Friday, March 11 at 7 p.m. with a livestream hosted by the Avalon Theater at naturesrole.org.  Adam Goodheart, Director of the Washington College Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, will moderate, and panelists include Cohen and the filmmakers on the project, George Burroughs and Lauren Giordano. 

Although the event is free, registration is encouraged. For more information visit rootedwisdom.org. Following the premiere, the film will be shown in the multi-purpose room every hour at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. throughout the weekend. 

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Harriet Tubman and the 5th anniversary of its opening, Governor Larry Hogan announced that the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center will host a series of free, family-friendly programs during the weekend of March 12 to 13.

Saturday, March 12:

10 a.m. – Opening ceremony featuring a living history interpretation by Millicent Sparks

11 a.m. – “The Discovery of the Ben Ross Homesite”

12 p.m. – “Foraging Freedom: Experiencing the Natural World of the Underground Railroad”

1 p.m. – “Jubilee Voices at Harriet’s House”

2 p.m. – “The Education of Harriet Ross Tubman”

3 p.m. – “‘Designing a New Place to Experience History: An Exploration of the Architects” 

Sunday, March 13:

10 a.m. – “Meet Harriet Tubman”

11 a.m. – “The Hidden Chesapeake Through Harriet Tubman’s Eyes”

12 p.m. – “The Chronicles of Adam”

1 p.m. – “The Legacy Hour”

2 p.m. – “The Legacy of Slavery in Maryland”

3 p.m. – “Freedom Bound

For more information, visit dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/pages/eastern/tubman.aspx

-Niambi Davis