For those of you who prefer the trendy upscale environment of the Westchester Mall, a few miles north of Yonkers in White Plains, it’s nice to know that while you are being watched by the hoards of shoppers, the kiosk salesmen and of course, the brave men and women of mall security, another pair of eyes watches over what used to be rightfully his.
Meet Chief, Orawaupum, head of the Weckquaeskeck Tribe and the original inhabitants of the land that would one day be renamed White Plains by the British and also where residential high rises and commercial properties would run amok.
White Plains comprises 4,435 acres and in 1683, the Chief was made a fateful offer by the British to sell his land to them and according to legend, the site of the Westchester Mall is the exact location where the deeds were signed and a feast ensued, celebrating the land acquisition.
The original name of the city was refered to as “Land Quarropas”, loosely translated, it means “White Marshes” or as you and I know it, “White Plains”, a reference the native people gave the natural landscape due to the white fog that would hand over the rolling hills of Southern Westchester and the swamps that used to dot the area.
Personally, I like the big Chief keeping an eye on things at the mall and ever since I was a kid, I have always pointed him out to anyone I was with, feeling proud that while most shoppers pass him by each day, I always knew who the real Chief of the Westchester Mall was.
He can be a little hard to find but if you make your way toward the new Microsoft Store on Level one, you’ll find him in one of the plant areas that line the middle of the mallwalk.
It’s always good to know who came first when in various situations and while the Chief probably would not have much use for a Thomas Kincaid Painting or a Louis Vuitton whatever…I think he would enjoy watching the people enjoy his land, just as his people did over 200 years ago.