Sacred land at Kirby Park now riddled with debris, according to new documentary

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A local movie premier Wednesday night highlighted the historical connection between Native Americans and a popular park.

The goal of this film is to raise awareness about the Native American history of Kirby Park, as well as the problems that exist there today.

“It’s such a sacred site…sacred site,” Dr. Gere Reisinger said referencing Kirby Park.

It’s where he grew up. It’s where his Native American ancestors planted the seeds of democracy.

“The Wyoming Valley is where all the nations of the Iroquois came together to form the first matriarchal democracy in the world. Their meeting place is where Kirby Park is,” Dr. Reisinger said.

Reisinger and his efforts to clean up the Riverfront area at Kirby Park are the subject of Jordan Ramirez’s documentary: Indian Paradise. The short film premiered at the River Street Jazz Café in Wilkes-Barre Wednesday night.

Ramirez says when he moved to Kingston, he observed the litter and criminal activity in the Riverfront area of Kirby Park. He met 73-year-old Reisinger, who spends day after day trying to pick up the trash. He realized Reisinger had an important story to tell.

“He and a group called the Susquehanna River Watch 35 years ago or so, cleaned it up, that area, and they were about to move forward with the next level of progress with it and it was stopped prematurely by the local government and authorities at the time,” Ramirez said.

“The only thing standing in the way right now, is money,” Eyewitness News I-Team reporter Andy Mehalshick said.

The documentary addresses issues of sewage in the river as well as crime and garbage along the trails. It features Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown, councilman Tony Brooks, and Wilkes-Barre police. Ramirez and Reisinger want to raise awareness about the sacred history of this land and show people how it can be restored.

“Bring it back to its beauty. Clean it up, and patrol it, improve the trail system in there, open it up so the water can flow through,” Reisinger said.

Ramirez is putting his message to action. They’re raising money to revive and expand the Susquehanna River Watch and they’re encouraging members of the public to help with clean-up efforts.

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