The Lenape, a Native-American nation, have lived along the Delaware River since before Europeans first came to the Americas, said Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania Chief Shelley DePaul of Gilbert.
    Every four years since 2002, the nation, many of whom are descendants of full-blooded Lenape people and early European settlers, have signed a partnership with various organizations and individuals in maintaining the Delaware River's clean, natural, scenic beauty, said DePaul, who teaches Lenape language, culture and history at Swarthmore College.
     The number of those signing this nonbinding partnership, called the "Treaty of Renewed Friendship," has grown to the point where this is the first year the Lenape are canoeing down the Delaware's entire length, from Hancock, New York, to Cape May, New Jersey, to gain signatures.
       "In previous years, we've held treaty-signings at certain locations along the Delaware and simply called out the names of those who couldn't be physically present at those locations to sign," said DePaul, a National Canoe Safety Patrol member on the Upper Delaware.
   "This year, from Aug. 1 through Aug. 17, we're bringing the treaty down the river to all who wish to sign."

••• 'Common bond'

At 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, organizations in the Poconos, such as the Shawnee Preservation Society and the Monroe County Conservation District's Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center, will sign the treaty at Shawnee Inn.
"We feel a common bond to the Lenape people in the connection we all have to the Delaware," said Shawnee Preservation Society board member Tim Carbone.
"The river flows through the Lenape's ancestral land. It's their life blood. That's how we feel about it. Our organization shares a similar goal in helping preserve the land, and the river is such a big part of it. This will be our third time signing the treaty."
In 2010, 30 organizations and 100 individuals signed the treaty, numbers that likely will grow this year, DePaul said.

••• Bringing full circle

The treaty-signing includes the Lenape's cultural tradition of sharing wampum jewelry beads, symbolizing a partnership in a common cause.
Along with maintaining the Delaware's cleanliness and beauty, the treaty includes reviving and sharing Lenape culture and language, obtaining and protecting sacred Lenape sites and encouraging updated public school curriculum about the Lenape and other Native-American nations, DePaul said.
"The idea of a treaty came about one day when we were out on the river, as we always are," DePaul said.
"At the time, we had already been partnering informally with a few organizations. One of us suggested drawing up a treaty for people to sign to make it more formal. It seemed a silly idea at first, since the last treaty-signing between Native-Americans and whites in Pennsylvania had been in the days of William Penn in the 1600s.
"But, as we thought more about it, we decided it's a good way to partner with others who share our interests in taking care of our ancestral homeland," she said. "It brings things full circle in leaving behind past animosity between Native-Americans and whites and working together."
More information about the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, its activities and the upcoming August treaty-signings can be found at