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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Lenape Nation holds treaty signing of renewed friendship

  • LACKAWAXEN - Members of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, who trace their ancestry to the Native Americans whose homeland included in part the Poconos and other regions of eastern PA, arrived in Lackawaxen, August 4th for a ceremonial treaty signing.
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  • LACKAWAXEN -   Members of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, who trace their ancestry to the Native Americans whose homeland included in part the Poconos and other regions of eastern PA, arrived in Lackawaxen, August 4th for a ceremonial treaty signing.
       This was one of several stops for "Rising Journey," a Lenape event that takes place every few years. Shelley DePaul, Chief of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania explained that their goal is to raise awareness of who they are and their place in history, and to renew pledges of friendship with partnering organizations and interested individuals who sign the treaty.
         Their trek was taking them on a 17 day journey paddling down the Delaware River- a natural highway so familiar to their forebears long before white colonists would find it and give it its current name. Starting August 1st in Hancock, NY, the voyage culminates with a grand pow-pow in Cape May, NJ.
       National Park Service hosted them on August 4th, meeting under a tent by the Zane Grey Museum. Representatives from the Delaware Highlands Conservancy and Wallenpaupack Historical Society signed the treaty, as well as a few others who signed as individuals.
         DePaul, whose Lenape name is "Windamakwi" meaning "teacher," said that they seek to partner with those groups with a mission to serve as a caretaker of the river and its watershed. The treaty acknowledges both the Lenape Nation as original stewards of the Delaware River watershed and reciprocal friendship and partnership with the signing organizations that also demonstrate care for the land and water, and the legacy of the Lenape.
       As a teacher, DePaul is particularly interested in preservation of their native tongue. She teaches Lenape language at Swarthmore University and aids other Lenape who wish to know their ancestral language. Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania seeks to undo the traditional misconception promulgated in school text books that the Lenape were completely driven from their homeland.
        Contrary to that notion, she said, not all Lenape were deported to reservations. In the late 1700's and early 1800's, many were displaced by the European colonists, and sent to Oklahoma and Ohio and also to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Other managed to stay, hiding, assimilating with the white society, or leaving behind their children with caretakers.
       While it is not clear how many Lenape live in Pennsylvania today, DePaul said that Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania counts over 300 members. To be a member, they must show a genealogical link to the Lenape tribe. Some Lenape have resettled in Pennsylvania.
        The original Lenape tribe was indigenous to both eastern Pennsylvania and nearby areas of Delaware, New Jersey and southern New York State.
        Lacking federal or state recognition as a tribe in Pennsylvania, DePaul said that they sense recognition in the heart as these ceremonial treaties are signed. Not having governmental recognition, there are certain things they cannot do, such as selling products as "Native American" or having possession of feathers of bald eagles, a bird sacred to them.
    Page 2 of 3 -     She noted that the Lenape in Pennsylvania are not interested in starting a casino. She said it was not about making money. Their hope is to raise awareness of their culture and heritage. To that end they have a partnership in Easton, Pa. with the Northampton County Historical Society, where the Lenape have a cultural center. Their tribal headquarters is in Easton.
       They are also interested in updating curriculum in schools to better reflect their story. They have partnered with many churches. Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania seeks to reach out to landowners in hopes of having sacred sites protected. Sacred sites include ancient stone walls, many on ridge tops which she said were built to align with the equinoxes and Milky Way; and cairns, mounds of stone marking where Lenape were buried.
       The first "Rising Nation" sojourn down the Delaware was held in 2002; another was held in 2006.
        She estimated that 10 or 12 Lenape members were taking part in the actual trek, with varying amounts on each day. Many more may be expected at the pow-wow.
        Wallenpaupack Historical Society became involved with the signing once DePaul came as a guest speaker at their June 21st meeting at the PPL Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center. Kristen  Brown, a Society trustee, mentioned the large collection of Native American arrowheads and other artifacts found locally and preserved by the Society. Richard Briden, a Society trustee, also remarked about the dugout canoe preserved at the PPL building, which has surfaced in Wallenpaupack in 1955 with the passing of Hurricane Diane.
      Brown signed the treaty for the Historical Society. Bethany Keene was the signer for the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. Keene spoke of the work the Conservancy does to protect the environment through helping landowners obtain conservation easements, and other initiatives. Simon Knox discussed the Eagle Institute which in 2012 joined with the Conservancy. The Institute works to educate the public about the bald eagle and its successful reintroduction to the Upper Delaware region.
         Also signing the treaty as individuals were Samantha Stein and Robin Hoose.
        The effort of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania to encourage these partnerships to care for this land is viewed by the Lenape as a fulfillment of an ancient prophecy.
        DePaul spoke of the "Prophesy of the Fourth Crow." The First Crow was the Lenape as they existed before the coming of the Europeans. The Second Crow symbolizes the death and destruction of their culture. The Third Crow refers to the Lenape in hiding. The Fourth Crow speaks of the Lenape again being caretakers of the land and working with others who share their cause.
    For information online, visit www.lenapenation.org.
    Page 3 of 3 - The Treaty:
        The Treaty of Renewed Friendship states that those who sign acknowledge the Lenapes as the indigenous caretakers of these lands and agree to support the  Lenape Tribe in their unique way.  Although this  is not a legal, binding document, it is an agreement of heart, mind and spirit.  Its words carry the integrity of our ancestors and the hope of our children.  Those organizations and individuals who sign this treaty will forever be a part of our mutual history and the stories that we tell our children.  They must make the commitment to "stand up well" as a living testament to the fact that environmental, cultural, and historical awareness is the key to our future.
    Read William Penn's first letter to the Lenape people.
    Treaty Of Renewed Friendship
    In the spirit of Chief Tamenend, and in the spirit of William Penn,
    We the undersigned do openly recognize the Lena'pe Indian tribe as the original inhabitants of eastern Pennsylvania. We acknowledge the Lena'pe people as the indigenous stewards of their homelands and also as the spiritual keepers of the Lena'pe Sippu, or Delaware River...
    And we do hereby commit to actively supporting our Lena'pe sisters and brothers in whatever way we are able to, for a term of four years, helping to maintain the cultural identity of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Southern New York.
    We will support the Lena'pe people in one or more of the following ways:
        * Hosting/exchanging cultural/educational/environmental programs
        * Partnering as caretakers of the Lenape homeland and Delaware River
        * Assisting in Lena'pe language revival projects
        * Assisting in displays / exhibits of Lena'pe culture
        * Helping the Lenape people to obtain and/or protect sacred land sites
        * Encouraging updated curriculum in public schools
        * Attending Lena'pe functions
        * Volunteer service and support
        * Distributing Information
        * Financial Assistance
    We also recognize that this treaty is good for a term of four years. August 17th 2014 until August 17th 2018, at which time a new treaty may be entered into.
    May these partnerships serve to heal the past, give direction for today, and brighten the future as we move forward, learning from the mistakes of some of our local forefathers, and may we together, bring to light the cultural and geographical significance of Pennsylvania, preserving this natural history for all of our children.
    May the creator of all things embrace us as we move ahead.
    Nanalakesh.

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