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We are occupying Lenni-Lenape land. FFW acknowledges the Lenape people, their ancestral land, and the trauma of their removal that caused their relocation.
The Lenni-Lenape (lun-NAH-pay), also called Lenape, are indigenous people whose traditional lands (Lenapehoking) include all of NJ and parts of PA, NY, and DE. The word Lenni can be translated to mean "genuine, pure" whereas Lenape means "real or original person." You may have seen Lenape people also be referred to as "Delaware Indians." However, this name was subscribed to them by the Englishmen and is not their own designation. The first documented evidence of inhabitation of this land was by Paleo-Indians at the end of the Early Archaic Period, 8,000 years ago. The Lenape had three overarching clans: Munsee (Wolf), Unami (Turtle), and Unalachtigo (Turkey). Each clan included 12 sub-clans. The Munsee, or Wolf Clan, inhabited the land that we are occupying.
The Lenape practiced extensive agriculture to supplement their hunter-gatherer culture. Many other tribes call the Lenape “grandfathers" as they are considered to be among the most ancient of the Northeastern Nations. They were both warriors and ambassadors, often understood as being "peace-loving." The Lenape were looked at by many to keep the peace as they were skilled at mediating disputes between neighboring Native Nations.
Like many other indigenous people, the Lenape were asked to sign treaties giving up their land without knowing this is what they were doing. In 1736, Penn's heirs John and Thomas falsely proclaimed that there was a prior deed where the Lenape promised to sell land 'extending as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half' beginning at the junction of the Delaware River. The Lenape only agreed to the walk as they couldn’t read and had no way of knowing they were being defrauded. They were under the assumption that a man could not walk more than 40 miles under these conditions. However, Provincial Secretary Logan hired the three fastest runners in the colony for this 'walk.' On Sept. 19th, 1737 Edward Marshall ran 70 miles. This led the Europeans to come to their own conclusion that they now owned all land east of this line - an area of 1,200,932 acres. This falsified treaty is known as the "Walking Purchase."
Chief Lappawinsoe, Manawkyhickon, Sassoonan, Nenatcheehunt, and other Lenape leaders tried to protest the arrangement. Unfortunately, the Lenape were forcibly removed and displaced west into the Shamokin and Wyoming River valleys, already filled with other ejected tribes. Some Lenape later moved further west into Ohio and modern-day Quebec.
A lawsuit was filed almost 300-years after the "Walking Purchase." In 2004, Delaware Nation v. Pennsylvania tried to reclaim 314 acres of land that were included in the original 1737 purchase. However, the US District Court granted the Commonwealth's motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court of the US refused to hear the case.
Even though the Lenape people lost a lot of their traditions upon their forced removal, they still celebrate their rich culture to this day. They hold many Stomp Dances, or social dances, throughout the year to honor their love of dance. Pahsahëman is played which is the Lenape version of American football. Traditional pow-wows are also still enjoyed, which are gatherings of dancing, singing, and drumming all while wearing traditional Indian clothing made of deer hide.
Presently, the Lenape people are from Oklahoma, Ontario, Wisconsin, Delaware, and New Jersey. Three federally recognized tribes in the US are the Delaware Nation and Delaware Tribe of Indians in Oklahoma as well as the Stockbridge-Munsee Community in Wisconsin. Canada is home to three Lenape First Nations with four Indian reserves: Munsee-Delaware Nation, Moravian of the Thames First Nation, and Delaware of Six Nations. State-recognized tribes include the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware from Delaware and the Nanticoke-Lenni Lenape Tribal Nation and Ramapough Lenape Nation both from New Jersey.
Action Items For Allies
Start off by visiting Native Land Digital. Understand more about the land that you are currently occupying. Navigate to the official websites of your local tribes and learn about their history, current practices, tribal members, and present-day happenings. Become familiar with the correct pronunciations of tribal names and their hierarchy structure.
2. Remove harmful stereotypes and practices
Being an ally to Indigenous People means confronting potentially harmful language and practices used. Here is a helpful resource for identifying everyday phrases that further oppress Indigenous People. Be mindful of practices or clothing that might be offensive. If you are unsure whether you should wear it or say it, then it's probably best not to.
3. Educate yourself about structural discrimination and elimination they experience
The violent acts toward Indigenous People created long-standing, systemic disparities that continue to exist today. Consult this resource to familiarize yourself with the ways that Native's marginalized identities continue to negatively impact their well-being. This resource explores the extreme wealth disparities between Native households and white households. Hint: Native households make 8 cents for every dollar an American household makes. Indigenous people also have the highest rate of poverty, highest rate of avoidable health diseases, highest infant mortality rate, and lowest employment rate compared to other races.
4. Diversify your information
Follow and share content from Indigenous leaders. Respect the knowledge and wisdom granted by tribes. Representation matters - actively seek out news, events, and resources provided by Native media. Read books by Indigenous authors. Consume television and movies created by and starring Native actors. Share those that you enjoy with others.
5. Give back
Donate and volunteer for your local tribe. Protest, advocate. Support the call for Land Back and Indigenous sovereignty. Begin by building relationships with the community. Consider making rent payments for the land you occupy - calculate your land tax by using this resource.
Learn from Indigenous Voices
Official Website of the Delaware Tribe of Indians
Ramapo Munsee Lenape Network
Any questions, feedback, or concerns related to this post? Email me at email@example.com
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