Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape: We Are Still Here
Through music, dance, and Power Point, the Norwood Family of the Nanticoke-Lenape Tribe gave us a program that was both delightful and instructive. Trinity Norwood and her father, John Norwood, were the speakers. John’s strong voice and drumming provided music. Trinity’s dance was energetic; her mother and grandmother demonstrated a slow, stately dance.
This video, from the 2011 Nanticoke-Lenape Pow-wow in Bridgeton, New Jersey shows many dancers, both stately and energetic. Shawls are an important part of the regalia and the only musical instruments are voice and drums. Trinity explained the importance of regalia and how regalia differs from costumes.
The program was sponsored by the Medford Leas Diversity Committee and the central message was “We are Still Here.” While most Lenni-Lenape were forced west, there are ongoing communities here in Southern New Jersey. The website nanticoke-lenape.info is “dedicated to the Ongoing History and Living Culture of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape People.” That site provides information both about the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape and also about educational outreach programs such as the one presented by the Norwood Family at Medford Leas.
Trinity told us about tribal history. The page nanticoke-lenape.info/history.htm provides a summary. For more depth, follow the link from there to to an E-book by Trinity’s father, the Reverend John Norwood — We are Still Here” The Tribal Saga of New Jersey’s Nanticoke and Lenape Indians. Rev. Norwood is a Councilman and Principal Judge of the tribe.
A non-gaming tribe. The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe stands out as an American Indian Nation that passed tribal law forbidding the tribe’s participation in casino gaming.
Trinity said that when she was schoolgirl she found that the lessons and teachers would refer to Lenni-Lenapi in the past tense. Tina Pierce from the University of Pennsylvania had a similar experience in first grade; she found herself educating her Bridgeton, NJ teacher that “we are still here.” This eight-minute video Dance With Me: The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey covers the same ground as Trinity’s talk.
One of the books for this year’s Leas Reads program is Genocide of the Mind, a collection of essays that describes the struggles of American Indians to maintain an authentic identity because of the government’s policy of assimilation. This five-minute 2010 video, The Lenni Lenape and Identity, is an excellent short introduction to the topic. The other 2015 Leas Reads book is The Scalpel and the Silver Bear.
On Saturday April 25, there will be a forum at Medford Leas, “Beyond the Peaceable Kingdom.” The speakers are from the Penn Treaty Museum. A page at the Nanicoke Lenape Museum website describes an event in 2010 when the Penn Treaty Museum in partnership with the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation and members of the Religious Society of Friends, came together in Philadelphia to commemorate the principles of fairness, peace and social justice symbolized by the Treaty Tree.