For thousands of years, the Lenape occupied territory in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, parts of New York, and the coast of Delaware, writes Kenny Cooper for WHYY.
Today, Pennsylvania has no official Native American tribes.
But the Lenape survive.
Curtis Zunigha is a member and cultural director of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, one of three federally recognized tribes of the Lenape (the name means “the real people”) in the United States.
“It is a history of deprivations, of swindles, of murders, of dishonorable behavior by the Dutch, by the British, and later by the Americans,” he said. “We have been away from our homeland since that time, and yet we have persevered and managed to reorganize and reassemble ourselves.”
Zunigha is on a mission to build a pathway so the Lenape can return to Pennsylvania.
Work is ongoing to get state and federal recognition of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania.
Locally, they have hosted language classes at Swarthmore College, and they collaborated with Haverford and Bryn Mawr College on an exhibit.
“We are still here,” Zunigha said. “We have something valuable to bring to the table. We just want to be welcomed back.”
Read more about the Lenape at WHYY.
Learn about the history and culture of the Lenni-Lenape.