Lenape River Journey land in Narrowsburg
Lenape Indians land in Narrowsburg on historic journey
A treaty will be signed again on August 24
NARROWSBURG — A group of Lenni Lenape Indians, the original settlers of the Delaware River, and their supporters are canoeing down the Delaware River. They arrived at Narrowsburg’s Landers Campground last Monday, August 5, where they were feted by members of the Upper Delaware Heritage Alliance.
The group plan to finish their 330-mile canoe journey, called The Rising Nation Journey, in Cape May, NJ on September 1. The group of 20 in 11 canoes began the journey in Hancock, NY early in the week.
The journey will be interrupted on August 24 at Pennsbury Manor, the former estate of William Penn in Morrisville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where a four-year treaty will be signed between the Lenape Tribe and regional residents and representatives from various organizations supporting members of the tribe.
“The brotherhood, which existed between the Lenape people and the one the tribe called brother—William Penn, is being renewed,” said Jim Beer, the Lenape leader of the canoe trip. “William Penn’s dealings with our people were good and fair,” he said.
The tribe was the first to sign a treaty with the United States and the first tribe to have land set aside for them in New Jersey.
“Our vision is to preserve the environment of the river valley, which is a tribal goal,” Beer said. “We want to form a partnership to help each other attain our goals. We also need a louder voice in Pennsylvania government.”
Beer said another goal was to build a cultural center that would chronicle the history of the tribe, its heritage and language and to preserve its sacred sites.
“The real history of the river valley isn’t known,” Beer said. “We have been asked by educators to contribute to the content of classroom curricula to tell the full story of the history of the area. Columbus didn’t discover America. Our people were here long before the white man got here,” he said.
Unfortunately, the tribe does not have a written language, a fact that makes research into its history difficult, but not impossible, he said.
Environmental groups, churches, historical societies and sincerely committed individuals, who wish to actively support the Lenape culture and help sustain the people, language and way of life, are invited to sign this historic treaty, he said.
In Pennsylvania alone, there are 200 Lenape families still living, he said.
The Rising Nation’s sponsor is the Delaware River Greenway Partnership, Inc., a bi-state public/private cooperative of more than 100 non-profit groups, government agencies as well as individuals dedicated to promoting the stewardship of the Delaware River.