Transitions and Connections
Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center and
Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of NJ
Celebrating Nanticoke-Lenape Arts and
Culture in South Jersey
July 11 through December 21, 2014
Transitions and Connections: Celebrating Nanticoke-Lenape Arts and Culture in New Jersey is the fifth biennial WheatonArts’ Creative Community Connections initiative, a series of programs inaugurated in 2004 to raise awareness of cultural heritage and to create a welcoming community setting for appreciating and sharing the folk and traditional arts of our region’s incredibly rich and diverse population. It reflects a commitment to programming that celebrates, educates and unites communities to promote tolerance and deep respect for artistic and cultural diversity.
This is a partnership project between Wheaton Arts Cultural Center and the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation in South Jersey through its cultural charity Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of NJ and addresses the history and cultural heritage of New Jersey’s oldest and yet little known Native American Community.
Project highlights include: exhibitions/displays, a variety of educational programs, as well as music and dance performances featuring Nanticoke-Lenape folk and traditional art forms.
The Nanticoke-Lenape People in New Jersey
Centuries ago there were several Lenape tribes residing in what is now the state of New Jersey. They were later called by the European settlers “Delawares” combining in this name all people who lived along the Delaware River. These Native Americans call themselves Lenape, which means The People. The Lenape ancestors were among the first Native Americans to come in contact with the Europeans (Swedish, Finns, Dutch and English) in the early 1600s. During the next two centuries the Lenape had to give up their lands and move westward. Some of them, however, chose to remain in their ancestral homeland. Their language and many of their traditions were lost as they struggled to survive under the pressures of assimilation. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that the Nanticoke-Lenape people continuing in their ancient homeland began to openly reclaim their rightful place in the cultural landscape of our region.
After a 150 years of continuing their tribal existence through an informal family-clan type of governance, a formal tribal re-organization of the Nanticoke-Lenape began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but it was completed only after Congress passed the “American Indian Religious Freedom Act” in 1978, finally protecting Native American rights to practice their spiritual traditions. In 1982 the New Jersey Senate passed “Concurrent Resolution No. 73,” acknowledging the tribe as a confederation of Nanticoke and Lenni-Lenape. Today, the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation is the northernmost of three interrelated tribes of the Delaware Bay area. We consist of Native American families from southern New Jersey and the Delmarva Peninsula who remained in our ancestral homeland after many of our relations were removed to the west and to the north as far as Oklahoma and Canada. (nanticoke-lenapetribalnation.org)
The Nanticoke-Lenape Story in Images and Artworks
(July 11 through November 2, 2014, Tribal Headquarters, 18 E. Commerce St, Bridgeton, NJ 05302)
The exhibition highlights the tribal history, arts and culture from the perspective of the Nanticoke-Lenape people and explores the influence of historical events on cultural identities over time, as well as the concepts of continuity and adaptation in various historical contexts. It connects the past to the present as illustrated by archival documents, photo stories and artworks. Multimedia displays tell the Lenape story – a story of people whose memories of the past and life experiences in the present are reflected in a variety of social practices and artistic expressions, all re-confirming both community identity and individual creativity. The voices of the Nanticoke-Lenape leaders, artists, elders, and other tribal members are an integral part of the exhibit interpretation. They provide not only explanation of meanings for the exhibited artifacts but also a unique view on the concepts of living traditions and preservation of intangible cultural heritage.
The educational programs offered as a part of the project include a wide variety of activities, such as: “Interviews in the Classroom” oral history program, fieldwork practicum for college students, exhibition-related experiences for school groups, lectures and hands-on demonstrations featuring Nanticoke-Lenape traditional arts. There are also professional development programs for educators focusing on Nanticoke-Lenape traditions and culture.
October 25, Saturday, 2pm – 4pm
(Education/Folklife Center at Wheaton Arts, Millville)
Richard Joseph, Nanticoke-Lenape Bone and Woodcarving
December 6, Saturday, 2pm – 4pm
(Education/Folklife Center at Wheaton Arts, Millville)
John Norwood, Nanticoke-Lenape Wampum Making
(Tribal Headquarters, Bridgeton)
Rachel Ridgway, Nanticoke-Lenape Beadwork
Nanticoke-Lenape Cultural Heritage in New Jersey
(October 17, 2014, Education/Folklife Center at Wheaton Arts, Millville)
The presentations focus on preserving Nanticoke-Lenape cultural heritage in New Jersey. It is offered as a special professional development opportunity for educators but it is open to all willing to attend. The presenters will cover a wide range of topics including historical transformations of the Nanticoke-Lenape traditions, adaptation of traditional art forms to the contemporary way of life, and preservation of the Nanticoke-Lenape cultural heritage in the multi-cultural context of the American society.
The conference program includes:
• Chief Mark “Quiet Hawk” Gould, Our History as a Life Experience
• Dr. Cara Blume, Surviving History
• Andrew Wala, The Story of the Nanticoke-Lenape Tribal Nation: A Personal Perspective
• Dr. Iveta Pirgova, Dynamics of the Nanticoke-Lenape Cultural Transmission
• Brett Paddles Upstream, Nanticoke-Lenape Language and Ceremonies
• Urie “Fox Sparrow” Ridgeway, Pow Wow in the Nanticoke-Lenape Culture
Nanticoke-Lenape Music, Dance and Craft
September 20, 2014
at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center
Admission is FREE
This is a one-day celebration bringing together music, dance and visual arts that represent the unique Nanticoke-Lenape cultural heritage. Artists, storytellers, drummers and dancers will provide visitors a vivid introduction to the Lenape traditional arts placing them in the context of the Lenape history and in the present-day life of the Nanticoke-Lenape community.
The narrated dance presentations will take place in a traditional circle and will feature both pow wow and social dances. Pow wow dance presentations will include Men’s and Women’s Traditional dance, Men’s and Women’s Fancy dance, as well as specialty dances, such as Jingle Dress dance, Chicken, Hoop and Men’s Grass dances, Men’s Sneak-up and Eastern Blanket Women’s dance. Between dance presentations the singing groups will call for inter-tribal dances. Social dances will include Gourd and Bean dance, Go-Get-‘Em and Stomp dance, Stirrup dance, Snake dance, and more. Presentation of the various regalia and storytelling will also take place between dance demonstrations. All visitors will be invited to join the dancers for several rounds of the Friendship dance.
Host Drum: Red Blanket Singers of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation.
Special demonstrations in folk and traditional arts will be offered to introduce audiences to the unique experiences of century old imagery and creativity. Visitors will be able to observe art displays and talk to the demonstrating artists. Featured art forms will include: musical instruments makings such as pow wow and hand drums, water drums and flutes; shell and feather work; beadwork and wampum, jewelry, dance accessories and regalia making, bone and woodcarving – staffs and masks; flint knapping, bows making, roach making and quillwork; basket making, including pine-needle and horse hair baskets, and more.