WheatonArts formally expresses gratitude and appreciation to the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe, whose territory the Center resides on. Through a long-lasting institutional relationship, WheatonArts honors the people who have been living and working on the land since time immemorial.
As WheatonArts gathers people on these never ceded sovereign lands, the Board and Staff ask themselves and others to examine and question the commitment and methods of dismantling systems of oppression if we do not recognize and educate ourselves about the original stewards of this land.
WheatonArts has been dedicated to raising awareness of the Lenape people over the past two decades. Following the major exhibition in 2001 titled “Traditions and Identity: Native American Folk Arts and Cultures in New Jersey,” which included a series of workshops in Lenape traditional arts and a mini pow wow featuring Lenape pow wow regalia and dances, the center offered annual educational programs for school groups, teachers’ trainings, conference presentations, and demonstrations.
The next major program, “Transitions and Connections: Celebrating Nanticoke-Lenape Arts and Culture in South Jersey,” was a part of the 350th Anniversary Celebration of New Jersey and the Center’s “Creative Community Connections Series,” which included an exhibition, workshops, classes, a conference and festival day, pow wow, and social dances.
Continued awareness was promoted through artist residencies in schools and Folk Arts for Homebound residencies in 2018-2020. Lenape artworks were also included in the 2020 exhibition “Themes Across Cultures.” In 2020, WheatonArts hosted Chief Gould and Tyrese “Bright Flower” Gould Jacinto on the virtual series Wheaton Conversations.
Honoring the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe at Future Events
Respecting the wishes of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe, WheatonArts will use the following land acknowledgment statement, written by the members of the tribe, to honor the tribe prior to future events happening in Lenapehoking.
“The land upon which we gather is part of the traditional territory of the Lenni-Lenape, called “Lenapehoking.” The Lenape People live in harmony with one another upon this territory for thousands of years. During the colonial era and early federal period, many were removed west and north, but some also remain among the continuing historical tribal communities of the region: The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation; the Ramapough Lenape Nation; and the Powhatan Renape Nation, The Nanticoke of Millsboro Delaware, and the Lenape of Cheswold Delaware. We acknowledge the Lenni-Lenape as the original people of this land and their continuing relationship with their territory. In our acknowledgment of the continued presence of Lenape people in their homeland, we affirm the aspiration of the great Lenape Chief Tamanend, that there be harmony between the indigenous people of this land and the descendants of the immigrants to this land, “as long as the rivers and creeks flow, and the sun, moon, and stars shine.”
WheatonArts looks forward to collaborating with the members of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe through the future to raise awareness of the cultural heritage of New Jersey’s oldest and yet little-known Native American Community. The organization is committed to programming that celebrates, educates, and unites communities to promote tolerance and deep respect for artistic and cultural diversity.