A Glimpse of the Lenape

The night before (page 6 of 7)

The wise men — sachem — pass on these traditions from family to family through the mother's line. Engraved plate of mica, depicting a horned water monster (head to left)

Engraved plate of mica, depicting a horned water monster (head to left)

Image courtesy of the New York State Museum, Albany, NY

But some knowledge dates back farther than anyone can recall. Along the main trails, where people camp when travelling, the occasional rock is scratched with drawings of big animals and sea creatures. They're from a time before, when the people hadn't learned how to plant maize or make fish nets or shoot a bow and arrow. Instead, they made spears to hunt the walrus that were here when ice covered the valleys. Their ancient spearheads still turn up along the river: evidence of a mysterious, shared past before people even called themselves Lenape.

The Jennings Petroglyph, sandstone, approximately 4000 years ago

The Jennings Petroglyph, sandstone, approximately 4000 years ago

Photo courtesy of Lenape Lifeways, Inc.

Since then, for many generations, the Lenapehoking — the people's homeland — has extended to the next range of mountains, down the river to the coast, and a long ways along that coast in both directions. Beyond the Lenapehoking are other peoples with other traditions ands beliefs. Now and then, one of them will pass through, bringing word of how they live. And the Lenape — young men especially — take advantage of the summer months to wander outside the river valley: following the long trails, exchanging arrowheads and pottery, collecting the pink and white shells that are made into currency: wampum. They also pick up the latest news.

The First People Slideshow

A Glimpse of the Lenape

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