A Glimpse of the Lenape

The night before (page 1 of 7)

Clay effigy face, likely once attached to a tobacco pipe

Clay effigy face, likely once attached to a tobacco pipe

Photo courtesy of Lenape Lifeways, Inc.

It's black on the river. And still. The autumn sky is a mesh of stars.

In the darkness of the river valley, there have always been only three tiny sparks visible from here: the orange campfires of the Alipkonck, the Sintsinck, and the Kichtawanck bands.

Tonight, there's been a fourth light reported, riding on the black water just downriver, already changing the world.

Lenapehoking

Lenapehoking

The Salomon Collection, Claire Tholl, illustrator, The Historical Society of Rockland County

All of these people are Lënape. On this, the side where kishux — the sun — goes down, is the camp of the Tappan who speak Munsee, a dialect of the Delaware language. There are other bands, of course. Upriver are the Haverstraw, the Esopus, and the Warranawankng. About four days hard walk that direction, Lënape land ends, and the main Iroquois nation begins. Going downriver, there are the Hackensack, the Navasink, and the Raritan. A half day's hard walk that direction brings you to the harbor, where the river meets the ocean. Tonight, the Wiechquaeskecks will have a fire going on the rocky north end of the island, Manhatta. But from here, on the shore of the Tappan bay, none of these can be seen or heard. Bands of a dozen families or more camp all up and down this river valley, and there is almost no sign of them.

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