Monday, August 16, 2010

Still There! The Lenape and Nanticoke Indians of New Jersey

Although I have emphasized the role of the Christian church as a uniting factor in the history of the Stockbridge Mohicans, I also documented how abandonment by a white mission society was one part of an environment that disorganized or even disintegrated the Stockbridges.

But in this post, you'll hear about another tribe that stuck together over many years - and their churches made it possible. These people - like the Stockbridges and the Brothertowns now living in Wisconsin - are made up of the descendants of Algonkian remnants. They are the Nanticoke and Lenni Lenape Indians of New Jersey.

The history and other important facts related to the Nanticoke - Lenape Indians have been very well laid out in pdf format (a 62-page e-book, if you will), by the Rev. Dr. John R. Norwood. The title is

Use this link to read We Are Still Here!

The Nanticoke - Lenape are currently well-organized and recognized by the State of New Jersey. They emphasize the community's spiritual values on their website, one being the idea that they don't wish to profit from vice. In other words, they don't want a casino. They have passed a tribal law against gaming and want to make it clear that they are different from the recently-formed smaller group with a very similar name, the "Unalachtigo Band of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Nation." (The Unalachtigoes want a casino.)

The Nanticoke - Lenni Lenape Tribal Prayer Ministry has its own link on the tribe's website. Consistent with what I have always said here, members of the Prayer Ministry do NOT consider their Native spirituality to be inconsistent with Christianity as they practice it.

The tribe has a museum with its own website. One page of that site is titled "Hidden in Plain View," and it tells of how these Indians, denied of any other political structure, used their churches as community political units. White people were always welcome to worship in the churches, but membership was strictly for Natives only.