Pocono Television Network looks at special exhibit at the Columns Museum, "The Lenape: Original People."
Each of the three walls within this exhibit “The Lenape, Original People, Reconciling the Past, Embracing the Future” is a part of a story still being written today. Generations after the Lenape were forced out of these lands, their descendants have played a role in bringing their story home.
“We involved several of the federally recognized tribes and they had a say in what the panel boards represent and what they say. We kind of bridged the gap including the Tom Quick monument,” said Lori Strelecki.
Strelecki is a student of history running the Columns Museum and the Pike County Historical Society including the Lenape exhibit which is local history just as much as the monument to Tom Quick who is believed to have bragged about killing dozens of those so-called natives.
“There are people who want to almost pick a fight with the tour guide, they try and get something out of you. ‘Isn't that a problem that he was an Indian slayer?’” related Strelecki. “That's a whole other story. It's not like a we have a room dedicated to Tom Quick.”
The Lenape could not comprehend how you can own land, it is like owning a part of the sky, explained Strelecki. The panels paint a picture of land greed that destroyed trust between the settlers and the Lenape after the walking purchase of 1737.
“It's an unfortunate time of history just like any other time of war,” she added.
Much more can be learned about the original people of this river valley at the Columns Museum. A dug out canoe, pottery and examples of tools that were used every day give you the sense that the Lenape lived with the land not off it.
“It’s important to see not only what they used as tools. What did they eat, wear? We hope to grow the exhibit to that point with federally recognized tribes,” said Strelecki.
The artifacts are from the historical society’s collection. Strelecki hopes to include more in teh time to come. Right now, as we mark Native American Heritage Month, this exhibit fosters a common understanding of who the Lenape were and who they are now.
“To learn more about them and their customs was very important I think they're very interesting, a matrilineal tribe, nice to give a nod to women, they did that was their beliefs,” Strelecki added.
The Lenape people inhabited a far wider geographical area than the Poconos but in what’s now Milford, it was the Wolf Clan that lived in the region until the mid 1800’s, according to Strelecki. Parts of Oklahoma and Wisconsin became their new homes.
“It’s up to them to create their own history now in OK and WI making a name for themselves and remembering fondly roots here and learning about them. That's the important part,” said Strelecki.
Until the next chapter the Lenape’s relationship to the Poconos is written, the exhibit will remain a stark but important history lesson and part of the story of this place we now call home.