For the first time ever, a Lenape-curated exhibition featuring artifacts and masterworks from the native people of the New York Harbor region is opening in NYC.
The Brooklyn Public Library and The Lenape Center are presenting "Lenapehoking," the Lenape name for the homeland, an exhibition of masterworks by Lenape artists past and present. Here, visitors will see never-before-seen beaded bandolier bags from the 1800s, a newly created turkey feather cape, three tapestries made of Purple Kingsessing for a rematriation project in the Hudson Valley.
The bandolier bags, which will be shown alongside contemporary examples by Joe Baker, were once an important element of men’s attire worn for important social and political occasions and served as a passport, identifying the wearer as Lenape, according to BPL. "They are a tribute to survival, made during a time of forced displacement and oppression after the Removal Act of 1830 was ratified." The contemporary turkey feather cape created by Rebecca Haff Lowry with Sandra Lowery is worn by both men and women and provides a dramatic flourish to traditional dress but also provides warmth and protects the wearer from seasonal weather.
The exhibit won't only show off artifacts, Greenpoint Library’s rooftop teaching garden will feature indigenous fruit trees that were historically cultivated by the Lenape in Manhattan and there will be original music, poetry and Lenape foodways by Lenape artists and friends that will be incorporated into the programming there.
There will also be some programs through the spring, including a panel conversation with Gloria Steinem on the crisis of missing Indigenous persons; a series of original music by Brent Michael Davids; poetry readings by Rebecca Haff Lowry; insights into Lenape foodways with Farm Hub, and talks by Indigenous scholars and lecturers such as Curtis Zunigha, Heather Bruegl, and Hadrien Coumans, among others in collaboration with BPL’s Center for Brooklyn History.
This exhibit wouldn't be what it is without its curator, Joe Baker, who is a member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians and the co-founder and executive director of the Lenape Center. He will lead a virtual exhibit opening on January 20 at 7pm. You can RSVP here.
"The exhibition site is a library branch, a public space, a very democratic space, a place where grandmas gather, and children gather; it is in many ways kind of messy and noisy and it’s a part of a community and it is really alive," Baker said. "This will be an important and long overdue experience for all those who will visit this exhibition, facilitating deeper understandings and of Lenape culture and necessary awakenings of the place on which the library is situated."