On Friday, October 13, tribal activist Trinity Norwood delivered a presentation via Zoom to students in the Global Studies program about the history and presence of Indigenous cultures in New Jersey.
Norwood, a citizen of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, explained that the people of the Lenni-Lenape (which translates to "Original People") tribe have resided in New Jersey for thousands of years. Due to fear of racial persecution, Tribal nations have been forced to hide their traditions, practices, and languages from public view, passing cultural knowledge down only through families.
When persecution was rampant, many of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape people joined churches, said Norwood, who is a member of the Methodist Church. Tribal church congregations enabled members to more safely preserve their heritage and practice tribal governance.
As an advocate for Indigenous peoples, Norwood works to spread awareness of Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape culture and modern influence. "We are totally normal people living in 2020, but we are still attached to this ancient culture," she said.
Norwood also contributes to cultural retention efforts within the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribal community, serving her people as the head coordinator for the Tribal Royalty program and as an advisor to the tribal youth group. She helps to run a summer camp for Lenni-Lenape youth that guides the younger generation keep their language and cultural practices alive.
"My big takeaway from all of this is that we are on Lenape land, and there is a great and rich history to the land that we are on," said Norwood. "Even if you are not a Lenape person, by living here you are still a part of it. You become part of this land by living here in New Jersey. The history is not where it ends."