The Lenape Tribe – Remembering Why We Remember

Retrospective of the Lenape Tribe’s history, difficulties, and advice to students.


Matt McFillin

Malvern community gathers with the Lenape Tribe Members

Why do we remember? Why continue a tradition? Why associate ourselves with the past? The Lenape Tribe, an indigenous people group of the NorthWoodland areas, recently shared their past and culture with students of Malvern Prep. Through an inspiring history and eventual integration into current society, the Lenape Tribe offers advice from an enriching perspective and wisdom.


Ms. Suber, Malvern Prep’s head of inclusivity and belonging, had questions about her place of work. History and culture, a large part of Ms. Suber’s work at Malvern, played a prominent role in distinguishing and recognizing those who are often forgotten or pushed away.


“Where do we come from? Who owns the land? Who is a part of everything that we offer here? I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we did a land dedication’ because many people acknowledge that we weren’t the original inhabitants of this land. I thought it would just be a nice touch to acknowledge the people who provided us this land, who have been caretakers, and that they did exist,” Ms. Suber stated.


Ms. Suber sought to answer her questions through a celebration of land along with providing an opportunity for students to learn more about their school. 


“They have a history. They have a life. They have a story. And I think the Lenape tribe continues to thrive and grow like other Native Americans because they are people with lives rich with historical culture. They take a lot of time to share their stories”, Ms. Suber said.


Storytelling, or sharing experiences, is an integral part of the Lenape culture. By expressing experiences orally, the tradition is kept alive and passed through generations while staying true to where it originated from.


“Oral history is significant to Native American tribes. So I think they want to continue sharing their story and let people know they are still here and thriving, ” Ms. Suber stated.

Matt McFillin


Blue Jay, a longstanding member of the Lenape Tribe, touches on storytelling and how it plays a significant role in one’s life.


It’s your upbringing. What makes you who you are and what you believe in? A lot of times, there’s not even proof of something because we once were forced out and hidden. We don’t share that with anybody unless we know somebody was our descent.” Blue Jay stated.


When the Lenape tribe arrived at Malvern Prep’s campus, the students gathered to participate in a ceremony. Throughout the experience, the Lenape tribe took the opportunity to share their values and who they are as a group.


“We are supposed to be caretakers. We don’t present ownership, and we never did. That’s why we didn’t understand. We always thought we borrowed it and took care of it. That’s what we were taught. So that’s what we try to do. We try to respect our very grateful people. I mean, we give thanks every day about what I was what sustains us, you know, we have ceremonies each season and from what each season brings us,” Blue Jay stated.


Colby Weaver, a junior at Malvern Prep, recounted his experience when the Lenape tribe visited Malvern’s campus.


“I was a little confused. It was a little out of the norm. It was something I hadn’t seen before. The way they were dressed was the coolest thing about it. It looked like they remembered the land, celebrating it and saying how much they appreciated it,” Colby stated.


Along with understanding what the Lenape tribe was performing on campus, Colby also took notice of the lesson the tribe was sharing.


“I learned how much they appreciate the little things and how that can be taken for granted. You have just to appreciate what you have,” Colby said.


“I believe in a higher power, but I like the more natural world. I don’t like politics. I like that everything has a spirit. We see the rocks as brothers and sisters. We see the deer and the aunts. We treat everything we believe,” Blue Jay said.


Spiritual life, however, plays a prominent role in a tribe member’s life. Religion serves as inspiration and reason for many of the ceremonies and customs they have while also serving lessons they can pass on to the students of Malvern Prep.


“We’ve always been taught to start daily with prayer because you’re thankful for every breath you take. We walk softly on the earth because underneath the earth are the bones of our ancestors. We remember to appreciate and to be grateful for what we have,” Blue Jay stated.


The reason why we continue traditions is an answer that may vary from person to person. The Lenape tribe, however, is a group that has built relationships through the power of oral history and storytelling. Remembering not to forget, as to stay grateful, is a powerful message the Lenape tribe can continue to share with schools for years to come.