Honor your Ancestors!

Remember our Veterans! Thank the Youth!

Memorial Sunday Celebration

May 26, 2019

10 am Immanuel Union UMC Cheswold Veterans Remembrance & Flag Placing

Light  Lunch Provided by Cultural Mapping

12- 2 pm Village of Fork Branch

Update & Volunteer Appreciation

Call Dickie Durham to HELP 734-5415



All My Relations,

    As the Season of the ‘Clacking Stones’ gives way to the Vernal Equinox, we are reminded of the many Gifts this season has to offer. The ‘shad bush’ has bloomed signaling the start of the ‘shad run’ and the perch will be soon to follow. A little sunshine and we’ll have it made.


   This past Fall our Tribal elections were held and I express gratitude to those who accepted a nomination to serve on our Tribal Council. Successful nominees were Dennis J. Coker (Principal Chief), Minnie Bowen (Secretary), Carla Coker (Council-at-Large), Joyce Robbins (Council-at-Large) and Melody Cline (Council-at-Large). In addition I thank those Councilpersons whose terms expired for their service of providing leadership to our Tribal Community. I would like to Thank our Tribal Council for the dedication and guidance they provide to our Community. When you see them in your travels take the time to give them your Thanks as well.

   This year is sizing up to be another successful year of collaborations. We will continue to support the Fork Branch Cultural Mapping Program with Immanuel Union Church and the many partners who have demonstrated their support. Additional alliances have been forged with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, University of Delaware’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center, Delaware Humanities, Newark Natural Foods Cooperative and many others who have expressed interest in Honoring Delaware’s Indigenous population.  A focus of our Cultural Mapping Program is to identify and grow some of the indigenous plants that supported our Culture prior to contact.


   Our Tribal alliances are healthy as well. The Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes (ACET) of which the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware is a founding member meets regularly to consider issues both nationally and internationally. Tribal consultations on a host of projects are currently in progress.

   Our Elders have awaken from their winter hibernation armed with flower flats, flower pots and the Traditional Knowledge gained over a lifetime of Spring seasons. It will be amazing to hear their stories; call to schedule a recording session. Our Elders intend to have more fun this year; let’s see if we can help.

   As we struggle to make our ends meet our Tribal Council will continue to reach out to you in an effort to gain your support. Our last effort only received a 15 percent response; far lower than what is necessary. We have worked so hard and come so far it would be a shame to lose valuable ground due to a lack of support from our Tribal Citizens. Your support will truly make a difference.

   As you can see, we have much to be thankful for. I am honored to represent the ‘First People of the First State’ and ask that you join me in this celebration. 

Wani’shi ta    

Culture Committee

Melody Cline, Chairperson


   Calling ALL Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware Citizens! We have been presented with an amazing opportunity to create a mural for our Tribe, by Professor Marietta Dantonio-Madsen, who has chosen us for her doctoral dissertation. We are looking for participants of every age to share their memories and stories, creativity and possible artistic ability! Professor Marietta Dantonio-Madsen visited our Tribal Citizenship Mtg. on Thursday, February 21, 2019, where she went over program specifics and timeline. Please view following link, https://www.totemrhythmsinc.org/ , which showcases some of her past projects. Your Native story is important, make yourself heard and join us on this exciting journey!

   After that presentation a meeting was held on Saturday, March 9, 2019 for a planning session to discuss Cheswold Lenape descendants; their stories, dreams and ideas.  From this meeting came some great ideas and Ed Durham drew a draft sketch of the ideas.

   The following dates are scheduled for our Mural Project, all to be held at the Immanuel Union United Methodist Church:  Friday, April 5, 5 pm; Saturday, April 6, 9 am - till; Sunday, April 7, 12 noon; Saturday, April 13, 9 am; and Sunday, April 14, 12 noon.

   If you are not already following, please consider checking out the official Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware Facebook page, where I post regular weekly updates on Tribal affairs, arts and culture, and other good things going on in the World.


Wani'shi ok Lapich Knewel!

Youth Committee

    Cannon and Jude Cline, sons of Melody and Drew Cline, were this year’s recipients of a CONAM (Committee on Native American Ministries) Camp Pecometh award.  A $500 scholarship was awarded as a result of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware’s partnership with CONAM.  The teens were able to spend a week in June 2018 at Camp Pecometh swimming, boating and having old fashion fun in the sun. These awards are available every summer so be on the lookout or call for details.

Approaching the 2020 Census
     The 2020 Census is just around the corner. The 2010 Census effort was truly amazing. We had 700 respondents self-identify as Lenape in our Tribal Community.

     2010 was the first year this designation was available to census respondents in out Community. Our Census District created in 2010 provides us with data necessary to provide needed service. Stay tuned or more on the 2020 Census.

Ways And Means Committee

Carla Coker, Chairperson

     The Ways and Means Committee is one of the most important committees in any organization. It is our responsibility to find ways of raising money to keep the organization afloat. Thank you to all who have supported our fundraising ideas or who have helped in any way to raise money. As in the past, these fund raisers have helped defray many costs of running our organization, such as Tribal Center rent, utilities, insurances, trip expenses, meetings at the center, youth group activities, as well as our Elder meetings and luncheons. We have been fortunate to receive some Grant In Aid, but it is not enough to keep us operational. We, the citizens of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware are here to proudly provide educational opportunities to the youth and members of our community, but we cannot do it alone. We need our community and our citizens to help support this organization.

     You will soon receive donation letters and we hope that you can find a way to give a monetary donation to help us with this fundraising drive.

     We have a few raffles planned to start in the near future. The artisans in this community are fantastic and we have many. Share your talents with us or donate one of your pieces of art for a raffle. A cookbook is planned, so please submit your favorite recipes by mail, e-mail or pass them on to one of our Council members.  We are doing a mural of our history and hopefully copies of this honorable event will be available for purchase. We still have T-shirts and other items for sale at the center.

    We would like to plan some educational trips and hoping to again provide our Elderly and shut-ins with fruit baskets at Christmas this year.  Also, if you shop at REDNERS and use their REWARDS card, we are collecting those receipts. We, as a non-profit organization, can turn them in and get a percentage of the money back and this helps defray some of our operational costs. Many of you have already started doing this and it is greatly appreciated and it is just another small way of raising funds. Contact anyone of our Council members, or myself, to have them collected or to find out where they can be dropped off.

2019 Village of Fork Branch Cultural Mapping

RuthAnn Purchase James, Program Manager

   In 2013 Jolley’s Neck Neighborhood Association was formed to help steward Little Union, Friendship Mission, Fork Branch burial grounds including cultural, historical and natural surroundings of Hansor Durham’s “Jolley's Neck Farm.”

  • Fork Branch Cemetery (circa 1830)
  • Little Union/Friendship Mission Church Building (circa 1850)
  • Former Delaware Moor School (now abandoned police firing range)
  • Benjamin Durham-Shore House (circa 1789 National Registry of Historic Places)
  • Site of "Little Dover Downs" Pony Races & Pony Dances (now a farm field)
  • Site of DuPont Train Station, Mill & Trading Post right along the waterway
  • Endangered species and prehistoric site in Freshwater Wooded Wetlands of
  • The once thriving Village of Fork Branch

   In 2016 we adopted the tools of cultural mapping. Leaning on local Elders to inform our next steps, we invited local youth to incorporate surveys, more ancestry research, video interviews, and the arts.  In 2017 we focused on food and fiber arts.  One student intern studied fishing net traditions in this water focused culture, taking us to visit fiber plant specialists and archivists at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, and then hosting workshops at the Biggs Museum of Art in Dover. Delaware Humanities and Newark Natural Food Cooperative helped us kick off Native American Heritage Month at Immanuel Union with an Indigenous Estuary Food Feast boasting a seven course meal made with the help of Time Chef, Henry Ward.  Raising awareness of our need to become good stewards of the waterways, we made an agreement with Partnership for the Delaware Estuary to help create a summer project restoring Freshwater Mussels to clean up our waterways.  Clearly it is the call of the wild and the power of the arts that tell these stories best and garner the most support for protecting this historic village, even as we heal from many heart aches and many losses.

   Before we could build sufficient political will to restore the school yard to its former beauty and move the church building across the street, we had to protect the high place from a sewer pumping station. And then suddenly the Benjamin Durham house was demolished. A few months later the church building burned. In light of such loss it becomes increasingly difficult to host visitors and celebrate a ghost town, yet we continue to welcome funeral parties, visitors seeking their roots, academic advisors developing research projects, and school groups eager to learn good citizenry from the Original People.  Now what remains of this quaint village are the trees, monuments, and stories, standing as constant reminders that the state ethnic designation of “Delaware Moor” will be honored and restored to mean “Original People,” still here and still caring for their ancient homelands and precious waterways of Lenapehokink.

  We will never forget the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and Immanuel Union UMC working together so well with so many others documenting and protecting the cultural, historical and natural relatives and resources at the Village of Fork Branch.  If you would like to bring your gifts and talents in preparation for the May 26th Memorial Sunday Celebration, please, call Richard Durham at Immanuel Union, Chief Coker at the Tribal Center, or RuthAnn Purchase James, project manager, at 399.1235.  And remember to thank them for making this cultural mapping effort possible.