We have a recent addition to the arboretum which enhances the education of our children. We now have a temporary Native American Leni Lenape shelter along our red Woodland Trail. One of our Eagle Scouts, Kevin Cavicchia, is its creator and the Arboretum is the beneficiary of his work. Thank you, Kevin.
A little about the Leni Lenape.
From Morristown to Summit (and all those towns in between and throughout New Jersey) the Leni Lenape called these areas their home going back 10,000 years. Long before the Europeans arrived those that inhabited New Jersey, Delaware and southern New York and eastern Pennsylvania call themselves "Leni Lenape" translated to mean "Original People". In the early 1600's the European settlers called them: Delaware Indians. These were peace loving people who lived in tight communities.
The Lenape lived in settled villages but did not stay in one place. During the year, small groups might re-locate to temporary camps and this is where they would have constructed a temporary structure. Probably a Teepee. They travelled to the south (to hunt, harvest fish, and gather shells) and according to the maps, to the Navesink River.
An original temporary structure would have been constructed by the Leni Lenape tribe, which may have inhabited Summit and those towns nearby, using nearby materials (Trees, branches, bark, or hides). If you take a look at our structure, you can see it would house up to 6 Native Americans on their way south to the shore or north back to their village.
We here at the Arboretum have researched our place in the history of New Jersey and the Leni Lenape. We found that they probably walked right through the property and followed a trail to the Navesink River at the shore. We overlapped an ancient trail map with a current NJ map and can trace the steps the Native Americans took.
Towns with names, Hoboken, Pohatcong, Passaic, Manasquan and so many more originate from the Lenape language.
The Summit School District includes this study in the Social Studies Curriculum and asks its students to be able to answer these essential questions:
How did the Northern Native American tribes' cultures shape their lives?
How does the history of Native Americans in New Jersey continue to influence us todays?
How well do you know your New Jersey history?
Can you answer?