The Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania
The Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania is a community of more than 300 people of Lenape descent. Unlike some of the other Lenape groups, the Lenape Nation does not possess a reservation. Most of the members live in southeastern Pennsylvania, primarily around Easton, Philadelphia and the Pocono Mountains. A chief, selected by clan mothers or female elders, governs the Lenape Nation in the traditional Lenape way with the help of a council and an elders’ circle. The sitting chief of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania is Chief Robert Red Hawk Ruth (1990 to 2004; 2007 to present).

Like nearly half of all Native American groups in the United States, the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania is not recognized by the federal or state authorities. Today, some groups of Lenape people in Wisconsin and Oklahoma do have federal or state recognition, as their histories were well-documented when hostile conditions in 18th century Pennsylvania pushed them westward. Though the members of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania have recently reevaluated their decision to remain silent about their history, their emergence from secrecy has not yet led to formal recognition. While there are many privileges to be gained through recognition, such as the ability to sell traditional crafts or to petition for the repatriation of human remains, the process of gaining recognition remains complex and is expensive for many Native Americans groups. Currently, the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania lacks the resources to pursue formal recognition. For now, the tribal council has decided to focus its energies on education and land conservation in the Lenape homelands, and the Lenape Nation remains a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

For more information, please visit the Lenape Nation’s website: www.lenapenation.org