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"The Prophecy"
by Amitanshu Das
and Kristin Searle

Fulfilling a Prophecy: The Past and Present of the Lenape in Pennsylvania
September 13, 2008 - July 2010

Conventional histories of Pennsylvania declare that all but a few elderly Lenape people left the state by the opening of the 19th century. Many Lenape were indeed driven westward, and ultimately created communities in Oklahoma, Kansas, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and in other parts of the United States and Canada. Yet, some Lenape people remained here in secret. Children of the little known Lenape-European marriages of the 1700s stayed on the Lenape homelands (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, northern Delaware and southern New York) and continued to practice their traditions covertly. Hiding their heritage, they avoided discovery by both the government and their neighbors for more than two hundred years. Now, the descendants of these people have come forward to tell their story.

Fulfilling a Prophecy, organized by Penn Museum and the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, features never before displayed objects from the private collections of Lenape people in Pennsylvania, in addition to historic and contemporary photographs, and archaeological objects from the collections of Penn Museum. Ancient masks, dolls, jewelry, and other traditional arts are featured, as well as a number of once-secret family heirlooms, rich with hidden Lenape symbolism, dating from the early 1800s.

This exhibition is made possible by Diane vS. and Robert Levy, University Scholars at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, the Penn Center for Native American Studies, the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates “Native Voices? program, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, and by Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities' We the People initiative on American History.

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