By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Members of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania invited the public to sign the Treaty of Renewed Friendship. The treaty ceremony has taken place every four years since 2002.
The Lenape people lived and thrived in the area that is now Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware and while some history books say the nation has left the region, many remain caretakers of their sacred homeland.
“We do feel very fortunate that of all of our people that were widely dispersed, we do remain in our homeland,” says Shelley DePaul, chief of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania. She officiated Wednesday’s treaty signing ceremony at Penn Museum, which featured a prayer, a song in the Lenape language and the ceremonial passing of the Wampum. The wampum is made of shells and beads and it is passed to signify the symbolic covenant the treaty creates.
“It’s not a legally binding document,” says DePaul, “we don’t do legal- we’re Indians. We do heart-to-heart and that’s really what the treaty is.”
DePaul says more than 30 organizations and 100 people signed on the symbolic document. She says those who sign promise to support the Lenape people in their quest to protect their native lands.
“Part of our goal as a tribe is to remain caretakers of our indigenous land,” she says, “we’ve got a huge network of caretakers and people helping us to work on sacred site issues, language issues, history issues, caretaking issues of all sorts.”
The treaty signing was part of a 17-day “Rising Nation” journey, where Lenape people and guides spent two weeks traveling on the Delaware River.
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