The Lenape people hosted their first Pow Wow in Manhattan since they were removed by the Dutch in the 1700s. Hundreds of people representing more than 100 indigenous peoples from across North America attended the Pow Wow at the Park Avenue Armory Sunday.
“I didn’t expect myself to be so caught up in the emotion of it, but it’s home and today it felt like we were welcomed home,” Brent Stonefish, who’s Lenape and lives in Ontario now, said. His cousin George Stonefish was one of the main organizers of the event.
The Lenape were the indigenous people living in Manhattan when the Dutch first arrived. They also gave the island its name.
Michelle Lopez is Apache (from Mexico) and Taino (from Puerto Rico), and she’s a security guard at the Armory now. Wearing colorful patterns she said she’s proud that her work place was willing to host the Pow Wow and she hopes it’s an inspiration to the rest of the city and country.
“To me it just shows people how we might be from different tribes, but we come together as one. And if we can do it as our own little community, we can hope that everybody outside our community can feel the same way we do,” Lopez said.
Only one speaker of the Lenape language is still alive, but Brent Stonefish, spoke the one sentence he knows to the assembled crowd. He said five people are learning the language from the one surviving tribe member who knows it. They hope to then begin teaching the language across the country.
Organizers also hope there will be more Lenape events and Pow Wows in the city