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New York’s First Lenape-Curated Exhibition to Open at Brooklyn Public Library

BPL and The Lenape Center will hold the exhibition at the new Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center
Greenpoint Library Garden
One of the garden areas at Greenpoint Public Library, where the exhibition will be held. Photo: Brooklyn Public Library website.

The first-ever Lenape-curated exhibition in New York, Lenapehoking, is set to debut in Brooklyn later this month with never-before-seen items, a range of interactive programing, and more.

The exhibition will open at the new Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center on Jan 20, and will run through April 30.

Bandolier Bag, 2014, Joe Baker. Fabric, wool, glass beads, 24 inches L, 7inch- wide strap: Bag is 8 1/4inches H, 9" W, Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Supplied/BPL.

Lenapehoking has been organized through an ongoing partnership between Brooklyn Public Library and The Lenape Center and it will feature never-before-seen masterworks by Lenape artists past and present, including beaded bandolier bags from the 1800s, a newly created turkey feather cape, culinary tapestries from a seed rematriation project in the Hudson Valley, and more, the organizations said in a press release.

They added that the exhibition will create a portal into the living culture of the Lenape people today coupling the objects with a robust series of educational lectures and programs throughout the winter and spring. Those include an extension onto Greenpoint Library’s rooftop teaching garden, where an orchard of Indigenous fruit trees that were historically cultivated by the Lenape in Manhattan will be grown.

The educational programs and lectures include a panel conversation with Gloria Steinem on the crisis of missing Indigenous persons; a series of original music by Brent Michael Davids; poetry readings by Rebecca Haff Lowry; insights into Lenape food ways with Farm Hub; and talks by Indigenous scholars and lecturers such as Curtis Zunigha, Heather Bruegl, and Hadrien Coumans, among others in collaboration with BPL’s Center for Brooklyn History.

Curator Joe Baker, an enrolled member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians and co-founder/executive director of the Lenape Center, said: "The exhibition site is a library branch, a public space, a very democratic space, a place where grandmas gather, and children gather; it is in many ways kind of messy and noisy and it’s a part of a community and it is really alive.

“That to us was very important in terms of disrupting the historical hierarchal museum model and placing this work at the very ground level of human experience.”

Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library said the Lenapehoking did not relegate indigenous history to the distant past, instead tracing a through-line to the Lenape artists working today, “who have much to teach us about memory, survival, and stewardship.”

“This is precisely the kind of work public libraries are meant to do-ensure every member of the community has access to our shared past and the tools they need in the present to imagine a future that’s more sustainable and more just."

As part of the virtual exhibition opening on January 20 at 7:00pm EST, Baker will lead a digital tour of the artwork and ephemera on display, sharing the items meaning and significance. To RSVP for the virtual event, please click here.