Blog Post #11

I’ve learned a great deal about Lenape culture so far. I went in to this research project with limited knowledge on the Lenape and know I feel that while I’m far from an expert, I carry enough knowledge where I could share what I’ve learned with others and hopefully accurately depict Lenape culture. My project topic luckily has stayed relatively the same since the beginning with the exception of broadening the topic to include Lenape spiritualism rather than just Lenape myths and legends. This process has taught me that there is more than one way to perceive of gender. Growing up in the United States and more widely in a Western-dominated world, I was socialized to believe that there are certain qualities and roles associated with men and others with women. I was led to believe that this what society has been like since the beginning of humanity. I know realize that this is a product of Western culture. I always knew that gender is just a construct, but I think learning more about another culture that does not share the same views on gender as ours really hammers home how gender is a fabrication and not a fact of life.

I learned that I run out of steam much quicker with online school. It’s much harder to stay motivated which I think is a byproduct of the days blending together and the absence of routine. I most miss socializing. Although I consider myself to be introverted, I miss making friends in classes, walking with classmates, and just seeing people walking around on campus. However, one positive that online school and the pandemic has taught me in general is adaptability. Being forced to assimilate to a completely different format challenged me to recenter my approach to school life and social life. I think learning to adapt to anything thrown my way will be an invaluable asset in life as we never know what the future will hold.


It amazes me how much change is possible in just 365 days. When I think back to who I was at the beginning of the pandemic versus now, it’s startling to see how I’ve changed. Last March, I was in the same position as every other person my age. I spent most of my day consuming copious amounts of time on TikTok, making whipped coffee and homemade bread, overly motivated to make the most of my free time by taking up new hobbies that lasted a week at best, and ignoring the fact that I was slowly going a bit insane. Though the pandemic was supposed to be a moment to slow down and perhaps self-reflect, instead I did everything in my power to keep busy. Rather than dedicate some time towards learning about the parts of myself I keep buried or make peace with past memories, instead I was virtually interning from 9-5, exercising daily, and spending my nights surfing the web. Sure, I developed a steady routine that allowed me to keep my mind and body in shape, but I was still ignoring the bigger issues in my life. Then July hit and gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. BLM exposed me to the ugliness of the world so rapidly. Yes, I study global studies where all we talk about is war, genocide, natural disasters, terrorism, and more, however these topics are usually taught in a very detached manner. BLM made me aware of the human-ness tied intimately to the horrors in this world. Though I have been exposed to injustices in the past and even been victim to injustices, I think the outpour of personal experiences and systemic experiences tied to the oppression of Black individuals in our country flipped a switch for me. I had finally been pushed to confront the anger I had been carrying for years inside me. At first, this anger was just chaos. I was mad at the world for letting such horrific and senseless crimes against humanity happen not just to the Black community but to all marginalized groups all over the world. The more I learned about acts of brutality from the internet or learned of ignorant, bigoted people in my own life, the angrier I got that all I could do was sit and watch. This intense anger impacted my relationship with people around me and my own mental health until one day I had a conversation with my Dad. I spent hours talking about everything horrible in the world and he looked at me and told me to put in the time to change it. Now, at first I admit that made me angrier because I’m just a broke college student, but eventually it clicked. I realized that maybe there’s nothing I can do in this exact moment, but I can work towards making that change one day. So, now at this point in the pandemic I’ve been spending my time trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I admit I still haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I know I want to keep humans at the center. I converted that I anger I felt into a passion for humanity. Rather than look at the ugliness of the world with rage, I know try to approach it as a problem solver.


My project focused around the role of women in Lenape culture connects to the long-term Native American fight for acknowledgment and education of their culture. As a marginalized community, Native Americans have always been silenced throughout American history and thought of as people of the past rather than the present. My project engages with the concept of reengaging with Native American culture. Growing up, education surrounding Native Americans was very limited as Natives usually played a supporting role in the story of British settlers’ success. I imagine my audience to be other individuals my age who didn’t get a proper education on Native American history as our understanding of American history excluded the indigenous people who lived here before our ancestors ever walked this land. Through this project coupled with other courses I’ve taken over the years, I’ve realized how white-washed American history is despite our multicultural base and clear influence from non-white Americans in our general U.S. society. I hope to share my findings and spread a greater understanding of Lenape tradition and society with the hope that it would encourage my audience to challenge their own understanding of U.S. history and perceptions of gender.

Blog Post #8

I typically don’t realize my own subjectivity in my writing until it’s pointed out to me from an outside perspective. I find there have been plenty of instances where I was positive I was staying impartial, but in reality I had been revealing my own bias through my word choice. I best understand my subjectivity through the eyes of others who are able to pinpoint my point of view. My perception of my connection and distance to the past I think is defined by how I relate to the past. For example, as a woman I feel connected to women’s history. Yet, as a non-German, I feel distance with German history. What drove me to my topic choice was my desire to learn more about Native American history. I began to learn a little bit about the Lenape people in one of my other courses this semester and I was fascinated by their idea of gender and sex. Though I am not Native North American, I am a quarter Native South American so I believe my own indigenous roots combined with my identity as a woman will cause me to accidentally praise Lenape culture throughout my paper. When analyzing Lenape gender roles which were far more progressive than Western gender roles, I may let my bias slip by using vocabulary that applauds Lenape culture rather than remaining subjective in my analysis.

Blog Post #8

  1. How does the role of women in Lenape legends and spirituality reflect the role of women in Lenape culture and society?

2. For my project, I will be using various Lenape legends and spiritual practices as a lens to investigate how they intersect and reflect the role of women. By looking into the Lenape creation story, the woman dance, the doll dance, the story of the girl who joined the thunders, and more, I will reveal the cyclical relationship between Lenape legions and the role of women. My project will essentially explain how Lenape spirituality reflects the role of women and the role of women reflects Lenape spirituality.

3. For this project, I plan on writing a historical op-ed. I think this will be the best way for me to do my research topic justice and hopefully best represent the Lenape people’s legends and its intersection with the role of women.

4. CAFFREY, MARGARET M. “Complementary Power: Men and Women of the Lenni Lenape.” The American Indian Quarterly 24, no. 1 (2000): 44. Gale Academic OneFile (accessed February 20, 2021).

“Complementary Power: Men and Women of the Lenni Lenape” sheds light on gender roles in Lenape society. It discusses how rather than equal or imbalanced, the Lenape perceived of men and women as complementary. This piece discusses specific roles and what kind of customs/traditions women participated in which I intend to use when explaining how gender roles were not as rigid as they are in the Western world.

Kay, Michael Nicky. Lenape Women in a Transitional Culture. Oklahoma State University, May 1, 1999. 

“Lenape Women in a Transitional Culture” primarily focuses on how Lenape women coped with the cultural changes settler colonialism forced upon them. I plan on using this piece to investigate the different spiritual traditions women participated in such as the doll dance as it parallels their identity within the Lenape community. I also plan on using Kay’s information on Lenape women today in my conclusion as I zoom outwards to see the greater impact of spirituality in Lenape women today.


Hoag Whitehorn, Lillie. “Lenape Talking Dictionary.” The Lenape Talking Dictionary | Stories – Xkweyok Enta Naxkuhëmënt Enta Këntkahtit. Accessed February 28, 2021. 

———. “Lenape Talking Dictionary.” The Lenape Talking Dictionary | Stories – Xkweyok Enta Naxkuhëmënt Enta Këntkahtit. Accessed February 28, 2021. 

“Origin Story of the Woman Dance” details how the woman dance, a sacred dance practiced in Lenape tradition, came to be. This legend and spiritual tradition demonstrates how there are sacred practices reserved only for women. The closed practice reflects how the Lenape believe in the power of a higher feminine energy that is complementary the male energy. It shows that this more feminine energy is praised and sacred.

Native American Embassy. “The Girl Who Joined The Thunders.” Native American Embassy. Accessed March 13, 2021. 

The tale of “The Girl Who Joined The Thunders” details how a girl becomes a thunder being after being rescued from her captivity under their rivals the serpent beings. In the story, the girl earns the title and spiritual power of the widely respected, awed, and feared thunder beings. The story

Native American Embassy. “The Pretty Maiden.” Native American Embassy. Accessed March 13, 2021. 

“The Pretty Maiden” centers around a vain yet beautiful young woman who refuses everyones marriage proposal. The story is essentially a lesson about vanity and how caring about superficial things can be dangerous. Most interestingly, the story does not center so much on the sex of the character, but more so on her character. It does not denote that because she is a woman she is vain or frivolous (as is the case in many Western stories that warn against vanity), but rather the focus is more on the issue of vanity itself.

Nanticoke & Lenape Confederation Learning Center and Museum. “Non-Historical Stories and ‘Prophesies’ – Fiction and Fairy Tales.” Non-Historical Stories and “Prophesies” – Fiction and Fairy Tales | Nanticoke and Lenape Confederation, 2017. 

The Nanticoke & Lenape Confederation Learning Center and Museum gives a brief anecdote on the cultural importance of spirituality and the Lenape connection to land. I hope to use this source in my introduction as I set the scene for my audience over how spirituality related to Lenape culture.

Blog Post #7

Margery Sly’s “Venus in Two Acts” details the story of a brutal death of a slave girl while shedding light on the shortcomings of the archives. Sly notes how the archives strip away the heavy emotional baggage and humanity the girl’s story holds. The girl is diminished to nothing more than a faceless tragic tale. Her suffering and entire life is summed up in a few remorseless lines. She becomes a fictional being in her own story and nothing more is known of her beyond her traumatic death. The archives are supposed to be a factual, impartial database, which to its own merit often work in the favor of its audience who are able to learn without the clouding of emotion. However, in turn, the people and stories themselves become nothing more than a tale and some characters, thus sucking the humanity out of history. People’s emotions and thoughts are lost to the nonpartisan nature of history. Furthermore, though history strives to be non-partial, the writer of history is always the victor. In the story of Venus, the one who recounts her life are those who led to her demise whether directly or indirectly. Her abuser and men who benefited from the slave trade detailed her life within a few sentences. The horrors and emotional depth of her death are purposefully left out of history, causing Sly to imagine the rest. This article opened my eyes to the holes within my own research. Being that Native Americans are an underrepresented and repressed group today in history, I’ve found that most primary resources I found are from missionaries or English settlers rather than the Lenape themselves. Being that these sources do not come from the Natives themselves, it’s only natural that emotional depth and a profound understanding of their culture and traditions are lost in the archives. Emotional weight from firsthand accounts are not unnecessary or frivolous, but rather essential in understanding the perspective of your topic/person of study. By listening to the emotional ties a subject has to their story, more can be understood about Native perspectives and the true gravity of colonization.

Blog post #6

Hoag Whitehorn, Lillie. “Lenape Talking Dictionary.” The Lenape Talking Dictionary | Stories – Xkweyok Enta Naxkuhëmënt Enta Këntkahtit. Accessed February 28, 2021. 

———. “Lenape Talking Dictionary.” The Lenape Talking Dictionary | Stories – Xkweyok Enta Naxkuhëmënt Enta Këntkahtit. Accessed February 28, 2021. 

B- “Origin Story of the Woman Dance” details how the woman dance, a sacred dance practiced in Lenape tradition, came to be. Member of the Delaware Nation Lillie Hoag Whitehorn details how a man went out hunting to support his wife and child at home. In the meantime, the woman tended their garden when she was struck “by the thunders”. The husband returned home after it stopped raining to find his wife dead and burned by the lightening. The husband then brought his wife to the councils and one council shared that he can bring her back if all the woman in the tribe dance and all the men sing for 4 days. If anyone cries for her when she returns on the 4th night then she will be gone forever. Essentially, an older male tribe member saw the woman on the 4th night and cried tears of joy to see her return. Being that he disobeyed the commands of the council, the woman returned to the land of dead.

C- One thing I find interesting is that this story does not provide any names but rather titles and labels that essentially make the characters faceless. I believe the point of this is to firstly make the story easy to pass down as most Native American storytelling is oral. I also believe this is done as faceless characters can be more easily applied to the audiences’ lives than ones that have names and well-developed back stories. Earlier on in the story, the woman is the one who farms while the man hunts. This is another look into the role of women. Women were expected to farm which in Western society is considered a man’s job, while the man hunted which in Western society was considered a sport for the rich and noble. The idea that a woman farms while the man hunts reflects the complementary dynamic in the role of women. Additionally, this dance is unique as it can only be performed by women. Men are not allowed to dance. There is strength in sisterhood as all of the women of the tribe come together. It is the power of these women dancing that brings their sister back to the human realm. Most interestingly, it is a man (an elder) who ruins the ritual by crying for the woman. I do wonder what is the subtext of it being a man who ultimately stops the woman coming back from the dead imply. I think this could potentially reflect how some roles are only for women or only for men however I don’t want to assume and get it wrong as I don’t want to inaccurately represent the tribe so I will have to look into more sources on this story in the future.

A- This source found its way to The Lenape Talking Dictionary to teach Lenape tribe members not only how to speak the Lenape language but also about the stories that act as the foundation for culture and tradition. I believe this story may have been included on this website not only to teach younger members of the tribe the language and pronunciation. but also to provide a broader context of how this story relates to Lenape life.

B- In a broader context, this story provides insight into what sort of role may have occupied. In this story, the ceremony can only be performed by women. This is a broader reflection of the fact that there are certain roles that only women can take part of. Throughout my research, I have discovered that Lenape society is far less patriarchal than Western society and more so complementary. It appears that this ceremony is a reflection of the complementary nature of Lenape culture.

Blog Post #5

CAFFREY, MARGARET M. “Complementary Power: Men and Women of the Lenni Lenape.” The American Indian Quarterly 24, no. 1 (2000): 44. Gale Academic OneFile (accessed February 20, 2021).

Scope- The purpose is to investigate how gender roles were complimentary in Lenape society.

Argument- The role of man and woman in Lenape society is complimentary rather than being a complete patriarchy or matriarchy. Gender was far less rigid than the Lenape’s colonial settler counterparts.

Significance- This source affirms what sort of roles women took on, what type of customs and traditions they participated in, as well as what kind of authority they held. By gaining this base level knowledge of women in Lenape society, I can compare and contrast how they are presented in various Lenape myths, legends, and spirituality.

Evidence- The author uses a mixture of primary and secondary sources. Primary sources include William Penn and missionary David Zeisberger while secondary entail See Lee Sultzman and Gabriel Thomas. Upon looking at this articles sources, I would like to find more articles either written by a Lenape tribe member or based off of written/spoken accounts of the Lenape people. Most of the primary sources come from missionaries trying to convert the Lenape people or neighboring settlers. Being that these individuals did not grow up in the tribe, they are bound to get some details wrong or misinterpret the culture as they view it from Western eyes. Though I still find this article to helpful in my research, I think comparing this to an article more intimately tied to the Lenape perspective will give me a clearer view of what life was like for Lenape women and its relationship to myth.

Blog Post #4

I was having a lot of trouble deciding between the two topics I proposed last week because I am so interested in both. So, I decided to combine the two topics into one. I will be investigating the role of women in various Native American myths.

A few questions that will guiding me as I begin to research will be:

  1. How does the role of women in myths & legends impact the role of women in Native American society and vice versa?
  2. How might these myths reflect how women were viewed?
  3. To what extent were myths and legends viewed as truths/ how much did Native people value and respect their legends?

Blog Post #3

  1. One potential topic I’d like to explore is the role of women in Lenape culture. I’m currently in a course called Found Philadelphia and we’ve been learning a bit about the Lenape people who inhabited this land before the settlers arrived. I’ve been particularly drawn to the role of women because we learned that life was far more egalitarian between the sexes in Lenape society than in colonial society. For example, the creation story puts women at the center of it all and marriage was matrilineal. I’ve been very interested in learning about matriarchal and even societies that are more egalitarian compared to the patriarchal societies we tend to learn about in the United States and Europe. I hope from this research topic I can learn more about why and how the Lenape were comparatively more equal between the sexes.
  2. I’ve also been thinking about looking into Lenape mythology. I was thinking of examining how these legends influenced their ways of life and understanding of the world around them. Additionally, I wanted to look at how the myth may have changed with the introduction of Christianity once the colonists arrived. I was drawn to this idea because I’ve been learning a lot about how people used religion or spirituality to make sense of life in my class African Civilization. In my research, I hope to uncover how certain stories are created to explain nature and human behavior as well as uncover how legends influenced Lenape culture.