As an extension to the March 14 Lehigh Valley Watershed Conference at Lehigh University, Nurture Nature Center has collaborated with the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley and other conference sponsors to host several free public programs focused on Native American connections to land and water resources in the Delaware and Lehigh River watersheds.
The theme for this year’s conference is Endemic Watershed Connections: Place, Preservation and Restoration. One of the four conference tracks is titled “Indigenous Perspectives” and will include sessions on a variety of issues, projects, and programs Indigenous peoples and their communities are involved with today in the Delaware River Basin and beyond. Indigenous guest speakers will lead most of these talks from a number of federally recognized tribes in North and South America.
At 1:00pm on Sunday, March 12, NNC will host a public screening of the award winning film, The Water Gap: Return to the Homeland. The film documents the real life experiences of 14 youth from three Lenape nations who spent time immersed in their ancestral homeland in the Delaware River watershed in 2016. Choctaw filmmaker Kyle Kauwika Harris and several young Delaware adults from Anadarko, Oklahoma, who appear in the film as teens, will join us to share what it was like as kids from the American Midwest to spend time in their homeland in the Eastern Woodlands, and how that experience has affected them to this day.
The March 12 event coincides with the closing reception of Landmarks and Waterways, an exhibit of eleven large-scale maps of the Lehigh and Delaware watersheds that highlight the history, geology and ecology of the Lehigh Valley region. These colorful maps were created to bring each watershed to life for residents and visitors alike. Every map includes Native American references and geographical place names for rivers, lakes, mountains, streams and towns. The Landmarks and Waterways illustrated map exhibit opens on Friday, February 10th.
Lastly, at 7:00pm on Monday, March 13, NNC will host an illustrated presentation on Indigenous constructed ceremonial landscapes in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, the challenges of identifying and protecting these cultural landscapes, and emerging technologies and partnerships to that end. Dr. Julia King from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and representatives from the New England Antiquities Research Association will address these frequently dismissed and long misunderstood ambiguous stone and gravel constructions found throughout the eastern United States.
The Walking Purchase Treaty of 1737 resulted in the forced removal of Lenape people westward from the Delaware River watershed, ultimately into Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada. NNC and the Lehigh Valley Watershed Conference organizational sponsors welcome the opportunity to bring Indigenous voices, perspectives and wisdom back into the conversation about land and water resources in the Delaware River basin and beyond.