Posted Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Celebrate the Original Inhabitants of New Jersey with Music, Dance, and Hands-On Fun


Lenape story teller Rick Powell

For thousands of years, before the pioneers arrived in this area of what is now North Jersey, the Lenape Indians lived in the forests, hunting for deer and bear, living in wigwams, fashioning dugout canoes from tulip poplar trees, and carving tools out of rock and bone. They lived close to the land, existing in balance with nature.

On Saturday, Oct. 1, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can get a hands-on history and culture lesson directly from the descendants of the Lenapes in an interesting and fun-filled learning on “Lenape Day,’’ sponsored by the Morris County Park Commission and held at the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center in Chatham Township.

At this unique event, you can meet present-day Native Americans of the Ramapough Lenapes and discover the ways their lives have changed over hundreds of years, learn more about their history and traditions, and separating fact from myth.

“The Lenape Day celebration at the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center provides an authentic experience for both the Lenape and visitors,” Jenny Gaus Myers, Superintendent of Environmental Education at the Morris County Park Commission stated.

lenape“Festivities take place in the woods, surrounding a replica wigwam, which delivers a historically accurate depiction of Lenape life. The environment of the Great Swamp makes Lenape Day a favorite of the Lenape Indians, and a memorable and fun day for all visitors,” said Gaus-Myers.

“This is another example of the great programs offered at our county parks, providing education, history, and great fun, especially for families,’’ said Freeholder Doug Cabana, liaison to the county park system.

On Saturday, you can bring the entire family to see the Ramapough Lenape present a traditional drum circle and view dancers perform in native regalia, and listen to a historical speaker and storyteller as you gather around a model wigwam in the forest. There also will be authentic tools and artifacts from hundreds of years ago on display, and native crafts to buy.

park-commissionThere will be crafts and activities for the entire family, including molding a clay pot by the fire, making a fire without matches, and playing the real games that Lenape children played to hone their skills.

You can take a guided walk on the wooded trails to discover how the Lenape used local plants to meet their needs for medicine, food, housing, and tools. Explore the interior of the wigwam, set up as it would have been hundreds of years ago.

Admission is $5 per person age 3 and up. The event is held rain or shine. For more information on Lenape Day, please call 973.635.6629.

For more information on and directions to the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center, visit: