Cultural Mapping


When European colonizers came to Turtle Island (North America), they brought with them the idea that nature was something that could be owned, commodified, and exploited. By listening to the deep wisdom of the Indigenous people of Turtle Island, we can begin to heal our relationship with the land and with all living things. 

Our passionate founder and board member RuthAnn Purchase manages a Lenape Cultural Mapping project that uses oral history, research, and the arts to collect and protect Indigenous stewardship traditions for future generations.


During 2019 and 2020, we organized 4 workshops funded by Delaware Humanities. Each workshop included a local tour with young people and elders, students and teachers. Our learning began with an attempt to restore ancestral knowledge via Citizen Science & Photography. A tour of the gardens at Winterthur involved Field Sketching & Medicinal Plants. Visiting Bombay Hook National Wild Life Refuge on a blustery day led to Cold Ears & Worn Moccasins

The last workshop was really a hands on work party that involved Clearing Rubbish & Planning Plantings on Tribal Lands

This effort has been documented as printable PDF files and involved partnering with several local organizations, notably — Lenape Cultural Center, Cheswold Lenape, Bridgeton Nanticoke-Lenape, Allegheny Seneca, Delaware State UniversityImmanuel Union United Methodist ChurchUniversity of DelawareDelaware Humanities, Brown Horticultural Learning Center, Winterthur Library and Gardens, Bombay Hook National Wild Life RefugeDavey Tree Company, and the University of Delaware’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center.

Also during the pandemic, we continued our cultural mapping work via online presentations. We recommend you start with this one:

And then dive into these based on interest:

Also during 2019, University of Delaware professor Jon Cox and the University’s Partnership for Arts & Culture worked with Chief Dennis Coker of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware on an indigenous perspective on coastal hazards and sea level rise

This project with the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware is a crucial component of a funded interdisciplinary project titled, Building Resilience Awareness: Documenting Coastal Hazards and Sea-level Rise Impacts Statewide. Stories and imagery have the potential to create greater awareness about statewide sea-level rise (SLR) and intensifying storms (IS) impacts and resulting resiliency concerns. In this project we are raising public awareness of SLR and IS impacts through storytelling and a participatory app.

The most significant accomplishment of the project was getting Lenape Community members together and starting a conversation about what steps and projects the community members wanted to work on next. A video was produced of Lenape community members talking about their perspective on rising waters and intensifying storms.

Page last updated: Jan 24, 2022

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