Descendants of Lenape explore their culture at Paterson Great Falls National Park
The Delaware Tribe of Indians, a federally recognized group of Native Americans who are ancestors of the Lenape, returned to their homeland on Saturday, some for the first time.
At one point, the Lenape tribe covered all of New Jersey and nearby areas of New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Curtis Zunigha, the director of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, said the heritage event at Great Falls National Historic Park in Paterson “means a lot.”
“We are 200 years removed, but we are people who are returning to our Earth mother,” he said.
A group of Lenape journeyed across the country from their current homes near Tulsa, Oklahoma hoping to connect with the land and water of their ancestors. Over the last 200 years, the Lenape people were moved west, some eventually settling in Oklahoma.
Cayla Magee, 15, is a member of the tribe and was visiting New Jersey with her family for the first time.
"It's really like humbling and a blessing to be here because this is her homeland and I've never been here before,” she said. “It's really different from where we are now and it's really beautiful…”
Cayla, her family and a small group of Lenape are spending the weekend at Paterson's Great Falls National Historical Park and teaching people in the area about their heritage and the history of the region.