Every year, members of the Delaware Indian Tribe of Oklahoma dance with kids and adults during Dance! Lenape Indian Traditions and the Woodland Indian School Program.
By Katie Arnold
Each October, six members of the Delaware (Lenape) Indian Tribe of Oklahoma travel to Conner Prairie to share their heritage with Conner Prairie visitors. This year, these individuals will share their culture through dancing demonstrations during Dance! Lenape Indian Traditions, a public program on Oct. 3. On Oct. 4, they will join guests of Prairie Plates, which will feature Native American-inspired cuisine created by Alan Sternberg, the executive chef of Cerulean Restaurant. And, they will also spend three days with Indiana students during the Woodland Indian School Program.
The Woodland Indian School Program offers groups of students a day-long look into the culture of the Lenape people. Throughout the day, students will attend six group sessions led by our Lenape guests and Conner Prairie staff that discuss different aspects of Lenape history and heritage.
“For some teachers, this is an essential part of their curriculum because it gives their students direct contact with people of Lenape heritage,” said Program Manager Rosie Arnold.
During the program, students will hear about how the Lenape Indians used natural resources and how the fur trade changed Indiana’s natural landscape. They will learn about the history and language of the Lenape people from Mike Pace, a Conner Prairie employee and member of the Lenape tribe. Students will hear traditional stories, music and drumming, and meet with Margaret Barkley, an 1816 character who is trying to decide whether she, a white woman who has lived in the fur-trading world her whole life, should stay in Indiana after statehood or go west with the Lenape people. The day is always topped off with a dancing demonstration during which everyone, including teachers and chaperones, are invited to participate.
“It’s great to be able to showcase this part of Indiana history,” Arnold said. “It’s a huge part of Indiana’s origin.”
The Woodland Indian School Program takes place Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 and 2. Teachers interested in registering their classes should contact Guest Services at 317-776-6000. Dance! Lenape Indian Traditions on Oct. 3 and is open to the public and included in general admission. Prairie Plates with Cerulean in the Lenape Camp is Oct. 4, and tickets can be purchased here.