MILLVILLE — John “Smiling Thunderbear” Norwood explains, “The Nanticoke-Lenape people have a story of survival and a particular cultural heritage that is unique to the region of the Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay. Our cultural heritage is more than arts and crafts, dance and song, ritual and ceremony…it is a way of thinking and perceiving the world around us, which, in turn, is expressed through the various aesthetic forms.”
WheatonArts and Nanticoke-Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey present, “A Day of Celebration! Lenapowsi: Nanticoke-Lenape Music, Dance and Craft” on Sept. 20. The program is open and free to the public as part of “Wheaton Wide Open Weekend.” (A program made possible by a PNC Arts Alive grant from The PNC Foundation awarded to WheatonArts early this year.)
The program is part of Transitions and Connections: Celebrating Nanticoke-Lenape Arts and Culture in South Jersey, the fifth biennial WheatonArts’ Creative Community Connections initiative, a series of programs inaugurated in 2004 to raise awareness of cultural heritage and to create a welcoming community setting for appreciating and sharing the folk and traditional arts of the region’s incredibly rich and diverse population. It reflects a commitment to programming that celebrates, educates and unites communities to promote tolerance and deep respect for artistic and cultural diversity.
This one-day celebration brings together music, dance and visual arts that represent the unique Nanticoke-Lenape cultural heritage. Artists, storytellers, drummers and dancers will provide visitors a vivid introduction to the Lenape traditional arts placing them in the context of the Lenape history and in the present-day life of the Nanticoke-Lenape community.
The narrated dance presentations will take place in a traditional circle and will feature both pow wow and social dances. Pow wow dance presentations will include men’s and women’s Traditional dance, men’s and women’s Fancy dance, as well as specialty dances, such as Jingle Dress dance, Chicken, Hoop and men’s Grass dances, men’s Sneak-up, and Eastern Blanket women’s dance. Between dance presentations the singing groups will call for inter-tribal dances. Social dances will include Gourd and Bean dance, Go-Get-‘Em and Stomp dance, Stirrup dance, Snake dance, and more. Presentation of the various regalia and storytelling will also take place between dance demonstrations. All visitors will be invited to join the dancers for several rounds of the Friendship dance. Host Drum: Red Blanket Singers of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation.
Special demonstrations in folk and traditional arts will introduce audiences to the special experiences of century old imagery and creativity. Visitors will browse art displays and talk to the demonstrating artists. Featured art forms will include: musical instruments makings such as pow wow and hand drums; water drums and flutes; shell and feather work; beadwork and wampum; jewelry; dance accessories and regalia making; bone and woodcarving – staffs and masks; flint knapping; bows making; roach making and quillwork; basket making, including pine-needle and horse hair baskets; and more. Native American craft and food vendors will contribute to the atmosphere of the Lenape circle.
WheatonArts is open Tues. through Sun., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open Labor Day. Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission: Adults $10.00, $9.00 Senior Adults and $7.00 Students. Children five and under are free. Free to shop and stroll except during outdoor special events. For more information about the WheatonArts Education/Folklife Center visit http://www.wheatonarts.org/downjersey. For information about WheatonArts, call 856-825-6800 or
800-998-4552, or visit wheatonarts.org.
With a history spanning four decades, WheatonArts has earned regional, national and international recognition for its unique collections and programs. Located less than an hour from Philadelphia in southern New Jersey, WheatonArts advances its mission through museum and gallery exhibits, interpretive artist demonstrations, docent tours, classes, hands-on educational opportunities for children and adults, artist residencies, seminars, multicultural programs and festivals.
WheatonArts strives to make exhibits, events and programs accessible to all visitors. Provide two weeks’ notice for additional needs. Patrons with hearing and speech disabilities may contact WheatonArts through the New Jersey Relay Service (TRS) 800-852-7899 or by dialing 711.
Funding has been made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department
of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, by funds from the National Endowment
for the Arts, New Jersey Cultural Trust and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. WheatonArts receives general operating support from the New Jersey Historical Commission, Division of Cultural Affairs in the New Jersey Department of State. Additional funding provided through a grant from the New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism.