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The state recognizes November as Native American Heritage Month

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

The state formally recognizes November as Native American Heritage Month.

Gov. John Carney, joined by members of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and Nanticoke Indian Tribe, signed a proclamation Tuesday.

The U.S. officially began recognizing National Native American Heritage Month in 1990. Delaware trailed behind, with lawmakers first introducing a resolution for the monthin 2011.

Carney says it's important for Delawareans to learn more about the history and heritage of Native Americans.

“How important they were to the settling of the State of Delaware. To celebrate those who carry on those traditions. To recognize our responsibilities to help them with lands that have been set aside- buildings, museums. And the people, most importantly the people themselves,” said Carney.

The Lenape Tribe wasn’t formally recognized by the state until 2016.

Since then, they have established a strong relationship.

That’s according to Lenape Chief Dennis Coker, who says the tribe is working closely with the Delaware Department Of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

“Which has been most recently evidenced by a joint use agreement that we have signed with the Fork Branch Preserve,” explained Coker. “It is a state property holding very close to our community and the Fork Branch area where we have several environmentally focused projects that we’re working on right now.”

The Lenape have also partnered with the Office of Historical and Cultural Affairs to continue to explore pre-contact history and have their perspectives heard in that conversation.

And while the state’s relationship with both the Nanticokes and Lenape has grown over the past few decades, the Office of Historical and Cultural Affairs recognizes more work needs to be done to amplify Native American voices, support their economic development, and address the challenges they face.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021