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The Geography of the Lenape Diaspora

Designed for high school students, this social studies curriculum unit explores American history through the voices and contributions of aboriginal Native American peoples who have so often been marginalized.  This study emphasizes geography and explores the location of the Lenni-Lenape people upon European arrival and where they are today.   The two-week unit makes use of a variety of primary sources.  The goal is to illustrate the vast contributions made by the Lenape people prior to and after the European arrival and subsequent diaspora. Original maps make up the main source of primary documents, and these maps are used to explore the following questions:  How did the region of the Lenni-Lenape change over time? Who created the maps?  And what was the audience they were created for? Who benefitted by the creation of a certain map? What was its influence? Students will have an opportunity to reflect on aboriginal Lenape influence on each map. Why was society organized here rather than there, and how did the use and organization of the land differ between aboriginal peoples and the newly arriving Europeans? The maps will provide the prism though which we will hope to illuminate and create curiosity around the brothers and sisters who originally lived in the Delaware Valley.  This unit also addresses a second query regarding current Lenape influences through the introduction of both live and recorded Lenape presenters.  The unit encourages students to ask questions directly, and to write a letter that celebrates the influence of the Delaware Valley’s original settlers.  By exposure to living indigenous peoples, our students will gain in understanding of, and respect for, the Lenape people in particular, and Native Americans more broadly.

Peter Morse
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