Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lenape exhibit opens at Ellis Island

First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson announced yesterday the opening of Lenape: Ellis Island's First Inhabitants at Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York City.

The exhibit, sponsored by the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial, is designed to celebrate and examine the extensive history of the Lenape people from prehistory through the 21st century.

"Today's opening of [the exhibit] marks another exciting milestone in our commemoration of our state's people and past," Paterson said. "This exhibition provides New Yorkers with another exciting opportunity to rediscover their incredible history."

Six galleries explore Lenape ways of life, linguistics, cultural and religious traditions. It incorporates an array of materials such as artifacts, antique books, maps, photos, clothing and numerous illustrations.

The opening ceremony was attended by Commisioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation Pete Grannis, Dr. David M. Oestreicher, Lenape scholar and exhibition curator and John Haworth, director of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City, among others.

"We celebrate and honor the native people who inhabited this region long before Henry Hudson sailed through the New York Harbor on the Half Moon," said Grannis. "This exhibition is a fitting tribute to the first inhabitantsof lower New York -- and it is my tremendous honor to be part of this long overdue homecoming for the Lenape people."

Oestreicher spent more than 30 years studying Lenape and working with the remaining traditionalists and speakers of the native language.

The exhibit was created with the help of the Lenape people and was made possible by the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission, other advocacy businesses and individuals.

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