The Lenape Indian Tribe gained recognition in the state of Delaware in August 2016. Photo: Delaware House Democrats

Lenape Tribe seeks to reclaim site of historic school in Delaware

The Lenape Indian Tribe is seeking to reclaim a part of its history in Delaware.

The tribe has been working with the state to clean up the site of the old Fork Branch School in Dover. The hope is that the land can be used for a community center.

"Right now, the Lenape Tribe of Delaware only owns one-half acre of a peninsula that we use to have had free roam of," Chief Dennis Coker told The Wilmington News Journal. "As a sovereign nation of people we really need to be able to provide for ourselves, and we can’t do that without land.”

The school was one of three that was established in the late 1800s to educate Indian students. It was once owned by the tribe and managed by community members, Coker told the paper.

It eventually came under state control but was closed in the 1960s when the public school system was desegregated, Delaware Public Media reported.

The tribe, which gained recognition by the state in 2016, otherwise owns just a half-acre in Dover. The Little Union Church and Fork Branch Cemetery used by the Lenape community are not owned by the tribe.

The Lenape people controlled a vast territory in present-day Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania before most of their ancestors were forced out by European explorers, Colonial governments and, later, the United States. Their descendants are primarily found in Oklahoma and Wisconsin, where they are recognized as the Delaware Nation, the Delaware Tribe and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community.

The Lenape Indian Tribe is not recognized by the federal government.

Read More on the Story:
Lenape Indian Tribe looks to reclaim historic Delaware land, establish sovereignty (The Wilmington News Journal July 16, 2018)
Lenape tribe seeks remediation for site of historic schoolhouse (Delaware Public Media July 10, 2018)

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