Lenape assembly


On February 3rd the third graders at Hillside School participated in the Lenape Indian Assembly. Archaeologist and Lenape Lifeways Director John T. Kraft covered the region's 12,000 years of Native American prehistory with a focus on everyday village activities and the roles of men, women and children within the family and community. Mr. Kraft used drawings and photographs to show how the Lenape dressed, built shelters, grew crops, fished, hunted, cooked, made tools and weapons, treated disease and more.

It was a great experience for the kids as they had already learned about the Native American people who lived in Bergen County before them. Our boys and girls were equally engaged as they heard about what Lenape boys and girls used to do when they were about the same age. How they helped their parents with planting and hunting as well as how they played games and invented Lacrosse!

The children were amazed to hear that the Lenape were extremely environmentally conscious and never wasted anything they found in nature. They believed that everything on earth had a spirit and that spirit had to be honored, so if they got corn to eat, they would make sure they used the entire husk to weave baskets or masks. If they hunted a deer for food, they would honor the animal by using its skin for clothes, its bones for utensils and accessories, and even its nails for musical rattles.

The highlight for the students was the ability to touch and interact with a vast array of artifacts that they would otherwise only see behind glass in a museum. Mr. Kraft dressed up a few of our students in the original Lenape clothing and handed them masks, tools, bags and baskets. It was a very engaging and highly educational assembly!