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Friday, September 21 - 1:00pm
Lower Dansbury Commons
Delaware Tribe Historic
and East Stroudsburg University
THE IMPORTANCE OF TODAYâ€™S EVENT
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that is being signed today will enable the Delaware Tribe to move their Tribal Historic Preservation Office (DTHPO), Eastern Office from its current location (as of the date of this MOU) to Stroud Hall of East Stroudsburg University. East Stroudsburg University desires to house the DTHPO on its campus in order to foster collaborative and educational initiatives between the two organizations.
The Delaware Tribe Historic Preservation Office is responsible for monitoring the potential impacts to historic Delaware cultural, historic and sacred sites as well as working with museums and federal agencies on the repatriation of Delaware cultural objects. With this new office in the heart of the Delaware homeland, the tribe will be better able to protect these significant locations as well as return important museum collections held by institutions in the region.
The DTHPO regularly consults with universities, museums, public agencies and private businesses throughout the Midwest and Northeast on the preservation of Delaware affiliated historic and cultural sites. Having an East Stroudsburg University address will distinguish our institution as one of the few universities, in the country, to house a Tribal Historic Preservation Office.
While there are many benefits of this partnership, the overarching goal will be to enable the Universityâ€™s students, faculty and staff to work with archeologists, historians and others to learn from the long and proud legacy of Indian tribes that occupied the Pocono Region throughout history in order to better understand the ways of life of those who came before, and how they continue to play a role in our society today.
Joanne Z. Bruno, J.D., Provost, ESU
Remarks on Behalf of East Stroudsburg University
Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D., President
Remarks on Behalf of the Delaware Tribe
Joe Brooks, Council Member, Former Chief, Delaware Tribe
Significance of the Collaboration
Brice Obermeyer, Director,
Delaware Tribe Historic Preservation Office
Joanne Z. Bruno, J.D., Provost, ESU
Signing of Agreement
This is great!
https://www.poconorecord.com/entertainm … tage-month
Posted Nov 14, 2019 at 2:27 PM
To celebrate Native American Heritage Month, East Stroudsburg University will welcome Curtis Zunigha, cultural director for the Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, to campus from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18 in Beers Lecture Hall, ESU, East Stroudsburg.
Zunigha will provide a free history lecture and a cultural program that will include songs and dances.
ESU announced a formal partnership with the Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma in September 2018. Through this partnership, The Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma moved its Eastern Tribal Historic Preservation Office to the campus of ESU. This partnership enables collaboration between the tribe and the University’s students, faculty and staff to work with archaeologists, historians and government agencies. It helps others learn from the long and proud legacy of Indian tribes in the region in way that supports existing programs and will lead to the development of new, interdisciplinary programs. The partnership also provides opportunities for undergraduate research and distance learning as well as the chance to share grant funding and provide student scholarships.
An enrolled member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, Zunigha is an acknowledged expert on Delaware/Lenape culture, language, and traditional practices. He has served his tribe over the years in many capacities of governance, program administration, and personnel management. He has served the tribe as tribal councilman, election board chairman, housing authority director, and from 1994 to 1998 as chief of the Delaware Tribe of Indians. He has over 20 years of experience in tribal government, community development, cultural preservation, and telecommunications.
His multimedia experience includes writing, producing, directing, acting, narrating, and composing/performing traditional music.
Zunigha is an accomplished public speaker, workshop facilitator, and panel moderator. He is known throughout Indian Country as a master of ceremonies at cultural performances and events.
Zunigha is co-founder and co-director of The Lenape Center, based in New York City, which promotes the history and culture of the Lenape people (also known as Delaware Indians) through the arts, humanities, social identity, and environmental activism (www.thelenapecenter.com).
Zunigha is a member of the Council of Advisors to The Association on American Indian Affairs, a non-profit organization serving Indian Country for over 90 years to protect sovereignty, preserve culture, and educate youth (www.indian-affairs.org).
Zunigha has extensive experience working with youth groups such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force.
For information, call 570-422-3532
Expert on Delaware Indian culture leads educational program at ESU
https://www.poconorecord.com/news/20191 … ve-culture
While some may think of Native American heritage as a relic of the past, one man has sought to show the world that the rich history, traditions and language of his people are part of a living, breathing culture that continues to this very day and beyond.
Curtis Zunigha has spent his life, both personal and professional, steeped in the culture of his people, the Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.
Zunigha is a noted expert on the culture, language and traditions of the Delaware/Lenape people. Over the years, he has served as a tribal councilman, election board chairman, housing authority director, and from 1994 to 1998, as the Chief of the Delaware Tribe of Indians.
To this day, he serves as cultural director for the tribe, and often leads presentations on Native culture as a public speaker, workshop facilitator, panel moderator and master of ceremonies at cultural events.
On Tuesday evening, Zunigha headed a two-hour presentation at East Stroudsburg University’s Beers Lecture Hall as part of Native American Heritage Month. Students, faculty and community members packed the facility to the point where it quickly became a standing-room only event.
“Curtis’s presentation did draw a wonderful crowd," Susan Bachor of the Eastern Tribal Historic Preservation Office at ESU said. “I never expected such a mix of community, administration, staff, and students! This event has already started new conversations with community members. Curtis and I spent at least another 30 minutes after the presentation speaking with citizens and artifact collectors."
Being in this region served as something of a return home to Zunigha, whose people have a long-standing history with the land.
“This is an area of our principal origins as a people," Zunigha said. “Lenape is the name of who we are as a people. There is archaeological and historical evidence that dates back almost 10,000 years of our occupancy in this area."
Lenape translates as “the original people of the land," Zunigha said.
Emerging from darkness
Zunigha said that the Delaware people originally occupied the lands from Manhattan to Wilmington, Delaware, and from eastern Pennsylvania to New Jersey.
During his presentation, Zunigha took a dive into the history of Delaware people, from their lives before contact with European colonists to the diaspora that forced them from their original homeland, Lenapehoking, and then the numerous forced migrations that took them across the Midwest. An unfortunate hallmark of the history is rooted in the traumatic impact that these events had upon the Delaware culture, including the forceful suppression of their language, history and practices.
That separation from their homeland and culture marked dark times, Zunigha said.
“When our ways were changed after colonial contact, and we were more or less forced to adopt a lifestyle that mirrored colonial ways, we lost a lot of that," Zunigha said. “It’s not all gone, but we lost a lot of that. Dispossession of land, dispossession of culture and language, dispossession of sovereignty. It’s been a long path to reclaim that, and I am part of that movement in representing the Delaware Tribe."
Suppression of Native American culture included sending young members of the tribes to government-run schools that discouraged traditional practices and language.
“There’s been a longstanding effort to deny claims of continuous existence," Zunigha said. “If you deny that and you don’t teach it anymore and it keeps getting pushed into the past, there is no present, and you remove a lot of white guilt for taking over lands of these original people."
But despite these tragedies and cruel efforts to destroy their legacy, Zunigha and his people have strived to maintain the culture, language and traditional practices that define them.
“It’s empowering to me to learn about our culture, our language and our history, because it helps me connect," Zunigha said. “I grew up in the 50s and 60s when we were still part of this whole, ‘It’s in the past, you’ve got to give up on those ways.’
To this end, Zunigha, as a cultural director, has led numerous efforts to help his tribe maintain their language through lessons emphasizing core elements of Delaware culture. Videos feature Zunigha and his family holding common conversations, such as a discussion on the upcoming pow wow, slowly and clearly, completely in their native tongue in an effort to keep the language alive.
For the youth of the tribe, Zunigha takes them on trips to pow wows and other gatherings, along with museum visits where they are able to handle tribal artifacts. They learn to craft traditional clothing and embellish it with tribal symbols and patterns. They practice dances that have been part of their traditions for countless years. All of this helps to pass the living culture on to the next generation, preserving it for years to come.
“We’ve even had an exchange with the National Park Service at the Delaware Water Gap," Zunigha said. “For a couple years, we had a camp of Delaware kids coming from Oklahoma all the way out here, and they spent a week or two to get connected to the land, the waters, which, to us, still have a still living, still vibrant, still dynamic spirit."
Preserving the past for the future
During Tuesday’s presentation, Zunigha exhibited numerous photographs of his tribe and family members partaking in traditional practices and excursions. He showed images of tribal clothing, sacred objects and instruments, explaining their creation and meaning for the crowd, showcasing that while his people and their culture have a rich past, they are still here in the present, and they look forward to a future where they still carry their culture.
In the spirit of preserving and promoting the culture of his people, Zunigha, along with other members of the tribe, have long sought to educate their people and establish partnerships to protect sacred sites, burial grounds and other important landmarks in their homelands. Laws like the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act offer protection for culturally significant areas such as these.
But in order to locate, certify and protect these sites, the tribes need experts to verify the claims.
“So, the tribes need people who have the knowledge, who can do the research," Zunigha said. “Because we are not firmly established as a tribal entity back in Pennsylvania, we set up an adjunct presence."
Zunigha and the Delaware connected with Bachor and proceeded to engage with East Stroudsburg University to provide office space in exchange for educational and cultural programming for the students.
“Her work is significant, and we have, in the past, found areas where there are indeed Indian burial grounds, village sites and sacred lands that are still of cultural significance, "Zunigha said.
Last year, the Delaware Tribe moved their Eastern Tribal Historic Preservation Office to the ESU campus, where it could serve as a home base of education and exploration in the homeland of the Delaware.
“This is our homeland, and we want to be welcomed back, not just as the visiting Indian once a year in a college classroom," Zunigha said. “We have a story to tell, and we want to connect with the lands and the waters and the greatness of places like Pennsylvania, because it’s in our DNA, it’s who we are."
Zunigha wrapped up Tuesday’s presentation by inviting the crowd to join him in the Bean Dance, where a line of people – like a bean vine – danced their way up the aisle of Beers Hall and around the audience. Students, faculty and staff joined in the chain, stretching through the room in the trance of a rhythmic gourd rattle, hypnotic vocalizations and a celebration of culture.
According to Zunigha, educating the masses about tribal histories and cultures is integral to keeping those things alive and well, a mission of absolute necessity for the survival of the Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and many others.
It is a noble mission to honor the works and the wonders of the spirits of the land, the mountains, the waters, and Kishelëmukònk, the Creator of All Things.
“I do it so that a younger generation of people, including my own grandchildren, learn about who they are culturally, and have pride in that, not shame, and want to revive that and build ourselves back up," Zunigha said. “That’s my job. The more I learn, the more I become empowered, and I want to share that. That’s part of my work, and it’s beyond just my job. It’s a calling."
This is great but I wonder what the connection with LNP is now. ESU always treated them as "experts".
tree hugger wrote:
This is great but I wonder what the connection with LNP is now. ESU always treated them as "experts".
I don't know what their relationship with ESU was or is. This agreement and partnership is strictly between the Delaware Tribe of Indians (Bartlesville, OK) and ESU.