Delaware Humanities, the NEH affiliate for the state of Delaware, supports humanities projects throughout the state. In 2018, a Delaware Humanities grant funded a series of workshops offered by the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware in collaboration with the University of Delaware. The grant helped deepen the existing relationship between the university and the tribe and laid the groundwork for further projects.
The relationship between the University of Delaware and the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware began in 2015, when professor Jon Cox and Principal Chief Dennis Coker began working together to put on events that emphasized Native American understandings of contemporary environmental issues, such as climate change and land management. In 2018, Coker and Cox used a Delaware Humanities grant to offer a series of workshops that further probed the intersections of the region’s environment and Native American cultures. Workshops on restoring traditional ecological knowledge about Delaware’s plants and animals and on identifying and using medicinal plants exposed a broader audience to these ideas. The final event in the series involved clearing rubbish from the half-acre of tribal land. In addition to centering Native knowledge, the workshops helped build a community that extended beyond the Lenape and even the state of Delaware.
The project also helped deepen the relationship and ongoing collaboration between the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and the University of Delaware. University faculty and students partnered with the Lenape to develop a conceptual design for a community center geared toward Native youth, and in 2021 they developed a full architectural blueprint with an Indigenous architect. The collaboration has also led to an Indigenous programming subcommittee at the University of Delaware, which is taking steps to make the university more inclusive to Native American students and cultures.