I want to acknowledge that this sculptural object sits on the land of the Lenni Lenape Nation. The field of violence enacted upon the Lenni Lenape by and through European settler colonial expansion into the Delaware Valley is sprawling. One particular injustice is the persistent and sustained misrecognition by Europeans of the role of women in the economic, social and political activities of the Lenni Lenape. Women’s presence, labor, leadership and influence were consistently misunderstood and, therefore, narrated inadequately, inconsistently and erroneously in European accounts of their encounters, interactions and/or negotiations with the Lenni Lenape.
Chickalicka Nanni Kettelev is a woman whose name was recorded in the journal of a Swedish priest/missionary named Andreas Hesselius who spent 13 years in a Swedish settlement in the Delaware Valley near present day Wilmington, Delaware. Hesselius journal relates that in 1716 he requested the help of a Lenni Lenape woman named Chickalicka Nanni Kettelev to treat his 2-year-old son who was sick with worms. In the description, Hesselius notes that Chickalicka Nanni Kettelev informed him exactly what she would do and what reaction the child would have. He writes that she made the remedy from plants near his parsonage but that she forbade anyone from the household to follow or watch her prepare the treatment. The boy swallowed the medicine and vomited violently as predicted whereupon he was treated with another remedy and recovered fully within four days. In her book, A Nation of Women, Gunlög Fur notes that Hesselius’ account demonstrates the control, expertise and command of traditional knowledge held by Chickalicka Nanni Kettelev. Fur documents other accounts of the broad responsibility held by women for knowledge of plants and their medicinal properties, a knowledge of healing, she asserts, overlaps with and connects to other areas of women’s influence including the growing and gathering food.
The Lenni Lenape, like other Native American nations, were ceaselessly uprooted. On the official website of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, they write:
Our Delaware people signed the first Indian treaty with the newly formed United States Government on September 17, 1778. Nevertheless, through war and peace, our ancestors had to continue to give up their lands and move westward (first to Ohio, then to Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, and finally, Indian Territory, now Oklahoma). One small band of Delawares left our group in the late 1700s and through different migrations are today located at Anadarko, Oklahoma. Small contingents of Delawares fled to Canada during a time of extreme persecution and today occupy two reserves in Ontario (The Delaware Nation at Moraviantown and The Munsee-Delaware Nation).
Some Lenni-Lenape remained on Delaware Valley land and united with the people of other Native nations, including the Nanticoke, who moved into the Delaware Valley from territory further south, what is now the Eastern Shore of Maryland. For more information on the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Confederation: http://www.nanticoke-lenape.info/history.htm