The Legacy of Nora Thompson Dean



Hear Joe Baker of the Lenape Center introduce Nora Thompson Dean and discuss the significance of this exhibition.

Joe Baker: Nora Thompson Dean’s work was foundational for the Lenape Center, an organization that has a simple, but difficult, mission, given centuries of expulsion and erasure: continuing Lenapehoking, the homeland. I, like Nora, was raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and am a member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians. Our Tribal community was a close-knit community bound by our families known as the main body of Delawares. I learned from Nora stories of our ancestral land, Lenapehoking. She was always interested in sharing her traditional knowledge and art forms, such as beadwork and ribbonwork. Nora fashioned with a delicate hand beautiful dance clothes for our community members. Her manner was quiet and reserved while at the same time leading the effort to document our Lenape language.

As you learn about Nora in this exhibition and in this space today, we ask that you consider what it means to live in or visit Lenapehoking. This vast territory was home for the Lenape for thousands of years before contact. An uninterrupted expanse of verdant forests and waterways, an interdependent, interconnected web, where no single element or being was of its own place and embodied spirit.