Lenape Blue Corn


Photography by Jezz Bold. Used by permission of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)


Hear Joe Baker describe the connection between the corn plants you see before you and Nora Thompson Dean.

Joe Baker: These corn plants were grown from seeds preserved by Nora’s mother Sarah Wilson Thompson. They were passed down to Nora and, after her death, her husband Charley Dean donated seeds to a number of institutions and seed collectors. Farm Hub, an agricultural organization with whom the Lenape Center has been partnering, grew their first crop of corn from these very seeds in 2021. The Lenape corn you see growing before you now, from small plant to full-grown stalk with beautiful ears of glistening dark-blue kernels, is a testament to the work that the women of Nora’s family did to safeguard and nurture traditional Lenape culture. The seed cycles of planting and harvesting are accompanied by songs and dances appropriate for the time of year. In the Spring the seeds are sung awake as they are prepared for planting and in the Fall through harvest dances are put away for Winter’s sleep. The Bean Dance Song and Dance, well known to Nora, was brought to Lenapehoking for the 2022 harvest for the first time in hundreds of years.