The origin of “Hoboken”
Interesting and informative exhibit at the Hoboken Historical Museum (13th & Hudson) tomorrow, May 8th – starting at 4pm.
Hoboken and the Lenape Indians
Curator of Ellis Island exhibit to speak
“Ever wonder where the name “Hoboken” comes from? Or who lived here when Henry Hudson made the first visit by a European to our shoreline? On Saturday, May 8 at 4 p.m., come hear a leading scholar on the Lenni Lenape people, Dr. David M. Oestreicher, tell the history of the Lenape from their Paleo-Indian predecessors to modern times. Admission is free for Museum members; a $2 donation is requested from other visitors. The talk is part of the Museum’s “Open River” Program, initiated in 2009, made possible by a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
For over 12,000 years, the region that is now lower New York, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and Delaware was home to groups of Lenape (Delaware Indians) and their prehistoric predecessors. By the late 18th and early 19th centuries, however, after a tragic series of removals had taken them halfway across the continent, the broken remnants of these tribes finally settled in parts of Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Ontario. By the late 20th century, only a handful of elders could still speak their native language, or had knowledge of the traditional ceremonies, religious beliefs, and life ways.
In a lively and engaging talk, David M. Oestreicher combines archaeological and historical evidence with decades of firsthand ethnographic and linguistic research among present-day Lenape traditionalists, to arrive at a full picture of the Lenape from prehistory to the present. A slide program features native artifacts, maps, illustrations, and photographs, as well as images of contemporary Lenape who are among the last repositories of their culture.
Dr. Oestricher is the curator of “Lenape: Ellis Island’s First Inhabitants,” at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The late renowned elder and traditionalist Touching Leaves Woman (Nora Thompson Dean, 1907-1984) called him her “Key in the East,” and she and other elders relied on Dr. Oestreicher to help preserve and disseminate knowledge of her people. A Lenape Tribe website’s “talking dictionary” lists the word “hupokan-haki-nk” as the transliteration of “place of the tobacco pipe,” which historians believe the early Dutch transcribed as “Hoboken.”
The original and smaller traveling version of the exhibition, “In Search of the Lenape: The Delaware Indians Past and Present,” has appeared at numerous historic sites. It won the 1995 award for excellence from the Lower Hudson Conference of Historical Agencies and Museums and was praised by William Zimmer as “an extended reverie, which captures the vitality and poignancy of the Lenape saga.” (New York Times) Oestreicher’s commemorative book on the Ellis Island Exhibition is forthcoming by SUNY Press. Dr. Oestreicher earned widespread acclaim for exposing a 19th century hoax about a supposed historical narrative of the Lenape people, called the Walam Olum.”