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News Participatory cultural mapping in Delaware

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PSP doctoral student Maribel Beas learning about Lenape ancestors with Chief Dennis Coker and historian Dickie Durham.

​PSP doctoral student Maribel Beas is working with the Lenape community to identify and document their cultural heritage. From an article by Jeff Brown in the Dover Post:

A project to explore the cultural, historical and natural surroundings of Jolley’s Neck Farm is underway with the collection of stories, art forms, photos and legends about the families who once lived, worked, and worshiped in the historic village of Fork Branch. Little is left today of the once-thriving community except the Little Union Church and adjacent Fork Branch Cemetery on West Denney’s Road. Interred there are the direct descendants of the Lenape, Delaware’s “Original People,” whose heirs today take great pride in their interconnected ancestries and who still carefully tend the graves. A casual walk-through reveals names like Carney, Coker, Durham, Johnson, Loatman, Miller, Mosely, Pritchett, Ridgeway and Sammons. Generations of intermarriage between their sister communities in Bridgeton, N.J. and Millsboro, led to these people being known as Delaware Moors, a state approved ethnic designation still seen on birth certificates and early driver’s licenses. . . . Open to all direct descendants of those buried in the Fork Branch Cemetery, the Jolley’s Neck Cultural Mapping Project is partially funded by the Delaware Humanities Forum.

​Documenting conditions of the gravestones at Fork Branch Cemetery.

Cultural mapping is a tool to plot tangible features, such as buildings like the Little Union Church, as well as intangible assets such as stories, art forms, beliefs, remedies, traditions and folklore. But it’s more than that, said Maribel Beas, cultural landscape preservationist and Winterthur doctoral student. “This process of bringing the community together is even more important than the actual map we create,” Beas said. . . . Beas is gaining experience in Delaware in preparation for a similar mapping project with the Esa Eja’ people of her native Peru. She shared news of the project Friday evening with a group of residents, elected officials and direct descendants of the Fork Branch community gathered at Cheswold’s Immanuel Union Church. Community artists also showed their handiwork, from intricate wood turning to blacksmithing, modern cartooning and nature sketching, beadwork, leather work and even clothing design. “We’re working as a team to identify and collect information on a culture,” Beas said, displaying digital maps that identified where cultural resources lie. “You have a very rich history and we are trying to capture and pass that wealth on to your descendants.”

To read the full article, click here.

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PSP doctoral student Maribel Beas is working with the Lenape community to identify and document their cultural heritage.

​PSP doctoral student Maribel Beas is working with the Lenape community to identify and document their cultural heritage.

9/7/2017
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  • University of Delaware
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