Tracing roots of Lanape people at New York Botanical Garden

Naveen Dhaliwal Image
Monday, November 21, 2022
Tracing roots of Lanape people at New York Botanical Garden
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The rich Native American history in the 50 acres of Thain Family Forest in the heart of the New York Botanical Garden is enthralling. Naveen Dhaliwal has the story.

BRONX, New York (WABC) -- The rich Native American history in the 50 acres of Thain Family Forest in the heart of the New York Botanical Garden is enthralling.

"This is the largest remaining tract of forest that would have once covered all of this region that would have been home to many bands of the Lenni Lenape people," said NYBG VP of exhibitions/programming Joanna Groarke.

It still stands as it once did and now a self-guided tour takes visitors on the path to how the Lenape people lived for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.

The Ash trees were key for spearmaking, the pokeberry was used as medicine.

"They were sophisticated society that in the forest and fields of this region used the plants that they foraged and the plants that they grew for a multitude of food and medicinal purposes," Groarke said.

To further celebrate the indigenous food culture, Chef Irwin Sanchez incorporated those plants into an age-old recipe called Milpa soup.

Milpa means what you plant in the soil.

"It's easy because everything is available on the land, you just put together and continue work on the land," Sanchez said.

The base of the soup is corn, beans and squash - known as the "three sisters."

The soup was a hit and helped bring old traditions together.

"We are on that land and utilizing that land our kids are growing up on that land as well....it's important to acknowledge that and educate the youth on the history of this place," one visitor said.

The celebration of Native American Heritage Month at the NYBG isn't just in November, organizers plan to keep the program throughout the year.

RELATED | New York City's oldest Native American nonprofit brings together dozens of tribes

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