In recognition of the Indigenous people who originally inhabited what is today South Bethlehem, Lehigh University signed a historical Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Oct. 13 with Delaware Nation, a sovereign, federally recognized nation of Lenape people.
The document signals an ongoing, reciprocal partnership with one of the Lenape tribal nations whose homelands Lehigh now sits on. The agreement has also enabled Delaware Nation to relocate an extension of their historic preservation office on Lehigh’s campus, which will facilitate the tribal nation’s work in the region and improve education about their history locally and beyond.
“Any time you can establish a formal relationship with a tribal nation, it’s a big deal,” said Sean M. Daley, a faculty member with the College of Health who directs the Institute for Indigenous Studies (IIS), which helped facilitate the partnership.
“When you look at the way Indigenous people and tribal nations are treated, they are left out of everything,” he said, explaining that Native Americans have not been included in most major health and educational studies. “Any time an academic institution can bring them into the fold and work with them, it’s a good thing."