Date of this Version
Published in Hidden Stories/Human Lives: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 17th Biennial Symposium, October 15-17, 2020. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
The Lenape Tribe of Delaware is one of two recognized tribes within the state of Delaware. Having only gained state recognition in 2016, the group is actively working to regain the lifeways of their ancestors that have been lost in the aftermath of colonization and systemic oppression. This paper discusses collaborative research between the author, a student in Art Conservation, and the Lenape Tribe of Delaware into the once-crucial practice of net-tying. It addresses the impetus for the project and its role in object-based decolonization and Indigenous knowledge reclamation. The research was inspired by the last known Lenape netmaker, Clem Carney, whose work was collected by anthropologists in the early 1900s but since forgotten. The project was completed in collaboration with the Tribe from initial proposal onward and included three main stages: examination of fishing nets from Native Mid-Atlantic groups at the National Museum of the American Indian and the American Museum of Natural History, the compilation of an inventory of Native Mid-Atlantic nets and associated tools from institutions throughout North America, and outreach. Outreach efforts included a Tribal Delegation to the National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center, presentations to both the Native and non-Native community, and net-making workshops held at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, DE. Through these events and a range of media posts and articles, it is estimated that 7,000 people learned about this collaboration. The project has prompted subsequent collaborations and serves as a model for community-driven research.