The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe is governed by a nine member Tribal Council. All council members must also be enrolled citizens of the tribe, having met the mandatory tribal Indian blood quantum and core family ancestry requirements. Also, our elders continue to play an important role in guiding our people’s future and reminding us of our past. The wisdom of our elders is honored and respected. We have been taught to make decisions prayerfully considering the will of the Creator and the impact of any decision through seven generations of our people.
We are a member tribe of the National Congress of American Indians, The New Jersey State Commission on American Indian Affairs, The Lenape Confederacy of the United States and Canada, The Chiefs’ Council of the Nanticoke-Lenape Tribes of Delaware and New Jersey, and the Commission on Native American Ministry of the United Methodist Church. One of our historical tribal congregations, Saint John United Methodist Church of Fordville, has the distinction of being the only designated Native American Church in New Jersey. We enjoy friendly relations with the nation of Sweden, which acknowledges our tribal identity and sovereignty and recently renewed its more than 350 year old treaty of friendship with our Tribe, extending back to the days of the early settlement of the Swedes and Finns in the Land of the Lenape, before British colonial powers came to our area.
The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe consists of approximately 3000 enrolled citizens, primarily located in New Jersey’s Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester and Camden counties. Tribal enrollment criteria includes meeting the tribal genealogical blood quantum and core family ancestry requirements. An additional 9000 non-enrolled tribal descendants also live in the State Designated American Indian Statistical Area (SDAISA) in the Cumberland County area, according to the 2000 United States Census.
The Tribe continues to celebrate its heritage and care for its people through cultural and language preservation initiatives, health initiatives, youth programming, weekly meal and food distributions, monthly tribal membership meetings, bi-annual social and ceremonial gatherings, an annual pow wow, and many other regularly occurring cultural retention and outreach activities. The Tribe also operates the “Turtle Trading Post” Native Craft Shop from its headquarters in Bridgeton, New Jersey.
In 1978, The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe established a tribally governed 501(c)3 non-profit community benefit agency, “The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey,” which is chartered exclusively for educational, social, and cultural purposes, to promote the welfare of Native Americans who reside in the Delaware Valley; to extend charity in all forms to those Native Americans in need, giving priority to Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians residing in the Delaware Valley; to establish cultural and instructional facilities; to improve health and welfare, housing, human rights, and economic security; to acquire and preserve land and water areas in a natural scenic or open condition consistent with the heritage of the Native Americans who reside in the Delaware Valley.
The Tribe established Turtle Associates LLC as an economic development enterprise to benefit the tribe and its citizens. The company provides career opportunities for tribal citizens and the revenue generated helps to fund tribal programming, staff, services and outreach.