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The Lenni Lenape were the first inhabitants of New Jersey

This is the Passaic River, a place where the Lenni Lenape fished.
This is the Passaic River, a place where the Lenni Lenape fished.
Lucy Santos

Under the stars of a summer sky, story telling comes to life around a campfire. Some stories people tell are legends while others are true. It is a fact that the Lenni Lenape, who were mystical and peaceful, were the first residents of New Jersey before the Europeans arrived. Not only did the Lenni Lenape live in New Jersey, they also lived in Pennsylvania and in some parts of New York. These Native Americans had striking looks: they had dark eyes, black hair and were well built.

Like all Native Americans, the Lenni Lenape respected nature. When the Lenni Lenape resided in New Jersey, there were wide open green spaces and no air pollution. The Lenni Lenape lived off of the rich land. In the winter, they hunted deer as well as other wild animals. In the spring, they planted gardens that contained fresh fruits and vegetables. In the summer, they traveled to the Jersey shore to escape the heat and caught fresh oysters and clams. In the fall, they reaped their own produce.

Some Lenni Lenape lived near the Passaic River and fished. In fact, the Passaic River was so pristine when these Native Americans lived there that you could actually catch fresh fish from that river. Those who are seafood lovers can imagine what a delicious feast the Lenni Lenape served their families. Today the Passaic River is so polluted that you cannot fish from the river. Fortunately, there are plans to clean the Passaic River.

The Lenni Lenape who inhabited New Jersey will never be forgotten, for there is an Indian Trail of Newark Tablet in Gummere Park in Newark, New Jersey commemorating them and their historic meeting with Robert Treat, who was the Governor of Connecticut and founder of Newark, in 1666. There are still many lessons that we can learn from the Lenni Lenape today.