The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District hosted its first ever face-to-face meeting with a federally recognized Native American tribe on Dec. 4 at the district's headquarters in Baltimore.
The Corps met with the Delaware Nation, one of the country's longest standing Native American Tribes, to discuss a Corps project that could potentially impact what were historically tribal lands. Additionally, the meeting was held to foster the developing relationship between the Baltimore District and the tribe regarding the work that the Corps performs and its relation to areas of interest and significance to the Delaware Nation.
"Much of our district is Delaware Nation's ancestral homeland," Baltimore District Cultural Resource Program Manager Scott Watson said. "We want to use their expertise when we have projects that are in areas of significance to them."
The Delaware Nation, originally known as the Lenape Tribe, traces its roots back in time nearly 12,000 years. In 1778 Delaware Nation became the first Native American tribe to sign a treaty with the U.S. government and their close relationship with William Penn gave them a pivotal role in the establishment of Philadelphia.
The tribe's ancestral homeland spanned from Virginia to Massachusetts before they were forced westward as a result of settlers and government control. Now based in Oklahoma, the Delaware Nation strives to preserve and expand their culture, language and religion through economic development and education.
The relationship between the Corps and Delaware Nation, while new, is incredibility important. Through their historical expertise in the lands part of our district's area of responsibility, it is imperative the Corps works with the tribe to ensure lands of significance, many of which we are unaware of, are considered as we implement our mission.
"Native American groups attach significance to parts of the country and parts within our district that we may not be aware of," Watson said. "As a result, it's important we work regularly with them so that we can identify those areas and take into account the effects of our projects on land that has significance to their culture."