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This discussion, presented in connection with the 2022 Lenapehoking exhibition at Brooklyn Public Library, brings together the Lenape Center’s Joe Baker and Hadrien Coumans with indigenous lawyer and playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle to correct the long-held and false narrative of the purchase of Manhattan.

The myth holds that Dutch settlers purchased the island of Manahatta from native “savages” for $24 worth of beads and trinkets. Enabled by Western historians and artists for centuries, this inaccurate and pernicious story, as one panelist notes, “is a weaponized narrative by its implied justification of the genocide and forced removal of the Lenape.” Our speakers explain the true history, setting straight the near universal misrepresentation. They discuss how this falsehood perpetuated prejudices, fed injustice, and served the interests of settler colonists and the United States government.

This panel will be followed by a screening of Stewart Huntington’s short film, Back to Manahatta.

This program is presented in partnership with the Lenape Center and as a collaboration between BPL Presents and BPL’s Center for Brooklyn History.


Joe Baker is an artist, educator, curator and activist who has been working in the field of Native Arts for the past thirty years. He is an enrolled member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and co-founder executive director of Lenape Center in Manhattan. Baker is an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of Social Work in New York and was recently Visiting Professor of Museum Studies at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado. He serves as a board member for The Endangered Language Fund, Yale University and on the Advisory Committee for the National Public Art Consortium, New York and cultural advisor for the new CBS Series, “Ghosts.”

Baker has guided in his capacity as executive director for Lenape Center partnerships with the Metropolitan Museum of Art (his work is currently on exhibit there), Brooklyn Museum of Art, American Ballet Theater, Moulin Rouge on Broadway, The Whitney Museum of Art, and others. In partnership with Farm Hub in the Hudson River Valley, Baker and Lenape Center are championing the return of ancestral seeds in the homeland through a seed rematriation project.  This seed saving project, now in its second year, has done much to contribute to the cultural foodways of the Lenape diaspora.  In partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library, Baker is the curator of the first ever Lenape exhibition of cultural arts in the City of New York, opening January 2021.  Baker graduated from the University of Tulsa with a BFA degree in Design and an MFA in painting and drawing, and completed postgraduate study, Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, MDP Program. 

Hadrien Coumans is Co-founder & co-Director of Lenape Center, and an adopted member of the WhiteTurkey-Fugate family.









Stewart Huntington is a filmmaker and reporter for Indian Country Today whose work explores the cultural, jurisdictional and economic borderlands between Indian Country and broader U.S. communities. His current project examines the rise of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians from near extermination in 1866 at the hands of a California State-financed militia to major 21st Century economic and philanthropic presence in Southern California’s Inland Empire.




Mary Kathryn Nagle is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She is also a partner at Pipestem and Nagle Law, P.C., where she works to protect tribal sovereignty and the inherent right of Indian Nations to protect their women and children from domestic violence and sexual assault. From 2015 to 2019, she served as the first Executive Director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program. Nagle is an alum of the 2013 Public Theater Emerging Writers Program. Productions include Miss Lead (Amerinda, 59E59), Fairly Traceable (Native Voices at the Autry), Sovereignty (Arena Stage), Manahatta (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Return to Niobrara (Rose Theater), and Crossing Mnisose (Portland Center Stage), Sovereignty (Marin Theatre Company), and Manahatta (Yale Repertory Theatre). She has received commissions from Arena Stage, the Rose Theater (Omaha, Nebraska), Portland Center Stage, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Yale Repertory Theatre, Round House Theater, and Oregon Shakespeare Theater.

She is most well known for her work on ending violence against Native women. Her play Sliver of a Full Moon has been performed in law schools from Stanford to Harvard, NYU and Yale. She has worked extensively on Violence Against Women Act re-authorization, and she has filed numerous briefs in the United States Supreme Court, as a part of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center’s VAWA Sovereignty Initiative, including most recently, United States v. Cooley, Oklahoma v. McGirt, and Oklahoma v. Murphy. She represents numerous families of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, including Kaysera Stops Pretty Places’ family who have brought a public campaign demanding an investigation into her murder. More can be read here:

Talks like this continue throughout the Lenapehoking exhibition, which runs from Jan 20 through April 30. Program calendar here.

To view the exhibition website, please go here.

Lenapehoking is made possible in part with support from the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

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