The Pike County Historical Society is opening a new permanent exhibit, “The Lenape, Original People, Reconciling the Past, Embracing the Future,” at the Columns Museum in Milford. The exhibit will open on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 1 pm.
The exhibit is the result of a five-year collaboration between the Delaware Tribe of Indians, the Delaware Nation and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community (the three federally recognized Lenape tribes) in partnership with Milford Borough, descendants of the family of Tom Quick and the Pike County Historical Society.
The exhibit tells the story of the Lenape Indians, the indigenous people of the region, from the pre-Colonial era through today. The exhibit addresses, among others topics, the forced relocation of the tribes, the legend of Tom Quick (the so-called “Indian Slayer of the Delaware”) and the Walking Purchase Treaty, a land swindle perpetrated on the Lenape that includes part of Pike County.
“We are proud to be able to tell this important part of Pike County’s history,” said Lori Strelecki, the Columns Museum curator. “The fact that the exhibit was created in partnership with the Lenape tribes, the Quick family and the Borough makes it especially meaningful.”
Brad Kill’s Crow, Chief of the Anadarko, Oklahoma-based Delaware Tribe of Indians, said “We have not vanished or even diminished as a People. We are, however, far from the hearts and minds of the people of Pike County and the Borough of Milford. Over 1,300 miles, in fact, due to the United States Indian removal policies. The removal from our Homelands still hurts our hearts today. We hope this exhibit will remind people that we are still here today — the Original People of Pike County.”
For 100 years, a zinc obelisk honoring Tom Quick was displayed as a point of pride in Milford Borough. In 1999, the monument was vandalized, protesting the veneration of a man who bragged about murdering the indigenous people of the region. It was removed by Milford Borough and has been in storage since that time.
In recent years, across the country there has been a reappraisal of monuments, place and team names, and other cultural relics that reflect a different era and mindset. Monuments have been contextualized and relocated from places of honor and pride, to venues where an objective history can be told. This includes the Tom Quick monument, which is part of the Columns exhibit.
Don Quick, of Milford, said, “the Quick family is gratified that the monument will be part of an interpretative balanced exhibit, created with the descendants of the Native Americans who lived in the region prior to the arrival of European settlers. What is truth and what is myth from the past may never be fully known, but we are proud to work with our local community and the leadership of the Lenape tribes to look forward, together.”
The cooperative effort was coordinated by Milford Mayor Sean Strub, who reached out to the tribes shortly after he became Milford’s mayor in 2016. “Tom Quick’s reign of terror in the 18th century, and the veneration of him as a hero in the 19th century, has long been an ugly and painful chapter of our local history,” said Strub. “The willingness of the Lenape tribes, the Quick family and the Pike County Historical Society to work together has created a foundation of mutual respect from which we can move forward.”
Development of the exhibit has been an inspiring process, and included many calls, meetings and private conversations, including between tribal elders and a representative of the Quick family, the participation of respected scholars, and the emergence of new friendships. Ken Sandri, Preservation and Resource Manager at Grey Towers National Historic Site was instrumental in connecting Mayor Strub with the leadership of the three federally recognized Lenape tribes.
Creation of the exhibit was a collaboration between all parties; Larry Heady, the Delaware Tribe’s Historic Preservation Officer and Michael Frandy, a descendant of the Delaware Tribe, led the writing and graphic design work with input from the Delaware Nation, Stockbridge-Munsee Community, the Quick family, Milford Borough and the Pike County Historical Society. Artifacts from the Pike County Historical Society’s collection, including examples of pottery and effigy, mortar and pestle and a dugout canoe will be on exhibit, as well as the Tom Quick monument.
“We cannot change the past, but by addressing painful history through contemporary eyes, and with a fuller historical understanding, is an important step to reconciliation and building a stronger, more inclusive America,” said Strub. “This is an historic moment, with an effort and exhibit that represents Pike County at its very best.”
The Columns Museum is open every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment.
“What is truth and what is myth from the past may never be fully known, but we are proud to work with our local community and the leadership of the Lenape tribes to look forward, together.” Don Quick