Connecting community to the land: Earth Day on 52nd Street centers Lenape practices and stories

Media Outlet


Sabrina Iglesias

The West Philly community gathered Saturday under the protection of a tree older than any of those in attendance, and Krista Nelson played her original song “Malcolm X Park” on her Native Turtle Island flute. Attendees closed their eyes, and could feel the nature that constantly surrounds people, even in the city.

To Nelson, a sixth-generation Lenape grandmother and Lenape language keeper, a land acknowledgment is more than just ticking a box or noting the origins of the Lenape land Philadelphians stand and live on. It’s about understanding the deep history of the Indigenous people and that they are still here with us today.

“The Lenape people saw everything, every being, as kin,” she said. “The trees are kin, the ground is kin, the space that we’re in is a relative. The stones beneath our feet are kin.”

This message is what organizers from Get Fresh Daily, Friends of Malcolm X Park, The Enterprise Center, and Painted Bride Art Center wanted to share with the community of West Philadelphia this Earth Day — green spaces are sacred places of rejuvenation.

Saturday’s programming, which was kicked off by Nelson’s land acknowledgment, was focused on highlighting Indigenous communities and giving them space to tell their stories.