One of the more enduring myths of Western civilization is that
Columbus “discovered” America. In reality, by the time Europeans
arrived in the late 15th century, the Americas had already been
home to Indian peoples for a thousand generations.

Lenape or Delaware Indians had first come to the river valleys along
the mid-Atlantic coast some 12,000 years earlier. Made up of a large
cooperative network of independent villages and bands, the Lenape
were an egalitarian and peace-loving peoples with a robust cultural
heritage stretching all the way back to the Western Hemisphere’s
very first human inhabitants. They greeted the European explorers
who began arriving in the early 1600’s as guests.

But all that was about to change.

Once Europeans had discovered the fur trade, they moved swiftly to
conquer and colonize. The Lenape were swept aside, losing more
than 80% of their population to warfare and epidemic disease. The
new colonial powers soon forced them to cede their lands and then
set about to systematically erase their history, culture, traditions,
and achievements from the face of the earth.

They nearly succeeded. Today, despite their heroic past, the
Delaware remain among the least understood of all Americans.

“Ghost Trails” is an authentic in-depth ethnography of these
Indians and the now-vanished story of their civilization from the
dawn of Stone Age man in the Americas, across the great arc of their
social and cultural development, to the climactic conflict that
shattered their world and led to their dispossession and exile.

But it goes further than an historical account. “Ghost Trails” gives the
Delaware a voice - a voice long silenced - to tell their own story. A
meditative and reflective essay on who they were, it brings the viewer
an appreciation of their deep spirituality, and to an understanding of
how this ‘inner technology’ permeated every aspect of their lives.

3-part [170 min.] limited series HDTV documentary
intertwines archaeological, anthropological, linguistic, and genetic
evidence from renowned scientists and scholars together with a lively
portrait of the modern-day tribe, connecting a comprehensive study
of the past to its meaning for the present.

In doing so, “Ghost Trails” helps to redress a terrible injustice, and
restores dignity to a culture whose contributions have long been
ignored or forgotten, for the Lenape were indeed a people of
astonishing originality, innovation, and enterprise whose true story
has, in many respects, continued to elude us.

©2000 NMP Inc.
a not-for-profit corporation
website updated September 2006
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