Chief Lappawinze Greets Visitors to Jasper Park
He was the last remaining chief in the area.
Imagine being in Vera Cruz some 270 years ago…back to 1737…before the United States was even a country.
You might have been greeted by Chief Lappawinze and the Lenni Lenape tribe of Delaware Indians as they gathered jasper to use for tools and trading. Chief Lappawinze, or Lapowinsa, which means “getting provisions,” was part of the original tribe that once settled in the Vera Cruz area.
He was also one of the four chiefs who signed the Walking Purchase Treaty of 1737 in Philadelphia with the sons of William Penn, Pennsylvania’s founder.
The treaty granted to the white man land extending from Neshaming creek as far as a man could walk in a day and a half. The governor of Pennsylvania, at that time, had a road built inland and employed a trained runner, causing the Delaware Tribe to denounce the treaty as a fraud.
Chief Lappawinze, the last remaining chief in the area, was memorialized when Duane Bender of Sullivan County, Pa., carved a statue of him from yellow pine. The Vera Cruz Community Association, as part of their service to the community, fully funded the project as a way of preserving the history of the area.
He stood guard at Jasper Park after being placed on a pedestal and dedicated June 7, 1992. A bronze plaque commemorating him and the Lenape clans that mined the jasper quarries in and around the park rests at the foot of the pedestal.
In 2008, however, the chief had to be removed, because weather had taken its toll, according to Upper Milford Township Manager Dan DeLong.
The Vera Cruz Community Association agreed to pay for a replacement, as well as refurbish the old statue, which now stands in a hallway in the Upper Milford Township Municipal Center.
“The new Chief Lappawinze, carved out of red cedar by Jack McEntire of Cascade Carvings in Selah, Wash., is expected to withstand the weather better than the original Indian,” said Terry Schmeltzle of the association.
Chief Lappawinze was placed atop the pedestal, once again guarding the park’s visitors, on June 16, 2011.
And the residents of this small town couldn’t be happier—it was the talk of town for days and weeks afterward, with everyone saying to one another, “The Indian is back!”