AIA Site Preservation Projects

Black Creek Indian Site, New Jersey

Home to some of the area’s earliest residents, the Black Creek Indian Site in Vernon, New Jersey, includes more than 6,000 artifacts representing 10,000 years of occupation. 

For over a decade, members of the Vernon Township Historical Society have worked with the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey to preserve, protect, and promote the Black Creek Site. The Society’s interpretive plan and cultural resource program involve close collaboration with local residents and state and national officials. The program includes regular monitoring and maintenance, the installation of explanatory signage, and the creation of a walking path through the site. It also includes education and outreach initiatives targeting school groups, community organizations, and the public. Thousands of students have benefited from the Society’s education programs about the Lenape Indians and Black Creek through lesson plans integrated into local school curricula, guided tours, and hands-on learning opportunities.

Working with the Lenape and other local residents, the Society successfully nominated the Black Creek Site for inclusion in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. As steward of the site, the Society is taking a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to preserving a wonderful and important resource for future generations. The Society’s interpretive plan provides an aspirational model for other site stewards and represents the best practices that the AIA promotes through its Site Preservation Program— efforts that combine sustainable heritage preservation with local community involvement.

About 4,000 people attended the first Black Creek Festival.

An archaeology study at Black Creek (Archaeologist Dr. Cara Blume in blue with hat, on left)

The community dancing at a Black Creek Festival

Lenape expert and archaeologist John Kraft, son of Herbert Kraft, does an archaeology study at Black Creek.

A drum circle during one of the Black Creek festivals

Lenape Indian Chiefs from Delaware and NJ at Black Creek

Steve King of North Dakota, a Lakota Sioux Indian, visits us at the Black Creek Site

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