The Delaware Bandolier Bag is defined by its wide shoulder strap terminating in three tabs, bold abstract floral design, and bi-lateral symmetry. Once an important element of men’s attire it had all but disappeared from our Lenape communities by the early 20th century. The historic bags presented in the exhibit were made during 1830 -1850 and serve as testaments to the survivance of the Lenape during a time of chaos and upheaval as a result of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. One cannot imagine what sacrifices were made to hold fast to Lenape art and culture during this treacherous time.
The contemporary Delaware Bandolier Bags were made by Joe Baker (Delaware Tribe of Indians) over the last twenty years in direct response to the absence of these important beaded items in our community. They are meant to inspire others to continue this tradition into present times, acting as passports to things both seen and unseen. By celebrating beauty we honor our ancestors and acknowledge the miraculous gifts they have given to our present and future Lenape communities.