Winakung: Lenape Village at Waterloo Village

The valleys of Northwest New Jersey, scooped out of the earth's surface by the glacial retreat, left a fertile area teeming with wildlife that eventually became home to the first paleo Indians around 8600BC., beginning a native American history from the archaic period to the woodland culture of the Lenape, or Delawares. An Algonkian speaking people, the Lenape tribe was one of the most advanced and civilized in the eastern US. The culture flourished until the arrival of the first European fur traders in the mid 1600s and the inevitable procession west, spurred by copper mining near the Delaware River and trade along the old mine road from Philadelphia to Kingston, NY.

Firmly entrenched in the Upper Delaware River Valley, known as the Minisink, and throughout Northwest New Jersey for thousands of years, Lenape civilization is commemorated on our modern map with familiar names like Kittatinny, Allamuchy, Musconetcong, Netcong, Pahaquarry, Hopatcong, and many others. Archeological sites have yielded a multitude of artifacts that inform us of their culture. The most remarkable local excavation occurred over a seven year period at a place called Dark Moon in Frelinghuysen Township. At this ancient arrowhead factory, the Lenape quarried flint from the limestone-rich hills around the site, manufactured thousands of flint points, and buried them for later use. The lodges, huts, pottery and agriculture implements found there with the lode of weaponry are an important part of our academic understanding of how the Lenape lived. More informal excavators have picked wheelbarrows full of arrowheads from farmers' fields. Those days, of course, have vanished along with the arrowheads, although, for scholars, the area still promises a lode of material for interpretation and analysis. Only a rough sketch of a robust culture remains; we know nothing of the human deeds and dramas that occurred.

The Lenape Village at historic Waterloo Village was created to help visualize the past. Located in Allamuchy Mountain State Park, Sussex County, on an island in Waterloo Lake, the Lenape Village—called Winakung ("Place of Sassafras")—is surrounded by thousands of acres of wooded forests, stone cliffs, streams and marshes, home to beaver, osprey, and the occasional bear. It is a place of wonder and a land seemingly left alone by time. Here you can walk 400 years into the past and experience an ancient and gentler way of life.

Once considered one of New Jersey's best school trips and a popular tourist destination, the Lenape Village has suffered from neglect in past years. Bark lodges were left to crumble, dugout canoes rotted, mortars and pestles decayed, and the exhibits were removed or ruined. Thanks to an intense concern for Historic Waterloo Village and the foresight to save its valuable assets, the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection took over operations at Waterloo in early 2007 and, together with the help of Lenape Lifeways, Inc., restored this unique outdoor exhibit.

Lenape traders
Dutch traders visit a group of elders, braves, women, children and infants

Dotted with bark wigwams, longhouses, native garden, fishing, hunting, and cooking areas, the village revives the Lenape world as it might have been in 1630, when European traders visited Indian communities to barter metal pots, iron axes, scissors, cloth, glass beads and other items for the Indians' furs and skins. Totally reconstructed, one bark longhouse measuring 60 feet by 20 feet has been newly furnished with benches, fireplaces, animal furs woven baskets, copper pots, metal trinkets and other paraphernalia replicating a trading scene. Fifteen mannequins portray two visiting Dutch traders and a group of elders, braves, women, children and infants.

Lenape medicine
A traditional herbalist and shaman attending a sick child

Another 40-foot long house, like the first, has been refurnished with mat-covered bunks and shelves holding baskets, pots and pelts. Countless braided ears of corn hang from the domed roof. At one end, a seated woman uses a carved spoon to stir the contents of a large clay pot boiling over a fire, while women and children engage in various activities nearby. A storyteller entertains a small child as an interested mother looks on. In one area of the Island a wigwam is being built by a newly married couple; in another a traditional herbalist and shaman can be seen attending a sick child.

Lenape fishing
A boy spears fish from a canoe in the Musconetcong River.

A hunting trail equipped with snares and deadfalls shows the Indians' methods of catching wild game and food. Dugout canoes are beached at the edge of the island, while a boy spears fish from a canoe in the lake. A fish weir encloses part of the Musconetcong River, and fishnets are stretched to dry. Elsewhere on the island are a sweat lodge, burial plot with grave markers, and a sacred precinct marked by poles carved with effigy faces—twelve in all, as Lenape tradition required. Visitors may catch sight of the Mesingw or "Living Solid Face", who wears a bearskin outfit with a red and black mask. Or one of the "little people," spirit pranksters who cause people to trip on roots or suffer other annoyances. Smaller bark or mat covered houses are located throughout the island; each with its own fireplace complete with pottery cooking vessels, mortar and pestle.

Simulated archaeological excavation

A short distance from the bridge to the Island, a simulated archaeological excavation provides an overview of the methods and tools used by archaeologists in the Northeast. Different levels show such diverse features as mastodon bones and Paleo-Indian artifacts, human burials (plastic reproduction), chipped stone implements, fire pits, pottery fragments, and historic trade goods of old which help interpret 12,000 years of Indian occupation in New Jersey.

Winakung is a place of wonder once again, believable and archaeologically correct. The shapes and sizes of the houses are patterned on those excavated at Minisink Indian sites in the upper Delaware Valley. The stone tools and pottery vessels have been modeled on excavated specimens or patterned after established ethnographic models.

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection is committed to re-opening not only Winakung, but also the historic village of Waterloo, and work progressed slowly on stabilizing and preserving the various structures. Waterloo was a 19th century community that grew up along the Morris Canal, and boasts an entire canal town including period houses, grist- and saw-mills, general store, blacksmith shop, carriage barn and numerous other attractions. An enormous restoration effort, it may take some time to complete.

Lenape Lifeways Educational Programs is a primary resource for learning about New Jersey's prehistory. Based in Sussex County, this not for profit organization provides a variety of programs and services for schools, libraries, historical societies, civic groups and other organizations. Through a fascinating slide presentation, together with numerous hands-on objects like masks, musical instruments, clothing, tools and weapons, the Lenape culture is brought to life. For more information, to schedule a program, or to order books, visit their website or call 973-691-2316.

Programs at Winakung are now supervised by Winakung at Waterloo.

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Edward Goldman
05 Jun 2015, 19:40
Is their an Indian display for viewing
Jim Griffin
01 Aug 2014, 19:05
I'm very interested in visiting the village, but can't seem to find basic info like when is it open, and directions.. Please help?
Nancy Linke
11 Jun 2014, 07:44
My great great grandmother experinance was from the Lenape tribe in swampcreek in port Monmouth I am trying to find info about her
Robert Frankl
20 May 2014, 14:32
When I was a kid living in North West Manhattan Island. Lots of years ago. My friends and I explored? an area along the extreme northern shore of Manhattan where the East River met the Hudson. It is known as Spuyten Dyvil. On the Manhattan shore was an enormous cave (right under what is now the Henry Hudson Bridge) that held huge amounts of clam and oyster shells. We were told that they, the shells, were remnants of an ancient Native tribe. Were they Lenape or some other group? And what is the history of that group?
ruth kleiman
05 Sep 2013, 16:49
A few years ago, Waterloo Village had a demonstration on how to built a tepee, and had dinner with food from American Natives. Do you still have it?
27 May 2013, 18:45
The Dark Moon site and the Minisink Island site both contributed to the creation of Winakung. Herbert Kraft recreated the large Long House based on actual measurements of the Minisink longhouse from charcoaled remains of the upright poles, which were fire hardened before insertion into the ground. The Long House measures 21' X 59'. Elements of Herbert Kraft's work at Minisink are also evident in the archaeology exhibit which depicts 14,000 years of NJ history,from manufactured metal back and down to Paleo Indian artifacts and a Mastodon skeleton. There's no "too Bad" at Winakung, it is a tremendous teaching site and open to school tours and on special event days.
29 Jun 2012, 13:00
Too bad that those who created the Lenape Village at Waterloo Village didn't use a model for the village from the Dark Moon Site which is only a few miles away. Instead they used a model from from an archaeological site located on the Delaware River. The houses that were located on the river are quite different than the ones found at the Dark Moon Site. \r\n
Freddy Zapps
22 Aug 2011, 19:15
Waterloo Village is open again for school trips. Check out
Ed Wilczynski
20 Aug 2011, 13:01
Serching for information about Rose Mellick ( Hall ) I am also seeking info on Elizabeth ( Linn ) Melick , her and her spouse were origanally part of Mellick farms in the 1800's .\r\n \r\nThank you, \r\n\r\nEd Wilczynski
edna moore
27 Jul 2011, 12:06
Will the Lenape Indian Village be opened before the end of summer 2011?
Andrea Proctor
23 Jun 2011, 14:19
Winakung, the recreated Lenape Village, and several other areas at Waterloo Village are open for group tours given by Winakung at Waterloo Inc staff and volunteers. Please visit for more information or contact Andrea Proctor at
08 Nov 2010, 17:50
Do you have an estimated time of when the village/exhibits will reopen?
Jack Myers
09 Oct 2010, 21:36
The domain name is available for purchase. Please visit the web site for details.
Karen Herring
17 Sep 2010, 12:17
I represent the Lenape Partners Parents Group of Lenape High School in Medford, NJ . We are in search of a Lenape indian decendant who is an artisan. We are looking for original artwork or furniture to be purchaased for our school.\r\n\r\nI appreciate any assistance you can give me in this search.\r\n\r\nThank you for your time.
Ed Wilczynski
23 Aug 2010, 12:21
I'm searching for any info that my greatgrand mother may hve wed a lanape indian her name was ROSE Melick ( hall ) , i have been told of this threw word of mouth from my mother I'm seeking all infomation I can on her that I can gather , She also was part of the Melick Farm Family. Thank you
05 Jul 2010, 14:46
About 8 years ago while digging planting on the back yard of our home, I found a stone head carving and including some sea shells, could this be native Lenape artifacts.
Michael Hartnett
23 Jun 2010, 10:43
Waterloo Village will be open Saturday June 26, 2010 for Canal Day and the Lenape Village and some of the buildings will be open also.
Ines Weber
03 Apr 2010, 06:33
Please let me know when it is possible to visit Waterloo Village Again. We used to make many trips per year to this beautiful park in New Jersey
Carol Wilson
23 Mar 2010, 14:56
Can you tell me if the large white 3 story victorian house still stands. About 55-60 years ago my family knew the Garrigans who lived in the house and we visited frequently. I went on many class trips with my children and also other visits there until I heard they closed the village. I would love to see the house one more time before it is destroyed, if it hasn't been already. I have many memories of the village, but particularly that house, having played in the play-room on the 3rd floor. The family was going to restore it, but never got around to it. I remember them trying to put in a first floor bathroom and either putting in or taking down a staircase in the kitchen to the second floor. It was rumored that certain places in the village were inhabited by ghosts and in fact the wife of Mr. Garrigan told my mother that she saw the headless horseman riding down the canal. I'm sure it was her imagination, being alone there all week while her husband stayed in Irvington for work, but it makes a good story. Will the village be open to the public any time soon? Even just to walk through it again would be great, even if nothing is open. Thanks.
Veronica Doll
11 Mar 2010, 06:43
Did Lenni Lenape Indians of NJ use/create totem poles?
21 Jan 2010, 11:42
I have something that was giving to me that has been passed down through the family and i want to know more about it. Plus on the bottom of it has especially made for len-a-pe village
07 Nov 2009, 13:22
Greetings to our interested Teachers and folks who want to return to the Lenape Village at Waterloo.\r\nSchool programs will be available starting in April 15th through June 11th, 2010. There will be 1/2 and full day class visits.\r\nPre=registrations are being accepted now with \r\nJan. 1st, 2010 as the actual registration date. For more info contact Fran at Stephens SP at (908) 852-3790. For more info contact Mrs. Helen Maurella, Park Superintendent at Lake Hoptacong at (973) 398-7010.\r\nThanks for your interest in our new and anticipated Lenape Elementary School Education Program\r\nRegards,\r\nJim Newquist\r\nResource Interpretive Specialist\r\nStephens SP\r\n\r\n
01 Nov 2009, 02:38
I would be interested in knowing if the Lennape village has an authentic pestle for grinding corn.\r\nAlso, who is the true owner of artifacts found in the ground?\r\n1. the finder\r\n2. the land owner\r\n3. the state of NJ?\r\na response would be appreciated.
Rick Cole
08 Jul 2009, 07:16
When I was a child in late 50's early 60's, my buddies and I would swim and dive off the WaterLoo Bridge. Of course, the bridge was torn down due to a heavy truck that tried to cross it. I lived in Budd Lake New Jersey on Waterloo and in the spring and summer I enjoyed fishing and swiming at Waterloo Village. When I go to visit the area it has been completely changed. At one time there was a back road called Snake Hill which is now a turn around where houses now stand . Years ago,that whole area was beautiful woods, streams and even a large sand pit. Nowadays, The Tradw Center occupies that area. Sometimes change is a necessity but I feel emotionally battered by changes that has taken away the physical aspects of my glorious childhood memories. Please e-mail me when the Winakung will be open to the public.\r\n Thank You\r\n Rick\r\n
01 Jun 2009, 17:48
hey I didn't know how many facts about one tribe! and I still can't find out the one I want!
megan b
22 Jan 2009, 16:07
what did the longhouses look like...???
anne griffith
10 Jan 2009, 08:10
To whom it may concern:\r\nWhat a shock and how disappointing to learn all this. I am a middle grade teacher in NY and was commenting on how the Waterloo Village would be such a terrific school trip. I was researching the village to bring in materials to show my colleagues only to see all this! We visited the village and island when our children were young and loved it. How could this have happened? Why? NJ Parks and State Government,you should be ashamed of yourselves... and quite honestly accountable.
deborah bennett
21 Oct 2008, 10:48
just what jersey needs , more housing no land.
Shirley K. lawson
17 Oct 2008, 16:40
I would like to know what happened to this village...and particualry it's\r\nmissionaries in the past, it's my understanding many of them were Germans\r\n"menonnites" perhaps that later settled along the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, taking some of these "friendly" Indians along with them\r\ one time killed and murdered only because people thought they were \r\nof other Indians that were on the "war path" at the time. My maternal lines may\r\nof been of one of the "missionary"\r\npeople..and we know their history from\r\nBucks county, and England present day for the most part, but we do not know if our James Larkins, \r\nwas an "Varkins" to this history, we \r\nthink differently at this time though.\r\nDestroy this legacy and we will never know. Would it be better if we turned Hipsanic?..sad but true these days. \r\nThe heritage is apparently being continued on as our family historical cemetary despite being owned by an church..Latter-Day Saints, is STILL much vandlized...even with an small wire fence around it.. God forbid it should ever become an "apartment" complex though, it serves the ruination of our land to see our nation's hertiage passed over\r\nfor monetary value. Why must the only Indians be left, be those whom are known to be "ruthless" in their struggles to keep their heritage alive, when we have an example of peaceful people through the Lenape?..the days of Cowboys and "savage" indians is over thank God. There is an whole story out there of the good things they did while alive, why can we not focus on that? \r\nI pray "city hall" gets passed by for the "Laws of God" that what you do unto others, you do unto yourself..forget them,and someday you will be forgotten also.
Kevin Wright
26 Sep 2008, 04:39
Writing to the New Jersey Herald in 1876, Seymour Smith, of Waterloo, described “an old Indian burying ground, in which the rough stone marks the final resting place of many a departed child of the forest.” It is situated about a quarter of a mile east of the village on the shores of Waterloo Lake. The Smith family, owners of the land, “scrupulously respected” the burials and never plowed in their vicinity. A promotional booklet for Lake Waterloo Estates, published about 1927, also reported, “An old Indian burying ground apparently was located in a rise of land which juts into the waters of what is now the main lake of a chain.” A portion of this burying ground became an island in Waterloo Lake circa 1902-03 when the Mountain Ice Company excavated a channel to redirect the river’s current along the northwestern bank and thus create a quiet pool of water, free of debris, for their ice harvests. Remnants of a dike, which once channeled the flow of water around the ice pond, are still discernible at the upper end of the lake. This ditch detached the peninsula bearing part of the cemetery from the shore, thereby creating the smaller and more westerly of the two islands in Waterloo Lake. When it was dug, excavators disturbed three graves, uncovering hardware from disintegrated caskets and artifacts of eighteenth-century European manufacture. At this time, Sanford Roy Smith (1887-1982), the son of Peter D. Smith, unearthed a skeleton with pewter buttons and a clay pipe with flowers painted on it and a deer-horn stem.\r\n\r\nThis old cemetery reportedly encompasses about 50 interments, including the remains of the early inhabitants of Andover Forge and Byram Township. The promotional booklet for Lake Waterloo Estates also relates, “The health-giving atmosphere of the territory [around Waterloo] is attested by the fact that during the time of Washington’s occupancy of headquarters in Morristown many of his French allied soldiers attacked by a small-pox were encamped in quarantine on a bluff overlooking the valley. A group of stones facing east marks the spot.” Supposedly, this ancient cemetery holds the bones of Lafayette’s soldiers, who died while quarantined there. Or, perhaps, there is some confusion. Could the old cemetery contain the remains of those Continental artificers who operated the forge during the American Revolutionary War?\r\n\r\nThis re-created Indian village needs to be moved off of this ancient cemetery. This violates the most fundamental principles of honoring our heritage. The bureaucrats who enable this desecration should be fired.\r\n\r\nBest regards,\r\nKevin Wright\r\n\r\n
25 Sep 2008, 09:11
what did lenape indians use to hunt?
06 Aug 2008, 10:21
Will you folks who have worked at the village in any capacity contact me at I need to gather some history for the village.
27 Jun 2008, 04:25
I spoke at the village on Canal Day. I had been Tour Director there in 1979-81. I've spent the last 26 years working for Parks & Forestry. Despite the patchwork repairs that have been done, this place is very much on the edge and the people in the DEP are not capable of bringing it back. The so-called Indian village needs to be moved off the prehistoric and historic burial ground. The last thing we want to teach our children is to disrespect the past in favor of "entertainment." Perhaps it should be moved to nearby Wild West City.\r\n\r\nIn truth, the state of NJ needs to rescue the State Historic Sites from their present misplacement in an environmental protection agency and join the rest of America in valuing its irreplaceable heritage.
26 Jun 2008, 12:29
I was a guide at the Lenape village 2001-03. Miss the village-miss the good people I worked with. Live in Indiana now. Still teach Native history. Hopefully I will come back soon and visit the grounds. It is too much history to lose.
24 Jun 2008, 15:30
Was at Waterloo Sat for Canal Day and \r\nwalked through the Indian Village. As a\r\nformer guide, it looks very nice, but is\r\ndefinitely not suited to the many school\r\ngroups who used to come here. Yes, its more authentic, but the crowds we used to have would have been all bunched up and\r\nconfused. Something to think about\r\n\r\nAlso, did I see an open house real estate\r\nsign in front of the Wellington? Seems that if the state really wanted to preserve a valuable piece of history, they wouldn't be selling it piecemeal\r\n\r\nWhat gives DEP?
Marni Benichou
23 Jun 2008, 11:18
When will you be reopening again? We used to come all the time and miss the amazing exhibit of the Lenape Indians!!
Marni Benichou
23 Jun 2008, 11:18
When will you be reopening again? We used to come all the time and miss the amazing exhibit of the Lenape Indians!!
Richard Volk
20 Jun 2008, 18:15
On April 17th, John asked if the church is still open. The short answer is yes.\r\n\r\nServices are held at 10 am from the Sunday after Labor Day until the last Sunday of June. During July, August and Labor Day weekend, services are held at 9:30 am.\r\n\r\nThe church website is\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
03 Jun 2008, 06:29
Plan on visiting this weekend is the village open?
Kevin W.
27 May 2008, 20:11
These cement wigwams are standing atop an ancient burial ground, first reported in 1872 as an Indian cemetery, where historic burials include Revolutionary War veterans. Three burials were excavated around 1902 when the ice company dug a channel through the narrow peninsula jutting into the lake to redirect the current away from the ice pond. One estimate claims 30 to 50 burials. I heard that evidence of burials was found when this "village" was built. This only desecrates and dishonors our real heritage.\r\n\r\nWhy are we spending public money on this when the truly historic fabric of the village is falling to pieces?
Sally Lane, NJDEP
20 May 2008, 09:02
The Lenape Village at Waterloo has been repaired, rebuilt and expanded by its original designer-builder, John Kraft. The Lenape Village will be open for tours by Kraft as part of the Saturday, June 21 celebration of the Canal Society of New Jersey's 13th Annual Canal Day. Scheduled events from 10am to 5pm include mule-drawn boat rides on the Morris Canal; a first-person presentation by historian Richard Pawling as an 1870s canal boat captain; exhibits on aspects of canal history; walking tours of the village's canal features and of its architectural history. Check for details.\r\n\r\nThe architectural tour will be led by one of the team working on a preservation plan for Waterloo Village. That plan, work on the Lenape Village and ongoing structural and roof repairs and re-roofing at Waterloo are all part of the NJDEP FY08 commitment of $750,000, of which $500,000 has been spent to date. The funding source is the percentage of Corporate Business Tax which the state's voters agreed in November, 2006, should be reallocated to capital needs of state parks & wildlife areas.
Brandon Hughes
28 Apr 2008, 13:41
I live in Douglassville, Pa. While planting a tree in my front yard, I dug up what I think to be arrowheads. Is there any way I can tell whether or not they are real, or what indian tribe might have made them?
Bill Becker (ASNJ)
26 Apr 2008, 12:41
Is there an address for Waterloo Village that I might Mapquest it to find out how to get there??\r\n\r\nThanks!\r\n\r\n--Bill
Renee Huntley
22 Apr 2008, 21:26
Could you tell me if the field about a 1/2 mile south of Waterloo entrance on Kinny Rd. is apart of Waterloo or is it owned by the County? The field is large and had a large stage set up.\r\n\r\nThank you.
17 Apr 2008, 12:18
is the church still open.
J. Carney
02 Apr 2008, 04:49
Abraham Hutchings House.\r\n\r\nWhat is happening to the Cannon Ball house?\r\n\r\nIs it being moved to another site?\r\nI am not familiar with Waterloo, but wish to see this house.\r\n\r\n \r\n
24 Mar 2008, 11:07
My daughter is getting married on June 14th at the Mohawk Country Club. We thought it would be wonderful if people could visit Waterloo and Lenape Village that early afternoon and maybe even have lunch. IS that a possibility?
Anissa Wiles
21 Feb 2008, 09:51
I loved my visit to waterloo village and I hope that when I move back up North I will get the opportunity to visit again.\r\n
14 Feb 2008, 16:54
Maybe it's me, but I think it's a shame if it is true that the Lenape Village will be turned into a housing development. I took many school classes there when I lived in the area and it was always a trip to remember. It was a great way to teach about native americans and how they walked right back into the past.
13 Feb 2008, 08:21
I did some research and found out that the Lenape Village at Waterloo has been dismantled. In fact, the entire village has been sold (except for the privately owned church)and will be knocked down in March 2008. A beautiful new townhome development is going to be built to help revitalize the area. I hope they keep the "Waterloo" name as a salute to the past!
Richard Thomas
09 Feb 2008, 16:55
I am interested in bringing a group to see the Indian Village and Waterloo Village. When will it be available to tour?
Skylands Visitor
26 Jan 2008, 11:09
We've notified the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry about inquiries regarding the status of Waterloo Village and asked that they respond here directly. You can monitor the state's progress on the project at
Jenny S.
26 Jan 2008, 10:20
I would love to bring 5 third-grade classes to Waterloo this spring; any idea when it will reopen?
14 Jan 2008, 10:24
I am a painter/sculptor who lives in central new jersey. I recently constructed a vision for a sculpture design that will need to include a native american canoe. I am interested in being able to see one in person as well as the literature that may aid me in my design. I am extremely interested not only in the specific canoe, but the history of the people. I would like to make this canoe as traditional as possible according to tradtion. The sculpture will be the result of what i learn and the more information the richer the meaning and honesty I will feel about the process. I was pointed in this direction of waterloo village by the National museum of the american indian. According to the website the villiage is under construction, i was wondering if there is a speculated date where visitors would be welcome again.
09 Jan 2008, 20:42
is there a possible date to project this park being open again?
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