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Experiencing the “Old Way” of the Lenape at the Pocono Indian Museum

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This article is a guest post by Katie Filicky of KatieFilicky.com.

The Pocono Indian Museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, has much to offer to the interested visitor: it’s historical location, the life-size bark house on display, and the expansive book selection on the second floor of the quirky gift shop (just to name a few). But what I found most interesting is the overall essence.

This museum goes beyond the artifacts of the Delaware Tribe (also known as the Lenape); it tells an important story, and perhaps that story begins the minute you walk upstairs to the historical building.

Weathering several significant events in our history, the museum is housed in one of the oldest standing frames left in the Pocono Mountains.

First established around 1840 for JohnVan Coolbaugh, the homestead went on to be an Underground Railroad route to Canada during the American Civil War. During Prohibition, the building was a popular speakeasy. Now, nearly two centuries later, a quarter of the building houses the Pocono Indiana Museum maintained by the same owners for the past 38 years.

Once you get through the door, walk to the right until you reach the register in the gift shop. There you can purchase admission to the museum, which includes an audio device that guides you through all six rooms.  Each room takes on its own theme, and the audio device helps build a larger narrative about the way the local Lenape lived prior to interaction with Europeans.

Making fire at the Pocono Indian Museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
“Making fire” is one of the many Lenape tasks you’ll learn about throughout the exhibit.

A sign in the museum claims that most of the local artifacts were discovered within a 20-mile radius of the museum itself, and there are many items to browse. From pottery to tools, prayer pipes to headdresses, and photos of actual tribe members, including the late Nora Thompson Jean, who was the last living, full-blooded Lenape.

Devoting most of her life preserving the Lenape culture, Nora actually visited the museum at some point in time.

However, not all on display are linked to the local Delaware tribe. I found this slightly confusing, but if you pay close attention to the audio tour and read the descriptions on display, you can try to sort it out. The lighting in the rooms is on the darker side, which may make reading difficult for some visitors.

In addition, some of the displays in the museum would benefit from a simple update. For example, some photography in the medicinal section is faded. The museum has a makeshift charm, which definitely adds to the experience; however, updating worn photos could only help improve the tour.

Interestingly not all the items on display are artifacts, a rather unique angle that makes the Pocono Indian Museum come to life in my opinion. There is a life-size bark house, a miniature village, a hunting display, plus many other reconstructions that I will leave for you to discover. Walking through the bark house and learning about its construction via the audio tour truly was an unforgettable moment for me at the museum.

Miniature Lenape village at Pocono Indian Museum
A miniature Lenape village, one of many reconstructions on display in the museum.

The last room of the museum is dedicated to the life of the Lenape after interaction with Europeans. This room recounts the hardship the Lenape faced that eventually forced them to leave their land. An important time to pause during the museum tour, and reflect upon these complicated events that deeply wounded the Lenape for generations to come.

Want to learn more about Native Americans in Pennsylvania? Visit the Indian Steps Museum, Meadowcroft Rockshelter, and Bushy Run Battlefield.

Other great nearby spots include the Columns Museum, Marshall’s Falls, and Resica Falls.

Pocono Indian Museum

Hours: Daily: 10am-5pm

Cost: Adults: $7, Children: $3.50 


Website: PoconoIndianMuseum.com

Address: 5425 Milford Rd
East Stroudsburg, PA 18302


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2 thoughts on “Experiencing the “Old Way” of the Lenape at the Pocono Indian Museum”

  1. Can anyone tell me the name of the Indian tribe that was forced out of Heart Lake, ?Pennsylvania? My great grandmother’s family the Cobbs came to own part of the Lake property. I am writing a book and want to include the Indians story too. I know the lake was used as a place for peaceful negotiations but if you know more please tell!?


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