We Been Here: A People’s History of Black and Native Existence in NYC

Aug 20 2020
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Knowledge share description

This knowledge share is for inhabitants of Lënapehóking, aka NYC, to learn more about the spirits that we walk with every day. As a direct response to the systematic erasure of Black, Indigenous, and queer lives from the history of this city, Kale seeks to help us interlace our own memories with the stories being held by the land as we strive to tear down old systems and forge a new society.

As the financial seat of the American empire, for centuries New York City has built its wealth and infrastructure on the stolen labor and stolen land of millions. And yet the descendants of the enslaved and the survivors of colonialism are still forced to walk this territory every day. This workshop is designed to heal our relationships to the city landscape, taking collective responsibility to hold the stories of the Black and Indigenous lives who preceded us.

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The knowledge share will include:

  • Lenape lifeways pre-colonization, giving a timeline for the tribe’s forced migration to Oklahoma.

  • The dynamics of enslavement in the colony, from the Dutch to the British to abolition and subsequent human trafficking.

  • Mapping out the sites of former plantations in the city (such as Riker’s Island and Van Cortlandt Park); contextualizing the pervasion of slaveholders’ names throughout Brooklyn and the Bronx; identifying New York’s slave-built infrastructures and industries.

  • A timeline of the city’s disease epidemics, and the popular practice of quarantining perceived vectors of the illness on the tiny militarized islands that surround Manhattan.

  • Identifying the sites of former African burial grounds and potter’s fields (typical resting spots for Native people, free Black people, sex workers, and trans people during disease outbreaks).

  • The formation (and violent dissolution) of free Black communities like Seneca Village and Weeksville.

  • The evolution of the NYPD as a means to quell Black working class riots.

  • The existence and resistance of Black transcestors in the 19th century.


Cost: free for Black and Native ppl

$10 for non-Black/non-Native POC

$20+ for white people

All proceeds will be donated to the Ramapough Lenape Nation** 

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Kale (they/them) is an herban storykeeper living and breathing in Canarsee, Lënapehóking. They are a descendant of enslaved Africans, Black Seminole resistors, and Ugahxpa people. They draw their knowledge of territory from both ecosystem and archives — diving deep into the realm of traditional research, then pulling out to ask elements, ancestors, and more-than-human kin which stories are ready to be shared.

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