Building a Lenape Longhouse as an Eagle Scout Project

Thank you Kristopher Kuzniewski, Troop 6, West Orange and Congratulations on the completion of your Eagle Scout Project!

Kristopher built a replica of a Lenape Longhouse. The Lenape people have lived in Lenapehoking as far back as 12,000 years ago, which today occupies present-day New Jersey, southeastern New York State, eastern Pennsylvania and parts of Delaware. They hunted, fished, foraged and farmed using sticks, stones and bones and flourished here on the landscape. The Lenape Learning area at the Environmental Center is used frequently with school, scout and community groups for Native American and Outdoor Skills themed educational programming.

We had previously built wigwams but they only last so long in our wetland environment before maintenance becomes more difficult than rebuilding. This time around the idea was to make a structural framework that would last many years. Ideally, cedar would be cut on the landscape but we were limited in availability of that resource and chose to purchase 9ft pressure treated poles. Those poles were installed to act at the primary framework of the structure. Then young trees were cut from the landscape (along the powerline right of way where they would be removed anyway) and the trees were flexed on opposite sides of the structure and tied together to form a round frame. Finally, the reed matting was installed. Ideally, we would collect large slabs of bark or make mats of cattail to cover the structure but that was outside the scope of this project. So we did our best to build a Lenape Longhouse with gratitude and respect to the original people of the land and use the learning area to share with visitors about Lenape life.

To see other stewardship and environmental conservation themed scout and service projects click here.

David Alexander is a professional outdoor guide and conservation biologist.  He enjoys making nature more accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at


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