The Rubin is transforming. Read important updates from our Executive Director.

What Makes Things Sacred?

A talk led by representatives from the Lenape Center and Special Guests

Wednesday, October 10, 2018
7:00 PM–8:30 PM

The Lenape homeland Lenapehoking includes the island of Manhattan, a sacred space for the Lenape people. In this program, Joe Baker and Hadrien Coumans from The Lenape Center discuss the sacred nature of Manhattan island and explore how our perception of the world makes objects and places sacred.

The program will be followed by a ceremony that takes place at the base of the spiral staircase and outside. It is free and open to all.


About the Speakers

Joe is wearing a traditional Lenape man’s bandolier bag, which he made. This image was taken at door of Stupa of Kagyu Thubten Choling in Lenapehoking.

Joe Baker is an enrolled member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Lenape Center in New York. Baker graduated from the University of Tulsa with a BFA in Design and an MFA in painting and drawing. He completed postgraduate study at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, MDP Program. An artist, curator, educator, Baker currently is the CEO/Executive Director of Palos Verdes Art Center in California. He has served as Executive Director of Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans, supporting contemporary artists interventions on the estate by civic activists and philanthropists. Previously, at Arizona State University’s Institute for Design and the Arts, he served as the Institute’s first Director for Community Engagement, where he led innovative campus-community partnerships. He has worked at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, pioneering new opportunities for emerging and underrepresented Native artists. He is the recipient of the Virginia Piper Charitable Trust 2005 Fellows Award, recognizing outstanding leaders in nonprofit communities, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art’s Contemporary Catalyst Award for 2007, the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian Design Award 2008, and ASU’s Presidential Medal for Social Embeddedness, 2009. In 2003, Baker received the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award in Painting.

Hadrien Coumans, adopted member of WhiteTurkey/Fugate family, is co-founder and co-director of the Lenape Center, a Manhattan based nonprofit with the mission of continuing Lenapehoking, the Lenape homeland, through Lenape arts and culture. For 25 years he has served people, individuals, organizations, and communities through advisement, advocacy, and ceremony. His practice is hereditary, and his calling centers on honoring the earth, ancestors, homelands, sacred sites, and healing. Public engagements have included speaking at Columbia University, Cardozo Law School, New York University, The Asian/Pacific/American Institute, the New School, UTT, Queens Museum, Union Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College, Caux Forum, A Blade of Grass, and Intersections International.