The East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District (EPABID) recently updated our organizational logo and branding design for the first time in about two decades. Aside from being long overdue, the update was needed to address the misrepresentation of indigenous people that inaccurately linked the silhouette of a Native American with the etymology of the Passyunk name from its Lenni-Lenape roots.
The Lenape cared for and lived off the land of what is now Philadelphia, including our current neighborhood for an estimated 10,000 years before European settlers arrived. What is now East Passyunk Avenue was a commonly traveled walking path, and without the Lenape community, East Passyunk Avenue would likely not exist today. It was important for us to integrate references in the new branding design that would continue to acknowledge and honor Lenape Culture, but we could not do it alone.
As part of our design research process, we consulted with members of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, Ramapough Lenape Nation, and the NJ State Museum, as well as two neighborhood residents who identify as Lenape and as Native American—but not Lenape— respectively. Through conversation, research, and exploration over months, we incorporated the following design elements to honor the Lenape.
Color palette - The main colors are pulled from indigenous dyes and materials used in everyday life and wear. The shades of purple reference wampum, which originated with the Lenape. The tones of red reference red ochre as a dye commonly used for fabrics and celebratory decorations. The taupe references materials and hides that were dyed using black walnut shell.
Two Row Wampum - The double diagonal lines, while representing the physical streetscape of the Avenue and surrounding blocks, also reference the concept of two row wampum belt designs, that were used by many indigenous tribes to signify friendship, peace, and two separate nations and cultures living harmoniously together in unity.
This design element is specifically referencing the wampum belt from the Treaty of Shackamaxon (Penn Treaty of 1682) between William Penn and Chief Tamanend.
When the diagonal lines are fully connected and extend to the edge of the belt, they symbolize moving forward together in peace and unity for eternity. The double diagonal line in the design concept is meant to capture this spirit.
We hope to respectfully honor the roots of our corridor that reach back to the Lenni Lenape, the first people to live here. Since that time, East Passyunk Avenue has grown with the influence and contributions of generations of immigrant communities to become home to many.
We welcome you to join us in setting an intention and commitment to being an inclusive and welcoming community — an Ave for All — now and well into the future.
More information and resources are available here:
What does Passyunk mean? The etymology of the Lenni Lenape words for which East Passyunk Avenue is named: http://www.visiteastpassyunk.com/news/what-does-passyunk-mean.php
More information about the Lenni Lenape can be found through resources at https://nanticokelenapemuseum.org/