A Living Legacy: Stroud Water Research Center Celebrates the Life of Chief Quiet Thunder

800 450 Stroud Water Research Center

“The earth is our mother, and we all have a sacred obligation to learn to live in harmony with her and protect her for future generations.” — Chief Quiet Thunder (1934–2020)

Chief Quiet Thunder kneeling outdoors in front of a display of Lenni Lenape cultural items.

Stroud Water Research Center honors and mourns the passing of Chief Richard Quiet Thunder Gilbert, late Native American elder from Woodbury, New Jersey, and tribal chief of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe. For more than three decades, Chief Quiet Thunder inspired thousands of students and adults in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and southern New Jersey, including oral storytelling presentations at the annual Brandywine Watershed Discovery Day Camp led by the Coatesville Youth Initiative and the Stroud Center. 

Often surrounded by hundreds of handcrafted cultural items, this “peaceful warrior” captivated audiences with authentic presentations, interactive music-making, the enduring wisdom of the Lenni-Lenape, and a profound passion for the earth. His voice, like his name, harbored restrained power that left learners spellbound. And just as thunder accompanies lightning, the chief’s words brought essential light to our understanding of native Lenni-Lenape peoples. His 86 years on the planet included two books co-authored with Greg Vizzi: The Original People: The Ancient Culture and Wisdom of the Lenni-Lenape People, now published and available for purchase, and The Seventh Generation: Quiet Thunder Speaks, which is coming soon.

The Stroud Center’s education department extends its deepest condolences to the family and community of Chief Quiet Thunder. While we wish to express that he will not be forgotten, those words imply that the chief has left us; in reality, his boundless legacy and life’s work honoring indigenous peoples, humanity, and the earth will inspire us all for generations to come. Chief Quiet Thunder, we are thankful for you. 

Want to celebrate the living legacy of Chief Quiet Thunder?
💧 Read hundreds of transcribed interviews, stories, and conversations with Chief Quiet Thunder in The Original People.
💧 Watch a short video of Chief Quiet Thunder’s oral storytelling with youth and adults.
💧 Listen to Chief Quiet Thunder share wisdom on lovingly living with Mother Earth in a radio interview.
💧 Visit the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape of New Jersey Online Museum.
💧 Learn about Lenape Everywhere and the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware.

Some content in the tribute above has been adapted from The Original People by Chief Quiet Thunder and Greg Vizzi.