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Chief Quiet Thunder

 Chief Quiet Thunder   6/13/1934 - 11/13/2020*

The Lenape are known by traditional Indians as the Original People. They are the ancestors of all the Algonquin Indian tribes. Richard “Quiet Thunder” Gilbert, was a traditional Lenape Indian elder, educator, and chief.


Richard "Quiet Thunder" Gilbert, the youngest of eight children, was born and raised in southern New Jersey. The 80 year old Lenni-Lenape who taught himself to read and never finished high school, has had a variety of jobs and fascinating experiences, while still being a devoted husband, father, and friend.

For 30 years he has been educating both the young and the old in matters of "protecting Mother Earth" and of the history and traditions of the Lenni-Lenape. Although he enjoys this immensely, he also feels it is his "sacred" obligation.

Some of the venues he has shared his knowledge and powerful message with are scouting organizations, churches, libraries, historical societies, state parks, environmental groups, schools (from pre-k to university level), and most impressive, the United Nations.

Those who have met Quiet Thunder or have been fortunate enough to attend one of his programs will tell you his presence is mesmerizing.  He speaks knowledgeably with sincerity, eloquence, and passion about Lenni-Lenape life, then and now.

His experiences and message should be heard. Those who do will, undoubtedly, find themselves richer and wiser for it. And I am proud to call him my father.

-Shanna Gilbert Rosan (2014)

*Chief Quiet Thunder passed on peacefully at home in the company of his close family on the morning of November 13, 2020. He will be missed by the thousands of people he touched with his presence, humor, and wisdom over his 30 plus years as a cultural educator.


In a letter dated May 8, 2012 from the Nanticoke Indian Association, Sterling Street wrote:

Dear Dick,

The Naticoke Indian Association, Inc. would like to thank you for your participation in our Heritage Day Program. Your knowledge of all things Native American, your spirituality, and your kindness have made you a friend to many people. You are one of our "True Elders." We pray that the Great Spirit will continue to look down upon you, and give you the health and the strength you need to keep going.

 Sincerely Yours,

    Sterling V. Street

  Museum Docent 

Chief Quiet Thunder,

Thank you so much for sharing your heritage and culture with the Brandywine trackers at Point Lookout. We really enjoyed your presentation and your wonderful artifacts, tools, and drums.


David Arscott

Brandywine Trek Event


Gathering of the Brandywine Trek Group (2013)Gathering of the Brandywine Trek Group (2013) 

Chief Quiet Thunder and the Brandywine Trek

On June 19th, 2014, Chief Quiet Thunder met with students (10th & 11th graders) from Coatesville High School and Wilmington’s Urban Promise Academy at an incredibly beautiful remote location along the Brandywine Creek in Chadds Ford, PA. This event was part of the Brandywine Trek, a canoeing/ camping/ educational program started four years ago by Coatesville Youth Initiative. Joining the staff from both schools this year was staff from: Stroud Water Research Center; Brandywine Valley Association, and Outward Bound.

The purpose of the Trek is:
To create a living and participative experience of the Brandywine in a way that students can envision making a better life for themselves that includes: (1) Improving the living qualities of the waters along the Brandywine, from headwaters to Wilimington; and (2) Renewing the heritage of the Nation – our spiritual center – generated along the Brandywine.

As the Lenni-Lenape are the originating tribe and people for this region, Chief Quiet Thunder’s presence and direct teachings about their way of life is especially powerful. His love for nature and for each student is evident, and the patience and caring he demonstrates in helping students experience the spiritual element in everything, including themselves and nature, produces a memory that students will carry with them the rest of their lives. -Bob Holliday


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