- At one time the most important confederacy of the Algonquian family.
The Delaware occupied New Jersey, the basin of the Delaware River in eastern
Pennsylvania and northern Delaware, western Long Island, and Manhattan
and Staten Islands in New York.
They called themselves Lenni-Lenape,
"Genuine Men," or "Original People." They comprised three powerful
tribes, known by their totem symbols as the Turtle, the Turkey, and the
Wolf. The latter were generally known as the Munsee, although the
French termed them all Loups, or "Wolves."
The Delaware did not at first like the
name given them by the English until it was explained to them that they
ahd the river were named for a great and brave Englishman, Lord de la Warre,
second governor of Virginia. After learning this the Delaware were
In early history the capital of the Delaware
was near what is now Germantown, Pennsylvania. William Penn had established
his settlement nearby. The Delaware made their first treaty with
Penn in 1682 under the famed oak tree at Shackamaxon.
The Delaware lived in small villages of
rectangular bark covered houses, dome shaped after the Algonquian type
wigwam. They were hunters and raised corn and vegetables. Their
early history is to be found in a remarkable document called the Walan
Olum, which may or may not be authentic.
Tammany or Tamenend was their greatest
chief and he won so much renown that even the whites respected him and
called him St. Tammany. After the Revolutionary War the Tammany Society
was organized by war veterans.
In 1720 the powerful Iroquois dominated
the Delaware and forbade them to make war or sell any more of their land.
They had further troubles when by 1742 the whites had pushed them westward
to Wyoming, Pennsylvania. Some bands drifted farther west and made
an alliance with the Huron, and being in French territory they defied the
Iroquois and made war on them.
Still others of the Delaware went as far
as Texas, but in 1835 most of these western bands were gathered on a reservation
in Kansas. In 1867 they were removed to Indian Territory, where some
occupied a corner of the Cherokee nation.
The name Delaware has been used for post
offices in Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, and Oklahoma,
besides for the state and river. Lenape is a village in Kansas and
Lenapah one in Oklahoma.
within this Site
][ Penn ][ Tammany