Native American Tribes Nations and Confederacies: Delaware

Delaware is the English name given to several closely related Native American groups of the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock. In the 17th century, they lived in what are now New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Southern New York. They called themselves the Lenni-Lenape or the Lenape and were given the name Delaware by the settlers because they lived in the vicinity of the Delaware River.

The Delaware evolved into a loose confederacy of three major divisions: the Munsee, the Unalachtigo, and the Unami. They occupied the territory from which most of the Algonquian tribes had originated and were accorded the respectful title of grandfather by these tribes. They traded with the Dutch early in the 17th century, sold much of their land, and began moving inland to the Susquehanna valley.

In 1682 they made a treaty of friendship with William Penn, however in 1720 the Delaware fell victim to Iroquois attacks and were forced to move into what is now Ohio. The Western Delaware sided with the French in the last of the French and Indian Wars and sided with the British in the American Revolution. Anthony Wayne defeated and subdued the Delaware in 1794, and by the Treaty of Greenville they and their allies ceded their lands in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The Delaware crossed the Mississippi River and migrated to Kansas and then to Texas and were later moved to the Indian Territory and settled with the Cherokee. A remarkable history of the Delaware, in the form of pictographs, was located by the French scholar Constantine Samuel Rafinesque in 1836, known as the Walum Olum, it depicted Delaware migrations and changes; its claim to antiquity, however, is somewhat doubtful.

In 1990 there close to 10,000 Delaware in the United States, most of them in Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Around 600 Delaware live in Ontario, Canada.




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