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Delaware Indians

DELAWARE INDIANS

DELAWARE INDIANS, Native Americans who call themselves Lenape are the largest native group to survive from the mid-Atlantic region, primarily because they neither fought a major war nor fell victim to slave raids. Moreover, they held an annual rite of thanksgiving called the gamwing (big house rite), which provided a cultural focus that sustained them through continual adversity. Their aboriginal lifeline was the river named for them that has branch drainages covering New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and adjoining sections of New York, Connecticut, and Delaware.

The Delawares' traditional culture was based in the village with farm fields and hunting territories within a watershed. Kinship was traced through the mother, and eachlocal segment of a matrilineal clan belonged to one of three overarching units (a phratry) whose emblems were the Wolf, Turtle, and Turkey. Their economy mixed fishing and maize farming with hunting. The two largest political divisions that survived into the twenty-first century are the Monsi of the northern homeland and the Unami of the south. Survivors of coastal groups were briefly known as Unalachtigo.

While the Spanish, Swedes, Germans, English, and French all had contact with the Delawares, the religious influences of the Quakers and Moravians had the greatest impact. Some Delawares converted, but those religions also became foils for prophets periodically revitalizing their lifeways. John "Moonhead" Wilson continued this tradition into the 1900s as he simultaneously advocated Catholicism, the Ghost Dance, and the beginnings of the Native American Church (peyotism).

Forced into Ohio, the Delawares divided by 1800. Most Monsi moved into Ontario. The Unami continued to Indiana, where they went through a major religious revival, then to Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma, where they were forced to join the Cherokee Nation in 1867. The splinter "western" Delawares, who had allied with Caddos in Texas, were forced into Oklahoma in 1859. In 1996 the Delaware majority, with ten thousand enrollees, returned to sovereign status, though the Cherokees continued to oppose them in federal court.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Goddard, Ives. "Delaware." In Handbook of North American Indians. Edited by William C. Sturtevant et al. Vol. 15: Northeast, edited by Bruce Trigger. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978.

Miller, Jay. "The Delaware as Women: A Symbolic Solution." American Ethnologist 1, no. 3 (1974): 507–514.

———. "The 1806 Purge among the Indiana Delaware: Sorcery, Gender, Boundaries, and Legitimacy." Ethnohistory 41, no. 2 (1994): 245–266.

JayMiller

See alsoCherokee ; Indian Religious Life ; Indian Removal .

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Delaware (indigenous people of North America)

Delaware (dĕl´əwâr, –wər), English name given several closely related Native American groups of the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). In the 17th cent., they lived in what is now New Jersey, Delaware, E Pennsylvania, and SE 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 (wolf), the Unalachtigo (turkey), and the Unami (turtle). 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 cent., sold much of their land, and began moving inland to the Susquehanna valley. In 1682 they made a treaty of friendship with William Penn, which he did his best to honor. In 1720 the Delaware fell victim to Iroquois attack 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, took part in Pontiac's Rebellion, and sided with the British in the American Revolution. Some of the Delaware in Pennsylvania had been converted to Christianity by the Moravians. In 1782 a peaceful settlement of Christian Delaware at Gnadenhutten was massacred by a force of white men. Anthony Wayne defeated and subdued the Delaware in 1794, and by the Treaty of Greenville (1795) they and their allies ceded their lands in Pennsylvania and Ohio. They crossed the Mississippi River and migrated to Kansas and then to Texas. They 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.

Bibliography

See D. G. Brinton, The Lenâpé and Their Legends (1884, repr. 1969); M. R. Harrington, Religion and Ceremonies of the Lenape (1921); F. G. Speck, A Study of the Delaware Indian Big House Ceremony (1931) and Oklahoma Delaware Ceremonies, Feasts, and Dances (1937); C. A. Weslager, The Delaware Indians (1972).

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Delaware

Delaware Confederation of Algonquian-speaking Native Americans. The main members were the Unami, Munsee and Unalachtigo, who occupied territory from Long Island to Pennsylvania and Delaware. Under pressure from settlers and the Iroquois Confederacy, they migrated to the Ohio region in the 18th century. They lost these lands by a treaty of 1795, and subsequently became widely scattered.

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