LENAPE HISTORY

MUNSEE AND DELAWARE (LENNI LENAPE) PEOPLE


UPDATED JANUARY 25, 2014

     The Delaware and Munsee or Minisink (Mahican)Indians are an ancient group from the Algonquian language speaking group of Native Americans who covered a large part of Central and Eastern North America.     Our origin is very old and could go back,   according to recent discoveries,   as far as 30,000 years or more.    We called ourselves "Lenni Lanape";   of which the origin of these words are very old.     They are said to mean:   "original man",   "first man",  "ancient man",   or "true or common man".    The term "Delaware";   is said to have come from more of where we were than who we were.     It is believed that we got the name from the river named after Thomas West,   Baron De La War,   who was the Colony of Virginia's first governor.     After a period of time the name came to be given to all of the indians living long the river in the early 1600.

     At the time of the arrival of the Europeans,   the Lenape probably numbered between 16,000 to 20,000 people and lived from as far north as central New York to as far south as southern Maryland and at times Virginia.     Inland as far as central Pennsylvania and Maryland.    Before the Euros,   from a period of time between 1000ad and the late 1300's to early 1400's,   we may have lived in Ohio and western Pennsylvania.     It is believed by some,   that in the 1300's we may have forced the descendants of the mound builders in Ohio,   the Cherokees,   out of Ohio and south into Kentucky and Tennessee only to assist them a century later with the Shawnee   (sister tribe to the Delaware)   in there battle with the Catatwa,   related or ancestor of the Lakota people who later became the plains indians.     The Shawnee at that time lived in northern Georgia at this time.

     Most of the time in history, the various bands,   tribes,   and villages,   even though they had a shared culture,   seldom were led by a singe head or council until dealing with the governments made it a necessity to unite from time to time for their survival to do so.

     Social events and ceremonies were a different matter and on various times in the year they would get together to share food and spiritual traditions.

     The Lenape are divided into three main tribes or bands and each tribe had three primary   "clans".     The clans are the Wolf,   Turtle,   and the Turkey clans.     Until the late 1700's,   there was also a   "Crow or Raven"   clan.     Its job was to prepare the dead.     There is little known of this clan other then it is said that they were at the bottom of the social scale.

     The three tribes were the Minsi   (Munsee/Mahican);   which meant "Stone Land or Mountain People",   believed by scientist to be the oldest tribe as well as the tribe that stayed pretty much in the mountains of Pennsylvania and New York since about 1000ad.     The Munsee were the primary meat gatherers of the Delaware as farming was very difficult in the mountains rocky soil.     The Delaware referred to the Munsee as the   "Wolf Tribe".

     The next tribe of the Delaware were the   "Unamis or Turtle Tribe".     The largest of the three tribes;   it did the majority of the farming as they lived in the valleys and along the river in the Delaware Bay areas inland to the Susquehanna Rivers.

     The last tribe is the "Unalachticos or Turkey Tribe" who lived on the sea coast of primarily New Jersey and did the majority of fishing,   oystering,   and other type of shell fishing. How long they were known by that name is up for debate as the first time in print that they were referred to was in the late 1700's at a meeting at Fort Pitt   (Pittsburgh).     In ancient times there were probably at least eight other clans or tribes that made up Lanape as well as many as 20 subtribes such as the Shanticoke,   Nanticoke,   Manhattens,   Mohicans and many,   many,   more tribes.

     Over the next 300 hundred years,   the Lenape were forced to move west by a series of treaties that saw the Lenape's land holdings dwindle away.     The tribe in the late 1700's had already had been moved out of Pennsylvania and into Ohio as early as 1715 with the bulk of them moving into Ohio after 1750.    Some bands of the Munsee   (the Stockbridge Munsee)   had moved to the what was to become the state of Wisconsin as early as the late 1600's to early 1700's by early missionaries who were well aware that the Lenape were being forced out and that the white man,   with his never ending quest for land westward eventually would force them out of Pennsylvania and so hoped by moving to Wisconsin their culture would be spared.     This did by them some time and they are still there and are one of the few tribes of Lenape that hasn't had to move over the last three centuries.     The rest were not so lucky.

     The greatest loss of land came with the signing of the Greenville Treaty of 1795 in which all of the indians of the Ohio Valley would be required to give up nearly 2/3 of their land holdings in exchange for pennies on the dollars for what it was worth.    The Delaware and Shawnees, along with Miamis,   Wyandotte,   and other tribes of the area were to move,   first to Indiana and then to Missouri by 1820's and eventually to Kansas by 1836.     The   "Treaty of St. Mary"  on October 3,   1818 ceded the remaining land in Ohio,   which roughly followed north of present day U.S. Route 36 and State Routes 39,   540,   and 541 was held near the present day town of Wapakoneta,   Ohio.     Only a small part of land north of there remained and it too was annexed to Ohio in 1836.     By 1840,   most but not all of the Delaware had left their Ohio homeland.     Those that remained had often married non native wives and husbands and were considered "civilized" and left alone.     Others,   such as Chief Beaver's band eventually moved as far as Texas but were soon made to moved back to   "Indian Territory"   (Oklahoma)  in 1877. just as with the   "Indian Removal Act of 1830",   which dictated that all indians be removed to west of the Mississippi River a similar act past in the 1870's forced the Texas band back to Oklahoma.     Those that remained in Ohio are what made up the Munsee Thames River Delaware Indian Nation-USA now known as the Munsee Delaware Indian Nation-USA.     These remnants,   some which returned to Ohio after the last treaty with the Delaware in 1866 which gave the Delawares the choice to elect to dissolve their relations with their tribe and join the Cherokees as U.S. citizens in Oklahoma and give up by forced sale of their lands in Kansas.     Most agreed to this but some refused.     Some of these descendants still live in Kansas and today are known as the Kansas Delaware.     Others such as the Munsee Delaware Indian Nation-USA either never left Ohio or some of those families came back to Ohio and joined there friends and relatives with the Ohio Band.    Today,   the Munsee and Delawares,   are scattered from the west coast to the east coast.     The Federal Delawares,   those who moved to Oklahoma,   are known today as   "The  Cherokee Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma",   the eastern Oklahoma Delawares,   and the   "Absentees"   of western Oklahoma.    There are three Canadian tribes,   Munsee Delaware of the Thames,   near Thamesville,   Ontario Canada,   Morraviantown Delaware,   who got their name from the Morravian priests who moved them there in the late 1700's and the six nations reservation group that live on the Iroquois reservation north of New York.     Other bands of the Delaware,   such as the   "Kansas Delaware"   in Kansas,   the   "Idaho Delaware",   and in the east The Munsee Delaware Indian Nation-USA,   and its sub tribes,   "The United  Eastern Lenape Nation",   mainly in the north eastern part of Ohio, Pennsylvania area east,   and "The United Lenape Band" to the south (now known as the Southern Division, located in eastern Tennessee and southern Kentucky),   the latter with a large Cherokee population as well.     There are other Delaware tribes as well in Pennsylvania and New York   (Delaware Indian Nation-PA).    And in New Jersey,   a very old tribe,   the   "Sand Hill"   tribe.       In this past decade,   the last of the full blood Delaware have died.    Like the dinosaur,   the Lenape are nearly extinct;   leaving only a few to carry on the traditions from a time long ago when the earth was pure,   as well as the air and water.     The Lenape have always been known as   "The Keepers of the Earth"   and will continue this path and seekers of peace has always been our way.     Honor those few that have chosen this path,   for as long as their is one Lenape left our rich heritage will survive.

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TRIBAL HISTORY

Munsee Delaware Indian Nation-USA

Formerly the Munsee-Thames River Delaware Indian Nation,USA


 

updated JANUARY 25, 2014

     The history of this band is a long one.     It is believed that this band of Munsee may have originated in the area around Bushkill, Pennsylvania before the coming of the Euros.     In the those days, around the early 1500's the band was believed to have been known as the "" or Munsee of the Southern Knobs or Hills.

      Our ancestors may have been the first Native Americans to ever to taste alcohol; rum.     According to early Dutch historical writings., it is known that the first native to taste alcohol was a Munsee.     As the story goes, it was said that upon coming up the Delaware River, the Dutch explorers came upon a group of Indians that identified themselves as "Minnisink" or Munsees (Mahican).     Eager to establish trading posts, the Dutch offered many "new" items to the Munsee.     Iron pots and tools, trade beads and colored materials and fabric in exchange for furs and food.     Upon their first experience with alcohol, it was written "that a few first partook and within minutes began stumbling around and then passed out.     Their friends and families thought at first that they had been poisoned and had died; then to their amazement they came to, and began singing and dancing around and asking for more in which the whole village soon was participating and proceeded to get quite drunk".     Early Dutch explorer-circa around late 1500's.

      By the mid 1600's after numerous battles with early Dutch dictators the Munsee then had to deal with the English who eventually ended up controlling the area around New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.     For a period of about 25 years until 1690 our people sold off small parcels of land.

      At about this time we were joined once again by a remnant band of Shawnee.     This same band of Shawnee had visited the Munsee earlier that century and were introduced to the Dutch for trading of goods.     By 1690 both tribes knew the inevitable, the euros were here to stay.

     It was time to go.     We moved, with the Shawnee band to the south of the us..     We remained in north-west central Pennsylvania until about 1725.     At this time we were very close to the Iroquois lands and occasionally had skirmishes with them.     Some other Munsee and Delaware had been captured by them, but our band and the Shawnee avoided this fate.     It was then that we, after maybe 300 years, returned to the Ohio hill country in eastern Ohio.     The Shawnee continued south and west to central Ohio.     Over the next 30 years the rest of the Shawnee and Delaware were forced into Ohio and then Indiana, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. The "Absentee Shawnee" ended up in Texas only, like the Anadarko Delaware, to be moved to Oklahoma 1n 1877. The Anadarko went from Missouri to Texas and Mexico and never lived in Kansas and were not parties to the last Treaty with the Delaware (1866).     Like ours ,the remnant band Shawnee that left with us, stayed behind in Ohio as well.     Today that band of Shawnee are known as the "Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band."

     After the massacre at Gnadhutton and Showanbraun; of more then a hundred innocent woman and children who had been converted to Christianity in 1782,  Colonel William Crawford in his campaign of terror of Wyandotte and Delaware towns caused many to leave the area. We were living ,in present day Guernsey county.     Near this time, Chief White Eyes was said to have been killed while fighting as a patriot in 1778. Most Delaware of the times believed that he was more likely killed by the patriots.     Around 1780 a few of the Delaware and a few Mingo that were east of us at the time, decided it was time to go.     Because of a dispute between clans and fear of Crawford's Kentucky Renagades, White Eyes relatives left their village at "Bird's Run" and most left for Canada.     Birds Run was about two and a half miles north of the location our village the present day "Flatridge" and the village of "Indian Camp" about two miles to the south.    Ours and Indian Camp may have been the same at times as there is no accurate way to tell for sure how many were at any time as it was very mobile and we didn't use "set boundries".

     By 1784, ours and Indian camp, home to Captain Pipe's, Chief Little's (Munsee), and Chief Doughty's (Delaware) families had heard of a new Delaware village that they believed to be safer and began to slowly move there.     The village was called "Greentown" named after a British loyalist.     Situated on the "Black Fork Creek", it was about 60 miles to the northwest of their village near the present town of Perrysville of which the state of Ohio has erected a marker.     It is believed that a few families may have stayed or married settlers at our old village as late as 1828 and eventually evolved into mainstream society.

     Over the next thirty years Greentown grew to more then 150 dwellings.     It was quite a village with remnant bands of Delaware, Munsee, Mingo, Shawnee (probably "U.R.B.") and possibly even some Wyandotte.     It was a peaceful village by all accounts; but by the time of the "War of 1812" there was a concern that they might side with the British.     Our band had decided against neutrality and as did a few other Delawares, joined with Chief Tucumseh of the Shawnee and his followers and side with the British who assured Tecumseh that he would be supplied with sufficient food and ammunition to mount a good defense against the Americans, a fatal mistake.     Not only did they not provide the supplies, they didn't supply the back up and then locked us out of the fort as well when we tried to retreat causing, not only the death of the great Tucumseh, but to the death of Munsee and Delaware followers and other from other tribes there.     The battle occurred near the Thames River ninety miles north of the Canadian - U.S. border near the town of Thamesville, Ontario.     Those of us who survived (Munsee Delaware) were escorted back to the U.S. possibly by a General Brock who called us "Thames River Munsee", thinking that we were from the band that was and still lives there. Our band changed its name to the "Munsee Delaware Indian Nation-USA" in 1997 to prevent confusion between the two separate nations.    By the time General Hull of the American forces surrendered to the British on August 16,1812, residents of Greentown were ordered removed to prevent them from aiding ours and other bands who decided to help the Britts.     The order to have them removed by September 1,1812, (this exact date may or may not be accurate as some believed we may have moved during a full moon so the exact date could, given the time, be determined if this actually is the case).     They were told that after the war they could return and Chief Armstrong of the Delaware was assured that the property would be inventoried and protected until peace ensued. This was the crux of our Treaty of 1813; known as the "Tarhee Harrison Peace Conference" or the "Friendship Treaty  Some of the militia who "aided" in the removal stayed behind and burned the village and it was, for the most part abandoned after the war.     Some of the families that did return are ancestors of our band today and some still live in Ashland and Richland counties today.

     Over the next 150 years, although most of the Delawares and the Munsee were moved through Indiana, Missouri, Kansas (of which some stayed and some went to Oklahoma and some came back to Ohio to join friends and relatives), some never left at all!    However, by 1970, the band was becoming very mainstream and out of about 180 members in 1947 to less then 9 active members by 1970.     Over the last 30 years the band has had great success restoring and preserving the true Lenape heritage and traditions thanks to the few elders and the hard work of the tribe and of particularly their tribal chief of 44 years (2014), William Little Soldier (Bungard - Vonasdale - Peters - Pipe - Elahtut - Prichett(sic) -  Ruark - Thomson (sic) , Armstrong, Andersons, Dean, Connors and family members) who have helped preserve our culture.    In 1998, Chief Little Soldier purchased a small part of the old village ceremonial land at Flatridge and returned it to his people. On June 20, 2013, The State of Ohio by Governor, John R. Kasich officially recognized our tribe by the authority of the state of Ohio. On June 21, 2013. BOTH U.S. Senators, members of the US House of Represenitives , members from the US Department Of Agriculture , Board members  and Directors of the Ohio Historical Society and others Officially  Recognized and celebrated the 200th anniversary of the 1813 Tarhee Harrison Peace Treaty Conference (also known as the "Friendship Treaty" , the last treaty we signed with the United States, 13 years before the BIA came into existence. This was done in Columbus, Ohio at the Treaty Rock . The Mayor of the city of Columbus,  as well, officially recognized the tribe. We are at home once again!

  


Ref:
Ohio Historical Society
Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center, Inc.
"Blackcoats Among the Delaware" - Earl Holmstead
Berks Bounty Historical Society
"Stories of Guernsey County" - WM. Wolf
"The Lenape - Archaeology, History, Ethnography" - Herbert Kraft
"Indians of North America - The Lenape" - Robert S. Grume
Moravian Munsee Tribal Records - Moraviantown Munsee Mation, Ontario, Canada
Little Soldier families and descendants of the Munsee Delaware Indian Nation-USA

Official documents from the offices of :

 Sherrod Brown-United States Senator, Ohio

Robert Portman-United States Senator, Ohio

Bill Johnson-United States House of Represenitives, Ohio

Mike Colemen-Mayor, City of Columbus, Ohio

and more on  request


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For more info on the Lenape, we suggest the following;

The Lenape
Robert S. Grumet - Indians of North America 1989

Dikon Among the Lenape, the New Jersey Delaware
Harrigton - 1937

The Lenape and their Legends
Daniel G. Briton - 1884

The Lenape, Archaeology, History, and Ethnography
Herbert C. Kraft - 1986



For more info-language and clothing;

Western Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma web page at www.westerndelaware.nsn.us.

Lehigh County (Allentown, Pennsylvania) Historical Society's web page at www.lenape.org.

Shawnee (Ohio) web page at www.zaneshawneecaverns.org.

Delaware Tribe of Indians web page at www.delawaretribeofindians.nsn.us.

Lenape Delaware History Web Site at http://lenape-delawarehistory.freeyellow.com

Delawares of Idaho, Inc. at www.delawaresofidaho.org