Delaware Tribe

Variant name:



The Delaware Tribe, or Lenape Tribe, is a conglomeration of linguistically and culturally similar Native American groups that initially inhabited the mid-Atlantic region, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, eastern Connecticut, and southeastern New York. The three main groups comprising the Delawares are the Munsees, Unamis, and Unalaqtgos. Several Delawares attended Moor’s Indian Charity School, including some of Wheelock’s earliest students. Because the Delawares were not a politically unified entity, contact with Europeans and subsequent conflict over land and trade proved especially devastating for them. During 17th-century battles over trade access, the Delawares found themselves in conflict with the Dutch and the English as well as with other Native American groups that wanted to trade with Europeans. By the time the Dutch left in the mid-17th century, the Delawares were tributaries of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). Scholars estimate that by 1750, through a combination of war and disease, the Delaware population had fallen by as much as 90 percent. Many Delawares responded to the situation by leaving. Some migrated west with Moravian missionaries; others joined different tribes, including the Cayugas in New York and the Stockbridge Mahicans in Massachusetts (who later migrated to Oneida territory, near Brothertown, NY, and from thence to Wisconsin). Still others migrated to Ohio and ended up in Kansas or Oklahoma as a result of American expansion. Those who stayed oversaw a century of complex treaty negotiation, including two of the more egregious instances of Native American dispossession: the infamous "walking treaty" between the Delawares and the colony of Philadelphia in 1686, and the American government's (unfulfilled) promise to give the Delawares their own fully-enfranchised state in the union for their support during the Revolution. The Delawares played an important role in the history of Moor’s Indian Charity School. John Brainerd, a Presbyterian missionary to the Delaware and a friend of Wheelock’s, sent Wheelock his first “planned” Native American students from among the Delawares in 1754. J. Brainerd also oversaw the establishment of a Christian Delaware settlement at Brotherton, New Jersey in 1758 (not to be confused with Brothertown in Oneida, New York).

All related documents: retrieve them

Brainerd, Thomas. The Life of John Brainerd, the Brother of David Brainerd, and his Successor as Missionary to the Indians of New Jersey. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Publication Committee, 1865. Hahn, Thomas Swiftwater (former chief of the Kansas Delaware Nation). “A Brief History of the Lenape-Delaware.” Accessed 10/28/2013 Johansen, Bruce E and Pritzker, Barry M. (eds). "Lenápe." In Encyclopedia of American Indian History. Vol. 4. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO 2008. 1247-1249. Accessed via Gale Virtual Reference Library 10/29/2013. Sultzman, Lee. “Delaware History.” In First Nations Histories. Accessed 10/28/2013.