Shingas was a member of the Delaware Turkey clan
(or phratry), and a nephew of Sasoonan, the Lenape head chieftain of
the Unami. Shingas himself flourished between about 1740 and 1764.
Along with his brothers, Tamaqua (also known as
'King Beaver') and Pisquetomen, Shingas became a prominent leader
during the French-Indian War. Having been pushed more and more to
the west, away from their traditional eastern homeland, the Lenape
(Delaware) established villages in Ohio.
Some remained in western parts of Pennsylvania.
Famous amongst these surviving Lenape in their traditional lands
was Teedyuskung - Honest John, not a true chief at all, but he
was known to the European settlers as the 'King of the Delaware'.
In Ohio, Delaware people shared the country with
the Shawnee, Wyandotte, Mingo, and others. Although they were
originally allies of the British settlers, Chief Shingas and his
followers soon became disenchanted with British intentions when General
Braddock made it clear to the natives that they would have no land
rights after victory over the French. This was despite the fact that
the natives themselves would fight for the British cause.
Disappointed, Shingas and other leaders instead
allied themselves with the French, and tried in this way to fight
for their rights, lands, families, and way of life. During this
time, Shingas was given the name 'Shingas the Terrible', because
he fought so bitterly, but this nickname belied the other side of
his nature. His enemies forgot to tell the other truth about him.
Several sources tell about kindness to prisoners,
with him treating them well. He was also in favour of peace after
all the fighting.
With regard to his name, this translates as 'swamp
person'. This is according to the late Nora Thompson Dean (1907-1984),
a fluent speaker of Southern Unami Lenape and a highly respected
Delaware Elder, and also others, such as C A Weslager.
After the French-Indian War and Pontiac's War,
Shingas disappeared from history - around 1764 - and it seems that
no one recorded what happened to him.
'King Beaver' and other leaders rose to prominence
in his place, but Pisquetomen, the chosen successor to the
recently-deceased Sassoonan (in 1747) was intelligent, strong-willed,
and spoke English, and was not easily manipulated.
Pennsylvanian officials refuse to recognise him as
'king' and, as a result, he and his brother Tamaqua ('King Beaver'),
abandoned Pennsylvania, leading their people over the Allegheny
Mountains and settling at Kittanning on the Allegheny River. It is
claimed that Shingas went with them.
Head Chief Sassoonan's early home was along the Schuylkill
River, and given the fact that Shingas was one of his main
supporters and followers, this was probably his early home