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The Americas

North American Native Tribes


Delaware / Lenni-Lenape (North American Tribes)

Generally speaking, the European settlers in North America coined the phrase 'Indian' or 'Red Indian' to describe the Native North American tribes they found while they were settling what is now the USA. To the north of this vast collection of varying regions and climates were the native settlements of what is now Canada, while to the south were the various peoples of modern Mexico, most especially the Aztecs. The Delaware were located in the modern state of the same name, with their neighbours being the Mohawk and Mahican to the north, the Metoac of Long Island and a long stretch of Atlantic coastline to the east, the Powhatan confederacy to the south, the Susquehannock to the west, and the Pocumtuc and Mattabesic to the north-west.

MapThe Lenape called themselves 'Lenni-Lenape' (also recorded as Leni-Lenape), which literally means 'men of men', but is translated to mean 'original people'. From the early 1600s, the European settlers called the Lenape people 'Delaware Indians', although there was never a single tribe called Delaware or Lenape. Overall though, they formed the most important collection of Algonquian-speaking groups in the region along the mid-Atlantic coastline, and once had occupied the Lower Hudson river valley, the western part of Long Island, the whole of the modern state of New Jersey, and as far south as Delaware Bay. They spoke two Algonquian dialects - Munsee and Unami (see map link, right, for location details).

CompendiumHistory suggests that in the dim recesses of time they were united with the Mahican, but split quite early on. Their two main tribes - Munsee and - together with the Unami subsidiary, the Unalachtigo, consisted of a plethora of sub-tribes which have been listed within their appropriate main groups (see the main list, below, which shows leaders and groups that cannot definitively be associated with any tribe, along with the separate pages for the Delaware tribes themselves). The Lenape had three clans (or phratries) - Wolf, Turtle, and Turkey - which traced their descent through the female line. For example, if a mother belonged to the Turtle Clan, then each of her children also belonged to the same clan. The sons had to marry women from other clans, and their children belonged to their mother's clan. hanks to this system, affinity with any one clan was no guarantee of affinity with any one tribe. (More information about this people is available via the compendium link, right.)

There is more than one list of Lenape chiefs available, and not all of them agree. The details shown below incorporate a fusion of all of the available names, with further details where possible. In fact, with various authorities at odds with each other over tribal identities, several name variants exist for a single entity - such as the Delaware. Sometimes two or three of those selfsame name variants are coined for independent tribes, as demonstrated by a quote by Nicholas Santoro: 'The Delaware were also known as the Loup ('wolf') by the French. They were also mistakenly called the Wabanaki, [meaning] 'Easterners', in relation to other Eastern Algonquin tribes. The name Wabanaki was, in turn, corrupted into Openaki, Openaji, Abnaki, Wapanachki, Waupenocky, Wappinger, Abenaquis, Apenakis, and Abenakis - all names that would be used for related but separate tribes in the north-east that has resulted in much confusion even to this date'.

One major list of tribal chiefs has been compiled by the Lenape Nation (see external links, below). They state that at one time there were both 'war chiefs' and 'peace chiefs'. The position of peace chief was hereditary, which corresponded to the Iroquois sachems. The title of war chief could be bestowed upon any brave warrior at a time of need. Europeans helped to distil the idea of having only one principal chief to govern everyone. These were usually chosen from the chiefs of the Turtle totem group (clan or phratry), the Lenape believing the turtle to be the receptacle for the creation of man.

It is thought that the three clans correspond to the three tribes, with the Turtle forming the Unami, the Wolf forming the Munsee, and the Turkey forming the Unalachtigo. However, thanks to the complexities of the Lenape matrilineal system there could be, for example,  Turtle chiefs from all three groups, making any attempt to define clear group boundaries an impossible task. In the 1800s, with the tribal structure breaking down under the weight of European land purchases and laws, chiefs were chosen from local communities or family groups. This continued until the early 1920s when chiefs were elected by the general membership of the 'Nation'.

(Information by Mick Baker, with additional information from Everyday Life of the North American Indian, Jon Manchip White (1979), from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne (1986), from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson (1993), from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay (1995), from The Delaware Indians, C A Weslager, from Atlas of Indian Tribes of North America, Nicholas J Santoro, and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Legends of America, and Lenape Delaware History (FTP), and Lenape Nation, and Delaware History.)

1522 - 1524

King Francis I of France is persuaded by the Italian explorer, Giovanni da Verrazzano, to allow an expedition to find a western route to China. At this time (and for a considerable period afterwards) it is believed that there is a land bridge between America and China. Instead, in 1524, Verrazzano explores the coast of what is now South and North Carolina, and then heads north to become the first European to explore the region of later New York.

Discovery of the Americas
With Spain - perhaps the most powerful European nation at this time - having already conquered large swathes of the central and southern Americas, other Europeans headed northwards to discover fresh territory and perhaps their own route to China

Here he makes contact with a people who are most likely to be the Lenape, who refer to the strangers from across the sea as the 'Swannuken', the 'salt water people'. They are friendly and curious and would probably have remained so but Verrazzano tries to kidnap some of them before he departs. During the next eighty years, most of the coastal Algonquian speakers learn the hard way to beware the European ships that occasionally stop to raid their villages for slaves.


The English explorer, Henry Hudson has been employed by the Dutch to search for the north-west passage. Instead he supplies the second 'official' point of contact with the Lenape when he explores Delaware Bay. He soon realises this is a dead-end and continues north along the New Jersey coastline until he reaches the mouth of the Hudson River in September, arriving in Mahican territory. His trip is successful, and he returns to the Netherlands with a cargo of valuable furs which immediately attracts Dutch merchants to the area.


After years of being victimised by European slave raids, the Lenape on the New Jersey coast are now unfriendly. Before entering the Hudson River on behalf of his Dutch employers in 1611, Henry Hudson anchors for a short time off Sandy Hook where he has a hostile encounter with the Navasink (of the Unami Delaware). However, Hudson presses on and enters the river, stopping near the northern end of Manhattan Island. A fog descends and when it clears the crew suddenly see a group of Wappinger canoes approaching, and the nervous sailors apparently fire first. The response is a barrage of arrows which kills one crewmember and wounds two others. Hudson starts home in October. Passing the lower river, he has another skirmish with the Wappinger before reaching the open sea and returning to Europe.

Sir Henry Hudson entering New York Bay
This painting by Edward Moran in 1898 was entitled 'Sir Henry Hudson entering New York Bay, September 11, 1609, with Indian family watching on shore in foreground'

1614 - 1618

Once the Mahican-Mohawk truce has been put in place, the Dutch of the nascent New Netherland settlements build Fort Nassau on Castle Island in 1614, just south of modern Albany. This is mainly intended for fur trading, and initially this is with the Delaware on the lower Delaware River and Delaware Bay. The Dutch traders are inclined to favour the Mahican in these conflicts, but they have also ingratiated themselves with the Mohawk by arming them against the Munsee and Susquehannock during 1615. This gives the Dutch enough influence to allow them to negotiate another truce between the Mohawk and Mahican in 1618.

Also in 1614, the Dutch found a commercial trading post on the eastern coast of North America and name it New Amsterdam (it had originally been named Nouvelle-Angoulême by Giovanni da Verrazzano, when he had reached the region for France in 1524, in the first tenuous steps towards establishing New France).

1624 - 1629

Handicapped by their inland location, the Iroquois still have to contend with the powerful Mahican confederacy in order to trade with New Netherland, and it takes four years of war between 1624-1628 before the Mohawk emerge as the pre-eminent trading partner of the Dutch in the Hudson Valley.

The Susquehannock, however, have an easier time against the numerous - but peaceful and disorganised - Delaware tribes who trade with the Dutch along the lower Delaware. The Delaware - and also the Dutch - are attacked by the Susquehannock from the Susquehanna Valley to the west. Long-time enemies of the Iroquois, the Susquehannock not only seek better access to the Dutch but are concerned that, if the Mohawk defeat the Mahican, they will also seize the Delaware Valley. There have long been wars between the Lenape and Susquehannock, but the sheer numbers of Lenape (three to one) has always been enough to keep the highly-organised Susquehannock at bay.

Delaware Lenape Indians
This modern illustration depicts a Lenape longhouse with Unami and Unalachtigo Lenape (Delaware) preparing a catch of fish on North America's eastern coastline


The competition between the Mohawk and Mahican also affects the Munsee. As early as 1615, the Mohawk had begun taking hunting territory from them which formerly had been shared. As a result, some Munsee support the Mahican during the war, and by 1628 several of the northern Munsee groups have been conquered by the Mohawk and forced to pay tribute. The Unami and Unalachtigo to the south also pay a price for their trade with the Dutch.

fl 1629

Quesqakons / Quesquackous

Lenape chief of Manhattan Island Indians.

fl 1629


Lenape chief of Manhattan Island Indians.

1629 - 1631

The first indication of trouble to come between settlers and Native Americans occurs shortly after the Dutch purchase a small tract on Delaware Bay from the Unalachtigo in 1629 and a second parcel at Cape May (in what is now south-eastern New Jersey) in 1631 - another step in the beginnings of New Netherland. A small settlement (Swanendael) is started at Cape May in 1631 but, during an argument, a Dutch colonist kills a Lenape sachem, and the Sickoneysinck retaliate by killing all thirty-two of the Dutch colonists. The Dutch make no further attempts to colonise the lower Delaware River until after they have captured New Sweden in 1655.

1630 - 1635

Dutch trade and Mohawk conquests have provided sufficient motivation for an onslaught unlike anything the Lenape have experienced. In this period the Susquehannock attack Lenape villages in south-eastern Pennsylvania and drive them across the Delaware River into New Jersey or south into what will become the northern parts of the state of Delaware. It is a brutal war with great destruction and loss of life, and in 1633 smallpox strikes the Hudson and Delaware valleys for the first time to make matters worse.

Susquehanna Valley
The Susquehanna Valley became the focus of Susquehannock settlement from around the middle of the twelfth century, well before any Europeans had reached the Americas on a permanent basis

The fur trade continues throughout the conflict which allows the Europeans to observe what is happening. Both Dutch and English traders along the lower Delaware report burned villages and many dead. The Duch accept the outcome of the war, and when they begin to trade with the Susquehannock they are pleased to discover that, as skilled hunters and trappers, they have more (and better) furs than the Delaware.

fl 1638


Lenape chiefs who sold parcels of land to the Dutch.

fl 1638


fl 1638



The first wave of Swedish and Finnish settlers arrive under the leadership of Peter Minuit (former director-general of New Netherland). They create New Sweden when they settle land on the lower Delaware (claimed by the Dutch) and build Fort Christina. The land is claimed to have been purchased from the local Delaware and Susquehannock, although they counter the claim with accusations of land theft. The Delaware Lenape, however, having lost half of their original population, are forced to abandon most of their villages to the west of the Delaware River and, as a condition of peace, become a subject people to the Susquehannock, requiring their permission and two 'Minqua' (the colonist word for Lenape) to be present at the signing of any treaties. The Minqua attend the Swedish land purchase as required.


The number of Dutch colonists in New Netherland increases, and settlements spread to the Bronx and across the Hudson to the Hackensack Valley and Staten Island. The Dutch are required by law to purchase the lands which they occupy, but it is common for sales to involve brandy and fraud. Even when transactions are conducted honestly, problems arise from differing native and European concepts of land ownership.

A Dutchman - David De Vries - purchases land on Staten Island from the Raritan believing, in the European custom, that he has obtained exclusive rights to its use. However, the Raritan believe they have only agreed to share the land. In any event, the Raritan do not think the sale has anything to do with their right to hunt the animals that live there, including those pigs that the Dutch farmers are raising. This also means that they roam freely in the woods, which often results in their invading the unfenced native corn fields. The Dutch farmers demand to be compensated for their losses. To the Raritan, the idea of someone owning animals is ridiculous. This is the forerunner of the 'Pig War' that develops in 1642.

Fort Christina
Founded by the first settlers of New Sweden, Fort Christina on the lower Delaware was named in honour of Queen Christina of Sweden

Also in 1639, a new director-general arrives at New Amsterdam - Governor Kieft - who chooses to deal with the neighbouring tribes through intimidation rather than negotiation. One of his first act is to send an armed sloop to the Tappan villages to demand a tribute of corn and wampum. The Tappan have always been peaceful and have even sold some of their land to the Dutch. They reluctantly pay but cannot believe that the Dutch have treated them this way.


Trading with all four European powers in North America means that the Susquehannock have to source a great deal of fur. They are skilled hunters and trappers, but the huge demand keeps them so busy hunting that they have little time left to continue their war of conquest against the Delaware and Chesapeake Algonquin tribes (mostly the Conoy, Nanticoke, and Powhatan living on Chesapeake Bay).

In the west, however, it may be different. One can only wonder where and how the Susquehannock are able to obtain so much fur, and it is likely that, as the Susquehannock exhaust the beaver in central and western Pennsylvania, they are forced to look beyond their territory for more. Some is obtained from trade with the Erie and Shawnee, but the remainder probably comes at the expense of encroachment and warfare with unknown tribes in the Ohio Valley.

In 1640 itself, New Sweden provides firearms to the Munsee who are allies of the Susquehannock against the Iroquois. The Susquehannock allow the Lenape to hunt to the west of the river as long as they pay their tribute. Meanwhile, English traders try to lure the Mohawk away from the Dutch with offers of firearms. To counter this, the Dutch reverse their previous policy and begin selling large guns and ammunition to the Mohawk and Mahican to whatever amount they want. Not only does this dramatically escalate the violence in the Beaver Wars (otherwise known as the Iroquois Wars) in the St Lawrence Valley and Great Lakes, it also upsets the balance of power along the lower Hudson.

Dutch traders
Although the Dutch colonial administration initially pursued a policy of not arming the natives with ammunition and guns, the realities of the Beaver Wars eventually made them realise that there was no other option


The Raritan retaliate in the New Netherland 'Pig War' by burning De Vries' plantation and killing four of his field-hands. Kieft responds by ordering the extermination of the Raritan and offers a bounty of ten fathoms of wampum for each Raritan head brought to him at Fort Amsterdam. Only a few 'Metoac' warriors from Long Island 'take up the hatchet' against the Raritan, and the people themselves retreat westwards into New Jersey. Kieft's generous offer nets him only one head.

However, other problems arise. The 'Whiskey War' is triggered later in the year, also in New Jersey. The Hackensack tribe are alienated when the son of one of their sachems is made drunk and robbed. The sachem's son retaliates by killing a Dutchman. Kieft makes his usual demand for the surrender of the killer and receives the usual response - the warrior has fled to another tribe. The Hackensack, however, are ready to resolve things in the traditional manner with a payment of wampum to 'cover the dead'. Unfortunately, their sachems refuse to visit Fort Amsterdam to make arrangements because they are certain that the madman Kieft will put them in his jail.

Kieft believes that the Narragansett sachem, Miantonomo from Rhode Island, favours all-out war with the colonists, and is canvassing support for an uprising from tribes in the region, but in fact the sachem is soliciting support for a war with the Mohegan in Connecticut, He arrives with a hundred warriors and visits the 'Metoac' tribes on Long Island and the Wappinger and Mahican along the Hudson to recruit allies for his intended war. Such a war should have been of little concern to the colonists, but Governor Kieft's relationship with the hinterland tribes is fraught with suspicion. Meanwhile, Raritan and Wecquaesgeek sachems try to restore peace with the Dutch.

Hudson River Valley
This nineteenth century view of the lush Hudson River Valley was painted by Thomas Cole (1801-1848) by which time long centuries of occupation of this region by the Mahican had largely come to an end

1642 - 1643

For obvious reasons, the Dutch restrict the sale of firearms to the tribes near their settlements on the lower Hudson. The Munsee cannot obtain guns from New Sweden, but the Wappinger are ill-prepared to resist the Mahican. In the winter of 1642-1643, eighty heavily-armed Mahican warriors attack the Wecquaesgeek villages, forcing the latter to flee south to what they think is the protection of the New Netherland settlements. After a two-week stay on Manhattan, they move across the Hudson to the Hackensack villages near Pavonia (Jersey City) and Corlear's Hook. Due to their recent confrontations with the Dutch, the Wecquaesgeek are not especially friendly, and there are incidents. At this point Kieft ignores the advice of his council and decides to exterminate the Wecquaesgeek to set an example to the other 'Wilden' (wild men).

1643 - 1644

At a time in which basic picket fences denote plots and residences for New Amsterdam, Kieft's attempts to tax and then drive out the Native Americans have led to the Wappinger War, or 'Kieft's War', of 1643-1645. As the news of the Dutch massacre of Wecquaesgeek spreads, the Hackensack and Tappan of the Unami join the other Wappinger tribes in attacks against the outlying Dutch farms. The Dutch are driven inside Fort Amsterdam and, preparing for a possible siege, Kieft adds fuel to the fire by confiscating corn from the 'Metoac' on Long Island, killing three Canarsee in the process.

The war spreads to include warriors from at least twenty tribes: the Hackensack, Haverstraw, Navasink, Raritan, and Tappan of the Unami (and possibly some of the Munsee) west of the Hudson; the Kitchawank, Nochpeem, Sintsink, Siwanoy, Tankiteke, Wappinger, Wecquaesgeek from east of the Hudson; and also the Canarsee, Manhattan, Massapequa, Matinecock, Merrick, Rockaway, and Secatogue from Long Island. With only 250 men against 1,500 warriors, the Dutch are in danger of being overwhelmed. However, the Mohawk and Mahican remain loyal, and Kieft is able to sign a treaty of friendship and trade with them at Fort Orange. The Mohawk and Mahican do not intervene in the fighting, but the very possibility that they might is enough to keep tribes from joining the Wappinger.

Between 1643-1664, Munsee and Wappinger arrive after their wars with the Dutch (the Wappinger in 1643-1645, and the Munsee Esopus in 1659-1664), followed by the Assateague and Wicomiss from the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay in 1669.

Kieft massacres the Mohawk
Governor Kieft's massacre of these Mohawk was one of a series of provocative and aggressive actions to be launched by this troublesome colonial administrator

1648 - 1651

During the years following the various conflicts of this decade, Dutch immigration increases dramatically and swells the population of New Netherland from 2,000 in 1648 to more than 10,000 in 1660. As the settlement swallows more native land, anger and bitterness continue to smoulder. This is especially true with the Lenape and Munsee to the west of the Hudson River after the Dutch, without bothering to consult them, purchase some Lenape land from the Susquehannock in 1651.

In 1649 the Raritan sachems form around the treaty table to agree a peace, but in either the same year or the next, 1650, Preuwamakan, the oldest and most influential of the Esopus (Munsee) sachems is murdered by the troops of Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant meets the Esopus chiefs at Wiltwijck and concludes a general peace on 15 July 1650.

c.1650s - 1701

Tamanend (the Affable)

Lenape head chieftain. Oversaw treaty signings. Died at 97.

1651 - 1656

War breaks out along the upper Susquehanna River, between the Susquehannock and the Mohawk. Although New Sweden supplies them with arms, the Susquehannock are relatively few in number and, as the war drags on for five years, they are forced to call upon their Munsee and Lenape allies. Support for the Mohawk from New Netherland in this conflict adds to the tension with the Lenape and Munsee along the lower Hudson. War and epidemic via the advent of smallpox in 1654 combine to cause a rapid drop in the Lenape population.


The threatened Iroquois- Susquehannock War finally erupts, having simmered just beneath the surface. Badly outnumbered, the Susquehannock draw their Shawnee trading partners into the fighting and enlist the support of their tributary Eastern Algonquin and Siouan tribes (the Conoy, Delaware (despite smallpox spreading north into New England through their villages), Nanticoke, Saponi, and Tutelo). The Iroquois first attack the Susquehannock allies, and disperse the Shawnee, scattering them to Illinois, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

1660 - 1661

The Iroquois strike the Delaware throughout the Delaware Valley and throughout the 1660s, effectively taking them out of the war (aided by epidemic which causes massive population loss). For the Susquehannock, the worst blow is a smallpox epidemic that strikes in 1661, although they manage to hold on. A treaty is signed between them, the Passyunk Lenape (under the leadership of Pinna), and the British Colony of Maryland, ending the lingering hostility with the English. The agreement provides firearms and ammunition, since the Maryland colonists are well aware of the value of the Susquehannock as a buffer against the New Netherland-allied Iroquois.

Tamanend the Affable
Chief Tamanend (head chief from 1683) sits under the tree, surrounded by his people, to welcome emissaries from the colonial settlers, probably of the Maryland colony

fl 1661


Lenape chief of Passyunk Lenape.

1661 - 1662

Chef Pinna of the Passyunk Lenape agrees a treaty of peace with Governor Philip Calvert of the British Colony of Maryland. There have already been some skirmishes with the English colonists in Maryland between 1658-1661, but this is resolved by the treaty and by Maryland's subsequent aid to the Susquehannock in their war with the Iroquois.

However, the treaty forces the Esopus to surrender most of their land in the valley, which does not sit well. Only the threat of war with the Mohawk and Mahican keeps the agreement intact, but the Mohawk learn that the Mahican are once again trying to arrange trade between the Dutch and Sokoki (Mohawk enemies), and another Mohawk-Mahican war erupts in 1662.

1663 - 1669

In 1663, with English help, the Susquehannock are able to turn back a major Iroquois invasion. In the following year the English take New York from the Dutch (affecting the Unami), and shortly afterwards form their own alliance with the Iroquois. In 1666 Maryland, however, does not feel entirely assured by this and renews its treaty with the Susquehannock. The year 1667 coincides with another outbreak of smallpox, so the Iroquois make peace with New France and their native allies and this allows them to concentrate on their war with the Susquehannock. With the support of Maryland, the Susquehannock fight on in an increasingly bitter struggle, but by autumn 1669 they are down to only three hundred warriors and are forced to ask the Iroquois for peace. The Iroquois response to their offer is to torture and kill the Susquehannock ambassador who delivers it.

Fort New Amsterdam
Fort New Amsterdam began construction in 1626, immediately after the purchase of Manhatten Island, but within seventy years it was renamed New York by the British

fl 1674


Lenape chief of New Jersey. Sold land.

fl 1674

Petequoque / Pete Qquoque

Brother. Lenape chief of New Jersey. Sold land.

fl 1674


Lenape chief of New Jersey. Sold land.


Chief Mehocksett of New Jersey and his brother, Chief Petequoque, together with Chief Socoroccett, sell parcels of land to the British Colonies which, because the English have a habit of not paying, leads to confrontations with the Rankoke, Sawkin, and Soupnapka tribes, which requires a peace conference with New York's Governor Edmund Andros, the fourth incumbent of the post.

fl 1675


Lenape chief.

fl 1675


Lenape chief.

fl 1675


Lenape chief.

fl 1675


Lenape chief.


The Lenape have already sold some of their northern New Jersey lands to the settlers of the British Colonies in 1673 and they sell more in 1681 but, as mentioned, the English often take land without paying on the principle that it is a fresh discovery with no legal claims upon it. Their actions now lead to confrontations with the Rankoke, Sawkin, and Soupnapka which requires a peace conference with New York's Governor Edmund Andros. Lenape chieftains Renowewan, Manickty, Ipankickan, and Ketmarius agree a treaty with Andros at New Castle, a town on the Pennsylvanian side of the border with Ohio.


The remaining Susquehannock have little choice but to surrender to the Iroquois. Considering the circumstances, they are treated well. Under the terms of the agreed peace, the Susquehannock are resettled amongst the Mohawk and Oneida, becoming members of the Iroquois 'covenant chain' (a series of alliances and treaties developed during the seventeenth century, primarily between the Iroquois confederacy and the British Colonies, with other Native American tribes added). Their dominion over the Lenape (including the Munsee) and other former allies is also surrendered to the league. During the following years, several Susquehannock rise to leadership as Iroquois war chiefs. Although treated with respect, the Susquehannock are not free.

Indian lacrosse
The origins of lacrosse lay in something that seems to have been more than simple sport to its inventors - a gift from the gods that was required to be played in order to secure their appeasement and support

fl 1681


Lenape chief of the Sickoneysinck Delaware. Sold land.


In July, William Penn's emissary concludes treaties with a large number of Lenape chieftains, all of whom 'own' land in Eastern Pennsylvania. Effectively they hand over control of large swathes of land to the British Colonies.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.


Also in July, Swanpisse, chief of the Turtle Land, is present at the signing of the Penn Treaty under the terms of which the Lenape sell land for the Penn Estate to be built. Swanpisse dines with Penn and attends the Quaker Sunday Meeting.

fl 1682


Lenape chief of the Turtle Land. At Tamanend's signing.


FeatureOn 1 August, a further three Lenape chieftains also come in to sign a treaty for lands sold, while Head Chief Tamanend (the Affable) of the Lenape signs a treaty with William Penn in 1683.

A modern depiction of the great Chief Tamanend 'the affable', one of the signatories of a deed to William Penn in 1683, for lands not far north of Philadelphia within the modern Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Native legend tells of the 'Great Treaty' that is agreed under the Shackamaxon Elm at Philadelphia - the treaty that is 'never sworn to and never broken'. He is held in the highest veneration amongst the Lenape. The fame of this great man extends even to the European settlers and his memory is later preserved in the name of the town of Tamanend. (In 1772 a secret society named the 'Sons of King Tammany' is named in his honour, as are the Society of St Tammany and Tammany Hall.) His brother is Weheeland, while his sons are Yaqueekhon (Nicholas) and Quenameckquid (Charles).

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682


Lenape chieftain of lands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1682

Hithquoquean / Hetkoquean

Lenape orator chief who attended with Tamanend.


In what is an active and very visible year for the Lenape (at least in European eyes), one of their old chiefs, Ockanickon, lays on his death bed and names his brother's son, Jahkursoe, as his successor.

? - 1682


Lenape chief of the Turtle Land.

1682 - ?


Nephew and successor. Lenape chief of the Turtle Land.


William Penn attempts to sign a treaty with the Susquehannock, only to learn that they (like the Delaware) first need Iroquois approval. Once given, Tamanend (the Affable) oversees the signing, but subsequent dealings by the Pennsylvania government of the British Colonies concentrates on the Iroquois and ignores the subservient tribes.

1688 - 1697

The North Yarmouth Skirmish involves the Abnaki. This forms a prelude to the First French-Indian War (1689-1697) which is also known to the English settlers as King William's War or the Second Indian War. Many battles take place, but the subject Lenape lose two-thirds of their warriors during the war whilst serving as Iroquois auxiliaries.

First French Indian War
The First French-Indian War involved a complex mixture of British, French, and many Indian tribes all pitched against one another, with allegiances shifting according to circumstance

fl 1705

Manangy (Left-Handed)

Chief of Lenape near the Falls (Schuylkill clan).


The Iroquois relent somewhat and allow three hundred Susquehannock to return to the Susquehanna Valley in Pennsylvania. No longer a powerful people, they become known as the Conestoga (from the name of their village). The Iroquois keep a watchful eye on them and use their homeland as a kind of supervised reservation for the displaced Eastern Algonquin and Siouan tribes (including the Conoy, Delaware, Mahican, Munsee, Nanticoke, Saponi, Shawnee, Tutelo, and also the New England Algonquin), who are allowed to settle there as members of the 'covenant chain'. Quaker missionaries arrive and make many conversions amongst the Susquehannock. As Conestoga becomes a Christian village, the more traditional Susquehannock leave - either returning to the Oneida in New York, or moving west to Ohio to join the Mingo.

1709 - 1712

On 26 July 1709, Chief Skalitchy, who is active across the early years of this century, meets the governor of Pennsylvania and serves as orator for his group. The group includes Chief Owechela, whose people live at Paxtang (now Harrisburg) alongside Head Chief Sassoonan (see below). In 1712 Chief Skalitchy appears with a group of twelve Lenape chieftains (which includes Head Chief Sassoonan) before Governor Gookin of Pennsylvania. Skalitchy is again the spokesman for the group and shows off thirty-two belts of wampum that his group is taking to the Six Nations which are under the dominance of the Iroquois.

Harrisburg, PA
Modern Harrisburg, PA, is a thriving city far removed from its colonial origins amidst the tribes of the Delaware

fl 1700 - 1712

Skalitchy / Gollitchy

Lenape chief and chief orator.

fl 1709


Lenape chief in Pennsylvania.

fl 1709


Lenape chief in Pennsylvania.

c.1712 - 1747

Head Chief Sassoonan of the Unami is a member of a delegation (which includes Chief Skalitchy) that takes wampum north to their 'uncles' (ie dominant masters) the Iroquois. Sassoonan later emerges as the Delaware 'king', although this title has no traditional meaning to the Delaware, who live in autonomous villages.


During Penn's lifetime, things go relatively well. To make room for the English, the Lenape move west to the upper Schuykill, Brandywine, and Lehigh valleys, with the settlers' Delaware Colony being detached from Pennsylvania in 1704. By 1718, the Iroquois have assumed complete control of the affairs of the Lenape - an arrangement that has been encouraged by Pennsylvania's governors to insure that the Lenape do not come under the influence of New France. When William Penn dies in the same year, his three sons by his second marriage inherit his estate but apparently none of his honesty.


From 1720 on, the Mahican begin to move west to join multi-ethnic groups, first on the Susquehanna and then to the Ohio country. In 1738, the Mahican give missionary John Sergeant permission to start a mission in the village. Eventually, the European inhabitants gave this place the name 'Stockbridge', after a village in England. This is located on the Housatonic River, near a great meadow that is bounded by the beautiful Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts. In this mission village, a church and school are built. The Mahican and other native people who have relocated here became known as the 'Stockbridge Indians'.

Delaware Stockbridge
The remnants of a great many tribes of the eastern seaboard congregated as the Stockbridge, Brotherton, and Housatonic, seeking protection amongst numbers - this oil painting is entitled 'Delaware Indians sign the Treaty of Penn', by Benjamin West

Others resettle first in Stockbridge, along with the Housatonic in 1736, and then after 1756 they move to New York and finally in 1833 to Wisconsin. Here the combined Mahican-Wappinger-Housatonic federate into the Stockbridge and obtain a reservation near Bowler, Shawano City, where several hundred natives of mixed Stockbridge and Munsee remain to this day. A few Mahican remain in the Hudson Valley where a number of modern rural groups claim ancestry from them.

1722 - 1724

The admission of the Tuscarora as the sixth member of the Iroquois League in 1722 only emphasises the Iroquois' low opinion of the Lenape. Settlers in Pennsylvania continue to push west against the uncertain boundaries of the 1682 treaty. Germans from New York move into the upper Schuykill, and the Brandywine villages are next. As early as 1724, small groups of Shawnee move into the neighbourhood of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in western Pennsylvania, land made vacant during the fighting of the Beaver Wars between 1630-1698.

fl 1728 - 1748

Shicellamy / Swataney (Our Enlightener)

Oneida chief and vice-gerent of the Lenape. Died.


FeatureShicellamy (or Shikellamy) is a 'great Oneida chief', a man of strong character and statesman-like vision. His real name is Ongwaterohiathe. He is purported to be a white Frenchman who had been captured as a child and raised by the Oneida, and the fact that he is part Lenape is certainly attested.

Chief Shicellamy
The real name of Chief Shicellamy (or Shikellamy) was Ongwaterohiathe, meaning 'it has caused the sky to be bright for us', sometimes rendered as 'our enlightener'

When a tribe is conquered by the Six Nations - in other words the Iroquois confederacy - a deputy or vice-gerent is sent by the Iroquois or Six Nation Council to watch over the tribe. Shicellamy is such a deputy, sent by the Great Federal Council of the Six Nations 'Onondaga' to watch over the Delaware, Shawnee, and other local tribes. He replaces Shingas of the Unami, and serves as the go-between for the Lenape and the Pennsylvania government. He dies at Shamokin in 1748, following his promotion by the Iroquois, and is succeeded by his sons, John Shikellamy (Schicellamy) and Tahgahjute.

fl 1729


Leader of the Brandywine Lenape in Pennsylvania.


Checochinican's chief assistants are Chilykon, Peyeashickon, and Wililikyona. In 1729 he writes a letter to the governor of Pennsylvania complaining that they are unable to gain any help so they will move to the Susquehannock who reside amongst the Mingo. Some settle at Paxtang where they gradually merge with the people of Chief Sassoonan, the Unami Lenape.

fl 1729


Brandywine Lenape sub-chief in Pennsylvania.

fl 1729


Brandywine Lenape sub-chief in Pennsylvania.

fl 1729


Brandywine Lenape sub-chief in Pennsylvania.

fl 1730 - 1763

Teedyuscung / Honest John

Not a true chief. 'King of the Delaware'. Killed in 1763.


Not of chiefly lineage, 'Honest John' is known by the Europeans thanks to his unusual abilities and influence amongst the Native Americans in the Susquehanna Valley. They further title him the 'King of the Delawares'. He had been born around 1700 in the New Jersey area, the son of one Captain Harris, and had worked largely as a broom-maker. Around 1730 he moves to the Forks of the Delaware. Captain Bull is his son, whilst Chief Joseph Montour is a descendant who moves to Canada during his own lifetime.

Teedyuscung was termed 'King of the Delaware' by the European settlers even though he was nothing of the sort - merely a good negotiator and an influential speaker with his own people


After the cession of much land within the Susquehanna Valley, all that remains of the Lenape homeland is a small part of New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley (Allentown) in north-eastern Pennsylvania.

fl 1734/1742

Nutimus (Turkey)

Chief of the Lenape on the Forks [of the Delaware].


Nutimus of New Jersey is a good blacksmith and becomes a famous Indian doctor. He is also a chief of the Lenape on the Forks. He meets James Logan in 1735 and is shown a copy of a false deed in which the Lenape have sold land to William Penn - the infamous 'Walking Purchase'. This false deed is upheld and Nutimus and his people are forced to move to join the Susquehannock. In 1756 he meets Sir William Johnson who removes the 'petticoat and places a hatchet in the hands of the Lenape to use against the French [of New France]'.


Pennsylvania's authorities 'establish' the infamous 'Walking Purchase' agreement, a treaty supposedly signed in 1686 in which the Lenape cede the land between the junction of the Delaware and Lehigh rivers as far west as a man can walk in a day and a half (about sixty-four kilometres, or forty miles). This is bad enough, but Penn's son, Thomas, hires three of the fastest men in the colony and offers a prize to the one who can cover the greatest distance.

Running on a prepared path, the winner goes twice the distance anticipated by the Lenape, which costs them most of the Lehigh valley. Realising that they have been cheated, the Lenape expect the Iroquois to defend their interests, but the Iroquois are furious that the Lenape have dared to sign a treaty without their permission. Pennsylvania also takes the precaution of bribing them to stay angry and enforces the agreement.

The Walking Purchase Agreement
The Lenape were taken in by the proposed terms of Pennsylvania's 'Walking Purchase' agreement and ended up losing twice as much land as anticpated


As their lands are sold, most of the Munsee, with the exception of a few families, move west to Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley where Moravian missionaries begin their work among them. The mixed Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo villages which arise in western Pennsylvania and Ohio after this date supposedly owe their allegiance to the Iroquois League, but in truth they are independent of its authority. Concerned that these tribes might fall under the influence of New France, the British urge the Iroquois to have them return to the Susquehanna, but when the Iroquois order them to do so, they are ignored.


The ultimate humiliation comes during a meeting of the Delaware and Iroquois, and the governor of Pennsylvania. When the Delaware sachem, Nutimus, rises to protest the 'Walking Purchase', the Iroquois representative, Canasatego, silences him with 'We conquered you. You are women, we made women of you. Give up claims to your old lands and move west. Never attempt to sell land again. Now get out'.

The Munsee are almost a separate tribe in their own right by now. Although under the supervision of the Oneida and Cayuga, most Munsee are allowed to remain on their original lands, which are now claimed by the Iroquois. This serves to protect their homeland from settlement, since the British during the early years have no desire to challenge the power of the Iroquois. However, war and epidemic have already reduced the Munsee and Wappinger populations on the lower Hudson to about ten per cent of their original size.

1743 - 1744

No longer having land of their own, the Unami are ordered to join the other Delaware who are living at Shamokin and Wyoming on the upper Susquehanna, lands now claimed by Iroquois from their conquest of the Susquehannock. For years, the 'grandfathers' have taken in refugees from other Eastern Algonquin tribes, starting with the Powhatan who have left Virginia after their war with the English in 1622-1632. In 1744 a fever (probably malaria) rages along the Susquehanna, and alcohol abuse is also a serious problem. People begin to pack up and leave. The Mingo (adopted Iroquois) and Shawnee are the first, but for the Shawnee moving west is no more than a return to their homeland.

Map of the Susquehannock AD 1600
The Susquehannock territories were centred around the river which bore their name, but extended far to the east, towards Lake Erie where they abutted the generally peaceful Erie people and north to the Iroquois nations, who certainly were not peaceful (click or tap on map to view full sized)


FeaturePisquetomen of the Unami is brother to Shingas, a chief of the Delaware Turkey clan, and is the chosen successor to the recently-deceased Sassoonan. However, Pisquetomen is intelligent, strong-willed, and speaks English, and he is not easily manipulated. Pennsylvanian officials refuse to recognise him as 'king' and, as a result, he and his brothers, Shingas and Tamaqua (King Beaver), abandon Pennsylvania, leading their people over the Allegheny Mountains and settling at Kittanning on the Allegheny River.

1747 - 1749

Plans in the British Colonies for opening the area to settlement get underway in 1747 when Virginia grants a charter to the Ohio Company. Pennsylvania considers the Ohio tribes to be subject to the Iroquois, but when they refuse the league's orders to return to the Susquehanna, it is obvious that something needs to be done.

No longer able to ignore the defection of their 'women', in 1749 the Iroquois create a system of half-kings (special Iroquois emissaries) to represent the Ohio tribes (who number 10,000 by this time) in their councils. This seems to satisfy the Delaware and Shawnee and, when Pierre-Joseph Céloron de Blainville leads a French expedition to the Ohio River in 1749 to expel British traders, he marks out the boundary of French territory with lead plates. His reception is unfriendly, with the Ohio tribes demanding to know by what right the French are claiming Iroquois land.

1748 - 1780

John Shikellamy / John Logan

Son of Shicellamy. Leading figure but not a chieftain?

1748 - ?


Brother, and possibly even the same person.


FeatureAfter the death of Chief Shicellamy, he is succeeded by his sons John Shikellamy (also known as John Logan) and Tahgahjute (although the latter name may be John's native name rather than a separate individual, and he may not, according to some sources, even be a chief). Another one of Shicellamy's sons, James Logan, is named after James Logan, the Quaker Provincial Secretary of Pennsylvania and de facto 'Superintendent of Indian Affairs'. One of these two sons - historians have disagreed upon which - later becomes well known in American history as 'Chief Logan', who plays a pivotal role in Lord Dunmore's War in 1774 and issues an oft-quoted speech known as 'Logan's Lament'. A third son is named John Petty, after a trader. Two of the chief's sons are killed in battle.

Schuylkill River
This commemorative signpost points the way to the home of Chief Logan between 1766 and 1771, before he moved to Ohio's territory


Some of the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee in western Pennsylvania accept the invitation of the Wyandot (Huron) to settle in eastern Ohio. The Delaware have split into two groups: those in the west along the upper Ohio River in the first group, and the Munsee and about one-third of the Unami who have remained on the upper Susquehanna or the Wyoming Valley in the east in the second group.

Ohio is being claimed by the British Colonies, the Iroquois, and New France, but has largely been empty for almost a century following its conquest by the Iroquois during the Beaver Wars. Shingas of the Unami is recognised as the head chief of the Delaware, but smallpox hits the tribes around the same time, just as they are beginning to leave the mixed villages and organise themselves into a separate tribe. Their council fire is located at Coshocton on the Muskingum River in Ohio.


With traders of the British Colonies subverting the loyalty of their allies, and the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee defying its authority, New France decides to militarily enforce its claims to Ohio. It turns first to the Detroit tribes (Ojibwa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Wyandot), usually its most dependable allies, but the tribes are thinking of trading with the British themselves and do not want to fight the Ohio tribes. In June, Charles Langlade, a French-Ojibwe of mixed blood, leads a war party of 250 Ojibwa and Ottawa from Mackinac and destroys the Miami village and British trading post at Piqua, Ohio.

Following the initial shock of this attack, the tribes of the French alliance fall into place, and the French follow up their success by building a line of forts across western Pennsylvania to block British access to Ohio. Most Delaware and Shawnee have no desire to be controlled by the French and therefore turn to the Iroquois for help. From the Iroquois perspective, the French and British seem like two thieves fighting over their land, but they decide that the French are the more immediate threat.

Quebec in 1700
By the start of the eighteenth century, French Quebec was a thriving colonial city, the focus of colonial attempts to create a powerful new state in North America

The league signs the Logstown Treaty, which reconfirms their 1744 cession of land and gives the British permission to build a blockhouse at Pittsburgh. Before it is finished however, the French burn it. In the same treaty the Iroquois recognise the selection of Shingas of the Unami as head chief and, although his authority is not accepted by those Delaware who are still on the Susquehanna, the formerly mixed Delaware have again become an organised tribe.

1754 - 1760

In May a conference is held at Albany between representatives of the British Colonies and Iroquois League to prepare for war with New France. Unable to defend Ohio, the Iroquois cede it to Pennsylvania, but they fully intend to keep the Wyoming and Susquehanna valleys. Unfortunately, an Albany trader manages to get some of the minor Iroquois representatives drunk, and when they sober up they discover that they have signed an agreement with a Connecticut land company that opens up the valleys to settlement. Rather than achieve unity, the conference ends with the Iroquois furious with the British about this treaty, Pennsylvania protesting Connecticut's attempt to claim its territory, and the Delaware threatening to kill any whites who try to settle in the Wyoming Valley. Meanwhile, Virginia has decided to act on its own and sends an expedition commanded by a twenty-two year-old militia major named George Washington to demand the surrender of Fort Duquesne, the new fort built by the French at Pittsburgh. Major Washington gets himself into a fight with French soldiers and starts the French-Indian War.

The Fourth French-Indian War erupts, starting with the Battle of Great Meadows, and with the Mingo people being led by Scruniyatha (Half-King). Two more battles are fought in 1754 - Fort Necessity and Braddock's Defeat, with Crown Point (Lake George) taking place in 1755 against the Mohawk and Caughnawaga who are led by Hendrick. In 1756, Oswego is the only battle, and in 1757 the Fort William Henry action involves the Upper Great Lakes Indians.

The year 1758 sees battles take place at Louisburg and Fort Frontenac with little Indian involvement, and then at Fort Duquesne with peace being declared in 1760. These battles involve the Cherokee, Delaware, Iroquois, Mingo (Mohawk), and Shawnee, all led by Little Carpenter and Outacite.

British capture of Fortress Louisbourg in 1745
The capture of Fortress Louisbourg by the British in 1745 was a good indicator of the way things were developing as far as French interests in North America were concerned, although a final British victory was far from certain

? - 1755

Captain Jacobs

Delaware chief killed during the Fourth French-Indian War.

fl 1759


Lenape sachem under Tamaqua (fl 1740).


Wendocalla is a sachem (chief) under Tamaqua (also known as King Beaver). He is present at the meeting in this year with Governor James Hamilton at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Iroquois authority over the Delaware has been destroyed by the Fourth French-Indian War, and a showing by the Delaware warriors that they are no longer 'women'.

1761 - 1765

The Pontiac War involves initial battles in the Ohio river valley at forts Pitt and Miami, with the Delaware, Huron, Miami, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Seneca, and Shawnee all taking part under the collective leadership of Pontiac of the Ottawa, the 'Delaware Prophet'. Battles and sieges in 1763 are at Fort Detroit, Niagara, Presque Island, Sault St Marie, Mackinac, and Venango, with a final fight at Bushy Run.

In the same year the Seneca launch a double ambush of a British supply train and its supporting contingent of troops in what becomes known as the Devil's Hole Massacre, on 14 September 1763. On 26 July 1764, four Delaware kill a schoolmaster, ten pupils, and a pregnant woman. Amazingly two pupils who are scalped survive the Enoch Brown School Massacre.

fl 1761 - 1763

Neolin (the Enlightened)

A chief of the Lenni-Lenape.


By now the Seneca are passing a war belt calling for an uprising, but only the Delaware and Shawnee respond. The British Indian agent, Sir William Johnson, uncovers the plot during a meeting at Detroit with the tribes of the old French alliance. The unrest continues, and other belts are circulated by the Illinois and the Caughnawaga. However, it takes a religious movement to unite the tribes against the British Colonies. This comes from the 'Delaware Prophet', Neolin (the Enlightened), whom the British refer to as the 'Impostor'. From his village near the Ohio River, Neolin urges the rejection of the white man's trading goods (especially rum) and a return to traditional native culture and values. His teachings gain a large following amongst the Delaware, but his most important convert is Pontiac, the Ottawa chief at Detroit.

Delaware Indians
A contemporary sketch of an unidentified tribe of Delaware Indians, with the mass of European influences - especially in terms of dress - suggesting that it may be from the mid or late 1700s

The Ottawa are one of France's most loyal allies, and Pontiac's acceptance of Neolin's new religion provides a basis for the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee to unite with the tribes of the French alliance against the British. In what has been called the Pontiac Conspiracy (1763), Pontiac secretly organises a general uprising which catches the British totally by surprise. After it begins in May, the rebellion captures nine of the twelve British forts west of the Appalachians. However, an informer warns the garrison, and Pontiac fails in the critical mission he has reserved for himself of taking Fort Detroit.

The Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo surround Fort Pitt, cutting if off from the outside world and then attack the Pennsylvania frontier, killing six hundred colonists. In an effort to break the siege at Fort Pitt, Amherst writes to its commander, Captain Simeon Ecuyer, suggesting that he deliberately infect the tribes outside the fort by giving them blankets and handkerchiefs infected with smallpox. Ecuyer does exactly this, and the resulting epidemic spreads from the Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo to the Cherokee in Tennessee and then the entire south-eastern region.


The uprising by the 'prophet' collapses after it fails to take the forts of Pitt, Niagara, and Detroit. New France refuses to help and even urges its allies to stop. During a bloody two-day battle at Bushy Run, just to the east of Pittsburgh, Colonel Henry Bouquet defeats a combined Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee ambush and reaches Fort Pitt in August. The Delaware and Shawnee retreat westwards into Ohio but continue their raids in Pennsylvania.

After his failure to take Detroit, Pontiac's allies begin to desert him. With a terrible sense of timing, the Susquehanna Company bring the first Connecticut settlers into the Wyoming Valley (Wilkes-Barre) in the spring, and the newcomers soon encourage the Delaware to leave the area by setting fire to the house of Teedyuskung, the Delaware sachem who had been the first to make peace with the British at Easton in 1756. He is asleep at the time, and does not wake up. The Delaware village is also torched, and its residents forced to flee for their lives.

Proclamation of 1763
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 has long been debated by historians in reference to its influence on the later revolutionary war, but it was a genuine attempt to respect the territorial rights of the native Americans following the conclusion of the French-American War

During the Pontiac Uprising, the Ohio Delaware have been attacking settlements in the Juanita, Tuscarora, and Cumberland valleys and, that autumn, they combine with the Seneca to raid the Wyoming Valley in retaliation for the murders and burnings in April. Pennsylvania once again offers a bounty for Delaware scalps, and Colonel John Armstrong attacks the Delaware village at Big Island. In October a Delaware war party kill twenty-six colonists during a raid near Allentown. Since the innocent are always easier to find, a mob of Lancaster colonists (the Paxton Boys) murders twenty peaceful Christian Conestoga (Susquehannock) in December.


In the summer, Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee attend a conference with William Johnson at Fort Niagara and make peace with the British Colonies. In August, Colonel John Bradstreet, with 1,200 men, advances west along the southern shore of Lake Erie to attack the remaining hostile Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Wyandot. En route, Bradstreet meets the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee chiefs at Presque Isle (Erie, Pennsylvania), and concludes a preliminary peace treaty. He reaches Detroit in September, where another treaty is signed with the remainder of Pontiac's allies.

Threats of mob violence forces the Moravians and Quakers to evacuate converts from their Pennsylvania missions, although the threat of massacre remains, along with the threat of death by smallpox. William Johnson convinces the Mohawk to punish the Delaware for joining Pontiac, and they destroy Kanhanghton and six other Delaware villages on the Susquehanna. With settlement taking their land in the Wyoming and Susquehanna Valleys, the last of the Pennsylvania Delaware now leave for Ohio. The Moravian missionaries make plans to follow them.

Shaken by the uprising, the British government issues the 'Proclamation of 1763', closing the frontier to further settlement to the west of the Appalachians. In the east, the law angers the colonists and starts them on the path to revolution. In the west, the frontiersmen simply ignore it and settle illegally in western Pennsylvania, beginning with the Redstone and, appropriately enough, Cheat rivers. The British military simply cannot stop them. By 1774, there are 50,000 whites occupying territory to the west of the Appalachians.

General James Wolfe
General James Wolfe completed his victory over the French - giving the British nominal control of the vast and still largely unexplored northern territories - but paid for it with his life in 1759


General Thomas Gage has rejected Bradstreet's treaty with the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee because it has been signed without first consulting William Johnson. Bradstreet is ordered to move south and attack the Delaware and Shawnee villages in Ohio. At the same time, Bouquet's army moves west from Fort Pitt, trapping the Delaware and Shawnee in between. In November, the Delaware and Shawnee sign a peace with the British Colonies at Coshocton and release the two hundred white prisoners they are holding. Pontiac makes his own peace with the British in 1765, but is disgraced by his capitulation and failure to take Detroit. With his own people defying him, he leaves the area and heads west, to the Illinois country where he still has a considerable following.


The Ohio tribes call the white squatters in the Appalachians the 'Long Knives' ('Mechanschican' in the Algonquian Delaware dialects). They are Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiersmen who by this time have been fighting Native Americans for several generations, and no government whether French, British, or American after 1776, is going to keep them from taking the Ohio Country from the 'Injuns'. Unable to enforce the Proclamation of 1763, the British realise its very existence is pushing the colonies towards revolt, and in 1768 they meet the Iroquois at Fort Stanwix to negotiate a treaty that will open up Ohio and western Pennsylvania to settlement.

Without consulting the tribes which live there, the Iroquois cede the Ohio Country. They also sell their remaining lands in the Susquehanna and Wyoming valleys which results in a civil war, as Connecticut and Pennsylvania militias fight each other for control of the area. When news of the Fort Stanwix agreement reaches Ohio, the Shawnee send overtures of alliance to all of the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley tribes, including the Cherokee and Chickasaw.

Fort Stanwix
Fort Stanwix, constructed from 1758 onwards, played a vital role in securing the ancient Oneida territory that now forms part of New York State

? - 1774

Bald Eagle

A chief of the Lenni-Lenape. Scalped.

1770 - 1775

In the initial steps towards the formation of the western alliance, meetings are held on the Scioto River in Ohio in 1770 and 1771, but the failure of the Pontiac Rebellion is still fresh, and William Johnson is able to thwart the effort by threatening war against the Iroquois, which leaves the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee to face the invasion by themselves. Having seen this before, the Delaware make preparations to move, and in 1770 obtain permission from the Miami to settle in Indiana. The Moravian missionaries are the most gentle foreign element in the settlement of the Ohio Valley. Beginning in 1772, they follow four hundred of their Delaware converts to Ohio and build three missions along the Tuscaroras and Muskingum rivers. By 1775 the traditional Delaware have accepted the Moravian villages as equal members, and the influence of the Moravian Delaware at councils encourages other Delaware to seek a peaceful accommodation with the 'Long Knives'.

In 1774-1775, both Virginia and Pennsylvania claim the area around Pittsburgh, but Virginia's claim includes Kentucky. The Iroquois have ceded this area at Fort Stanwix, but it is also claimed by the Cherokee. Treaties signed at Watonga (1774) and Sycamore Shoals (1775) extinguish the Cherokee claims but totally ignore the Shawnee. When Virginia sends survey teams to Kentucky in 1774, there are clashes with Shawnee warriors who are prepared to defend their hunting territory south of the Ohio. As tensions rise in April, Michael Cresap organises a party of vigilantes near Wheeling which kills several Shawnee.

First Continental Congress
The First Continental Congress - the provisional government of the colony's revels - began with prayer led by Chaplain Jacob Duché at Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia in September 1774

The Delaware chief Bald Eagle is ambushed, scalped, and his body is placed upright in a sitting position in his canoe to float down the river to his tribesmen. In the following month, other frontiersmen massacre the family of Logan, a Mingo war chief, at Yellow Creek (Stuebenville, Ohio). Shawnee Chief Cornstalk goes to Fort Pitt to keep the peace by getting the whites to 'cover the dead'. The Delaware also offer to mediate, but Logan goes to the Shawnee-Mingo village at Wakatomica and recruits a war party. His gruesome retaliation kills thirteen whites - none of whom have had anything to do with the murder of his family.

Shawnee and Mingo under Cornstalk and Logan respectively raid a wave of traders and settlers in the southern Ohio river valley. Governor Lord Dunmore of Virginia sends in 3,000 soldiers in his 'War Against the Shawnee'. A thousand natives are defeated at the Battle of Point Pleasant. One of the sons of the late Chief Shicellamy of the Lenape is Chief Logan (in power from 1748). He plays a pivotal role in Lord Dunmore's War (otherwise known as Cresap's War) and issues an oft-quoted speech known as 'Logan's Lament'. The Delaware remain neutral, and the Detroit tribes refuse the Shawnee war belt.

1776 - 1777

The British urge the Ohio tribes to attack settlements because the American revolutionaries are trying to take Ohio - a very obvious lie, since the Americans want everything and not just Ohio. Only the Detroit tribes, Mingo, Seneca, and some Shawnee, side with the British at first, but their raids and indiscriminate American retaliation are enough to start a downwards spiral towards total war. The Delaware remain neutral, and their head chief, White Eyes (Koquethagachton) of the Unami, even addresses the revolutionary Philadelphia Congress during 1776.

However, this means little, since the new government has almost no control over the actions of the Long Knives to the west of the Appalachians. Cornstalk keeps his Shawnee neutral until he is taken hostage at Fort Randolph in 1777 and later murdered. The Shawnee retaliate with raids in Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

Shawnee warriors
The Shawnee were an Algonquian-speaking North American native people who lived in the central Ohio River valley and who attempted to avoid being dragged into the Revolutionary War

1778? - 1811


Chief of the Turkey clan.


In February, General Edward Hand leaves Fort Pitt with a unit of Pennsylvania militia so that they can conduct a punitive raid. He fails to find any hostile warriors but he does attack two peaceful Delaware villages, killing the brother of Captain Pipe (head of the Unami Wolf clan from 1764) and wounding his mother. Hand's infamous 'Squaw Campaign' ends Pipe's neutrality, but for the moment he is held in check by the other Delaware chiefs, White Eyes (Turtle clan) and Killbuck (Turkey clan).

In September all three sign a treaty at Fort Pitt with the Americans - the first treaty between the United States and Native Americans. Among other things, the Americans promise not to take any Delaware land; to protect them from the British; and, if desired, they can have a representative in Congress. In return the Delaware become American allies and will permit the construction of a fort in their territory. Unlike Penn's 1682 treaty with the Delaware, this one is immediately broken.

The commander at Fort Pitt, General Lachlan McIntosh, asks the Delaware to join him in an attack on Detroit. Since this will involve fighting British allies with whom they are at peace, the Delaware decline. However, to show his good will, Chief White Eyes of the Unami agrees to escort McIntosh to the proposed site of Fort Laurens (Bolivar, Ohio). He is murdered en route, but the Delaware are told that he has died of smallpox.

Fort Laurens
Fort Laurens was built by the revolutionary Americans at Bolivar in what is now Ohio, in a failed attempt to use it as a staging point to attack the British


Fort Laurens soon proves isolated and indefensible, but the Americans have killed their best friend on the Delaware council. Many Delaware do not accept the explanation, and the pro- British faction begins to unite around Captain Pipe of the Unami. Killbuck attempts to keep them neutral, but it does not help when frontiersmen try to kill a Delaware delegation that is en route to Philadelphia for a meeting with the revolutionary Congress. As tensions build, many of the Munsee leave Ohio for what they think is the safety of the Seneca villages in New York. This places them directly in the path of Colonel Daniel Brodhead's offensive up the Allegheny Valley in support of General John Sullivan's campaign against the Iroquois. The Munsee villages are also destroyed, and they retreat to southern Ontario. When the war ends, most stay in Canada and do not return to the United States.


In the spring, the British launch an offensive to seize the Ohio valley, as well as St. Louis and New Orleans. The result is a major escalation in warfare in the west. That April, Captain Henry Bird leaves Detroit with six hundred warriors to attack Kentucky. By the time he reaches the Ohio River there are almost twelve hundred of them. Throughout the summer, the Americans take a terrible beating in Kentucky and Pennsylvania. By this time, most of the Delaware have joined Captain Pipe at Pluggys Town (Delaware, Ohio), against the Long Knives. Only Killbuck remains loyal to the Americans, who ignore his requests for a fort to protect Coshocton. Threatened by Wyandot and Mingo warriors, he relocates to Fort Pitt, and the hostiles take over the Delaware capitol.


Killbuck guides Brodhead's militia to Coshocton in the spring. Before the attack, a chief who is trying to negotiate a surrender is tomahawked by a soldier while he is speaking to Brodhead (militia discipline really is this bad). Coshocton is put to the torch. Orders to spare women and children are generally followed, but fifteen male prisoners are executed by tomahawk. By the summer, the only neutral Delaware are the Moravians.

Following a council of war at Chillicothe, new raids hit the American settlements. The Moravian villages lie on one of the main warpaths, and as a result they are harassed by both sides. In autumn the British order their arrest, so a Wyandot war party gathers together the Moravians and escorts them to Captive's Town on the upper Sandusky. Food is scarce, and some of them return to Gnadenhuetten that winter to salvage the corn from their abandoned fields.

Siege of Yorktown 1781
French forces were present in large numbers at the Siege of Yorktown, around 11,800 of them, added to 8,800 Continental troops to face 9,000 British and Hessian troops


In March, a Delaware war party that is returning from a raid in Pennsylvania passes through Gnadenhuetten on its way back to northern Ohio. Close on their heels are a hundred-and-sixty American Pennsylvanian volunteers from Washington County, Pennsylvania, under Colonel David Williamson. Finding the Moravians at Gnadenhuetten, Williamson places them under arrest. In the democratic style of frontier militia, a vote is taken as to whether to take the prisoners back to Fort Pitt or kill them. The decision is to execute them.

The Moravians are given the night to prepare, and in the morning, two slaughter houses are selected. Ninety Christian Delaware - men, woman and children - are taken inside in small groups and beaten to death with wooden mallets. Among the victims is old Abraham, a Mahican, and the first convert made by the Moravians in Pennsylvania. Also included are Echpalawehund Peyrus of the Unami (floruit 1758), Glickhican of the Munsee (floruit 1748 onwards), and Captain Johnny of the Unami, and by now the first two of them may be quite elderly. Afterwards, the troops burn Gnadenhuetten and the other Moravian missions. Then they take their looted plunder home with them to their wives and children in Pennsylvania.

Word of the massacre spreads to the other Delaware, and in June they join the Wyandot to defeat a large force of Pennsylvania militia (at the Battle of Sandusky), which had been sent to attack the Sandusky villages. The Wyandot capture the commanding officer, Colonel William Crawford and, honouring a request from Captain Pipe of the Munsee Delaware, they turn him over to the Delaware. Crawford suffers a slow, terrible death (being burned at the stake) to atone for the Gnadenhuetten Massacre. The war continues throughout 1782 with the Shawnee inflicting a major defeat on Kentucky militia at Blue Licks (Daniel Boone's son is killed in this battle), and the Mingo burning Hannastown in Pennsylvania.

Staten Island natives
Despite the apparently frequent inter-tribal warfare, village life for the Delaware people - such as these Staten Island Lenni-Lenape - was usually peaceful and harmonious


In November George Rogers Clark attacks the Shawnee villages on the Scioto River. The Treaty of Paris ends the Revolutionary War, but the war between the Ohio tribes and Long Knives continues with few interruptions until 1795. Now, the British ask their allies to stop the attacks, but so much blood has been spilt that few listen. For their part, most of the frontiersmen do not consider the peace with the British to extend to 'Red Devils'. George Rogers Clark asks Congress for permission to raise an army to conquer all of the Ohio tribes. Politely thanked for his past services, the request is denied.

Meanwhile, Simon De Peyster, the British agent at Detroit, is encouraging the formation of an alliance to fight the Americans. The Iroquois name still carries weight, and the British bring the Mohawk sachem, Joseph Brant, west from Ontario to encourage the formation of an alliance to keep the Americans out of Ohio. The 'Western Alliance' is born at a meeting that is held at the Wyandot villages on the upper Sandusky.


With a new war threatening, the Delaware decide that their old villages in eastern-central Ohio are vulnerable. They relocate most of them to north-western Ohio and southern Indiana. The new locations are crowded, and the Delaware habit of hunting for profit creates friction with neighbouring tribes. Some of the Delaware and Shawnee peace factions soon separate from the militants and move to St Genevieve, Missouri, in Spanish Louisiana (just in time to be caught up in disastrous floods in 1785).

Despite their bad experiences through the years, a tradition persists among the Ohio tribes which allows the Iroquois to handle their negotiations with the British (still dominant in Quebec) and the Americans. The Iroquois, however, have been almost destroyed by the Americans and will never regain the power and influence they enjoyed before the war. Treating them as a conquered enemy, the Americans force a treaty upon the New York Iroquois which confirms the cession of Ohio that had been made in 1768.

St Genevieve, Missouri
The Spanish colony of St Genevieve in Missouri was first settled in 1735, a little to the south of its current centre, making it half a century old when the Delaware and Shawnee migrated there to avoid a fresh war in the north-east


Although the Delaware war faction dominates their affairs, the natural instinct of the 'grandfathers' is for compromise and the resolution of disputes. This reasserts itself within the alliance, and the Delaware become one of its more moderate members. The new government of the United States also wishes to avoid war and, if possible, settle the dispute through treaty. In January the Delaware, Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Wyandot sign the Treaty of Fort McIntosh, which  acknowledges American sovereignty in Ohio and agrees to the frontier boundary lying along the Tuscarawas and Muskingum rivers.


The homeless Munsee (since 1756), eventually end up with the Oneida in upstate New York where many of them become Christians. Other converts join them after the war: the remaining Stockbridge from western Massachusetts in 1786; Brotherton Indians from Connecticut and Long Island (Mohegan, Metoac, and Mattabesic) in 1788; and a group of Unami Brotherton (mostly Raritan) from New Jersey in 1801 - closing the Brotherton Reservation which had been created by the Treaty of Easton in 1758.

Despite having rendered valuable service to the American army during the Revolutionary War, the Oneida, Brotherton, and Stockbridge slowly lose their lands to New York land speculators. The first capitol of the Western Alliance is at the Shawnee village of Wakatomica, but this is burned by the Americans in 1786. The council fire is moved in November to Brownstown, a Wyandot village which lies just to the south of Detroit. Besides the Delaware, the membership ultimately includes the following: Chickamauga, Fox, Iroquois, Kickapoo, Miami, Ojibwe, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Sauk, Shawnee, and Wyandot.

However, neither the government nor the alliance chiefs can enforce the agreement without the support of their people. A similar treaty is signed at Fort Finney with the Shawnee, but many alliance warriors demand the Ohio, not the Muskingum as the boundary, while the Long Knives will not be satisfied until they have the entire Ohio Valley. Congress, meanwhile, had sold the land rights to a New Jersey syndicate and the Ohio Company to pay its war debts. Americans flood into Ohio and take native land as squatters. There are already 12,000 whites to the north of the Ohio by 1785 and more are coming all the time. Short of starting a civil war, the American military commander, General Josiah Harmar, cannot stop them.

Delaware Stockbridge
The remnants of a great many tribes of the eastern seaboard congregated as the Stockbridge, Brotherton, and Housatonic, seeking protection amongst numbers - this oil painting is entitled 'Delaware Indians sign the Treaty of Penn', by Benjamin West

The Fort McIntosh Treaty does not even receive the approval of the majority of the Delaware and, as a result, Captain Pipe of the Unami is replaced by Big Cat as head of the Wolf clan (also of the Unami). War resumes almost before the ink is dry when Miami and Kickapoo warriors attack American settlements along the lower Wabash in southern Indiana during the spring. In the autumn, George Rogers Clark arrives at Vincennes with Kentucky militia, but Harmar orders him to disband. The alliance chiefs also try to slow the slide towards war. A truce is ordered until their new demands have time to reach the Congress in Philadelphia, but these are delayed until July - far too late. After a summer of raids, Benjamin Logan and his Kentucky militia retaliate with an attack against Shawnee villages in southern Ohio. In December, the American governor, Arthur St Clair asks the alliance for a meeting at Fort Harmar on the falls of Muskingum. The alliance council agree to settle for the Muskingum as the border, but serious divisions remain.


The Spanish find the Native Americans useful as a buffer against the Americans and as protection against Osage horse thieves. The Spanish governor of Louisiana sends emissaries to the Shawnee and Delaware in Ohio, inviting others to migrate southwards.

One of the earliest Spanish areas of exploration in North America, Louisiana provided more of a challenge than had New Spain, with native groups proving quite hostile and New France eager to dominate there

1788 - 1792

Mohawk sachem Joseph Brant demands that the council repudiate all treaties ceding any part of Ohio, and leaves in disgust for Ontario. The Kickapoo, Miami, and Shawnee also pull out, but the Delaware, Wyandot, and Detroit tribes decide to attend. The result is chaos. In July 1788, soldiers building the council house for the meeting are attacked by an Ottawa-Ojibwe war party, and the Kickapoo ambush an army convoy on the Wabash.

The meeting begins in December with the Americans furious and half the alliance determined to ignore any agreement. The Treaty of Fort Harmar (of January 1789) proves worthless. After Patrick Brown's Kentuckians attack the Wabash villages that summer, the Miami and Shawnee are able to establish a consensus in the alliance council that favours war. With the militants dominating the alliance, the Americans decide in 1790 to resolve the matter by force. Faced with another war, the Moravian Delaware leave Ohio for southern Ontario. Known as the 'Moravians of the Thames', by 1792 they establish themselves in a peaceful community at Moraviantown (unfortunately burned to the ground by an American army in 1813).


Little Turtle's War (1790-1794) begins with a series of disasters for the Americans as they attempt to destroy the alliance villages in north-western Ohio. Josiah Harmar's army of militia is ambushed on the upper Wabash in 1790, and it suffers over two hundred casualties.


Arthur St Clair suffers an even greater humiliation in western Ohio - the worst defeat ever to be inflicted on a fledgling American army by Native Americans, leaving six hundred dead and four hundred wounded. An enraged President George Washington at Philadelphia finally calms down and sends 'Mad' Anthony Wayne to Ohio. Wayne establishes himself at Fort Washington (in modern Cincinnati) and, during the next two years, he makes careful preparations to destroy the alliance. While a line of forts is built which aims its line directly at north-western Ohio, Wayne trains a 'legion' of disciplined regulars to back-up the militia. Meanwhile, the prolonged war is causing the alliance to disintegrate.

Arthur St Clair
Arthur St Clair was suffering extensively from gout when his militia was attacked, but he continued bravely to try and lead his outclassed forces as they were butchered in battle


The Wabash tribes (Illinois, Kickapoo, Piankashaw, and Potawatomi) make a separate peace with the Americans, and the Fox and Sauk leave because the alliance is having trouble feeding its warriors. Additionally, although the British are still encouraging the war, the Americans have opened negotiations with them to end their support of the alliance and to agree to abandon the forts they still occupy on American territory. Peace overtures are also made to the alliance, but the Shawnee kill two of the American representatives whilst they are en route to meet the alliance council.


Baron de Carondelet, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, makes a formal land grant to the Missouri Delaware and Shawnee which covers an area of twenty-five miles square at Cape Girardeau. In the same year, the Delaware protect the survivors of the 1792 American delegation because their number includes Hendrick Aupamut, a Stockbridge (Mahican), with many Delaware relatives. Peace negotiations which are held that summer eventually fail and, in October, Wayne begins his advance into north-western Ohio.

Following a Shawnee attack on Fort Recovery which fails to stop Wayne, a council is held on the banks of the Maumee. Only the Miami, Shawnee and Wyandot favour war, but even the Miami war chief, Little Turtle, is beginning to realise that the alliance will lose, and urges negotiation. He is replaced by the Shawnee chief, Blue Jacket and, on 20 August, the alliance is defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. In order to avoid a fight with Wayne's army, the British at Fort Miami close their gates to the retreating warriors. The war for Ohio is over.


Wayne burns the alliance villages along the Maumee and destroys the stored food supply to ensure a hungry winter. Then he returns to Fort Greenville and waits. In August, the alliance chiefs sign the Fort Greenville Treaty, agreeing to peace and ceding all of Ohio except the north-western corner. The treaty leaves the Delaware without land and, with the exception of Captain Pipe's small band of Unami on the upper Sandusky, they relocate with the permission of the Miami to White River in eastern-central Indiana, near the site of present-day Muncie. Some of their villages are located in southern Indiana, near the Ohio River, which places them in the path of the next wave of American expansion. Indiana is never a happy place for the Delaware who feel like squatters on Miami land. After their defeat in the fight for Ohio, there is social disintegration, the men refusing to farm, and alcohol abuse becoming a serious problem.

1802 - 1818

By 1802 only a few isolated Mahican families continue to live along the Hudson. In 1808 nearly one-third of the Stockbridge under the leadership of John Metoxin accept an offer made by their relatives amongst the Delaware and Miami and, in 1818, John leads a group that heads westwards to the White River in Indiana - amounting to around twenty-five per cent of the tribe's total population.

Burning of Washington 1814
The attack and burning of Washington in 1814 resulted from the British operating from other flanks in support of the Canadian border's defenders

1831 - 1834

After a new treaty is signed in 1831, the move by the remaining Stockbridge Mahican is completed by 1834, with the Oneida locating themselves just to the west of Green Bay and the Stockbridge and Brotherton settling on the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago.

During the late 1830s the US government makes plans to send them to Oklahoma and Kansas. One group actually moves in 1839, but after suffering extreme hardship en route they do not adjust well to life on the plains and instead return to Wisconsin. By this time, the Stockbridge have decided that they had moved enough. However, serious internal divisions develop after the government offers citizenship if the Stockbridge end their tribal ownership of land. The majority of the Brotherton finally accept this offer in a treaty that is signed in 1856, while the Stockbridge, Munsee, and a few Brotherton move to a new 40,000 acre reservation to the west of Green Bay.

Tribal ownership finally ends with the individual allotments that are prescribed by the General Allotment Act (the Dawes Act, 1887). During the twenty-eight years between the completion of the allotment (1910) and the formation of a new Stockbridge tribal government in 1938 under the Indian Reorganisation Act (1934), much of their land is lost either to tax foreclosures or sales to US citizens. Although only 16,000 acres of their original reservation remains today, the Stockbridge Mahican and Munsee, and their Brotherton allies, are still very much alive.

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