History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 175

Target: 400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.

The Americas

North American Native Tribes


Munsee (Delaware / Lenni-Lenape) (North American Tribes)
Incorporating the Catskill, Esopus, Mamekoting, Minisink, Papagonk, Pompton, Waranawonkong, Wawarsink, & Wysox

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 Munsee were located in the modern state of Delaware, with their immediate neighbours being the Susquehannock to the west, the Unami to the south, the 'Metoac' to the east, the Pocumtuc and Mattabesic to the north-west, and the Mohawk and Mahican to the north.

The 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 either 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 - Unami and Munsee (the latter sometimes being shown as Minassiniu, Minisink, Minsi, Moncy, Monthey, Mundock, Muncey, Munsi, Muncie, and Munsie) - the 'people of the stony country'.

CompendiumHistory suggests that in the dim recesses of time the Lenni-Lenape were united with the Mahican, but split quite early on. Their two main tribes - Munsee and Unami - 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 Lenni-Lenape list, 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. Thanks 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.)

Amongst the many Munsee sub-tribes were the Esopus (who themselves had bands by the name of the Catskill, Mamekoting, Waranawonkong, and Wawarsink), and the Minisink (seemingly only a variation in name of 'Munsee'). They also had several other sub-tribes who have a more tentative pedigree amongst the Lenni-Lenape; the Pompton, Papagonk, and Wysox. The last of these, the Wysox, were a tribe or band that was reputed to live on a small creek which flows into the Susquehanna River. The Susquehannock themselves, who were dominant here, included a village named Wysox amongst their number, showing a possible transfer of allegiance (theoretically following the Susquehannock collapse). Of these, most are thought likely to have been divisions of the Munsee. Many of the sub-tribes scarcely get any mention at all in history, but the chief of the Minisink is named in 1766 - Neolegan (see below).

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. One major list of names 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, as mentioned above, 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, 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.)

1614 - 1618

Once the Mahican-Mohawk truce has been put in place, the Dutch of New Netherland build Fort Nassau on Castle Island in 1614, just south of modern Albany. This is mainly intended for fur trading, and initially with the Lenape 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).

Map showing Lenni-Lenape territory
The Lenni-Lenape were distributed as shown in this map, located mainly in New Jersey and adjacent territories, including the western section of Long Island, with a questionable group of possible Munsee speakers alongside them (click or tap on map to view full sized)

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 - Lenape 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.


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.


By this time, the Susquehannock have forced many Delaware groups either south into what will become the state of Delaware or across the river into New Jersey. The Dutch of New Netherland accept the outcome, but when they begin to trade with the Susquehannock, they are pleased to discover that the Susquehannock (skilled hunters and trappers) have more (and better) furs than the Delaware Lenape.


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 they have little time left to continue their war of conquest against the Delaware Lenape and Chesapeake Algonquin tribes (mostly the Conoy, Nanticoke, and Powhatan living on Chesapeake Bay).

In 1640 itself, New Sweden provides firearms to the Munsee who are allies of the Susquehannock against the Mahican. 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.

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'

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 come to the Wecquaesgeek villages demanding tribute. The Wecquaesgeek refuse, and in the melee which follows, seventeen are killed and many of their women and children captured. To escape the Mahican, the Wecquaesgeek 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.

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 Munsee chiefs at Wiltwijck and concludes a general peace on 15 July 1650.

? - 1649/50


Esopus sachem. Murdered by Dutch troops.

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.

1654 - 1655

The Dutch fort of Casimir is captured from New Netherland by the Swedes. In retaliation, the Dutch bring an army down from New Netherland (roughly 140 kilometres to the north-east). In 1655, New Sweden's main settlement at Fort Christina is captured, which also forces the surrender of the Munsee and Susquehannock in their war with the Mohawk, as they can no longer access a supply of arms - the equally exhausted Mohawk readily agree. Swedish attempts at colonising the New World have been brought to an end.

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 the midst of the Mohawk-Susquehannock war, another serious confrontation is taking shape with the Munsee in the Esopus Valley (a location that later becomes Kingston, New York). Although there may be a New Netherland fort or trading post in this location as early as 1614, actual settlement does not begin until 1652. Because of the suspicious nature of the land sales involved, the Munsee Esopus (involving their bands of the Catskill, Mamekoting, Wawarsink, and Waranawonkong) are inclined to oppose this, and there are several incidents of violence. Serious trouble is avoided until the end of the war in this year.

1657 - 1658

After several Dutch are killed in attacks in 1657, Governor Peter Stuyvesant arrives with troops from New Amsterdam and begins construction of a fort. At a conference, the Esopus attempt to blame the Munsee Minisink for the attacks, but Stuyvesant refuses to accept this and issues a humiliating challenge to the Esopus sachems to fight him right there if they want a war. His offer to purchase the disputed lands only increases the tension of the 'Esopus Rebellion', and the meeting ends on a hostile note. Stuyvesant departs, but he leaves fifty soldiers to garrison the fort.

In the following year, the situation worsens with the commencement of twenty years of death and destruction for the Lenape. After the murder of a Jesuit priest, war resumes along the St Lawrence between New France and the Mahican. At the same time, the Western Iroquois (Cayuga, Onondaga, and Seneca) attack the Susquehannock which, of course, draws the Munsee and Lenape into the fighting as Susquehannock allies. Meanwhile, the Mahican have ended their alliance with the Mohawk (in 1655) and have gone over to the side of their enemies in western New England, this being a French-inspired alliance of the Pennacook, Pocumtuc, and Sokoki (western Abenaki). Forced to fight this many wars, the Iroquois come to the Dutch and demand help. The Dutch promise arms and, in one of their few positive accomplishments in the year, convince the Mahican to desert their New England allies and make peace with the Mohawk.

1659 - 1660

In September, a group of Esopus who have been hired by a Dutch farmer to husk his corn decide to spend their wages on brandy. They become drunk and obnoxious but are a nuisance rather than a danger. However, a group of New Netherland vigilantes kill them, which starts the First Esopus War or rebellion (1659-60). The Esopus attack the Dutch settlements in the Esopus Valley, prisoners are burned alive, and the colonists besieged for three long weeks before Stuyvesant (delayed by hostilities with the 'Metoac' on Long Island) arrives with two hundred men. The Esopus retreat west into the mountains but continue to raid.

After the failure of the Mahican and Mohawk to arrange a truce, the Dutch launch an offensive in the spring of 1660. They destroy the Esopus fort near Wiltmeet in March, followed by other battles in April and May. Esopus prisoners are sold as slaves to the sugar plantations on Curacao. The Hackensack make another attempt to mediate in June and, threatened with war by the Mahican and Mohawk, the Esopus (already fighting the Seneca) finally agree to parley with the Dutch.

1661 - 1662

Chief 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 Maryland's subsequent aid to the Susquehannock in their war with the Mahican.

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.

First Esopus War
The First Esopus War was triggered by Dutch colonists who killed a group of drunken but harmless Esopus natives, and elevated into a three week siege of the settlers in the Esopus valley

1663 - 1664

With the Mohawk and Mahican busy fighting each other, the Esopus attack settlements in New Netherland the following June (this being the Second Esopus War or rebellion). Twenty-four are killed and forty-five captives are taken at Wiltwyck. Governor Stuyvesant sends reinforcements, including forty-six Massapequa warriors from Long Island. The Esopus retreat into the mountains again and continue to raid the Dutch farms in the valley. An expedition under Martin Creiger is sent after them but produces little. However, Creiger's second effort inflicts heavy casualties. Stuyvesant orders the taking of Esopus children as hostages to force a peace, but the Esopus retreat even deeper into Minisink (Munsee) country, and a third Dutch expedition in October is unable to reach them. A Wappinger sachem manages to arrange a prisoner exchange in November, but the fighting continues nonetheless.

In spring 1664, Stuyvesant receives orders to exterminate the Esopus and he calls in the Mohawk. Combining with the Seneca, the Mohawk destroy the Munsee capital at Minisink on the upper Delaware River. Hundreds are killed as other Munsee villages suffer a similar fate. Under attack from all directions, the Esopus make peace with the Dutch in May.

More momentously perhaps, in September, an English fleet captures New Amsterdam, defeating the Dutch. New Netherland suddenly becomes New York, but little changes for the Munsee in the Hudson Valley - the Dutch colonists stay, and the English quickly sign treaties of trade and friendship with the Mohawk and Mahican (who remain at war with each other until 1672). The Unami, however, suffer increased land losses.


The remaining Susquehannock have little choice but to surrender to the Mahican. 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 league 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.


The Mahican 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.


During William 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 separated from Pennsylvania in 1704. By 1718, the Mahican 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.


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.

1740 - 1747

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 Mahican to have them return to the Susquehanna, but when the Iroquois order them to do so, they are ignored.

Between now and 1747, French authority in the area is based on their alliance with the Great Lakes Algonquin, a body of people that has been created so that it can fight the Iroquois. However, the unity of this coalition has already been seriously undermined by competition from British traders. The situation becomes critical during King George's War (1744-1748) after a British blockade of Canada cuts the supply of French trade goods. By 1747 even loyal allies of the French such as the Wyandot and Miami are conspiring to trade with the British.


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 Mahican. 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.

fl 1744

Allemewi / Solomon

Chief of the Delaware Valley Indians.


Allemewi is a chief of the Delaware Valley Indians who is forced to move his people to Shamoken. A Munsee sachem himself, he is also blind. He accepts entry into the Moravian Church (one of the earliest Protestant denominations) and is baptised by Zeisberger.


At the time of the King George's War, a few Munsee and Wappinger families are still living along the lower Hudson. Scattered in a few small bands, they are peaceful and pose no danger to their white neighbours but, in 1745, French allies from New France attack settlements just to the north. Warned of a possible attack on the lower river settlements that autumn, Settlers in the British Colonies massacre several Munsee families near Walden, New York. The other Munsee and Wappinger immediately leave for Pennsylvania. They return the following year but no longer feel safe.

King George's War
King George's War was just one phase in a complicated power struggle between Britain and France for control of North America, and also for political and military dominance in Europe, and the native Americans were forced to take sides in the struggle

1748 - 1782

Glickhican / Glikhikan

Head chief of the Munsee Lenape. Killed.

1748 - 1782

Glickhican is the head chief of the Munsee. He accepts baptism under the Christian name of Isaac on Christmas Eve 1770. He is among the ninety Christian Indians who are killed by the militia of Pennsylvania and Virginia in the 1782 massacre (see below).


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 Mahican, and New France, but has largely been empty for almost a century following its conquest by the Iroquois during the Beaver Wars between 1630-1698. 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.

fl 1758

Ninsi John

Munsee Lenape prophet.


Ninsi John is a Munsee Lenape prophet who had been born around 1705. He now establishes a village at Wyalusing, at first urging his people to keep ancient Lenape ways and reject the culture of the settlers. Later he is converted and baptised (in 1765) and conducts the Moravian Lenape to Philadelphia for their own safety.

1764 - 1818

Konieschquanoheel / Hopocan / Cpt Pipe

Nephew of Custaloga of the Unami. Munsee Delaware chief.


Konieschquanoheel (otherwise known as Hopocan and Captain Pipe) is the nephew of Custaloga, keeper of the Wampum under Shingas of the Unami. Upon Custaloga's death in this year Captain Pipe succeeds him as chief of the Unami. Apparently he is already an hereditary sachem and head chief of the Munsee.

fl 1766/1774


A Munsee chief of the Minisink.

1766 - 1774

A chief of the Minisink (a division of the Munsee), Neolegan accepts baptism on 12 May 1774, presumably meaning that his people follow suit as is usually the case.

1778 - 1779

The American 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 in 1779 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 Mahican. 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 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.


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, Mahican, 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 (frontier settlers) 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.

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. 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.

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.

Oneida villages near Green Bay
The initial villages at the new settlement area to the west of Green Bay would have been much like the ones that the Oneida and Lenni-Lenape had left behind

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. These groups eventually form into one tribal body.

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.

Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original king list page for the History Files.