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The Americas

North American Native Tribes


Unami (Delaware / Lenni-Lenape) (North American Tribes)
Incorporating the Aquackanonk, Assunpink, Axion, Calcefar, Gachwechnagechg, Hackensack, Haverstraw, Konekotay, Lehigh, Matanakons, Meletecunk, Mosilian, Navasink, Passayonk, Rankoke, Raritan, Reckgawawane, Sanhican, Shackamaxon, Tappan, Waoranec, & Yacomanshaghking

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 Unami were located in the modern state of Delaware, with their immediate neighbours being the Susquehannock to the west, the Unalachtigo to the north, and the Powhatan confederacy to the south.

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 - Munsee and Unami (or Wename before 1682) - the 'people down river'.

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 Unami sub-tribes were the Aquackanonk, Hackensack, Haverstraw, Navasink, Raritan, and Tappan, plus several other sub-tribes who have a more tentative pedigree amongst the Lenni-Lenape; the Assunpink, Axion,Calcefar, and Gachwechnagechg or Lehigh (records appear uncertain about either the naming of this group or its affiliations, perhaps especially as the Lehigh Valley was on the western edge of Lenape territory and only became an area of Lenape focus after the 1704 westward movement of the people). Plus there was the Nyack Band who rate as 'may have' belonged to the Unami, and then also the Konekotay, Matanakons (or Matanakans), Meletecunk, Mosilian, Passayonk, Rankoke (or Rancocas), Reckgawawane, Sanhican, Shackamaxon, Waoranec, and Yacomanshaghking.

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, from The Munsee Indians: A History, Robert S Grumet, 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.)


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'

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.


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.


The number of Dutch colonists of 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 (a Unami sub-group) 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.

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 acts is to send an armed sloop to the Tappan villages (another Unami sub-group) 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.

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)


In July, several pigs disappear from the De Vries plantation on Staten Island. The obvious conclusion is that the Raritan are responsible, but as it turns out, the culprits are Dutch. New Netherland's Governor Kieft chooses to deal with this 'major crisis' with a show of military force. In September, he sends a hundred men to Staten Island to punish the Raritan for the theft. Several Raritan are killed; one of their sachems taken hostage, and the corpse of another is mutilated.


The Raritan retaliate in the New Netherland 'Pig War' by burning De Vries' plantation and killing four of his field-hands. Governor 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 (another Unami sub-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. Meanwhile, Raritan and Wecquaesgeek sachems try to restore peace with the Dutch.

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.

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

1644 - 1645

Kieft offers 25,000 guilders to the English colonists in Connecticut for 150 men to help put down the uprising. Two companies are formed under the leadership of John Underhill and they join the fight in 1644. The first combined Dutch-English expedition is sent against the Unami Raritan on Staten Island, but the Raritan abandon their villages and flee into northern New Jersey. The Unami Tappan and Hackensack prove equally difficult to corner, but the Wappinger and 'Metoac' have nowhere to retreat and are badly mauled. Before a peace is signed at Fort Orange in August 1645, more than 1,600 Wappinger and their allies are killed.

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.

fl 1649


Speaker of the Hackensack Lenape. Sachem of Newark Bay.

1664 - 1666

In September 1664, 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 in New Jersey, however, suffer increased land losses. English colonists are far more numerous than the Dutch, and the conquest of New York opens new areas for their settlement. The Dutch have at least paid for native lands, but the English claim the land by right of discovery and pay only when absolutely necessary. Connecticut Puritans found Newark in 1666 and begin expanding the British Colonies into New Jersey.


Chief Mehocksett of the New Jersey Delaware and his brother, Chief Petequoque, together with Chief Socoroccett, sell parcels of land to the English which, because the colonists 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.

c.1712 - 1747

Sassoonan / Olumapies / Allumpees

Lenape head chieftain of the Unami. Signed treaties. Died 1747.

c.1712 - 1747

Head Chief Sassoonan (or Olumapies, also known as Allumapees), has the official subsidiary title of 'Keeper of the Wampum Records'. He is an Unami chief whose early home is on the Schuylkill River. By 1709 he lives at Paxtang (Harrisburg). In 1712 he and his delegation (which includes Lenape Chief Skalitchy) take wampum north to their 'uncles' (ie dominant masters) the Iroquois.

Schuylkill River
Head Chief Sassoonan's early home was along the Schuylkill River, although by 1709 he had relocated to Paxtang, possibly due to settler pressure

Sassoonan later emerges as the Delaware 'king', although this title has no traditional meaning to the Delaware, who live in autonomous villages. Since the governments of the British Colonies prefer to deal with a single leader rather than numerous village elders, Pennsylvania officials find Sassoonan useful because he can be induced (with the help of gifts and abundantly free alcohol) to sign away native lands, including the treaty of 1718 which is signed with William Penn. Sassoonan is assistant to Chief Shickellamy in 1743 and dies in 1747 at Shamokin. His designated successor is Pisquetomen.

fl 1718 - 1728

Netawatwees (Skilled Advisor)

Lenape Unami chief in Pennsylvania. 'King Newcomer'.


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 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.


FeatureShicellamy (or Shikellamy) is a 'great Oneida chief', a man of strong character and statesman-like vision. When a tribe is conquered by the Six Nations - in other words the Iroquois league - 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. He replaces Shingas (see below).


Lenape Chief Checochinican's main 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.


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 - c.1764


Nephew of Sassoon. A chief of the Delaware Turkey clan.

fl 1740

Tamaqua / King Beaver

Brother. A chief of the Delaware Turkey clan.


FeatureShingas is a member of the Delaware Turkey clan (or phratry) He is a nephew of Sassoonan. Along with his brothers, Tamaqua (also known as 'King Beaver') and Pisquetomen, Shingas becomes a prominent leader during the French-Indian War. After this and Pontiac's War, in about 1764, Shingas disappears from history and (according to C A Westlager) it seems that it is not known what becomes of him. 'King' Beaver and other leaders then rise to prominence.

Artist John Buxton's impressive impression of Chief Shingas, who was prominent in the eyes of European settlers

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.

fl 1747


Brother of Shingas. Designated as Sassoonan's successor.


Pisquetomen is brother to Lenape Chief Shingas (who begins to be important from 1740), 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.

1748 - 1776

Netawatwees (Skilled Advisor)

Former Unami sub-chief (of 1718). Succeeded Pisquetomen.


Netawatwees, otherwise known as 'King Newcomer', is an Unami Lenape who is said to have been born in 1678 in Pennsylvania. He had signed the Treaty of Conestoga in 1718 and now becomes chief of the Unami following the death of Sassoonan. With this comes responsibility as the keeper of the wampum and other records. He dies in Pittsburgh on 31 October 1776 and is succeeded by Captain White Eyes.


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 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.


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.

Logstown expedition 1749
As shown by this modern image, a French expedition visited Logstown in 1749 (location of the eponymous 1752 treaty), under the command of Pierre-Joseph Celeron de Blainville

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. 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.

fl 1753/1764

Custaloga (Wolf Chief)

Keeper of the Wampum under Shingas.

1753 - 1764

Custaloga (also known as Wolf Chief, 'Keeper of the Wampum' under Shingas) lives at Venango, Pennsylvania. He meets George Washington in 1753 when Washington is visiting Venango. Custaloga signs a treaty with his brother Onas in 1765, and is also an uncle of Munsee Chief Captain Pipe who, upon Custaloga's death, succeeds him.

1754 - 1760

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.

fl 1757 - 1758


Lenape head chieftain of the Unami.

fl 1758

Echpalawehund Peyrus

Assistant to Netawatwees. Killed.


Echpalawehund Peyrus is the right-hand man to Netawatwees. He becomes a Moravian convert but retains his position on the Council body. He is later killed at the 'Massacre of 8 March 1782' of the Christian Lenape (see below).

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, 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.

1764 - 1786

Konieschquanoheel / Hopocan / Cpt Pipe

Nephew of Custaloga. Munsee Delaware chief of the Wolf clan.


Konieschquanoheel (otherwise known as Hopocan and Captain Pipe) is the Munsee 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.

1772? - 1782

Captain Johnny

Chief of the Delaware Turkey clan under Netawatwees.

1772 - 1782

Captain Johnny is a chief of the Delaware Turkey clan who, early in the American Revolutionary War, visits General Washington at his army headquarters in New Jersey. He is listed as second chief under Netawatwees (see 1748). He is a convert to the Moravians and is among the ninety Christian Indians who are killed by the militia of Pennsylvania and Virginia in the 1782 massacre (see below).

1776 - 1778

Koquethagachton / Captain White Eyes

Head chief of the Turtle clan. Succeeded Netawatwees. Killed.

1776 - 1778

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.


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 (Unami Turtle clan) and Killbuck (Delaware 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.

By now Chief White Eyes is already aged around seventy-six, and is a famous sachem of the Turtle clan. He is a personal friend of George Washington and becomes a colonel in the American Army in 1778, having already succeeded as chief of the Turtle clan in 1776. However, 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. To show his good will, Chief White Eyes 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 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, 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.

Fort McIntosh
Fort McIntosh was erected in 1778 by General McIntosh in his role as commander of the western division to replace General Hand - unfortunately the treaty signed here failed miserably

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.

1786 - ?

Big Cat

Chief of the Wolf clan.


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. A mixed band of Mahican, Mohegan, Montauk, Narragansett, Pequot, and Wappinger have already moved to land given to them by the Oneida in New York, while a second group of forty or so Raritan-Delaware from a New Jersey reservation called Brotherton now join the first group. In 1833 the combined party moves to Wisconsin, with all of them now using the name Brotherton.

1887 - 1934

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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