2 — Lenni-Lenape & their Descendants

Chap­ter Two

The Lenni-Lenape & their Descendants

This chap­ter spec­i­fies con­di­tions and rela­tions of Delaware eth­nies as they emerge from his­tor­i­cal and eth­no­log­i­cal sources. An attempt is made to pre­serve con­ti­nu­ity of tem­po­ral and geo­graph­i­cal chronol­ogy span­ning numer­ous relo­ca­tions, usu­ally of groups of fam­i­lies.  Some groups stand from the record in relief, due to their sit­u­a­tion in tumul­tuous times and cir­cum­stances, such as in wars, booms and rushes.

Indi­vid­u­als in posi­tions of lead­er­ship, includ­ing their close kin, are most often noted, bolth for the qual­i­ties and acts of lead­er­ship, and for their repeated pres­ence in the midst of momen­tous events hav­ing wide­spread his­tor­i­cal con­se­quences.  These events and indi­vid­u­als are fea­tured with the intent of estab­lish­ing a sense of the cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal atmos­phere within which Delaware fam­ily rela­tions have been devel­op­ing. It is sur­mised that only within these fam­ily rela­tions can be main­tained (and remem­bered) the con­di­tions of empir­i­cal expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary and suf­fi­cient for the main­te­nance of an eth­nic con­scious­ness, com­plete with a con­scious­ness of the eth­nic boundary.

Lit­er­a­ture Survey

The prob­lem of qual­i­ta­tive and per­spec­ti­val con­trast evi­dent in myr­iad observer accounts requires dis­cus­sion.  For exam­ple, the con­trast between accounts by observers who accom­pa­nied J.C. Fremont’s party of Delaware scouts, hunters and fight­ers  (Carey  1931;  Preuss  1958;  Korn  1971),  and  the metic­u­lously  doc­u­mented  his­tor­i­cal  accounts  by  Richard  C. Adams (1899; igo4; 1906) is unmis­tak­able.  Adams’ writ­ings, sam­ples of which appear later in this chap­ter, are drawn from the author’s knowl­edge of an exten­sive schol­arly and pri­mary source lit­er­a­ture, and from per­sonal expe­ri­ence as a Delaware descen­dant and observer of their mod­ern (turn-of-the-century) condition.

Exam­i­na­tion of the works by Adams, espe­cially those released as U.S. Gov­ern­ment pub­li­ca­tions, reveal an extra­or­di­nary level of con­cern for cor­rect attri­bu­tion of source by the author.  Each claim and fact is care­fully doc­u­mented, and it is this method­i­cal doc­u­men­ta­tion which has so greatly facil­i­tated sub­se­quent treat­ments of Delaware sub­ject mat­ter, includ­ing the work of Fer­gu­son (1972) and Wes­lager (1972, 1978a).  The extent of Adams’ con­tri­bu­tion can’t be known, but it needs to be car­ried in mind that the best schol­arly syn­opses are not nec­es­sar­ily the result of chronicity.

Less rig­or­ous are the accounts by expe­di­tion­ers with Fre­mont, who included Fremont’s per­sonal biog­ra­pher, and the artist, Solomon Nunes Car­valho. This diver­sity of per­spec­tive and vari­ety of per­sonal inter­pre­tive abil­ity ren­ders the record exceed­ingly dif­fi­cult to unravel with con­fi­dence.  Nonethe­less, an attempt is made here to do so.

The most reli­able data for ear­lier groups, espe­cially pre­his­toric ones, are archae­o­log­i­cal and lin­guis­tic. Each gen­er­a­tion of his­to­ries, eth­nolo­gies and ethno-histories becomes suc­ces­sively more redun­dant, often being reduced to sum­maries of sum­maries of pri­mary sources.  It is only due to the rel­a­tively high qual­ity and reli­a­bil­ity of these sources and sub­se­quent ver­i­fi­ca­tion of pri­mary data by descen­dants of the abo­rig­i­nal Lenni-Lenape peo­ples that any sum­mary can be con­sid­ered reliable.

Done over, with iden­ti­cal resources, per­haps study of the Delawares of Idaho would fol­low a dif­fer­ent path.  The lit­er­a­ture of numer­ous related realms of inter­est com­bine to work threads of skewed inter­pre­ta­tion into the fab­ric of eth­nic­ity some­times archaically referred to as the “cus­toms” of an Indian ethny.  A fledg­ling ethno­g­ra­pher may as eas­ily stum­ble in the library as in the field.

The sin­gle most use­ful doc­u­ment for the pur­pose of study­ing Lenni-Lenape/Delaware cul­tural his­tory is Weslager’s (1978b) crit­i­cal bib­li­og­ra­phy. Few titles of seri­ous treat­ments of the sub­ject pro­duced prior to its appear­ance can be found miss­ing from this exhaus­tive list.  Per­haps three-quarters of the 200-plus ref­er­ences it con­tains have been exam­ined for this report. Only neg­li­gi­ble minor dif­fi­cul­ties are met in the process of locat­ing doc­u­ments as cited, and the errors likely orig­i­nate in type­set­ting or other sec­ondary process.

All of the extant his­tor­i­cal mate­ri­als related to the early years of colo­nial con­tact are trace­able to rel­a­tively few basic sources. Chief among these is David Zeis­berger (1910, 1912), a Mora­vian mis­sion­ary whose influ­ence on events chron­i­cled was per­haps con­sid­er­able, due to the vig­or­ous efforts at pros­e­ly­ti­za­tion required and com­mis­sioned by the Mora­vian Church, i.e. the United Brethren.  Zeisberger’s jour­nals, duti­fully for­warded to the archives of the church then became the basis for most sub­se­quent trea­tises (Loskiel 1794 I Heck­ewelder 1876; Hul­bert and Schwarze 1910, 1912; Reichel 1870; Gip­son 1938; Kini­etz 1946; Wes­lager 1972).

Social and polit­i­cal rela­tions are illu­mi­nated in the reports of Paul Wal­lace (1952, 1958, 1960, 1961), Bliss (1885), Bow­den (1981) and Jen­nings (1984). Study of the impor­tant area of Delaware rela­tions with numer­ous agen­cies of for­eign and domes­tic pow­ers yields a glimpse of gre­gar­i­ous and polit­i­cally skilled sets of indi­vid­u­als. Much has been gained in the abil­ity to char­ac­ter­ize pos­si­ble family-maintained cul­tural forms which man­i­fest in the rela­tions of Delaware fam­i­lies among them­selves and with out­siders in times both early and late.

The Iro­quois, or Five (and later Six) Nations are linked to the Delawares by polit­i­cal, eco­nomic and social his­tory, not to men­tion the gene pool expan­sion which accom­pa­nies accul­tur­a­tion. The con­trasts in cul­tural forms between the two emerge read­ily from the record (Jen­nings 1963, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1974, 1984).

A study of sin­gu­lar inter­est for research of the geneal­ogy of the Delawares of Idaho is the unpub­lished doc­toral dis­ser­ta­tion of Roger James Fer­gu­son (1972), whose study effort con­cen­trated on the Delawares who inhab­ited a por­tion of Indi­ana, once forced from their homes fur­ther east. These have become known as the White River Delawares. All events which might have rel­e­vance for this study are too com­plex and numer­ous to allow full case-by-case descrip­tion, still it can be said that they largely mir­ror the forces which have buf­feted and shaped his­toric Delaware eth­nies.  Fer­gu­son pro­vides an excel­lent sum­mary of the forces which car­ried the Delawares to the White River, from which they would ulti­mately be forced by the U.S. into Kansas and Oklahoma:

The peo­ple who com­prised the Delaware tribe of the eigh­teenth cen­tury inhab­ited at the time of Euro­pean con­tact parts of the state of Delaware, all of New Jer­sey, east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, and part of south­east­ern New York. The Lenni-Lenape, from con­tact through the early decades of the sev­en­teenth cen­tury, enjoyed a favor­able trad­ing posi­tion with the Euro­pean pow­ers. The Eng­lish, how­ever, were inter­ested in expand­ing their colo­nial pos­ses­sions and by 1650 the Lenni-Lenape had been dis­pos­sessed in favor of the Iro­quois.  From the mid­dle decades of the sev­en­teenth cen­tury to the begin­ning of the eigh­teenth cen­tury the Lenni-Lenape engaged in a vio­lent strug­gle with the British-supported Iro­quois and the land-hungry Euro­peans. The Iro­quois were vic­to­ri­ous and the defeated and sub­ju­gated Lenni-Lenape were forced to migrate to the Susque­hanna River and into West­ern Penn­syl­va­nia. It was in this area that the polit­i­cal entity known as the Delaware Tribe emerged. It was com­prised of the Lenni-Lenape and included bands of Conoys, Shawnees, Nan­ti­cokes, Mahi­cans, Mun­sees, and rem­nants of other dis­or­ga­nized and shat­tered bands. In 1751, the Delawares began to form set­tle­ments in east­ern Ohio where they were sup­ported by the French. The alliance with the French dur­ing the French and Indian War freed the Delawares from Iro­quois dom­i­na­tion but the tribe was not polit­i­cally strong enough to with­stand a new tribal divi­sion that was engen­dered by the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion. Their fierce oppo­si­tion to white set­tle­ment within the Ohio River region dur­ing the last three decades of the eigh­teenth cen­tury resulted in fur­ther depop­u­la­tion and geo­graphic dis­place­ment. After the Treaty of Greenville white emi­grants poured into the upper Ohio Val­ley and a large band of Delawares, includ­ing the prin­ci­pal chiefs, migrated to lands between the Ohio and White River in the present State of Indi­ana (Fer­gu­son, 1972: 40 – 41).

Sub­ju­ga­tion of the Delaware by the Iro­quois included a curi­ous and con­tro­ver­sial dimen­sion. It argues in favor of con­cep­tual plas­tic­ity regard­ing gen­der about the mean­ing of which there is con­tin­u­ing con­fu­sion and dis­agree­ment. It is only men­tioned to exem­plify ver­sa­til­ity and dynamism in the world view of pre­his­toric peo­ple in gen­eral, and the Lenni-Lenape in particular.

Jay Miller (1974) has dis­cussed the con­tro­versy which accom­pa­nies the inter­pre­ta­tion of a num­ber of “ref­er­ences to the whole Delaware Nation as women in con­tradis­tinc­tion to the Iro­quois as men.”  It is held to have been a con­di­tion forced upon the Delawares, fol­low­ing as a result of losses in war­fare (Mor­gan 1972:15,338; Wes­lager 1944, 1947, 1972), with the shared view that a rec­i­p­ro­cal polit­i­cal agree­ment was being made (Zeis­berger 1910; Heck­ewelder 1876; Speck 1946; A. Wal­lace 1947).

Cit­ing evi­dence that the Delawares were a more for­mi­da­ble entity than the Iro­quois dur­ing the term of this sex-based polar­ity, Miller sug­gests that in fact it can be rec­og­nized as an exam­ple of the Levi-Straussian “trans­for­ma­tion” or “insis­tence on dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion” (Levi-Strauss 1968:75)’ The Delaware became women before 1712, and were for­mally declared men again in 1795, but the des­ig­na­tion women con­tin­ues today between Cana­dian Delawares and Iro­quois (Miller 1974:510).

Any deroga­tory con­no­ta­tion which has attached to the notion of the Delawares as women has come from the Euro­pean per­spec­tive.  We must ask the ques­tions: How did the ambi­gu­ity of sex sta­tus relate to the value of men vs. women to the com­mu­nity? and how did the ambi­gu­ity trans­late into per­cep­tions of kin-relatedness?.  Fol­low­ing Miller, I note Zeisberger’s emphatic descrip­tion of:

…the strong antipa­thy between the Delaware and Iro­quois, in which the for­mer was always stronger. There­fore, the Iro­quois plot­ted by wile what they could not achieve by force. The Iro­quois preached that one nation should have the exalted sta­tus of women, of peace­keep­ers, of sanc­tu­ary. The Delawares assumed this sta­tus and became known as cousins (sister’s chil­dren) to their Iro­quois uncles (mother’s broth­ers) (Zeis­berger 1910:34 – 36).

Miller sup­ports his own the­sis of trans­for­ma­tion with evi­dence of sim­i­lar phe­nom­ena among the Keres, Tewa, Plains Pawnee and Win­nebago (1974:413).  No posi­tion is taken on this ques­tion here, but it presents inter­est­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties for future study. An impor­tant source­book for inter­pre­ta­tion of ambigu­ous areas of Delaware data, e.g. those related to the Delawares as women, has been A Delaware Indian Sym­po­sium (Kraft, ed. 1974). It pro­vides a vari­ety of use­ful infor­ma­tion related to fam­ily and the ide­o­log­i­cal metaphor of fam­ily, or family-based cos­mol­ogy.  It con­tains the best sum­mary of the pre­his­tory of the New Jer­sey area which is con­tributed by the editor.

Another use­ful paper in this vol­ume is Thunnan’s dis­cus­sion of his proces­sual analy­sis of Delaware social orga­ni­za­tion (p.111). Weslager’s con­tri­bu­tion to it, an account of his own per­sonal name-giving cer­e­mony, is most inter­est­ing in two respects: the clear pres­ence of a fam­ily metaphor in the cos­mol­ogy revealed in utter­ances of the event, and for his claim that it was the first time the cer­e­mony had been per­formed west of the Mis­sis­sippi in 200 years.   The lat­ter claim surely needs to be checked, as it may be in error.

Polit­i­cal Organization

The abo­rig­i­nal ter­ri­to­ries of the north­east wood­land Lenni-Lenape lay so close to points of debarka­tion for the flotilla of Euro­pean colonists, that they were among the ear­li­est indige­nous Amer­i­cans to make con­tact and to be dis­pos­sessed. The intro­duc­tion to an early report on remains from the Min­isink bur­ial site makes this clear.
On the arrival of  white set­tlers, the entire region after­ward known as New Jer­sey belonged to the Lenni-Lenape or Delawares whose set­tle­ments extended “from the Mohi­can­ni­tuck (Hud­son River) to beyond the Potomac”, and “from the heads of the great rivers ‘Susque­hanna’  and ‘Delaware’  to the Atlantic Ocean (Heck­ewelder).  The neigh­bor­ing tribes to the north (Mohe­gan, Nar­ra­gansett, Pequot, and oth­ers), as well as well as those on the south (Nan­ti­coke, the Powhatan Con­fed­er­acy and oth­ers), all acknowl­edged rela­tion­ship with the Delawares, with whom, there is no doubt,   they were affil­i­ated lin­guis­ti­cally (Hrdlicka 1918:13).

Hrdlicka sum­ma­rized events which enveloped the Munsi.  He felt that the pres­ence of Shawnees among the Delawares 40 to 50 years before their removal from Delaware prob­a­bly explained skele­tal vari­a­tion he observed in the remains of the Min­nisink bur­ial ground. He also refers to the remains of a tail white roan, “pos­si­bly Dutch, Eng­lish or Swede who reached the upper val­ley after l6lU” (p.2l4).

This sur­vey of the abo­rig­i­nal ter­ri­tory of the Lenni-Lenape and of neigh­bor­ing groups, their polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion and affil­i­a­tions, reveals a socio-politically dynamic group.

The 1911 Hand­book of Amer­i­can Indi­ans north of Mex­ico (Hodge, ed. 1911:385 – 387) adds this background:

[There was] a con­fed­er­acy, for­merly the most impor­tant of the Algo­nquian stock, occu­py­ing the entire basin of Delaware r. in E. Penn­syl­va­nia and S. E. New York, together with most of New Jer­sey and Delaware. They called them­selves Lenape or Leni-Lenape, equiv­a­lent to  ‘real men* or ‘native, gen­uine men’; the Eng­lish knew them as Delawares,  from the name of their prin­ci­pal river; the French called them Loups, ‘wolves ‘, a term prob­a­bly applied orig­i­nally to the Mahi­can on Hud­son r.,  after­ward extended to the Mun­see divi­sion and to the whole group. To the more remote Algo­nquian tribes they, together with all their cog­nate tribes along the coast far up into New Eng­land, were known as Wapanachki ‘east­ern­ers’  or ‘east­ern land peo­ple’, a term which appears also as a spe­cific tribal des­ig­na­tion in the form of Abnaki. By virtue of admit­ted pri­or­ity of polit­i­cal rank and of occu­py­ing the cen­tral home ter­ri­tory, from which most of the cog­nate tribes had diverged, they were accorded by all the Algo­nquian tribes the respect­ful title of “grand­fa­ther” a recog­ni­tion accorded by cour­tesy also by the Huron. The Nan­ti­coke, Conoy, Shawnee, and Mahi­can claimed close con­nec­tion with the Delawares and pre­served the tra­di­tion of a com­mon origin.

At the out­break of hos­til­i­ties between the Five Nations and the French, the advance of the Iro­quois in the south was being con­tested by the Shawnee, who at that time were also engaged in war with the Chero­kee. In the lat­ter they (the Shawnee) suf­fered severely, and but for the timely aid of the Mahi­cans they would have been destroyed. The Lenni-Lenapes (Delawares) invited them to remove to their coun­try; the invi­ta­tion being accepted, the Min­sis brought the mat­ter to the atten­tion of the gov­ern­ment to New York, in Sep­tem­ber, 1692, on an appli­ca­tion to per­mit their set­tle­ment in the Min­nisink coun­try. The coun­cil gave its assent on con­di­tion that they should first make peace with the Five Nations. This was soon affected dur­ing the lat­ter part of the sev­en­teenth cen­tury. The Munsi of Min­isink was one of three main groups of Algonkian-speaking Lenni-Lenape. The other two are the Unami and Unalachtigo.  All three names were deter­mined in rela­tion to geo­graph­i­cal fea­tures of each group’s respec­tive ter­ri­tory, or sub­sis­tence area.  It is not known whether bound­aries other than lin­guis­tic were impor­tant for these groups or not. Surely they exchanged goods and mar­riage part­ners. There was no greater degree of polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tion than to the vil­lage of one’s own clan. Other clans and vil­lages had other lead­ers, and unlike one’s own clans­men, the mem­bers of other clans were eli­gi­ble sources for mar­riage part­ners. Unami,  Unalachtigo  and  Munsi  were  occu­piers, respec­tively, of the “down­stream”, “stony coun­try, or moun­taineer”,  and  “near  waves”  (river’s  mouth), (Brin­ton 1885).  The prin­ci­pal totemic des­ig­na­tions within the three tribes are the Wolf, Tur­tle and Turkey.  These par­tic­u­lars sug­gest the prob­a­ble extent of Delaware polit­i­cal rela­tions through­out the early colo­nial period.

Many early accounts of Delaware cus­toms come from immi­grants, not all as uncam­ou­flaged of motive as Johan Printz, an early Swedish gov­er­nor of the colony on the Delaware River. His let­ters to Swe­den show that the Swedes were inter­ested in three things from the Delawares: land, ani­mal pelts and their souls for con­ver­sion to Chris­tian­ity (Adams 1906).  How­ever, it would be greatly mis­taken to pic­ture the Delawares as mer­ci­lessly exploited vic­tims of avari­cious neigh­bors and traders.

Ban­ished from trade on the Chesa­peake and at New Ams­ter­dam, the Susque­han­nocks smug­gled some of their pel­try to the Dutch through the Delawares, who made a good thing out of the sit­u­a­tion. The Delawares got trade goods from the Swedes, either on credit or in exchange for maize, traded the goods for sur­plus Susque­han­nock furs, took the furs to New Ams­ter­dam for the high Dutch prices, and had a neat profit from the cycle (Jen­nings 1984:120 – 1).

Through­out the his­tor­i­cal period Delawares appear in eco­nomic, polit­i­cal and affi­nal alliances with their neigh­bors, both Indian and non-Indian alike.  The theme of trade-based rela­tions is a per­sis­tent one through­out Delaware cul­ture his­tory. In it can be found a shared com­po­nent with the his­tory of the Delawares of Idaho, as will be seen in the fol­low­ing chap­ter. It is a com­po­nent formed of the link­age between kin­ship, sub­sis­tence and ter­ri­tory, com­plete with an ide­o­log­i­cal ratio­nale, e.g. tra­di­tion, eth­nic pride, etc.

Har­ring­ton (1908b) pro­vides an analy­sis of one instance of kin-based, gen­er­a­tionally holis­tic cul­tural fac­tors influ­en­tial in shap­ing the mode and char­ac­ter of Delaware adap­ta­tion. While the char­ac­ter­is­tics are not described directly, they emerge from his descrip­tion of “some cus­toms of the Delaware Indi­ans”. His (1913) treat­ment of early Delaware his­tory is help­ful but super­fi­cial.  Har­ring­ton skips over much of pre-to post-Revolutionary War era upheaval of war­fare, dis­lo­ca­tion and dec­i­ma­tion to arrive at a sim­ple treat­ment of a lim­ited num­ber of impor­tant Delaware cul­tural sys­tems which, if taken as fac­tual, reveal more about the role of kin­ship in Delaware cos­mol­ogy than all the grisly tales of bat­tle skir­mishes, raids, shaky and treach­er­ous alliances and the rest of male-dominated occur­rences which arise out of mar­tial peri­ods. A world also exists wherein the aged, and women and chil­dren main­tain the daily prac­tices which pro­duce the cul­tural and bio­log­i­cal sur­vival of any group.  This is a par­si­mo­nious expli­ca­tion of the lev­els of Lenni-Lenape social and lin­guis­tic organization:

In accor­dance with a social sys­tem which was very gen­eral among the Amer­i­can Indi­ans, the mem­bers of the three tribal divi­sions of the Delawares were grouped into three clans, the Turkey, the Wolf and the Tur­tle. These clans did not cor­re­spond to the tribal divi­sions, whose dis­tin­guish­ing names, the Hunsi, the Unami and the Unalachtigo were of geo­graph­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. Each tribe, occu­py­ing its ter­ri­tory, would have a Turkey clan, a Wolf clan and a Tur­tle clan. The mem­bers of each clan believed that they were descended from the ani­mal whose name they bore. Each indi­vid­ual was born into one of the other of these clans and claimed by right of inher­i­tance the cor­re­spond­ing ani­mal as his totem. Inher­i­tance was through the mother, that is to say a child belonged to its mother’s clan irre­spec­tive of the father’s affil­i­a­tions. More­over each clan was divided into twelve smaller groups bear­ing such names, accord­ing to present usage, as Yel­low Tree, Slip­ping Down and Red Paint.  These smaller groups or sub-clans as we may call them for the present, were exogamic, that is to say a man might not marry within his own sub-clan but must choose a wife from one of the thirty-five other sub-clans. His chil­dren, then, would belong, not to his own sub-clan but to the sub-clan and the clan of the mother. Among the Amer­i­can Indi­ans the exogamic groups very com­monly cor­re­spond to the totemic groups, but among the Delawares, the cus­tom appears to have been as described (Har­ring­ton 1908b: 53 – 54).


While the num­bers attrib­uted to their pop­u­la­tion have never been very large, Delawarans appear to have sus­tained heavy losses in war­fare, often as prox­ies for other par­ties (Fore­man 1946). God­dard (1978) has pre­sented esti­mates of pop­u­la­tion for Munsi and Unami-speaking groups which dimin­ish­ing num­bers, near dec­i­ma­tion, reach­ing a low total of 1475 per­sons in 1867. This num­ber was down from 11,000 esti­mated in 1600. The same table shows a Mun­see increase in 1900 from 550 to 625, drop­ping by 100 per­sons over the ensu­ing fifty years. By con­trast, Unami speak­ers num­bered 1175 in 1867, 850 in 1900, increas­ing to 1400 per­sons by 1950.  No fig­ures are given for the Unalachtigo-speakers, nor in fact are they men­tioned at all, leav­ing us to spec­u­late about whether they should be con­sid­ered included in the other fig­ures, or sim­ply not included because their where­abouts and num­bers were unknown.


In his (1956b) study of the cul­ture and accul­tur­a­tion of the Delaware Indi­ans, New­comb per­formed an exhaus­tive analy­sis of the pri­mary and schol­arly sources, and cited a par­tic­u­lar dif­fi­culty in iden­ti­fy­ing spe­cific arche­o­log­i­cal sites in the Mid­dle Atlantic slope area with his­toric tribes. This is due both to early emi­gra­tion, dis­per­sal or death of coastal inhab­i­tants, com­bined with site destruc­tion through heavy urbanization.

Newcomb’s exhaus­tive sum­mary, as well as that of God­dard (1978:216 – 218) shows the rel­a­tively great impor­tance of maize agri­cul­ture to the early Lenni-Lenape cul­tures, and empha­sizes the impor­tance of women in grow­ing and pre­serv­ing food crops (pp.l4-20). Nei­ther dis­putes nor min­i­mizes the value of hunt­ing to Lenni-Lenape sur­vival, although the rel­a­tive impor­tance of hunt­ing vs. agri­cul­ture is not assessed in terms of whether one strat­egy out­weighed the other in net energy yield. A good short sum­ma­riza­tion of the sub­sis­tence ways and means, and the mate­r­ial base on which they rested is as follows:

The Delaware Indi­ans did not depend solely upon the chase for sub­sis­tence, for they grew large fields of corn or maize, squash, beans, sweet pota­toes, and tobacco. They man­u­fac­tured a kind of pot­tery, dressed deer­skins, and made beads or wampum, feather man­tels and other orna­ments, and used con­sid­er­able native cop­per, which they ham­mered into orna­ments or used for arrow­heads and pipes. They also made stone pipes, bows and arrow­heads. The corn or maize was bro­ken up in stone or wooden mor­tars, with stone or wooden pes­tles. Their imple­ments of war were war clubs, tom­a­hawks, bows and arrows, scalp­ing knives and spears. They often used the bow and arrow and spear for killing fish and game.  They caught fish with fish­hooks made of bone and dried claws of birds, and also used brush nets (Adams 1906:2 – 3).

Other lists, and dis­cus­sions of related tech­nolo­gies, include descrip­tions of a highly var­ied com­plex of resource exploita­tion with women gar­den­ing and men hunt­ing. If hunt­ing did not pro­vide the great­est part of the food require­ment of the peo­ple, then it surely pro­vided the widest range of mate­ri­als use­ful in the over­all sub­sis­tence tech­nol­ogy. Most impor­tant of these prod­ucts were prob­a­bly ani­mal skins, and if there was some ani­mal present whose pelt was not sought and taken, it is not noted in the lit­er­a­ture reviewed for this study.

In addi­tion to the hunters and gar­den­ers, some few indi­vid­u­als would be “part-time spe­cial­ists” such as wampum mak­ers, arti­sans, shamans and sachems (lead­ers). These would also per­form the tasks nor­mal to per­sons of their gen­der (New­comb 1956b:21).  Newcomb’s care­ful anno­ta­tion and atten­tion to detail in the attri­bu­tion of pri­mary sources make his con­tri­bu­tion one of the most use­ful and impor­tant among anthro­po­log­i­cal writ­ings extant.

Another note­wor­thy dimen­sion of Lenni-Lenape adap­ta­tion is the well-developed con­cept among them of the pri­vate own­er­ship of prop­erty, and espe­cially the fam­ily hunt­ing ter­ri­tory (although it should not be likened to the Euro­pean sense of same). This aspect  has  been  noted  repeat­edly,  first  by  Heck­ewelder (1881:158 – 9),  and  sub­se­quently  in  inves­ti­ga­tions  by  Speck (1915:289 – 305),  Mac­Cleod  (1922:463) and New­comb (1956:22 – 3). The lat­ter, cit­ing agree­ment with Heckewelder’s con­cept of Delaware land pos­ses­sion, called this sum­mary the most penetrating:

To the Delaware Indian, land was an ele­ment, a medium of exis­tence, like the air and the sun­light and the rivers. To him, “own­er­ship” of land meant, not exclu­sive per­sonal title to the soil itself, but occu­pa­tion of a cer­tain posi­tion of respon­si­bil­ity in the social unit which exploited the soil.  The “sale” of land (to use the white man’s term) might, to the Delaware, be almost any mutu­ally sat­is­fac­tory change in the rela­tion­ship of two groups of per­sons sub­sist­ing on the land.  In the ear­li­est sales, the Indi­ans seem to have intended only to give the whites free­dom to use the land in con­junc­tion to the native pop­u­la­tion (Wal­lace 1947:2).

All are agreed that, in con­tradis­tinc­tion to the Iro­quois way of com­mu­nal hunt­ing grounds, that the East­ern Algonkian way was family-held hunt­ing grounds, namely a unit of up to 200 square miles which would be asso­ci­ated with the names of indi­vid­ual Delawares, espe­cially on Euro­pean doc­u­ments where they would be listed as “own­ers”. Most often these were “sim­ply rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the social units who used this land” (Wal­lace 1947:4).

New­comb sum­ma­rized the cur­rent view of the rela­tion­ship between this form of ter­ri­to­ri­al­ity and Delaware social organization:

Inher­i­tance of hunt­ing ter­ri­tory right is but vaguely under­stood.  Mac­Cleod has sug­gested that the inher­i­tance of hunt­ing ter­ri­tory was through the pater­nal line, since it was used pri­mar­ily by males. If this was true, it would sug­gest either that matri­lin­eal reck­on­ing of kin­ship was an his­toric accre­tion to Delaware cul­ture, or that the two sys­tems existed side by side (MacLeod 1922:452). Wal­lace has con­cluded, as have I, that the mater­nal lin­eage was the social unit that “owned”, or per­haps more aptly, “belonged to”, the indi­vid­ual hunt­ing ter­ri­tory (Wal­lace 1947:18). There is noth­ing incom­pat­i­ble in the exis­tence of mater­nal lin­eages (or clans) and male-used hunt­ing ter­ri­to­ries (New­comb 1956:24).

It is pre­cisely upon this ele­ment of Delaware cul­ture his­tory which hangs a large part of the the­sis that sur­vival of salient eth­nic­ity is borne gen­er­a­tionally within fam­ily struc­tures, and can be related both to the mate­r­ial con­di­tions of exis­tence and to the per­cep­tual salients of kin­ship in rela­tion to that existence.


Fol­low­ing is a short dis­cus­sion of the ani­mistic spirit beliefs of the Delawares which opens a clear vista of the mean­ing of kin­ship in Delaware cosmology:

Over this entire spirit world ruled Gice­la­mukaong, a name usu­ally trans­lated “Great Spirit”. He was the chief of all and dwelt in the twelfth or high­est heaven.  He cre­ated every­thing, either with his own hands, or through his appointed agents, and all the great pow­ers of nature were assigned to their duties by his word. He gave the four quar­ters of the earth and the winds that come from them to four pow­er­ful beings or Man­i­towoc:  namely “Our grandfather-where-daylight-appears” (East), “Our grandmother-where-it-is-warm” (South), “Our grandfather-where-the-sun-goes-down” (West) and “Our grand­fa­ther where-it-is-Winter” (North). To the Sun and Moon, called “Elder Broth­ers” by the Indi­ans he gave the duty of pro­vid­ing light; and to “Our Elder Broth­ers the Thun­ders”, man­like winged beings, the task of bring­ing rain and of pro­tect­ing the peo­ple against the great horned ser­pents and other water mon­sters. “Our Mother the Earth” received the duty of car­ry­ing and feed­ing the peo­ple, while “living-Solid-Face” or Mask Being was directed to take charge of all the wild crea­tures of the for­est (Har­ring­ton 1908b: 55).

The par­al­lel to be drawn between a nur­tur­ing nat­ural world and the nur­ture pro­vided by the kin­ship sys­tem is inescapable. Har­ring­ton stud­ied Delaware data for answers to spe­cific ques­tions of kin­ship and cos­mol­ogy:  How the spirit of the unborn child kept com­pany with its father. How the spirit of the new­born child was induced to remain with its human kin­dred. How a child was named.  How the Delaware boy obtained his guardian spirit.  The answers to these ques­tions reveal the impor­tance of fam­ily mat­ters to the Delaware hus­band and father. Per­haps all the more so because of the lengthy absences of the men while hunt­ing, and other activ­i­ties, which required them to be away from home for long periods.

A fam­ily metaphor is observed in Lenni-Lenape/Delawaran cos­mol­ogy. It is present in the under­ly­ing struc­ture of most utter­ances attrib­uted to native infor­mants and other speak­ers of Lenni-Lenape dialects. It is present in offi­cial procla­ma­tions, in observer accounts and descrip­tions, and it is present in all cer­e­mo­nial ver­bal­iza­tions. Where it is not explicit, it is usu­ally tacit. This metaphor, cou­pled with an emer­gent sense of the daily round of eth­nic Delaware life, pro­vide a basis for the claim that cer­tain essen­tial ele­ments in the self per­cep­tion of Delaware fam­ily mem­bers at any given time, con­sti­tutes an exam­ple of eth­nic survival.

The panorama of early Lenni-Lenape cos­mol­ogy includes more recent devel­op­ments which are impor­tant for under­stand­ing the eth­nic per­spec­tive of the Delawares of Idaho. An exam­ple of this is the Walam Oluro:

Among the tribes of the east­ern United States there were a few indi­vid­u­als who attempted to com­pose some­what exten­sive records in their native lan­guages. One of the most curi­ous exam­ples is that known as the Walam Plum, a short account of the early his­tory of the Delaware tribe, writ­ten in that idiom, with mnemonic sym­bols attached.  Its his­tory is not very com­plete. A “Dr. Ward, of Indi­ana” is said to have obtained it from a mem­ber of the nation, in 1822. From him it passed into the hands of Prof.  C.S. Rafinesque, an eccen­tric and vision­ary French­man, who passed the later years of his life in Philadel­phia. He under­took to trans­late it, and after his death the trans­la­tion, together with the orig­i­nal, came into the pos­ses­sion of Mr. E. G. Squier. By him it was first pub­lished but in a par­tial and incom­plete man­ner, much of the orig­i­nal text and many of the mnemonic sym­bols being omit­ted and no effort being made to improve Rafinesque’s trans­la­tion”.   [First printed in The Amer­i­can Whig Review, New York, Feb. 1849, reprinted in The Indian Mis­cel­lany, edited by W.W. Beach, Albany, 1877 I have not been able to find the orig­i­nal] (Brin­ton 1883:20 – 21).

Also an inves­ti­ga­tor of claims con­tained in the Walam Plum, New­comb con­cluded: “Suf­fice it to say that the Walam Olum was prob­a­bly a prod­uct of the Delawares dur­ing their phase of revival­is­tic nativism”:
[It seems] to be an account, by a despair­ing per­son unable to gain his cus­tom­ary sat­is­fac­tions from a life that no longer existed, of a Golden Age which never was. Indeed the Walam Olum plainly appears to be the mir­ror image of a nativis­ti­cally ori­ented peo­ple, rather than an authen­tic account of their past.

An attempt to iden­tify cul­tural par­al­lels between ele­ments of the Walam Olum and the data of Lenni-Lenape and his­toric Delaware peo­ples has been incon­clu­sive (Voegelin 1939). There are other ide­o­log­i­cal ele­ments of Delaware eth­nic­ity which deserve con­sid­er­a­tion require men­tion.  The prin­ci­pal func­tional attribute of Delawaran reli­gion, namely the Big House cer­e­mony, and later the emer­gence of the prac­tice of Pey­otism (New­comb 1956; Petrullo 1934) have been impor­tant ele­ments of Delaware eth­nic­ity. An addi­tional item of rel­e­vance is the devel­op­ment of pan-Indianism among the Delawares, as a hedge against the ero­sion of their Native Amer­i­can cul­ture (New­comb 1955b).  This is an aspect of the eth­nic iden­tity of the Delawares of Idaho, and is dis­cussed in the next chapter.

Polit­i­cal History

The first Indian treaty between a colo­nial gov­ern­ment and a North Amer­i­can Indian group was that con­cluded at Shacka­maxon with William Penn and a host of Delaware Chiefs all assem­bled. It was appar­ently a remark­able sight, with Indi­ans “up and down the banks of the river, and in the woods, as far as the eye could see” with all their arms, meet­ing to treat with a hand­ful of unarmed Quak­ers (Adams 1906:12).

This occurred  in 1682,  and by 1755,  the  Quak­ers,  or “Friends”, were still instru­men­tal as a medi­at­ing influ­ence, this time between the Indi­ans and Gov­er­nor Mor­ris, who was about to launch an attack against the peace­ful Delawares. The Quak­ers had learned that the best way to achieve peace with the Delawares was by “just pur­chase of lands, pro­tec­tion from frauds, and con­sid­er­able kind­ness” (Adams, 1906:12).

An inci­dent occurred on June 30, 1757, dur­ing what was to have been the set­tle­ment of an agree­ment over terms of a land exchange made years before, the deeds for which had blank line spaces where land bound­aries should have been described. The con­di­tion was that the land would be allowed by the Indi­ans which could be walked off in a day-and-a-half.

The sons of William Penn were rep­re­sented by a pair of “pro­fes­sional” walk­ers who, ignor­ing repeated protests by the Delaware observers that they were run­ning, cov­ered an area thirty miles beyond the intended bound­ary. One of the con­clu­sions of the report made to the British Gov­ern­ment on the causes of the loss of good­will with the Indi­ans was prophetic: “Thus a pre­tense was gained for claim­ing the land in the Forks with­out pay­ing any­thing for it. But the accom­plish­ment of this design lost us the friend­ship of the Indi­ans and laid the foun­da­tion of our present trou­bles, and will, it is to be feared, in the end cost the pro­pri­etaries very dear (Adams 1906:17).

William J. Buck’s (1883) descrip­tion of two por­traits pre­sented to the His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety of Penn­syl­va­nia in 1834 con­tains sev­eral items of inter­est. The paint­ings por­tray two “Delaware Chiefs” sig­na­tory to the infa­mous Walk­ing Pur­chase. Lap­pawingo and Tish­co­han do not stand out from the record except for their involve­ment as observers at the time of the walk, hav­ing been put in the posi­tion of autho­riz­ing it by virtue of their own and sev­eral other Delaware signatures.

It  was  largely  due  to  this  “Long  Walk”  or  “Walk­ing Pur­chase” that the Delawares allied them­selves with the French dur­ing the  late  pre-Revolutionary period,  who promised  to evac­u­ate once the British forces had been defeated. Even though the Delawares were largely respon­si­ble for the defeat of the British troops under Gen­eral Brad­dock, they were not unsym­pa­thetic to the Penn­syl­va­nia set­tlers, and lent aid to George Wash­ing­ton and the colonists. Brad­dock was defeated in 1755 and the British nearly lost another cru­cial bat­tle, under John Forbes, at Fort Duquesne on the site of present-day Pittsburgh.

An item of poten­tial inter­est in Buck’s (1883) arti­cle is the pres­ence there of the name Mar­shall. Edward and Moses are both men­tioned, but the exact role they play in the Walk­ing Pur­chase is ambigu­ous, although it is appar­ent that Moses is the descen­dant of Edward, one of the walk­ers.  It is pos­si­ble that these men might also have been related to the Indi­ana trader, William Mar­shall, a part­ner of the Con­ners, and ances­tor of the Delawares of Idaho, who accom­pa­nied the Delaware wife and fam­ily of William Con­ner to Okla­homa, along with his own wife and fam­ily.  If such could be shown, it would expose roots of the Creech/Idaho Delaware fam­ily tree a cen­tury deeper in Lenni-Lenape history.

The Mora­vian mis­sion­ary C. Fred­er­ick Post arrived about this time, and his rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the Indi­ans of the good inten­tions of the British in redress­ing their griev­ances were suf­fi­cient to get them to cease hos­til­i­ties and make a pact with Forbes. This and their fail­ure to cap­ture Fort Duquesne made the French demor­al­iza­tion com­plete, and they with­drew to Canada. Until the begin­ning of the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War period, the fron­tiers of Penn­syl­va­nia, Mary­land and Vir­ginia were “over­run with Indi­ans” (Adams 1906:20).

A leader emerged dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War period whose actions and alliances are taken as indica­tive of a high level of polit­i­cal sophis­ti­ca­tion among Delaware lead­ers in their deal­ings with neigh­bors. The indi­vid­ual was Cap­tain White Eyes, and the his­tory of Delaware Indi­ans would have been dif­fer­ent but for his per­sua­sive power over them.

Cap­tain White Eyes and Cap­tain Pipe com­peted for the loy­alty and alle­giance of Delawaran groups of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary period, and their efforts reflected those of the Amer­i­cans and British, since both cor­rectly per­ceived that Indian alliances would be a nec­es­sary com­po­nent of polit­i­cal dom­i­nance of the Atlantic colo­nial region.  Cap­tain White Eyes, a Chris­t­ian Indian him­self, was able to pre­vail upon his fol­low­ers not to take up the hatchet against the Amer­i­cans, and as a result, they were mostly spared what would have almost cer­tainly have been mas­sive casualties.

Cap­tain Pipe, one of a fac­tion of Delaware lead­ers who had resisted the Chris­tian­iz­ing efforts of the Euro­pean churches which com­peted for the souls of the Delawares and other Native Amer­i­cans. His expe­ri­ence with Amer­i­cans had been some­what dif­fer­ent than that of Indi­ans influ­enced by the paci­fistic Mora­vians. Adams quotes Heckewelder’s obser­va­tions about this period of strife between the two leaders:

[Cap­tain Pipe] was an art­ful and ambi­tious man, yet not defi­cient in great­ness of mind. But his head at that time was full of the wrongs which the Indi­ans had suf­fered from the Amer­i­cans from their first com­ing into the coun­try. His soul panted for revenge, and he was glad to seize the oppor­tu­nity that now offered. He pro­fessed his readi­ness to join in proper mea­sures to save the nation, but not such mea­sures as his antag­o­nist pro­posed. What his real object was, he did not openly declare, but pri­vately endeav­ored to coun­ter­act all that was done and pro­posed by the other (Adams 1906:21).

After two years of this, a group of unscrupu­lous whites with Tory sym­pa­thies, spread­ing rumors that the Amer­i­cans had issued orders to exter­mi­nate the Delawares, pro­vided a rea­son at last for Cap­tain Pipe to openly call the Delawares to arms against the false men­ace. There was a great move­ment to join him, and per­ceiv­ing the fact. Cap­tain White Eyes assem­bled his war­riors and told them:

“If they meant in earnest to go out, as he observed some of them were prepar­ing to do, they should not go with­out him. He had taken peace mea­sures in order to save the nation from utter destruc­tion. But if they believed that he was in the wrong and gave more cre­dence to vagabond fugi­tives, whom he knew to be such, than to him­self, who was best acquainted with the real state of things; if they had deter­mined to fol­low their advice and to go out against the Amer­i­cans, he would go out with them; he would lead them on, place him­self in the front, and be the first who should fall. They only had to deter­mine on what they would do, for his own mind was fully made up not to sur­vive his nation, and he would not spend the remain­der of his mis­er­able life in bewail­ing the total destruc­tion of a brave peo­ple who had deserved a bet­ter fate” (Adams 1906:21).

The Delawares, includ­ing Cap­tain Pipe, were thrown into a state of con­fu­sion by this noble, if pathetic, ora­tion. This allowed the unevent­ful pas­sage of sev­eral days, a suf­fi­cient inter­val dur­ing which the assur­ance could reach them from Pitts­burgh of “the steady friend­ship of the gov­ern­ment of the United States”.

This was sub­se­quently affirmed in arti­cle 6, of the treaty of Sep­tem­ber 17, 1778. Unfor­tu­nately, the ambi­tion of Cap­tain White Eyes that a four­teenth State of the Union be cre­ated solely for Indi­ans with the Delawares at its head was never real­ized. Fol­low­ing his death, the more san­guine view of Cap­tain Pipe finally pre­vailed, with many of his adver­saries’ fol­low­ers join­ing in war against the Amer­i­cans. As a direct result of this one of the most atro­cious mas­sacres of Native Amer­i­cans occurred when Col. David Williamson’s troops killed 90 peace­ful Chris­t­ian Indi­ans in cold blood at Gnaden­hut­ten, Ohio. No war­riors were present, but the killings were at least par­tially avenged later in the same year when Col. Craw­ford and “sev­eral hun­dred sol­diers” were defeated by the Delawares on the San­dusky, and Craw­ford him­self was cap­tured and burned at the stake (p.24).  In 1791 an alliance of Delawares, Shawnees, Wyan­dots and Miamis wiped out a supe­rior force of sev­eral thou­sand troops under the com­mand of Gen­eral St.  Clair.  On August 20, 1794, Mad Anthony Wayne was able to gain a deci­sive vic­tory in the bat­tle of Fallen Tim­bers. His army of 2000 reg­u­lars and 1000 mounted vol­un­teers out num­bered nearly two to one.  Dur­ing all these bat­tles and wars, some of the Delawares remained loyal to the colonies, and in the War of 1812 and oth­ers, Delawares could be found in the mil­i­taries of both the Amer­i­cans and the British. The Bat­tle of Tippeca­noe, in 1813 was the last in which any Delaware fought against the United States.

The sec­ond decade of the nine­teenth cen­tury can be regarded as a water­shed era in the polit­i­cal his­tory of the Delawares. The par­tic­u­lars are painful to encounter if only the Delaware case is con­sid­ered, but pale to an insignif­i­cant part of the over­all his­tory of the treat­ment of Indi­ans under the author­ity and super­vi­sion of the newly cre­ated United States War Depart­ment.  War Depart­ment respon­si­bil­ity for the Indi­ans con­sisted of two essen­tial parts: defeat or oth­er­wise sub­due them, and move them out of the North­west U.S. and harm’s way to lands in the un-colonized West, which would sup­port them. Their value as break­ers of the land to agri­cul­ture was well estab­lished through the long habit of Euro­pean colonists mov­ing onto aban­doned Delaware farms in Penn­syl­va­nia.  But get­ting rid of the Indi­ans was no sim­ple or easy mat­ter, espe­cially for the Indi­ans. Nor was it always viewed as a uni­ver­sal good by whites.  Among these would be the traders who estab­lished mutu­ally prof­itable links between the Indi­ans and the mar­kets for their catches and harvests.

Two such indi­vid­u­als were the broth­ers William and James Con­ner, who appear as key fig­ures in the polit­i­cal devel­op­ments of the Delaware peo­ples of the White River in Indi­ana, and the emer­gent U.S. promi­nence, through devel­op­ment and con­quest, in the North­west. The Con­ner broth­ers grew up among the Indi­ans. Their par­ents had been “adopted” by the Shawnee, with Eng­lish and Shawnee dialect spo­ken in the house­hold (Thomp­son 1937137).

Their edu­ca­tion and cul­tural con­scious­ness devel­op­ment were the respon­si­bil­ity of none other than David Zeis­berger, the Mora­vian mis­sion­ary whose influ­ence on events was already sig­nif­i­cant.  Under his tute­lage they became accom­plished speak­ers of the three main dialects of Lenni-Lenape lan­guage: Munsi, Unami and Unalachtigo, but Shawnee, Wyan­dot and Chippewa as well. Nat­u­rally their knowl­edge, grow­ing from life­long res­i­dence in the Indian milieu, their grasp of Indian ways was also com­plete, and did not con­sist of mere ency­clo­pe­di­aism. William Con­ner mar­ried a Delaware “princess”, Mekinges, wrongly claimed by Thomp­son and oth­ers to have been the daugh­ter of Chief Ander­son, first Chief of the White River Delawares. William Conner’s part­ner, William Mar­shall, was also mar­ried to a Delaware woman. Thomp­son con­tributes some clar­i­fi­ca­tion of the context:

It is no more appar­ent from the writ­ten records why John and William Con­ner came ulti­mately to Indi­ana than it is why their father emi­grated from Mary­land to Ohio. There may have been the same desire for adven­ture and new scenes. There may have been another rea­son in the case of the sons. In a very few years both were mar­ried to Delaware Indian wives. Is it not likely that these Indian women were friends of an ear­lier day, per­haps of their child­hood in Ohio, and that they sought them out in the White River coun­try to which the Delawares came after the Treaty of Greenville? A less roman­tic pos­si­bil­ity is that the Con­ners fol­lowed this friendly tribe of Indi­ans whose lan­guage and cus­toms they knew so well for the pur­pose of trade, and that they inter­mar­ried in the tribe to facil­i­tate their trad­ing oper­a­tions — a cus­tom quite com­mon among traders at this time (p.4O).

Thomp­son observed that “His­tory some­times repeats itself. In the sane com­mu­nity there were coop­er­at­ing after the lapse of a quarter-century, Delawares, Mora­vian mis­sion­ar­ies, and the Con­ners” (Thomp­son 1937:42). The accom­pa­ny­ing map is far more infor­ma­tive on this point than a tex­tual descrip­tion could be. It shows the loca­tion of the two Con­ner posts in the midst of strings of Indian set­tle­ments up and down the two Rivers. The Indi­ans trusted and respected them, and as a result the trade was brisk and prof­itable, at least in the short run of things. Thomp­son poses an enigma on this point:

It is an anom­aly in the rela­tion­ship between the Con­ner broth­ers and the  Delawares that, although the Con­ners  were  inter­preters  wit­nesses  in  thir­teen treaties, includ­ing ten by which the Delaware Indi­ans relin­quished all their inter­est in the greater part of the State of Indi­ana, the tribe does not appear to have lost a whit of respect and con­fi­dence in them. The Indi­ans might well have expected the Con­ners to back their oppo­si­tion to ces­sions of land, both as friends and as traders who depended upon Indi­ans liv­ing in their neigh­bor­hood. It is not appar­ent that the Con­ners used their influ­ence against ces­sions in any of the treaties. It is indu­bitable that, at St. Mary’s, they effec­tively sup­ported the pro­pos­als of the gov­ern­ment (Thomp­son 1937:111).

It was as a result of the treaty of St. Mary’s, incred­i­bly, that resulted in the depar­ture of the Delawares from the White River to a des­ti­na­tion or des­ti­na­tions unknown, again aban­don­ing their homes to the rapac­ity of colo­nial­ism.  The treaties con­cluded at St. Mary’s in 1818 were signed at a time when William Con­ner and Mekinges lived with their six half-blood chil­dren in their log home of six­teen years, speak­ing Delaware exclusively.

When the time came for the Delawares to leave Indi­ana with Chief Ander­son, both of the Con­ner broth­ers would remain behind to become major land­hold­ers and polit­i­cal fig­ures in the colo­nial his­tory of the state and nation. William’s part­ner, William Mar­shall, appar­ently more devoted to fam­ily than to mate­r­ial wealth, would accom­pany his own Indian fam­ily, and that of Con­ner, into the uncer­tain future that awaited them, with all of the hard­ships it promised.

The details of the dias­pora of the White River Delawares are admirably set out in Weslager’s (1978) descrip­tion of their west­ern migra­tions. One pos­si­ble des­ti­na­tion was to have been a site in Michi­gan Territory:

But when the Delawares left their homes on the White River they did not enter Michi­gan Ter­ri­tory, but went directly across the young state of Illi­nois. After the first con­tin­gent of about 800 men, women and chil­dren departed from the White River under the lead­er­ship of Chief William Ander­son in 1820, the migra­tion con­tin­ued dur­ing 1821 when oth­ers fol­lowed, includ­ing a detach­ment of Delaware fam­i­lies who had set­tled tem­porar­ily at Piqua, Ohio. Since the tribe had been under the super­vi­sion of the Piqua Agency, John John­ston had the respon­si­bil­ity for pro­vi­sion­ing the Indian fam­i­lies until they reached the Mis­sis­sippi.  The major­ity of the Indi­ans rode on horse­back, haul­ing their belong­ings on pack horses, and some of the fam­i­lies may have used travois. Many owned herds of horses which they drove ahead of them. When Mekinges left with her six chil­dren, her common-law hus­band, William Con­ner, divided his assets with her, giv­ing her a num­ber of ponies to take. Some prob­a­bly were used to carry bags of sugar, flour, cof­fee, seed corn, beef, and other pro­vi­sions needed dur­ing the long jour­ney, because wag­ons were scarce (Wes­lager 1978; 209)

The Indi­ans who headed west under the “pro­tec­tion” of the War Depart­ment suf­fered con­sid­er­able losses of prop­erty on the trip. Their finest stocks, espe­cially horses, were stolen by preda­tory whites. They were inad­e­quately trans­ported, housed and fed through the harsh­ness of con­di­tions and the incom­pe­tence and neglect of offi­cials. Com­plaints by Chief Ander­son that they had been forced to vacate choice lands in Indi­ana for worth­less lands in Mis­souri pre­ceded his even­tual insis­tence that a bet­ter home be found for them. This was, after all, the quid pro quo of their sign­ing the treaty at St. Mary’s. A famil­iar name appears in the record:

Con­sid­er­able cor­re­spon­dence passed back and forth between Ander­son and the Agency offi­cials, dic­tated by Ander­son in the Delaware lan­guage, and trans­lated into Eng­lish by one of the white traders who had accom­pa­nied the tribe from Indi­ana, most of whom had Delaware wives and could speak the native lan­guage. Among these were William Gillis, Joseph Phi­l­abert (or Fil­abert), William Mar­shall (empha­sis added), and James Wil­son. Wil­son acted as the tribe’s offi­cial inter­preter until 1823 (Wes­lager 1978:215).

Wes­lager notes that Chief Ander­son spent the eight years in Mis­souri attempt­ing to con­sol­i­date the scat­tered Delawares. Small num­bers of fam­i­lies were in the Cape Girardeau, Mis­souri area from three decades pre­vi­ous, and they accepted his invi­ta­tion, although some had already moved Okla­homa and Arkansas. The Munsi fam­i­lies had dis­persed to Ontario, Canada, and there was a com­mu­nity of Stockbridge-Munsi in Wisconsin.

By the time he signed the Treaty of Coun­cil Camp in 1829, the Chief had become a far shrewder bar­gainer with the Yan­kee due to his long expe­ri­ence at it. He secured the pro­vi­sion of a new home for the main body of the Delaware in Kansas, in the forks of the Kansas and Mis­souri Rivers.  His efforts also resulted in the far bet­ter pro­vi­sion­ing and equip­ping of his peo­ple, both for mak­ing the trip to their new home, and mak­ing a liv­ing once set­tled in it. Sixty men, women and chil­dren left for the “per­ma­nent” new home in 1829, and Ander­son fol­lowed in 1830 with a larger group includ­ing herds of horses and cat­tle. Their new home was to be large enough for Ander­son to accom­mo­date a con­sol­i­dated Delaware Nation. They were to be under the juris­dic­tion of the Fort Leav­en­worth Agency of the War Depart­ment, later to become the Kansas Indian Agency. The records of the Fort Leav­en­worth Agency claim juris­dic­tion over 1,050 Delawares in 1838 (Wes­lager 1978:219).

Dur­ing this period, small groups of Delaware fam­i­lies were mov­ing to, and estab­lish­ing set­tle­ments in, Texas (while still part of Mex­ico), other coun­ties in Kansas, and the set­tle­ments of other Indian groups, espe­cially Chippewa and Wyan­dot in Kansas. When Ander­son died in Octo­ber 1831, the Delaware posi­tion was greatly improved over that dur­ing the water­shed decade in which Delaware polit­i­cal power included the capac­ity
For suc­cess­ful armed self-defense.

Since the polit­i­cal his­tory of the Delawares of Idaho can be seen as the result of con­di­tions aris­ing dur­ing the Kansas occu­pa­tion, their descrip­tion will fur­nish good intro­duc­tion to the next chapter.