Delaware IndiansThe Delaware tribe also called Lenni Lenape, or Lenape, (len-ah'-pay) which means "The People" in their language, are a confederation of Algonquian - speaking North American Indians who occupied the Atlantic seaboard from Cape Henlopen, Delaware, to western Long Island. They were especially concentrated in the Delaware River valley, for which the confederation was named.
The Delaware depended primarily on agriculture, with hunting and fishing as important additions to their economy. Summer communities numbered several hundred persons, but in winter smaller family bands traveled throughout their own hunting territories.
The Delaware were grouped in three clans based on maternal descent; these were in turn divided into lineages, whose members generally lived together in a longhouse. Bands of lineages formed autonomous communities, of which there were probably 30 or 40 in 1600. A council consisting of lineage sachems (chiefs) and other distinguished men decided the public affairs of the community. The eldest woman of the lineage appointed and dismissed the sachem.
The Delaware were the Indians most friendly to William Penn; they were rewarded by the infamous Walking Purchase, a treaty that deprived them of their own lands and forced them to settle on lands assigned to the Iroquois. Encroached on by whites and dominated by the Iroquois after 1690, they drifted westward in stages, stopping on the Susquehanna, the Allegheny, and the Muskingum rivers in Ohio and the White River in Indiana. After 60 years of displacement, their remnants and accretions living beyond the Ohio River rekindled a tribal alliance, asserted their independence of the Iroquois, and opposed the advancing whites. They defeated the British general Edward Braddock in the French and Indian War and at first supported the Americans in the Revolution. In the Treaty of Greenville (1795) they ceded their Ohio lands. Many of the bands dispersed, but by 1835 some had gathered again in Kansas; most of these were removed to Oklahoma in 1867. In the late 20th century the Delaware numbered about 3,000, living in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Ontario.