The Delaware were often called the “Grandfathers” because they were respected by other tribes as peacemakers and often served to settle disputes between rivaling tribes. They were also known for being fierce and tenacious warriors when they had to fight, however, they preferred to be peaceful.
The historically Algonquian-speaking Delaware refer to themselves as Lenni Lenape. At first European contact in the early 17th century, the tribe lived along the Delaware River, named for Lord de la Warr, territory in lower present-day New York state and eastern New Jersey, and western Long Island, New York.
The Delaware Indians were originally known as the Lenape or Lenni Lenape Indians, the name they called themselves. The American colonists named them the Delaware Indians. Original homelands: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. Some later were removed to Oklahoma.
The Lenape had three clans: the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Turkey. These clans were matrilineal, the children traced their clan through their mother.
The Delaware Indians were farming people. Lenape women did most of the farming, harvesting corn, squash and beans. Lenape men went hunting for deer, elk, turkeys, and small game, and caught fish in the rivers and inlets.
Lenape ( Unami, Delaware, Lenni Lenape ) Language: Lenape or Unami Delaware is an Algonquian language originally spoken in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Why did the Lenape people accept the name “ Delaware ”? It has long been known that the name applied to the Native people who lived along the Delaware River was taken from the title of an Englishman, Lord de la Warr, whose name was Sir Thomas West.
The clothing of the Lenape was simple. The men wore breechclouts and moccasins, with leggings and a robe to cover themselves in cold weather. Women had knee- or calf-length wrap-around skirts and wore fur robes in winter, or a beautiful mantle made from turkey feathers.
Their land, called Lenapehoking, included all of what is now New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, southeastern New York State, northern Delaware and a small section of southeastern Connecticut. Today, Lenape communities live all across North America.
What does ” Delaware ” mean? The name ” Delaware ” originates from the Delaware River and Bay, which were named in honor of Sir Thomas West (Lord De La Warr), the first governor of the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia in 1610.
The history of our tribe in its homeland goes back over 10,000 years. We are the descendants of those Nanticoke and Lenape who remained, or returned, to our ancient homeland after many of our relatives suffered removals and forced migrations to the mid-western United States or into Canada.
The Lenape were a deeply religious people and their belief in a Creator and eleven lessor Gods reached all aspects of their lives. They believed that all things had souls. This reflected a deep reverence for their natural environment and a concept that they were only a small part of Nature’s grand scheme.
Like Zunigha, most Lenape today don’t live in New York City or the surrounding area. There are only two federally recognized Delaware tribes in the U.S., and both of them are in Oklahoma, where large groups of the Lenape ended up due to forced migration.
In their language, the words Lenni Lenape mean “men of men,” or, “original people.” Every band had a sachem or chief chosen by certain women called chiefmakers.