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Who Are The Lėnape
The Lėnape are an eastern woodlands nation belonging to the Algonquian language group.  After the European explorers sailed into the bay, and up the river, between, what is now,  New Jersey and Delaware, they named the bay, the river, and the people residing in the area after the British Lord De La Warr. Through speech  De La Warr began to be pronounced as Delaware,  and has ever since remained in our language as Delaware.  The Lėnape have ever since been known as the Delaware.

The Lėnape who remain in the east and who have remained traditional, resent the name Delaware and do not use it in reference to themselves.  The Oklahoma Bands, and the Nanticoke (who are a sub-tribe of the Lėnape) use the term "Lenni-Lėnape", however this term is not correct,  and is not used by most Lėnape people. The term "Lenni-Lėnape" actually is taken from a Monsi (Munsee) word, and does not come from the language of the Lėnape themselves.

By Mčssochwen Tėme

The Lėnape were the first people the Europeans met when they first set foot on what is now the U.S.  Initial contact was friendly but that soon changed.  As fur was the fashion rage in Europe at the time, the Europeans sought to establish a fur trade in the new world.  While the English and the French settled and controlled the majority of the northeast, the Dutch controlled the area which comprised Lėnapehoking.  

The fur trade set tribe against tribe and nation against nation resulting in almost constant warfare in what had been previously a generally peaceful land.  There were also many wars against the Europeans caused by the brutal and unfair treatment the people received at the hands of the Europeans.  A general policy of "be assimilated or be annihilated" governed the policies of the Europeans towards the Lėnape and other tribes. The Swedes attempted to take over the fur trade in Lėnapehoking at one point in time, but the Dutch prevailed and retained control.  The Lėnape allied themselves with the Dutch as the Dutch were less cruel than the Swedes. Eventually the English and their Opanu (Iroquois) allies defeated the Dutch for control of the area.  The English were by far the most brutal and cruel of the three European powers.  They expanded the "be annihilated or be assimilated" policies of the Dutch to include a "move or be destroyed" policy as well.  The Lėnape were either assimilated into the white culture, forced to move westward, or annihilated.

From the early 1600's through the late 1800's the people were continually pushed westward from their homeland.  This was accomplished through fraudulent land deals and treaties, military force, intentional infestation of deadly diseases, slavery, and subversion.  Some groups escaped into the mountains, some left and headed to areas where they thought they would be safe from the encroaching Europeans and their allies (the descendants of these bands are still scattered across the country), some were assimilated by other nations, and others were swallowed up by the ever advancing white man, but the main body of the Lėnape were continuously pushed westward.

In 1867, the United States government forced the people to move to Oklahoma, pay $280,000 dollars for the right to occupy Katuhņ (Cherokee) land, and become part of the Katuhņ Nation.  In 1904, the government negated that decision, and in 1907 allotted a specific piece of land to each head of household, and sold the rest of the land the people occupied to whites.  In 1979, the government stripped the Lėnape and Shawnee of their national identities and made them officially a part of the Katuhņ.  In 1999, after years of legal battles, the Lėnape were finally able to regain their identity and gain federal recognition as the Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma.  A splinter group, previously known as the Absentees, has also gained federal recognition as the Delaware Tribe of Western Oklahoma. 

There were some Lėnape who lived in settlements established by missionaries during the colonial period.  Others ran and hid in the mountains or with other nations to escape the westward push. The descendents of these people make up the Eastern Lėnape Nation of Pennsylvania

Maps of Lėnapehoking and the Westward Push
Shared by Mčssochwen Tėme

The Lėnape homeland (lėna pehoking) was the southern Hudson Valley of New York, eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
The Lėnape were forced into seven states and were given a piece of land to live on "forever'".  "Forever" usually lasted an average of two years, at which time the land was taken from them and they were given another piece of land further west, "forever".

They were continuously pushed to the west until they were finally forced to Oklahoma.  There, they were stripped of their own identity and forced to become part of the Kahutņ (Cherokee).  

For more information:
The Lėnape - Their History and Culture




Delaware (Lenape) Tribe of Indians: Homepage
Delaware (Lenape) Tribe of Indians: Lenape Women's Clothing