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Delaware Tribe of Indians
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name DELAWARE was given to the natives who occupied the Delaware
River Valley during the colonial occupation of English Governor Lord de la Warr.
In their language they are LENAPE (len-ah'-pay) which means "The
People" and belong to the Algonquian linguistic group. They were among the
first Indians to come in contact with Europeans (Dutch, English, & Swedish) as
early as 1600. They were considered a "Grandfather" tribe whose power, position,
and spiritual presence served to settle disputes among rival tribes. Known also
for their fierceness and tenacity as warriors they are recorded, however, as
choosing a path of accommodation with the Europeans, treating William Penn for
eastern Pennsylvania and signing the first Indian treaty with the United States
(Sept. 17, 1778). Through war and peace the Lenape continued to give up their
lands and moved westward (Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana).
A small contingent of Delawares fled to Canada during a time of extreme
persecution (1790) and today occupy two small reserves in Ontario province
(Moraviantown and Munsee).
- By 1820 they crossed the
Mississippi River into Missouri and, during the next 40 years, produced 13
treaties which established a reservation in
Kansas and ultimately a final move
to the Indian Territory in 1866. Their 1867 agreement with the Cherokees
allowed them to purchase a district to reside as Delawares within the Cherokee
Nation. Since then they have primarily occupied modern-day Washington and
Nowata Counties in Oklahoma and have continually maintained their cultural and
- The Delaware of today number close to 10,000 and are headquartered in
Bartlesville where the tribal government operates service programs. A small group
of separately-organized Delawares (the Absentees) are located in Anadarko,
Oklahoma on lands they jointly control with the Wichitas and Caddos. There has
been a recent revival in cultural programs (language, song, and social dance)
which has pleased the few remaining full-blood lders who feared cultural extinction.
Lenape Hach Ki? - Are You A Lenape?
The Culture Preservation Committee of the Delaware Tribe
(Lenape) established the Delaware Home Page several months ago
through Cowboy.net, which is run by a Delaware. Since then we
have had numerous E-mail inquiries about genealogy. Most are
from people in the eastern part of the United States, but we do
receive inquires from all over.
Many of the messages say things like, "I was told by my
grandparents that we have Lenape blood. Their names were [name]
and they lived all their lives in New Jersey. Would you look
them up and see if I am part Lenape?"
It would be nice if there was a master roll of everyone who
has any degree of Lenape blood, but there is not. Our rolls here
only go back in time to our own ancestors, who, on their forced
exodus from the East, were living in Kansas in 1862.
In order to be enrolled on our official tribal roll, your
ancestors by blood would have had to been living in Indian
Territory (now Oklahoma) in 1906. This is a requirement set
forth by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and follows THE CODE OF
FEDERAL REGULATIONS, PART 83 - PROCEDURES FOR ESTABLISHING
THAT AN AMERICAN INDIAN GROUP EXISTS AS AN INDIAN TRIBE.
We are sorry that we cannot be of help to many of you who
might have Lenape blood, but there are no sources of which we are
aware to look for your ancestors' names. We can only suggest you
do regular genealogical research through the libraries and
Federal Census records. Good luck on your quest.
To tribal members descended from ancestors on our 1906 Roll,
if you have not yet signed up, write to Delaware Tribal
Registration, Delaware Indian Center, 108 S. Seneca,
Bartlesville, OK, 74003. Request a Registration Form. It will
have all pertinent information, and you will need birth or death
certificates that link you with your ancestor on the 1906
Delaware Roll. If you have lost your tribal card, write to the
same address about getting a new one. Thank you.
Culture Preservation Committee
How the First Stories Came Out of the Earth
- A man returning from hunting found a curious hole in the ground. He
looked into it and somebody spoke to him.
- The hunter asked who it was.
- But the thing did not tell him, only said it was a grandfather
(grandfather was how many tribes once addressed a Lenape): "If anyone
wishes to hear stories, let them come here and roll in a little tobacco
or a bead, and I will tell them a story."
- So the people came. And that is the beginning of the stories which we do
not know are true or not.
- This grandfather told them never to tell stories after it begins to get
warm in the spring. "If you do," he said, "the snakes, bugs, and all
kinds of little creatures will get after you."
Taken from THE WHITE DEER, and Other Stories Told by the Lenape
Edited by John Bierhorst.
Published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.
For more information write or call:
Delaware Tribal Headquarters
108 S. Seneca
Bartlesville, OK 74003
E-Mail concerning Ancestry/Cultural Preservation
Messages to Tribal Leaders
Or, E-Mail other questions to
Get to know
Chief Curtis Zunigha.