|Languages:||English, Munsee, and Unami|
|Religions:||Christianity, Native American Church,|
traditional tribal religion
|Related:||Other Lenape and Algonquian peoples|
The Lenape (or) are Native American people in Canada and the United States. They are also called Delaware Indians. As a result of the American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, the main groups now live in Ontario (Canada), Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. In Canada, they are enrolled in the Munsee-Delaware Nation 1, the Moravian of the Thames First Nation, and the Delaware of Six Nations; in the United States, they are enrolled in three federally recognized tribes, that is, the Delaware Nation and the Delaware Tribe of Indians, both located in Oklahoma, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, located in Wisconsin. Groups of self-identified Lenape, such as the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, also live in other places where they are not officially recognized by the subsequent settler nation state.
At the time of European contact in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Lenape inhabited a region on the North Atlantic coast in what anthropologists call the Northeastern Woodlands. Although never politically unified, it is frequently referred to as Lenapehoking ("Lenape country"). It roughly comprised the area around and between the Delaware and lower Hudson rivers. Lenapehoking hosted over two dozen Lenape polities. Some of their names, such as Manhattan, Raritan, and Tappan, remain inscribed on the landscape. Based on the historical record of the mid-seventeenth century, it has been estimated that most Lenape polities consisted of several hundred people. It is conceivable that some had been considerably larger prior to contact. Even regions at a distance from European settlement, such as Iroquoia, had been devastated by smallpox by the 1640s.
Nowadays, most Lenapes are native English speakers. In the seventeenth century, the Lenape spoke several closely related languages or dialects, such as Unami and Munsee, that are collectively known as the Delaware languages and have been classified by linguists as belonging to the Eastern Algonquian language group. The term "Algonquian" is occasionally used as a shorthand for people who spoke languages of this group, but they had otherwise little in common. Due to aggressive European expansion and the resulting migrations, population losses, and political reorganization, Lenape languages had converged by the mid-eighteenth century. Unami and Munsee were now the most dominant. Another hundred years of forced migrations left the languages vulnerable. They hardly survived the U.S. Indian policies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Various people made efforts to revive or at least document Unami and Munsee in the late twentieth century.
Lenape society is organized into clans determined by matrilineal descent. That is, children belong to the mother's clan, where they gain their status and identity. The mother's eldest brother was more significant as a mentor to the boy children than was their father, who was of another clan. Hereditary leadership passed through the maternal line, and women elders could remove leaders of whom they disapproved. Traditionally, the Lenape had no concept of landed property. But clans had use rights. Agricultural land was managed by women and allotted according to the subsistence needs of their extended families. Matrilocal residence further enhanced the position of women in society. A young married couple would live with the woman's family, where her mother and sisters could also assist her with her growing family.
At the time of European contact, the Lenape practiced agriculture, mostly companion planting. The women cultivated many varieties of the "Three Sisters:" corn, beans and squash. The men also practiced hunting and the harvesting of seafood. They were primarily sedentary and moved to seasonal campsites for particular purposes such as fishing and hunting. After the arrival of settlers and traders to the seventeenth-century colonies of New Netherland and New Sweden, Lenapes provided agricultural products, mainly maize, in exchange for iron tools. Lenapes also arranged contacts between Minquas or Northern Iroquoians and the Dutch and Swedish West India companies to promote the fur trade. Lenapes were major producers of wampum or shell beads, which they traditionally used for ritual purposes and as ornaments. After the Dutch arrival, they began to exchange wampum for beaver furs provided by Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannocks and other Minquas. They then exchanged these furs for Dutch and, from the late 1630s, also Swedish imports. Relations between some Lenape and Minqua polities briefly turned sore in the late 1620s and early 1630s, but were relatively peaceful most of the time.
Most Lenapes were pushed out of their homeland by expanding European colonies during the next century. Lenape polities were weakened by newly introduced diseases, mainly smallpox, and European violence. Iroquoian polities occasionally contributed to the process. The surviving Lenapes reorganized their polities and moved west into the upper Ohio River basin. The American Revolutionary War and U.S. independence pushed them further west. In the 1860s, most Lenapes remaining in the eastern United States were sent to the Oklahoma Territory under Indian removal policy. In the 21st century, most Lenape now reside in the U.S. state of Oklahoma, with some communities living also in Kansas, Wisconsin, Ontario (Canada), and in their traditional homelands.
Lenni Lenape means "Human Beings" or the "Real People" in the Unami language. Their (autonym) is also spelled Lennape or Lenapi, meaning "the people." The term "Delaware" was used by the English, who named the people for their territory by the Delaware River. They named the river in honor of Lord De La Warr, the governor of the colony at Jamestown, Virginia. The English colonists used the exonym "Delaware" for almost all the Lenape people living along this river and its tributaries.
The area of Lenape settlement, which they called Scheyichbi (see: Unami language), encompassed the lower Hudson River Valley and the Delaware Valley, with the area in between—what are now known as the U.S. state of New Jersey; eastern Pennsylvania around the Delaware and Lehigh valleys; the north shore of Delaware; and much of southeastern New York, particularly the lower Hudson Valley, Upper New York Bay, Staten Island and western Long Island. Bands or tribes often identified themselves by their geographic locations. The Lenape spoke two related languages in the Algonquian subfamily, collectively known as the Delaware languages: Munsee in the northern areas and Unami and a variation in the southern areas.
Early Indian "tribes" are better understood as language groups, rather than as "nations". At the time of first European contact, a Lenape individual would likely have identified primarily with his or her immediate family and clan, friends, and/or village unit; then with surrounding and familiar village units; next with more distant neighbors who spoke the same dialect; and ultimately, with all those in the surrounding area who spoke mutually comprehensible languages, including the Mahican. Among other Algonquian peoples on the East Coast, the Lenape were considered the "grandfathers" from whom all the other Algonquian peoples originated. Consequently, in inter-tribal councils, the Lenape were given respect as one would to elders.
Those of a different language stock – such as the Iroquois (or, in the Lenape language, the Minqua) – were regarded as foreign. As in the case of the Iroquois, the animosity of difference and competition spanned many generations, and different language tribes became traditional enemies. Ethnicity seems to have mattered little to the Lenape and many other "tribes". Archaeological excavations have found Lenape burials that included identifiably ethnic Iroquois remains interred along with those of Lenape. The two groups were bitter enemies since before recorded history, but intermarriage occurred. In addition, both tribes practiced adopting young captives from warfare into their tribes and assimilating them as full tribal members.
Overlaying these relationships was a phratry system, a division into clans. Clan membership was matrilineal; children inherited membership in a clan from their mother. On reaching adulthood, a Lenape traditionally married outside the clan, a practice known by ethnographers as, "exogamy". The practice effectively prevented inbreeding, even among individuals whose kinship was obscure or unknown.
Early Europeans who first wrote about Indians found matrilineal social organization to be unfamiliar and perplexing. Because of this, Europeans often tried to interpret Lenape society through more familiar European arrangements. As a result, the early records are full of clues about early Lenape society, but were usually written by observers who did not fully understand what they were seeing. For example, a man's maternal uncle (his mother's brother), and not his father, was usually considered to be his closest male ancestor, since his father belonged to a different clan. The maternal uncle played a more prominent role in the lives of his sister's children than did the father. Early European chroniclers did not understand this concept.
Land was assigned to a particular clan for hunting, fishing, and cultivation. Individual private ownership of land was unknown, as the land belonged to the clan collectively while they inhabited it, but women often had rights to traditional areas for cultivation. Clans lived in fixed settlements, using the surrounding areas for communal hunting and planting until the land was exhausted. In a common practice known as "agricultural shifting", the group then moved to found a new settlement within their territory.
The Lenape practiced large-scale agriculture to augment a mobile hunter-gatherer society in the region around the Delaware River, the lower Hudson River, and western Long Island Sound. The Lenape were largely a sedentary people who occupied campsites seasonally, which gave them relatively easy access to the small game that inhabited the region: fish, birds, shellfish and deer. They developed sophisticated techniques of hunting and managing their resources.
By the time of the arrival of Europeans, the Lenape were cultivating fields of vegetation through the slash and burn technique. This extended the productive life of planted fields.      They also harvested vast quantities of fish and shellfish from the bays of the area, and, in southern New Jersey, harvested clams year-round. The success of these methods allowed the tribe to maintain a larger population than nomadic hunter-gatherers could support. Scholars have estimated that at the time of European settlement, there may have been about 15,000 Lenape total in approximately 80 settlement sites around much of the New York City area, alone. In 1524 Lenape in canoes met Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first European explorer to enter New York Harbor.
The early European settlers, especially the Dutch and Swedes, were surprised at the Lenape's skill in fashioning beautiful articles of clothing from natural materials. In hot weather both men and women wore only loin cloth and skirt respectively, while they used beaver pelts or bear skins to serve as winter mantles. Additionally, both sexes might wear buckskin leggings and moccasins in cold weather. Deer hair, dyed a deep scarlet, was a favorite component of headdresses and breast ornaments for males. The Lenape also adorned themselves with various ornaments made of stone, shell, animal teeth, and claws. The women often wore headbands of dyed deer hair or wampum. They painted their skin skirts or decorated them with porcupine quills. These skirts were so elaborately appointed that, when seen from a distance, they reminded Dutch settlers of fine European lace. The winter cloaks of the women were striking, fashioned entirely from the iridescent body feathers of wild turkeys.
The first recorded contact with Europeans and people presumed to have been the Lenape was in 1524. The explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano was greeted by local Lenape who came by canoe, after his ship entered what is now called Lower New York Bay.
The early interaction between the Lenape and Dutch traders in the 17th century was primarily through the fur trade, specifically, the Lenape trapped and traded beaver pelts for European-made goods. According to Dutch settler Isaac de Rasieres, who observed the Lenape in 1628, the Lenape's primary crop was maize, which they planted in March. They quickly adopted European metal tools for this task.
In May, the Lenape planted kidney beans near the maize plants; the latter served as props for the climbing bean vines. They also planted squash, whose broad leaves cut down on weeds and conserved moisture in the soil. The women devoted their summers to field work and harvested the crops in August. Women cultivated varieties of maize, squash and beans, and did most of the field work, processing and cooking of food.
The men limited their agricultural labor to clearing the field and breaking the soil. They primarily hunted and fished during the rest of the year. Dutch settler David de Vries, who stayed in the area from 1634 to 1644, described a Lenape hunt in the valley of the Achinigeu-hach (or "Ackingsah-sack," the Hackensack River), in which one hundred or more men stood in a line many paces from each other, beating thigh bones on their palms to drive animals to the river, where they could be killed easily. Other methods of hunting included lassoing and drowning deer, as well as forming a circle around prey and setting the brush on fire.
New Amsterdam was founded by the Dutch in what would later become New York City in 1624. Dutch settlers founded a colony at present-day Lewes, Delaware on June 3, 1631 and named it Zwaanendael (Swan Valley). The colony had a short life, as in 1632 a local band of Lenape killed the 32 Dutch settlers after a misunderstanding escalated over Lenape defacement of the insignia of the Dutch West India Company. In 1634, the Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannock went to war with the Lenape over access to trade with the Dutch at New Amsterdam. They defeated the Lenape, and some scholars believe that the Lenape may have become tributaries to the Susquehannock. After the warfare, the Lenape referred to the Susquehannock as "uncles." The Lenape were added to the Covenant Chain by the Iroquois in 1676, remaining tributary to the Five (later Six) Nations until 1753.
The Lenape's quick adoption of trade goods, and their need to trap furs to meet high European demand, resulted in their disastrous over-harvesting of the beaver population in the lower Hudson Valley. With the fur sources exhausted, the Dutch shifted their operations to present-day upstate New York. The Lenape who produced wampum in the vicinity of Manhattan Island temporarily forestalled the negative effects of this decline in trade. Lenape population fell sharply during this period, due to high fatalities from epidemics of infectious diseases carried by Europeans, such as measles and smallpox, to which they had no natural immunity.
The Lenape had a culture in which the clan and family controlled property. Europeans often tried to contract for land with the tribal chiefs, confusing their culture with that of neighboring tribes such as the Iroquois. The Lenape would petition for grievances on the basis that not all their families had been recognized in the transaction (not that they wanted to "share" the land). After the Dutch arrival in the 1620s, the Lenape were successful in restricting Dutch settlement until the 1660s to Pavonia in present-day Jersey City along the Hudson. The Dutch finally established a garrison at Bergen, which allowed settlement west of the Hudson within the province of New Netherland. This land was purchased from the Lenape after the fact.
In the early 1680s, William Penn and Quaker colonists created the English colony of Pennsylvania beginning at the lower Delaware River. A peace treaty was negotiated between the newly arriving English and Lenape at what is now known as Penn Treaty Park. In the decades immediately following, some 20,000 new colonists arrived in the region, putting pressure on Lenape settlements and hunting grounds. Although Penn endeavored to live peaceably with the Lenape and to create a colony that would do the same, he also expected his authority and that of the colonial government to take precedence. His new colony effectively displaced the Lenape and forced others to adapt to new cultural demands. Penn gained a reputation for benevolence and tolerance, but his efforts resulted in more effective colonization of the ancestral Lenape homeland than previous ones.
William Penn died in 1718. His heirs, John Penn and Thomas Penn, and their agents were running the colony, and had abandoned many of the elder Penn's practices. They were used to an expensive life-style, but had no money. In their desperation, they contemplated ways to sell Lenape land to colonial settlers. The resulting scheme culminated in the so-called Walking Purchase. In the mid-1730s, colonial administrators produced a draft of a land deed dating to the 1680s. William Penn had approached several leaders of Lenape polities in the lower Delaware to discuss land sales further north. Since the land in question did not belong to their polities, the talks came to nothing. But colonial administrators had prepared the draft that resurfaced in the 1730s. The Penns and their supporters tried to present this draft as an actual deed. Unsurprisingly, Lenape leaders in the lower Delaware refused to accept it. What followed was a convoluted sequence of deception, fraud, and extortion orchestrated by the Pennsylvania government that is commonly known as the Walking Purchase. In the end, all Lenapes who still lived on the Delaware were driven off the remnants of their homeland under threats of violence. Some Lenape polities eventually retaliated by attacking Pennsylvania settlements. When they fought British colonial expansion to a standstill at the height of the Seven Years' War, the British government actually bothered to investigate the causes of Lenape resentment. But the outcome was predictable. The British asked a colonial official from New York, William Johnson, to take charge of the investigation. Johnson made himself a fortune by selling Iroquois land.
Beginning in the 18th century, the Moravian Church established missions among the Lenape. The Moravians required the Christian converts to share their pacifism, as well as to live in a structured and European-style mission village. Moravian pacifism and unwillingness to take loyalty oaths caused conflicts with British authorities, who were seeking aid against the French and their Native American allies during the French and Indian War (Seven Years War). The Moravians' insistence on Christian Lenapes' abandoning traditional warfare practices also alienated mission populations from other Lenape and Native American groups. The Moravians accompanied Lenape relocations to Ohio and Canada, continuing their missionary work. The Moravian Lenape who settled permanently in Ontario after the American Revolutionary War were sometimes referred to as "Christian Munsee", as they mostly spoke the Munsee branch of the Delaware language.
The Treaty of Easton, signed in 1758 between the Lenape and the Anglo-American colonists, required the Lenape to move westward, out of present-day New York and New Jersey and into Pennsylvania, then Ohio and beyond. Sporadically they continued to raid European-American settlers from far outside the area.
During the French and Indian War, the Lenape initially sided with the French. But, such leaders as Teedyuscung in the east and Tamaqua in the vicinity of modern Pittsburgh shifted to building alliances with the English. After the end of the war, however, Anglo-American settlers continued to kill Lenape, often to such an extent that the historian Amy Schutt writes the dead since the wars outnumbered those killed during the war.
In 1763 Bill Hickman, Lenape, warned English colonists in the Juniata River region of an impending attack. Many Lenape joined in Pontiac's War, and were numerous among those Native Americans who besieged Pittsburgh. In April 1763 Teedyuscung was killed when his home was burned. His son Captain Bull responded by attacking settlers from New England who had migrated to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. The settlers had been sponsored by the Susquehanna Company.
The Lenape were the first Indian tribe to enter into a treaty with the new United States government, with the Treaty of Fort Pitt signed in 1778 during the American Revolutionary War. By then living mostly in the Ohio Country, the Lenape supplied the Continental Army with warriors and scouts in exchange for food supplies and security.
During the American Revolution, the Munsee-speaking Lenape (then called Delaware) bands of the Ohio Country were deeply divided over which side, if any, to take in the conflict. Years earlier, many Lenape had migrated west to Ohio from their territory on the mid-Atlantic coast to try to escape colonial encroachment, as well as pressure from Iroquois tribes from the north. They resettled, with bands in numerous villages around their main village of Coshocton. By the time of the Revolutionary War, the Lenape found their villages lay between the western frontier strongholds of the war's opponents: the American colonists' military outpost at Fort Pitt (present-day Pittsburgh) and the British with Indian allies around Fort Detroit (in present-day Michigan).
Some Lenape decided to take up arms against the American colonials and moved to the west, closer to Detroit, where they settled on the Scioto and Sandusky rivers. Those Lenape sympathetic to the United States remained at Coshocton, and leaders signed the Treaty of Fort Pitt (1778) with the Americans. Through this, the Lenape hoped to establish the Ohio Country as a state inhabited exclusively by Native Americans, as part of the new United States. A third group of Lenape, many of them converted Christian Munsees, lived in several mission villages run by Moravians. (They spoke the Munsee branch of Delaware, an Algonquian language.)
White Eyes, the Lenape chief who had negotiated the treaty, died in 1778. Many Lenape at Coshocton eventually joined the war against the Americans. In response, Colonel Daniel Brodhead led an expedition out of Fort Pitt and on 19 April 1781 destroyed Coshocton. Surviving residents fled to the north. Colonel Brodhead convinced the militia to leave the Lenape at the Moravian mission villages unmolested, since they were unarmed non-combatants.
Brodhead's having to restrain the militia from attacking the Moravian villages was a reflection of the brutal nature of frontier warfare. Violence had escalated on both sides. Relations between regular Continental Army officers from the East (such as Brodhead) and western militia were frequently strained. The tensions were worsened by the American government's policy of recruiting some Indian tribes as allies in the war. Western militiamen, many of whom had lost friends and family in Indian raids against settlers' encroachment, blamed all Indians for the acts of some.
During the early 1770s, missionaries, including David Zeisberger and John Heckewelder, arrived in the Ohio Country near the Delaware villages. The Moravian Church sent these men to convert the natives to Christianity. The missionaries established several missions, including Gnadenhutten, Lichtenau, and Schoenbrunn. The missionaries asked that the natives forsake all of their traditional customs and ways of life. Many Delaware did adopt Christianity, but others refused to do so. The Delaware became a divided people during the 1770s, including in Killbuck's family. Killbuck resented his grandfather for allowing the Moravians to remain in the Ohio Country. The Moravians believed in pacifism, and Killbuck believed that every convert to the Moravians deprived the Delaware of a warrior to stop further white settlement of their land.
During the French and Indian War, Killbuck assisted the English against their French enemy. In 1761, Killbuck led an English supply train from Fort Pitt to Fort Sandusky. The British paid him one dollar per day. Later Killbuck became a leader in a very dangerous time for the Delaware. The American Revolution had just begun, and Killbuck found his people caught between the English in the West and the Americans in the East. At the war's beginning, Killbuck and many Delaware claimed to be neutral. In 1778, Killbuck permitted American soldiers to traverse Delaware territory so that the soldiers could attack Fort Detroit. In return, Killbuck requested that the Americans build a fort near the natives' major village of Coshocton to provide the Delaware with protection from English attacks. The Americans agreed and built Fort Laurens, which they garrisoned.
Other Indian groups, especially the Wyandot, the Mingo, the Munsee, the Shawnee, and the Wolf Clan of the Delaware, favored the British. They believed that by their proclamation of 1763, restricting Anglo-American settlement to east of the Appalachian Mountains, that the British would help them preserve a Native American territory. The British planned to attack Fort Laurens in early 1779 and demanded that the neutral Delawares formally side with the British. Killbuck warned the Americans of the planned attack. His actions helped save the fort, but the Americans abandoned it in August 1779. The Delaware had lost their protectors and, in theory, faced attacks from the British, their native allies, and the American settlers who flooded into the area in the late 1770s and early 1780s after the war. Most Delaware formally joined the British after the American withdrawal from Fort Laurens.
Facing pressure from the British, the Americans, and even his fellow natives, Killbuck hoped a policy of neutrality would save his people from destruction. It did not.
The amateur anthropologist Silas Wood published a book claiming that there were several American Indian tribes that were distinct to Long Island, New York. He collectively called them the Metoac. Modern scientific scholarship has shown that two linguistic groups represented two Algonquian cultural identities on the island, not "13 individual tribes" as asserted by Wood. The bands to the west were Lenape. Those to the east were more related culturally to the Algonquian tribes of New England across Long Island Sound, such as the Pequot.  Wood (and earlier settlers) often misinterpreted the Indian use of place names for identity as indicating their names for "tribes."
Over a period of 176 years, European settlers progressively crowded the Lenape out of the East Coast and Ohio, and pressed them to move further west. Most members of the Munsee-language branch of the Lenape left the United States after the British were defeated in the American Revolutionary War, and their descendants live on three Indian reserves in Western Ontario, Canada. They are descendants of those Lenape of Ohio Country who sided with the British during the Revolutionary War. The largest reserve is at Moraviantown, Ontario, where the Turtle Clan settled in 1792 following the war.
By the Treaty of St. Mary’s, signed October 3, 1818 in St. Mary's Ohio, the Delaware ceded their lands in Indiana for lands west of the Mississippi and an annuity of $4,000. Over the next few years, the Delaware settled on the James River near its confluence with Wilson Creek, occupying eventually about 40000acres of the approximately 2000000acres allotted to them. Anderson, Indiana is named after Chief William Anderson, whose father was Swedish. The Delaware Village in Indiana was called Anderson's Town while the Delaware Village in Missouri on the James River was often called Anderson’s Village. The tribes' cabins and cornfields were spread out along the James River and Wilson Creek.
Many Delaware participated in exploration of the western United States, working as trappers with the mountain men, and as guides and hunters for wagon trains. They served as army guides and scouts in events such as the Second Seminole War, Frémont's expeditions, and the conquest of California during the Mexican-American War.   Occasionally, they played surprising roles as Indian allies.
Sagundai accompanied one of Frémont's expeditions as one of his Delaware guides. From California, Fremont needed to communicate with Senator Benton. Sagundai volunteered to carry the message, through some 2,200 kilometres of hostile territory. He took many scalps in this adventure, including that of a Comanche with a particularly fine horse, who had outrun both Sagundai and the other Comanches. Sagundai was thrown when his horse stepped into a prairie-dog hole, avoided the Comanche's lance, shot him dead, and caught his horse by the trailing lariat to make good his own escape. Upon his arrival among his own people, the Delaware held the last war and scalp dances in their history. These were held "where Edwin Taylor now (in 1918) lives, on the hill", at Edwardsville, Kansas.
By the terms of the "Treaty of the James Fork" made September 24, 1829 and ratified by the US Senate in 1830, the Delaware were granted lands west of the Missouri River in Indian Territory in exchange for lands on the James Fork on the White River in Missouri. These lands, in what is now Kansas, were west of the Missouri and north of the Kansas River. The main reserve consisted of about 1000000acres with an additional "outlet" strip 10miles wide extending to the west.   About 1,000 Delaware lived on the Delaware Reservation in Kansas, many in log cabins, but some in substantial farm houses with outbuildings. The center of activity was in what is now Muncie, Kansas, a neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas north of Delaware Crossing on the Kansas River. The Delaware Indian agency, the blacksmith, and the Baptist and Methodist missions were located there.
In 1854 Congress passed the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which created the Territory of Kansas and opened the area for white settlement. It also authorized negotiation with Indian tribes regarding removal. The Delaware were reluctant to negotiate for another relocation, but they feared serious trouble with white settlers, which developed.
As the Delaware were not considered citizens, they had no access to the courts, and no way to enforce their property rights. That was, theoretically, done by the United States Army after the Indian Agent had followed onerous procedures requiring both posting a public notice warning trespassers and serving written notice on them. Major B.F. Robinson, the Indian Agent appointed in 1855, did his best, but could not control the hundreds of white trespassers who stole stock, cut timber, and built houses and squatted on Delaware lands. By 1860 the Delaware had reached consensus to leave Kansas, which was in accord with the government's Indian removal policy.
The main body of Lenape arrived in the northeast region of Oklahoma in the 1860s. Along the way many smaller groups left, or were told to stay where they were. As a result of the multiple removals, each leaving some Delaware who chose to stay in place, today, from New Jersey to Wisconsin to southwest Oklahoma, there are groups who retain a sense of connection with ancestors who lived in the Delaware Valley in the 17th century and with cousins in the Lenape diaspora.
The two largest groups are the Delaware Nation (Anadarko, Oklahoma), and the Delaware Tribe of Indians (Bartlesville, Oklahoma), the only two federally recognized Lenape (Delaware) tribes in the United States. The Oklahoma branches were established in 1867. The Delaware were required to purchase land from the reservation of the Cherokee Nation; they made two payments totaling $438,000. A court dispute followed over whether the sale included rights for the Delaware as citizens within the Cherokee Nation.
While the dispute was unsettled, the Curtis Act of 1898 dissolved tribal governments and ordered the allotment of tribal lands to individual members of tribes. After the lands were allotted in 160 acre (650,000 m²) lots to tribal members in 1907, the government sold "surplus" land to non-Indians. The relatively arid land was not suitable for subsistence farming on such small plots.
In 1979, the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs revoked the tribal status of the Delaware living among Cherokee in Oklahoma. They began to count the Delaware as Cherokee. The Delaware had this decision overturned in 1996, when they were recognized by the federal government as a separate tribal nation.
The Cherokee Nation filed suit to overturn the independent federal recognition of the Delaware. The tribe lost federal recognition in a 2004 court ruling in favor of the Cherokee Nation, but regained it on 28 July 2009. After recognition, the tribe reorganized under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act. Members approved a constitution and bylaws in a May 26, 2009 vote. Jerry Douglas was elected as tribal chief.
In 2004, the Delaware Nation filed suit against Pennsylvania in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, seeking to reclaim 315acres included in the 1737 Walking Purchase to build a casino. In the suit titled "The Deleware Nation v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" the plaintiffs acting as the successor in interest and political continuation of the Lenni Lenape and of Lenape Chief “Moses” Tundy Tatamy, claimed aboriginal and fee title to the 315 acres of land located in Forks Township in Northampton County, near the town of Tatamy, Pennsylvania. After the Walking Purchase Chief Tatamy was granted legal permission for him and his family to remain on this parcel of land known as “Tatamy's Place. In addition to suing the state the tribe also sued the township, the county and elected officials, including Gov. Ed Rendell.
The court held that the justness of the extinguishment of aboriginal title is nonjusticiable, including in the case of fraud. Because the extinguishment occurred prior to the passage of the first Indian Nonintercourse Act in 1790, that Act did not avail the Delaware.
As a result the court granted the Commonwealth's motion to dismiss. In its conclusion the court stated: ... we find that the Delaware Nation's aboriginal rights to Tatamy's Place were extinguished in 1737 and that, later, fee title to the land was granted to Chief Tatamy-not to the tribe as a collectivity.
Three Lenape tribes are federally recognized in the United States. They are as follows:
New Jersey has two state recognized tribes, who are in part Lenape: the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey and Ramapough Lenape Nation. Over a dozen unrecognized tribes claim Lenape descent. Unrecognized Lenape organizations in Colorado, Idaho, and Kansas have petitioned the US federal government for recognition.
Some Lenape or Delaware live in communities known as Urban Indians in their historic homeland in a number of states such as Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia. They also live in the New England States; within the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. New York City and Philadelphia are known to have some Lenape residents; and others live in diaspora across the country.
The Delaware feature prominently in The Last of the Mohicans and the other Leatherstocking Tales of James Fenimore Cooper. The Boy Scouts of America honor society, Order of the Arrow was inspired by their interpretation of Lenape culture and language.
The Walam Olum, which purported to be an account of the Delaware's migration to the lands around the Delaware River, emerged through the works of Constantine Samuel Rafinesque in the 19th century. For many decades, scholars believed it was genuine. In the 1980s and 1990s, newer textual analysis suggested it was a hoax. 
In Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, the group of American scalphunters are aided by an unspecified number of Delaware, who serve as scouts and guides through the western deserts. In The Light in the Forest, True Son is adopted by a band of Lenape.
In Mark Raymond Harrington's 1938 novel, The Indians of New Jersey: Dickon among the Lenapes, a group of Lenape find a shipwrecked English boy. His gradual integration into the tribe provides a study of Lenape life, society, weaponry, and beliefs. The book includes a glossary for Lenape terms. Trouble's Daughter: The Story of Susanna Hutchinson, Indian Captive is a young adult novel of a fictional kidnapping by the Lenape Turtle Clan of a daughter of Anne Hutchinson, the religious reformer and founder of the Rhode Island colony. Moon of Two Dark Horses is a novel of the friendship between a white settler and a Lenape boy at the time of the Revolutionary War. Standing in the Light, The Captive Diary of Catherine Carey Logan, part of the Dear America series of fictional diaries, is a novel by Mary Pope Osborne. It tells the story of the capture of a teenage girl and her brother by a band of Lenape, and the youths' assimilation into Lenape culture.
Peter Lindestrom's Geographia America with an Account of the Delaware Indians is one of the few sympathetic contemporary accounts of Lenape life in the lower Delaware River valley during the 17th century.
Moravian missionary John Heckewelder published a sympathetic account of the Lenape in exile in the Ohio Valley. His account, published in 1818, provides some alternate Lenape tribal history disputing the tributary relationship with the Susquehannock. "Scouts of '76: a tale of the revolutionary war", a 1924 book by Charles E. Willis, contains an account of the contributions of the Lenni Lenape to the American Revolution when they lived in the area of Lake Wawayanda.