In 1610 Captain Samuel Argyll entered the body of water now
known as the Delaware Bay, and named it in honor of his superior
officer, Sir Thomas West III Lord De la Warr, the Provincial Governor of Virginia.
The tribes of Indians who lived on its shores and in its valleys were also
given his name. This was not one tribe of Indians but several tribes reduced
to bearing one name.
Early settlers happily coexisted with the indigenous populations near
their settlements. However, much of the recorded history of this period
reflects explorer/settler experiences and their cultural bias.
To the Indians, their settler neighbors were a bit strange but friendly.
As more settlers came the Indians began to rely more heavily on technologies
they brought with them. Traps, guns, gunpowder, tobacco and ammunition became the
base for a settler-controlled trade economy, which first augmented, and later virtually
replaced the Indians' hunting and agricultural based economy. As even more settlers arrived
there soon wasn't enough land for Indians to live on.
By the time the Delaware Bay was named, social patterns were significantly disrupted
within and between Indian tribes, and tensions escalted between Indians and settlers.
The eastern woodlands Indians never 'owned' any land. The concept of owning land was
alien to them The land, in their view, belonged to Creator. At first bargaining between Indians
and settlers was fair, with Indians sharing land use. But the colonial government pushed for
ever more for expanding settlements. The government told settlers they could legally occupy
abandoned lands in Pennsylvania. Villages vacated for fishing or hunting camps were viewed
as abandoned. When Indian people returned to their villages to find their lands occupied by
settlers, conflict arose.
The trickery and deceit of the1737 Walking Purchase gave the Delaware people the true
perspective of their relationship with the government. The Delaware thought they knew how
much land they were agreeing to give up. Because their culture was a mobile one, walking
was the Indian way of measurement. They knew how far a man could walk in a day and a
half. They didn't know whites had greedily cleared paths and hired runners to get the most
of the deal. The original agreement with the Penn brothers (Williams Penn's sons) was for
"as far as a man could walk in a day and half. " The Delaware complained that the hired
men did not "walk fair." Outraged, they refused to leave the land. In 1741, British officials
called on the Iroquois to force the Delaware to relinquish land in the Delaware and Lehigh
The Delaware people signed the first treaty with the United States Government in of
1778. One small band of Delaware left the group in the late 1700s and after great travels
settled in Anadarko, Oklahoma. Other contingents of Delaware fled to Canada during a
time of extreme persecution where today they occupy two reserves in Ontario
(The Delaware Nation at Moraviantown and The Munsee-Delaware Nation).
In the late 16th and early 17th century, economic and political deceit led to escalating
violent clashes between Indians and settlers. The people known as the Delaware were driven
ever westward by settler encroachment and governmental control. They first moved along the
North branch of the Susquehanna River
in Pennsylvania. Later they were pushed farther west, establishing a vast town near present
day Kitanning PA. Later they fled into Ohio, then to Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, and finally,
Indian Territory, in what is now Oklahoma.
With each move they were convinced they would be safe. Some chose to neither fight or
leave, instead blending into the dominent society, taking on Irish, English, Dutch and
Scottish surnames. They wanted to be able to own land and enable their children to attend
local public schools without fear. Until 1978 it was illegal for
Native Americans to practice their religions.
The descendants of the Delaware who moved westward under governmental pressure
now live in Okalahoma numbering nearly 12,000. One small band of the Delaware who left
the group in the late 1700s are today located in Anadarko, Oklahoma.
Other Delaware fled to Canada during a time of extreme persecution. Today EDN
people are taking steps to learn the Delaware language through interaction with the
The Munsee-Delaware Nation in Canada.
Delaware Nations is not recognized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or the
federal government as a tribe. Although the government official stand is that
stayed in Pennsylvania,' our ancestors did stay and we are still
here! Regional place names
echo our ancestor's presence in the Endless
Mountains: Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wyalusing,
Towanda, Sheshequin, Laquin.
Eastern Delaware Nations
was incorporated in 1984 and achieved 501c3 status in 1993.
in American Indian history, Wyalusing Rocks was purchased by EDN in 1999,
three years of fundraising, public donations and support. Roughly translated,
means "Where the old man sits." Some say medicine people
prayed there, while others say
people kept watch for invaders from these high
cliffs overlooking the Susquehanna River.
The Present? Through
the efforts of groups like EDN, awareness about American Indian
history and culture is being raised across the state. In eastern Pennsylvania, Bradford,
Sullivan and Lycoming counties joined Pennsylvania in proclaiming August
Awareness Month' in 2001. Schools, daycare facilities, scout
groups, and other organizations
request EDN presentations. Museums request
exhibits of 'story poles' created through the
Totem Rhythms project, and our mural titled 'Elan Kumankw' (We Are All Related).
The Future? EDN
is strengthening cultural awareness, knowledge of historical
today's American Indian culture throughout the Endless Mountains and