Contact between the Lenape and the Swannuken, "salt water people," began early. In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian navigator in the service of France, entered New York harbor through the strait which bears his name. Anchoring off Staten Island, he met native peoples who most likely were Lenape. They were friendly and curious and probably would have remained that way had he not tried to kidnap some of them before departing. During the next 80 years, most of the coastal Algonquin learned the hard way to beware of the European ships which occasionally stopped to raid their villages for slaves. After Verrazano, the next "official" contact for the Lenape was in 1609 when Henry Hudson, employed by the Dutch East India Company to search for the Northwest Passage, explored Delaware Bay. Hudson soon realized this was a dead-end and continued north along the New Jersey coast until he reached the mouth of the Hudson River in September.
After years of being victimized by European slave raids, the Lenape on the New Jersey coast had become unfriendly. Before entering the river, Hudson anchored for a short time off Sandy Hook where he had a hostile encounter with Navasink (Unami Delaware). However, Hudson pressed on and entered the river and stopped near the north end of Manhattan Island. Longboats were lowered to explore the area, one of which promptly became lost in a fog bank near the Hellgate. When the fog parted, the crew suddenly saw a group of Wappinger canoes approaching, and the nervous sailors apparently fired first. The response was a barrage of arrows which killed one crewmember and wounded two others. Hudson continued upriver until the water became too shallow near Albany. The Mahican in this area had no experience with Europeans and were friendly and eager to trade. Hudson exhausted his trade goods in exchange for fur and started home in October. Passing the lower river, he had another skirmish with the Wappinger before reaching the open sea and returning to Europe.
Hudson's employers were disappointed he had not found a shortcut to China but impressed with the furs he had gotten from the Mahican, and other Dutch traders visited to the Hudson River the following year. Ignoring the Wappinger and Delaware at the mouth of the river, they concentrated on the Mahican and Mohawk upstream, and after arranging a truce between these tribes, a permanent trading post (Fort Nassau) was erected on Castle Island just below Albany. Within a few years, the Dutch had expanded their trade to include the Delaware and Connecticut Rivers.
Although it was not something they wanted, the Dutch fur trade aggravated intertribal competition for hunting territory and brought widespread warfare to the region. Along the lower Connecticut, the Pequot began to dominate and conquer their Mattabesic and Nipmuc neighbors to control the trade with the Dutch, while on the Hudson, a pre-existing rivalry between the Mahican and Mohawk exploded into war during 1617. The war suspended trade and forced the temporary closure of Fort Nassau until the Dutch could arrange a peace the following year. In 1624, the Dutch brought 30 families to the area and built a new post (Fort Orange) on the west bank of the Hudson at Albany. At the same time, they tried to use the Mahican as middlemen to open trade with the Algonkin and Montagnais (French allies) on the St. Lawrence River. Trade with their enemies was something the Mohawk would not tolerate, and they attacked the Mahican. After four years of fighting, the Mahican were defeated and forced east of the Hudson, after which the Mohawk became the dominant Dutch trading partner along the Hudson.
The competition between the Mohawk and Mahican also affected the Munsee. As early as 1615, the Mohawk had begun taking hunting territory from them which formerly had been shared. As a result, some Munsee supported the Mahican during the war, and by 1628 several of the northern Munsee groups had been conquered by the Mohawk and forced to pay tribute. The Unami and Unalactigo to the south also paid a price for their trade with the Dutch. Beginning about 1626, they were attacked by the Susquehannock (Minqua) from the Susquehanna Valley to the west. Long-time enemies of the Iroquois, the Susquehannock not only sought better access to the Dutch but were concerned that, if the Mohawk defeated the Mahican, they would also seize the Delaware Valley. There had been wars between the Lenape and Susquehannock before contact, but the sheer numbers of the Lenape (3 to 1) had always been adequate to keep the highly-organized Susquehannock at bay.
Dutch trade and Mohawk conquests, however, provided sufficient motivation for an onslaught unlike anything the Lenape had experienced. Between 1630 and 1635, the Susquehannock attacked Lenape villages in southeast Pennsylvania and drove them across the Delaware River into New Jersey or south into northern Delaware. It was a brutal war with great destruction and loss of life, but the fur trade continued throughout the conflict which allowed the Europeans to observe what was happening. Both Dutch and English traders along the lower Delaware reported burned villages and many dead. At the same time (1633-35), smallpox struck the Hudson and Delaware Valleys for the first time. By the time the Swedes arrived on the lower Delaware River in 1638, the fighting had ended. The Lenape, however, having lost half of their original population, were forced to abandon most of their villages west of the Delaware River, and, as a condition of peace, become a subject people. The Lenape sold some land to the Swedes that year but first had to ask for permission to do so from the Susquehannock.
In general, the Lenape got along well with the Swedes. Unfortunately, most of the beaver in the Delaware Valley were gone by 1640, so the Swedes tended to ignore the Lenape in favor of the Susquehannock. One exception to this, however, was that they provided firearms to the Munsee who were a Susquehannock ally against the Iroquois. The Susquehannock allowed the Lenape to hunt west of the river as long as they paid their tribute. This allowed the Lenape to participate in the fur trade but created major changes in their society as their men became hunters for profit. Meanwhile, the Dutch were furious about the Swedish colony on the lower Delaware for a number of reasons: loss of trade; they had claimed the area for themselves; and the Swedish colony was founded by Pieter Minuit, a former governor of New Netherlands. They might well have done something but were distracted by worsening relations with the lower Hudson tribes and the advance of English settlement into western Connecticut after the Pequot War (1637).
Compared to the English, there were not many Dutch in North America. At first, there were only a few fur traders. Settlement did not occur until 30 Dutch families arrived at Albany in 1624, the same year the Mahican-Mohawk war began. The violence and length of this conflict not only slowed the Dutch fur trade along the Hudson but forced them to shift the focus of their settlement downstream. In 1625 Pieter Minuit, then governor of New Netherlands, purchased Manhattan from the Metoac tribe of the same name and built Fort Amsterdam at the south end of the island. Farmers were brought to supply food for the garrison, and at this point, Dutch relations with the lower Hudson tribes turned sour. The first indication of trouble to come occurred shortly after the Dutch purchased a small tract on Delaware Bay from the Unalactigo in 1629 and a second parcel at Cape May (southeast New Jersey) in 1631. A small settlement (Swanendael) was started at Cape May in 1631, but during an argument, a Dutch colonist killed a Lenape sachem, and the Sickoneysinck retaliated by killing all of the 32 Dutch colonists. The Dutch made no further attempts to colonize the lower Delaware River until after they had captured New Sweden in 1655.
Because New Netherlands was a trade monopoly operated by the Dutch West India Company, there was little economic opportunity for anyone besides its stockholders. For this reason, there was very little immigration from the mother country to the New World. The company attempted to remedy this in 1629 by selling patroonships to investors willing to bring in new settlers, but, this had little effect until it gave up its fur trade monopoly in 1639. The number of Dutch colonists increased afterwards, and settlement spread to the Bronx and across the Hudson to the Hackensack Valley and Staten Island. The Dutch were required by law to purchase the lands which they occupied, but it was common for sales to involve brandy and fraud. Even when transactions were conducted honestly, problems arose from differing native and European concepts of land ownership.
In the accordance with the law, the Patroon David De Vries purchased land on Staten Island from the Raritan believing, in the European custom, he had obtained exclusive rights to its use. However, the Raritan thought they had only agreed to share the land. In any event, the Raritan never thought the sale had anything to do with their right to hunt the animals which lived there ...like those pigs the Dutch farmers were raising! Livestock was easy prey for native hunters, and to make matters worse, the Dutch allowed their animals to roam freely in the woods, which often resulted in their invading the unfenced native corn fields with disastrous results. The offending animal was usually killed, but sometimes the damage was so severe, the Raritan also took further revenge on its relatives. In any case, the Raritan acquired a taste for pork, and Dutch farmers demanded to be compensated for their losses. To the Raritan, the idea of someone owning animals was ridiculous.
In 1639 a new director-general arrived at New Amsterdam. Governor Kieft was a stern, moralistic man with instructions from the company to bring discipline and order to the colony. Besides new regulations to deal with the moral laxness of the Dutch colonists, Kieft chose to deal with the neighboring tribes through intimidation rather than negotiation. One of his first actions was to send an armed sloop to the Tappan villages to demand a tribute of corn and wampum. The Tappan had always been peaceful and even sold some of their land to Dutch. They reluctantly paid but could not believe the Dutch would treat them this way. In July, 1640 several pigs disappeared from the De Vries plantation. The obvious conclusion was that the Raritan were responsible, but as it would turn out, the culprits were Dutch. Kieft chose to deal with this "major crisis" with a show of military force. In September, he sent 100 men to Staten Island to punish the Raritan for the theft. Several Raritan were killed, one of their sachems taken hostage, and the corpse of another mutilated.
The Raritan retaliated in the "Pig War" by burning De Vries' plantation and killing four of his field-hands. Kieft responded by ordering the extermination of the Raritan and offered a bounty of ten fathoms of wampum for each Raritan head brought to him at Fort Amsterdam, but only a few Metoac warriors from Long Island "took up the hatchet" against the Raritan. The Raritan retreated west into New Jersey, and Kieft's generous offer netted him only one head. However, other problems arose. In 1642 a Wecquaesgeek (Wappinger) warrior took revenge for the earlier murder of his uncle by the Dutch by killing a Dutchman. Kieft demanded the Wecquaesgeek turn the murderer over to him for punishment and, when refused, sent an punitive expedition to destroy their village. Fortunately, his men got lost enroute, but the Wecquaesgeek learned of their narrow escape and made peace. Meanwhile, the murderer had found refuge with another tribe, so the frustrated Kieft never did get his hands on him. A similar situation developed that year with the Hackensack across the river in New Jersey, the "Whiskey War." The Hackensack were already angry about a questionable purchase and occupation of some of their land by Myndert Van der Horst, when the son of one of their sachems was lured to a Dutch establishment and gotten drunk. When he awoke, he discovered his Dutch hosts had relieved him of his beaver skin coat. He got even by putting an arrow into a worker who was thatching the roof of Van der Horst's home.
Kieft made his usual demand for the surrender the killer and got the usual response - the warriors had fled to another tribe. The Hackensack, however, were ready to resolve things in the tradition manner with a payment of wampum to "cover the dead." Unfortunately, their sachems refused to visit Fort Amsterdam to make arrangements because they were certain the madman Kieft would put them in his jail. That summer, the Narragansett sachem Miontonimo came from Rhode Island with 100 warriors and visited the Metoac tribes on Long Island and the Wappinger and Mahican along the Hudson to recruit allies for a war he was planning against the Mohegan in Connecticut. While an intertribal war in an English colony should have been of little concern, Kieft's growing difficulty with the tribes near New Amsterdam made him conclude that a general uprising was being planned against both the Dutch and English.
Meanwhile, English traders along the Connecticut River in 1640 had tried to lure the Mohawk away from the Dutch with offers of firearms. To counter this, the Dutch reversed their previous policy and began selling large guns and ammunition to the Mohawk and Mahican in whatever amounts they wanted. Not only did this dramatically escalate the violence in the Beaver Wars in the St. Lawrence Valley and Great Lakes, but it upset the balance of power along the lower Hudson. The peace which ended their war in 1628 had also bound the Mohawk and Mahican into an alliance, and by 1642 they were even forming joint war parties against the Montagnais (French allies) to the north. Because of their continuous trade with the Dutch, fur was becoming scarce in their homelands, but the Dutch also accepted wampum as payment for trade goods. Located in the interior, neither the Mahican or Mohawk had access to this commodity, but the Wappinger and Delaware on the lower river did. Their solution was for the Mohawk to demand tribute in wampum from the Munsee west of the river while the Mahican went after the Wappinger on the east side.
For obvious reasons, the Dutch had restricted the sale of firearms to the tribes near their settlements on the lower Hudson. The Munsee could get guns from the Swedes, but the Wappinger were ill prepared to resist the Mahican. In the winter of 1642-43, 80 heavily-armed Mahican warriors came to the Wecquaesgeek villages demanding tribute. The Wecquaesgeek refused, and in the melee which followed, 17 were killed and many of their women and children captured. To escape the Mahican, the Wecquaesgeek fled south to what they thought was the protection of the Dutch settlements. After a two-week stay on Manhattan, they moved across the Hudson to the Hackensack villages near Pavonia (Jersey City) and Corlear's Hook. Because of their recent confrontations with the Dutch, the Wecquaesgeek were not especially friendly, and there were incidents. At this point Kieft ignored the advice of his council and decided to exterminate the Wecquaesgeek to set an example to the other "Wilden" (wild men). On February 25th, 1643 the Dutch made a surprise night attack on the sleeping Wecquaesgeek villages killing 80 at Pavonia and another 30 at Corlear's Hook. Dutch soldiers reportedly brought the heads of their victims back to Fort Amsterdam and played kickball with them.
As the news of the massacre spread, the Hackensack and Tappan joined with the other Wappinger tribes in attacks against the outlying Dutch farms, Wappinger War (Governor Kieft's War, 1643-45). The Dutch were driven inside Fort Amsterdam, and preparing for a possible siege, Kieft added fuel to the fire by confiscating corn from the Metoac on Long Island killing three Canarsee in the process. The war spread to include warriors from at least 20 tribes: Tappan, Haverstraw, Hackensack, Navasink and Raritan from the Unami (and possibly some of Munsee) from the west of the Hudson; from the opposite side, the Wecquaesgeek, Sintsink, Kitchawank, Nochpeem, Siwanoy, Tankiteke, and Wappinger; and finally Canarsee, Manhattan, Matinecock, Massapequa, Merrick, Rockaway, and Secatoag from the Metoac on Long Island. With only 250 men against 1,500 warriors, the Dutch were in danger of being overwhelmed. However, the Mohawk and Mahican remained loyal, and Kieft was able to sign a treaty of friendship and trade with them at Fort Orange. The Mohawk and Mahican did not intervene in the fighting, but the very possibility they would was enough to keep tribes from joining the Wappinger.
Kieft then offered 25,000 guilders to the English colonists in Connecticut for 150 men to help put down the uprising. Two companies were formed under the leadership of John Underhill and joined the fight in 1644. The first combined Dutch-English expedition was sent against the Raritan on Staten Island, but the Raritan abandoned their villages and fled into northern New Jersey. The Tappan and Hackensack proved equally difficult to corner, but the Wappinger and Metoac had nowhere to retreat and were badly mauled. Before a peace was signed at Fort Orange in August, 1645, more than 1,600 Wappinger and their allies had been killed. By the terms of the treaty, the Wappinger and Metoac became subject to the Mohawk and Mahican and were required to pay an annual tribute in wampum. This effectively gave the Mohawk and Mahican control of the wampum trade of western Long Island and the lower Hudson.
During the years following, Dutch immigration increased dramatically and swelled the population of New Netherlands from 2,000 in 1648 to more than 10,000 in 1660. As settlement swallowed more native land, anger and bitterness continued to smolder, especially among the Lenape and Munsee west of the Hudson, after the Dutch, without bothering to consult them, purchased some of Lenape land from the Susquehannock in 1651. That same year war broke out along the upper Susquehanna River between the Susquehannock and the Mohawk. Although the Swedes supplied them with arms, the Susquehannock were relatively few, and as the war dragged on for five years, they were forced to call upon their Munsee and Lenape allies. Dutch support of the Mohawk in this conflict added to the tension with the Lenape and Munsee along the lower Hudson. War and epidemic combined to cause a rapid drop in the Lenape population. Smallpox began in Virginia during 1654 and by 1657 had spread north through the Lenape villages into New England. The Dutch finally seized the Swedish colony on the lower Delaware in 1655. Deprived of their support from the Swedes, the Munsee and Susquehannock were forced to ask for peace, to which the Mohawk, also exhausted from the long conflict, agreed.
Relations with the Wappinger and Metoac were also strained. In 1655 a Dutch farmer shot and killed a Wappinger woman he caught stealing a peach from one of the trees in his garden. 200 Wappinger warriors suddenly arrived on Manhattan to kill the farmer and got into a fight with Dutch militia. After taking revenge, they crossed to the west side of the Hudson and burned the Dutch settlements there. Before the "Peach War" ended, 50 Dutch were dead. However, the Wappinger were not always innocent victims. After 1645, the Mahican had used them to collect their tribute from the Metoac. Any failure to pay brought Wappinger raids on the Metoac villages which the Dutch made no effort to prevent. By 1658 the Metoac grown tired of this situation and decided to correct it by killing all of the Dutch on Long Island. However, the English colonists on the island warned the Dutch which prevented a major uprising. Governor Peter Stuyvesant responded with troops but, after promising to halt the Wappinger raids, was still forced to ransom 50 Dutch colonists held by the Metoac.
In the midst of all this, a more serious confrontation was taking shape to the north with the Munsee in the Esopus Valley (Kingston, New York). Although there may have been a Dutch fort or trading post in this location as early as 1614, actual settlement did not begin until 1652. Because of the suspicious nature of the land sales involved, the Esopus (Catskill, Mamekoting, Wawarsink, and Waranawonkong) were inclined to oppose this, and there were several incidents of violence. Because the Munsee were involved in a war with the Mohawk as allies of the Susquehannock, serious trouble did not occur until after the end of the Mohawk-Susquehannock war in 1656. After several Dutch were killed in attacks in 1657, Stuyvesant arrived with troops from New Amsterdam and began construction of a fort. At a conference, the Esopus attempted to blame the Minisink for the attacks, but Stuyvesant refused to accept this and issued a humiliating challenge to the Esopus sachems to fight him right there if they wanted a war. His offer to purchase the disputed lands only increased the tension, and the meeting ended on a hostile note. Stuyvesant departed but left 50 soldiers to garrison the fort.
The situation worsened the following year, and 1658 marks the beginning of 20 years of death and destruction for the Lenape. After the murder of a Jesuit priest, war resumed along the St. Lawrence between the French and Iroquois. At the same time, the western Iroquois (Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga) attacked the Susquehannock which, of course, drew the Munsee and Lenape into the fighting as Susquehannock allies. Meanwhile, the Mahican had ended their alliance with the Mohawk in 1655 and gone over to the side of their enemies in western New England, a French-inspired alliance of the Pennacook, Pocumtuc, Sokoki (western Abenaki). Forced to fight this many wars, the Iroquois came to the Dutch in 1658 and demanded help. The Dutch promised arms and, in one of their few positive accomplishments that year, convinced the Mahican to desert their New England allies and make peace with the Mohawk.
In September of 1659, a group of Esopus who had been hired by a Dutch farmer to husk his corn decided to spend their wages on brandy. They became drunk and obnoxious but were a nuisance rather than a danger. However, a group of Dutch vigilantes killed them which started the First Esopus War (1659-60). The Esopus attacked the Dutch settlements in the Esopus Valley, prisoners were burned alive, and the colonists besieged for three long weeks before Stuyvesant (delayed by hostilities with the Metoac on Long Island) arrived with 200 men. The Esopus retreated west into the mountains but continued to raid. After the failure of the Mahican and Mohawk to arrange a truce, and the Dutch launched an offensive in the spring of 1660. They destroyed the Esopus fort near Wiltmeet in March followed by other battles in April and May. Esopus prisoners were sold as slaves to the sugar plantations on Curacao. The Hackensack made another attempt to mediate in June, and threatened with war by the Mahican and Mohawk, the Esopus (already fighting the Seneca) finally agreed to meet with the Dutch.
The treaty forced the Esopus to surrender most of their land in the valley and did not sit well. Only the threat of war with the Mohawk and Mahican kept the agreement intact, but the Mohawk learned that the Mahican were once again trying to arrange trade between the Dutch and Sokoki (Mohawk enemies), and another Mohawk-Mahican war erupted in 1662. With the Mohawk and Mahican busy fighting each other, the Esopus attacked Dutch settlements the following June (Second Esopus War 1663-64) killing 24 and taking 45 captives at Wiltwyck. Stuyvesant sent reinforcements, including 46 Massapequa warriors from Long Island. The Esopus retreated into the mountains again and continued to raid the Dutch farms in the valley. An expedition under Martin Creiger was sent after them but produced little. However, Creiger's second effort inflicted heavy casualties. Stuyvesant ordered the taking of Esopus children as hostages to force a peace, but the Esopus retreated even deeper into the Minisink country, and a third Dutch expedition in October could not reach them. A Wappinger sachem managed to arrange a prisoner exchange in November, but the fighting continued.
In the spring, Stuyvesant received orders to exterminate the Esopus and called in the Mohawk. Combining with the Seneca, the Mohawk destroyed the Munsee capital at Minisink on the upper Delaware River. Hundreds were killed as other Munsee villages suffered similar fates. Under attack from all directions, the Esopus made peace with the Dutch in May, 1664. However, the Munsee war with the Iroquois did not end until the final defeat of the Susquehannock in 1676. The Munsee afterwards were a conquered people subject to the Iroquois. The Dutch suffered a similar fate in September of 1664 when an English fleet captured New Amsterdam. New Netherlands suddenly become New York but little changed for the Munsee in the Hudson Valley - the Dutch colonists stayed, and the English quickly signed treaties of trade and friendship with the Mohawk and Mahican (who remained at war with each other until 1672). However, for the Unami in New Jersey, the takeover was a turning point. English colonists were far more numerous than the Dutch, and the conquest of New York opened new areas for their settlement. The Dutch had at least paid for native lands, but the English claimed the land by right of discovery and paid only when absolutely necessary. Connecticut Puritans founded Newark in 1666 and began expanding into New Jersey.
For the most part, the Lenape in the Delaware Valley had not participated in the Esopus war, not because they had no sympathy for the Munsee, but because they had their hands full helping the Susquehannock in their war with the Iroquois. The Iroquois first went after the Susquehannock allies by attacking the Lenape villages in the Delaware Valley during the 1660s. In 1661 the Susquehannock were decimated by smallpox, and the epidemic soon spread with equal devastation to the Lenape. War and epidemic caused another massive population loss for the Lenape between 1660 and 1670, but it still took the Iroquois until 1675 to defeat the Susquehannock. Under the terms of surrender, Susquehannock control of the Lenape passed to the Iroquois League. Forced to pay annual tribute at Conestoga after 1677, the Lenape became part of the "covenant chain" - an unequal alliance in which only the Iroquois had power or could speak in council. In general, the Iroquois regarded the Lenape, and other members of the chain as inferiors.
After the Susquehannock had driven the Lenape east of the Delaware River during the 1630s, the Unalactigo had gradually been absorbed by the Unami. By the time the Susquehannock allowed the Lenape to reoccupy the west side of the river during the 1660s, there were really only two divisions: Unami and Munsee. When the English began colonizing New Jersey and the lower Delaware after 1666, the Lenape were generally hostile because they were aware of the mistreatment given the Powhatan and Nanticoke (many of whom had joined the Lenape) by the Virginia and Maryland colonists. There had already been some skirmishes with the English colonists in Maryland (1658-61), but this was resolved by a treaty in 1661 and Maryland's subsequent aid to the Susquehannock in their war with the Iroquois. The Lenape sold some of their northern New Jersey lands to the English in 1673 and 1681, but as mentioned, the English often took land without paying. This led to confrontations with the Sawkin, Rankoke, and Soupnapka in 1675 which required a peace conference with New York's governor Edmund Andros.
In 1682 Charles II granted Pennsylvania to a religious dissenter, William Penn. Having been expelled from Oxford and arrested for his Quaker beliefs, Penn entertained the curious notion that his grant did not override native rights to the land. Before beginning his "Holy Experiment" - a colony with religious tolerance - Penn sent William Markham to negotiate the purchase of southeast Pennsylvania. In November, Penn arrived and signed a treaty at Shackamaxon (Philadelphia) with Tammamend, the sachem chosen by several groups of Lenape to represent them for the occasion. The agreement has been described by Voltaire as "the one treaty with the Indians that the whites never broke." Believing the land west of the Lenape belonged to the Susquehannock, Penn returned to England without establishing the western boundaries of his purchase. When he returned in 1699, he discovered the Susquehannock needed Iroquois permission to sell land. The Lenape did also but had failed to mention this in 1682.
During Penn's lifetime, things went relatively well. To make room for the English, the Lenape moved west to the upper Schuykill, Brandywine, and Lehigh valleys. By 1718, the Iroquois had assumed complete control of the affairs of the Lenape - an arrangement encouraged by Pennsylvania governors to insure the Lenape would not come under the influence of the French. The "covenant chain" provided little benefit for the Delaware, usually only demands for warriors to serve as Iroquois auxiliaries, two-thirds of whom were killed in the King William's War (1689-96). The admission of the Tuscarora as the sixth member of the Iroquois League in 1722 only emphasized the Iroquois' low opinion of the Lenape. Settlers in Pennsylvania continued to push west against the uncertain boundaries of the 1682 treaty. Germans from New York moved to the upper Schuykill, and the Brandywine villages were next. After they ceded the cession of the Susquehanna Valley in 1732, all that remained of the Lenape homeland was a small part of New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley (Allentown) in northeast Pennsylvania.
Upon his death in 1718, Penn's three sons by his second marriage inherited his estate but none of his honesty. In 1737 Pennsylvania authorities "found" the infamous Walking Purchase agreement, a treaty supposedly signed in 1686 in which the Lenape ceded the land between the junction of Delaware and Lehigh Rivers as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half (about 40 miles). This was bad enough, but Penn's son Thomas hired three of the fastest men in the colony and offered a prize to the one who could cover the greatest distance. Running on a prepared path, the winner went twice the distance the Delaware had anticipated which cost them most of the Lehigh valley. Realizing they had been cheated, the Delaware expected the Iroquois to defend their interests, but the Iroquois were furious that the Delaware had signed a treaty without their permission. Pennsylvania also took the precaution of bribing them to stay angry and enforce the agreement. The ultimate humiliation came during a 1742 meeting of the Delaware, Iroquois, and the Pennsylvania governor. When the Delaware sachem Nutimus rose to protest the Walking Purchase, the Iroquois representative Canasatego silenced him with, "We conquered you. You are women, we made women of you. Give up claims to your old lands and move west. Never attempt to sell land again. Now get out."
No longer having land of their own, the Unami were ordered to join the other Delaware living at Shamokin and Wyoming on the upper Susquehanna, lands now claimed by Iroquois from their conquest of the Susquehannock. For years, the "grandfathers" had taken in refugees from other Algonquin tribes starting with the Powhattan who had left Virginia after their war with the English (1622-32). They settled for a time in Maryland only to be forced north into Pennsylvania when settlement began along the east side of Chesapeake Bay. More Powhatan came after second war with the English in 1644. Munsee and Wappinger arrived after their wars with the Dutch (Wappinger, 1643-45) and (Esopus 1659-64) followed by Wicomiss and Assateague from the east shore of Chesapeake Bay in 1669. There were New England Algonquin after the King Phillip's War (1675-76), and then Shawnee, the first group settling among the Lenape in 1692 at Pequa Creek near Lancaster. Since the Iroquois considered the Shawnee as enemies, there were objections to this until the Mahican intervened on their behalf. The Conoy (Piscataway) arrived in 1711; Saponi and Tutelo after 1722; Nanticoke in 1743; and several hundred Mahican between 1724 and 1742.
By this time, the Munsee were almost a separate tribe from the other Lenape. Although under the supervision of the Oneida and Cayuga, most of the Munsee were allowed to remain on their original lands, now claimed by the Iroquois. This served to protect their homeland from settlement, since the English during the early years had no desire to challenge the power of the Iroquois. However, war and epidemic had reduced the Munsee and Wappinger populations on the lower Hudson to 10% of their original size by 1700. Since many of the lands were now unoccupied, the Iroquois allowed the Munsee in 1677 to sell a large tract to newly-arrived French Huguenots, which only served to whet the appetites of the colonists for more. The Iroquois had no objections to settlement along the lower Hudson River, but they opposed settlement near their homeland to the extent of threatening the English with war in 1726. As their lands were sold, most of the Munsee, with the exception of few families, moved west to Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley where Moravian missionaries began their work among them in 1740.
For the Iroquois, the Indian reservation they were running along the upper Susquehanna for members of covenant chain was a source of much-needed manpower to counter the French-Algonquin alliance which had driven them from the Great Lakes between 1687 and 1701. Like all reservations, it was crowded and unhealthy, and despite the fact that new tribes displaced by settlement were added on a regular basis, its population continued to fall. A fever (probably malaria) raged along the Susquehanna in 1744, and alcohol abuse was a serious problem. People began to pick up and leave. The Mingo (adopted Iroquois) and Shawnee were the first. For the Shawnee, moving west was just a return to their homeland. As early as 1724, small groups of Shawnee had been moving to the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in western Pennsylvania, land made vacant during the fighting of the Beaver Wars (1630-1700). Angered by the Walking Purchase and Iroquois insults, small groups of Delaware also left the Susquehanna, without Iroquois permission, between 1742 and 1749 to join the Shawnee and Mingo. In 1751 some of the Mingo, Delaware, and Shawnee in western Pennsylvania accepted the invitation of the Wyandot (Huron) to settle in eastern Ohio. The Delaware had split into two groups: those in the west along the upper Ohio River; and the Munsee and about one-third of the Unami who had remained on the upper Susquehanna or the Wyoming Valley in the east.
At the time, Ohio was claimed by the French, British, and Iroquois but had been empty for almost a century following its conquest by the Iroquois during the Beaver Wars. The mixed Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo villages which arose in western Pennsylvania and Ohio after 1740 supposedly owed their allegiance to the Iroquois League but in truth were independent of its authority. Concerned that these tribes would fall under French influence, the British urged the Iroquois to have them return to the Susquehanna, but when the Iroquois ordered them to do so, they were ignored. French authority in the area was based on their alliance with Great Lakes Algonquin which had been created to fight the Iroquois. However, by 1740 the unity of this coalition had been seriously undermined by competition from British traders. The situation became critical during the King George's War (1744-48) after a British blockade of Canada cut the supply of French trade goods. By 1747 even loyal allies of the French like the Wyandot and Miami were conspiring to trade with the British.
Meanwhile, settlement had claimed most of the available arable land east of the Appalachians, and with the Iroquois determined to keep the upper Susquehanna, the British began to look seriously at expanding into western Pennsylvania and Ohio. At the Treaty of Lancaster signed in 1744, the Iroquois gave permission for the British to build a trading post at the forks of the Ohio (Pittsburgh), but both Pennsylvania and Virginia interpreted the agreement as the Iroquois cession of their claims to Ohio to themselves. Pennsylvania's claim was more modest and in eastern Ohio, but Virginia saw itself as master of the entire Ohio Valley west to the Illinois River including Kentucky and lower Michigan. Plans for opening the area to settlement got underway in 1747 when Virginia granted a charter to the Ohio Company. Pennsylvania considered the Ohio tribes as being subject to the Iroquois, but when they refused the League's orders to return to the Susquehanna, it was obvious something needed to be done. At the second Treaty of Lancaster (1748) with the Iroquois, Shawnee, and Delaware, the governor of Pennsylvania urged the Iroquois to "remove the petticoat" from the Delaware and restore the Ohio tribes to the covenant chain as a barrier against the French.
No longer able to ignore the defection of their "women," the Iroquois created a system of half-kings (special Iroquois emissaries) to represent the Ohio tribes (who numbered 10,000 by this time) in their councils. This seemed to satisfy the Delaware and Shawnee, and when Pierre C»loron led a French expedition to the Ohio River in 1749 to expel British traders and mark the boundary of French territory with lead plates, his reception was unfriendly, with the Ohio tribes demanding to know by what right the French were claiming Iroquois land. Smallpox hit the Delaware in 1751, just as they were beginning to leave the mixed villages and organize themselves into a separate tribe. Their council fire was located at Coshocton on the Muskingum River in Ohio. At Logstown in 1751, the Iroquois recognized the selection of Shingas as the head chief of the Delaware. Although his authority was not accepted by the Delaware still on the Susquehanna, the Delaware had become an organized tribe. In the same treaty, however, the Iroquois confirmed their 1744 cession of land at the forks of the Ohio.
With British traders subverting the loyalty of their allies, and the Mingo, Delaware and Shawnee defying their authority, the French decided to use force to enforce their claims to Ohio. They turned first to the Detroit tribes (Wyandot, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Ojibwe), usually their most dependable allies, but they tribes were thinking of trading with the British themselves and did not want to fight the Ohio tribes. In June of 1752, Charles Langlade, a French-Ojibwe mixed blood, led a war party of 250 Ojibwe and Ottawa from Mackinac and destroyed the Miami village and British trading post at Piqua, Ohio. After the initial shock, the tribes of the French alliance fell into place, and the French followed their success by building a line of forts across western Pennsylvania to block British access to Ohio. Most Delaware and Shawnee had no desire to be controlled by the French and turned to the Iroquois for help. To the Iroquois, the French and British seemed like two thieves fighting over their land but they decided the French were the more immediate threat. In 1752 the League signed the Logstown Treaty reconfirming their 1744 cessions and giving the British permission to build a blockhouse at Pittsburgh. Before it was finished, the French burned it.
In May, 1754 a conference was held at Albany between representatives of the British colonies and Iroquois League to prepare for war with the French. Unable to defend Ohio, the Iroquois ceded it to Pennsylvania, but they fully intended to keep the Wyoming and Susquehanna Valleys. Unfortunately, an Albany trader managed to get some of the minor Iroquois representatives drunk, and when they sobered up, they discovered they had signed an agreement with a Connecticut land company opening the Susquehanna and Wyoming Valleys to settlement. Rather than achieving unity, the conference ended with the Iroquois furious with the British about this treaty, Pennsylvania protesting Connecticut's attempt to claim its territory, and the Delaware threatening to kill any whites who tried to settle in the Wyoming Valley. Meanwhile, Virginia had decided to act on its own and sent an expedition commanded by a 22-year-old militia major named George Washington to demand the surrender of Fort Duquesne, the new fort the French had built at Pittsburgh. Major Washington got himself into a fight with French soldiers and started the French and Indian War (1754-63).
When the Ohio tribes learned that the Iroquois had ceded Ohio at Albany, they saw another betrayal like the "Walking Purchase." Even the Iroquois half-kings joined their revolt and declared Ohio belonged to the tribes which lived there. Deciding that both the British were as much their enemies as the French, the Delaware and Shawnee chose to remain neutral and wait to see what was going to happen. "What happened" was that Britain sent General Edward Braddock with a regiment of regular soldiers to the colonies with orders to destroy the French forts. An experienced soldier, Braddock had a unusually high regard for his own abilities and those of his troops matched by an equally low opinion of colonial militia and Indians. Refusing to use "savages," he dismissed the fifty scouts provided him by the Susquehanna Delaware and relegated the militia to chopping trees and driving supply wagons. When he was ready, Braddock marched his 2,200 man army into the wildness hacking out a road towards Fort Duquesne. The French easily followed Braddock's slow progress, but without help from the Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo, they found it difficult to supply their forts. Since not one Delaware and only four Shawnee warriors were willing to help them to defend Fort Duquesne, they were forced to bring 300 French and 600 allies from Canada and the Great Lakes. This small force proved more than adequate. On July 9, 1755, just south of present-day Pittsburgh, Braddock blundered into an ambush. 977 of his men were killed including 63 of 83 officers, one of whom was Braddock himself.
The reaction in the British colonies to the news of Braddock's defeat was stunned disbelief followed by rage. Pennsylvania seized and hanged a Delaware-Shawnee delegation sent to protest the Iroquois sale of Ohio, and the neutrality of the Delaware and Shawnee ended with an outpouring of rage accumulated from all the years of the Iroquois calling them "women." Some accounts of the French and Indian War leave the impression that most of the warfare occurred in upstate New York and the "Indians" were fighting for the French. Neither is correct. Delaware and Shawnee attacks on the Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia frontiers were never intended to support the French but to punish the British. By 1758, more than 2,500 colonists had been killed - the greatest loss suffered by the British in this conflict and an explanation for the hatreds harbored by the "Long Knives" (Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiersmen) when they began to occupy the Ohio Valley. SHINGAS - now known as "SHINGAS the TERRIBLE" - raided settlements along the Susquehanna and invited the Delaware living there under Iroquois supervision to join his war parties. At first they refused, but the raids created such hatred among the colonists, the eastern Delaware went over the edge.
At the time of the King George's War, a few Munsee and Wappinger families were still living along the lower Hudson. Scattered in a few small bands, they were peaceful and posed no danger to their white neighbors, but in 1745 French allies from Canada attacked settlements just to the north. Warned of a possible attack on the lower river settlements that fall, British colonists massacred several Munsee families near Walden, New York. The other Munsee and Wappinger immediately left for Pennsylvania. They returned the following year but no longer felt safe. After the outbreak of the French and Indian War, Abenaki raiders from St. Francois captured the Mahican village of Schaghticoke north of Albany in August, 1755 and took its people back with them to Quebec. The sudden defection of the Schaghticoke made the British question the loyalty of all natives in the area. In December the Munsee and Wappinger in the Hudson Valley were urged to leave the back country and move closer to the settlements for their "protection." On March 2nd, 1756 vigilantes led by William Slaughter (nice name) massacred nine Munsee in the Esopus Valley. The remaining Wappinger and Munsee fled west to Wyoming or north to Mohawk and Oneida villages and never returned to the Hudson.
Meanwhile, the Munsee had attacked the Moravian mission at Gnadenhuetten (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)in November, 1755 massacring 11 missionaries. When the Susquehanna Delaware joined the fighting, and all hell broke loose. Ignoring Iroquois orders for them to stop, 300 eastern Delaware warriors combined with 700 of their relatives from the Ohio spread death and destruction on the frontier in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. In April, Pennsylvania declared war on the Delaware and offered bounties for scalps and prisoners. New Jersey followed suit that June. A line of forts and blockhouses, including Fort Augusta at Shamokin, Fort Allen on Lehigh River, and Fort Gardinier near Minisink, was built to protect the settlements. In September colonial militia under Colonel John Armstrong attacked and burned the principal Delaware village of Kittaning on the Allegheny River. The chief, Captain Jacobs was killed, but most of the Delaware escaped taking the 100 white prisoners they held with them. Meanwhile, some of the eastern Delaware under Teedyuskung had tired of the war and made peace at Easton, Pennsylvania in August, 1756. At the time, the British Indian agent, Sir William Johnson, asked the Iroquois to "remove petticoat" from these Delaware so they could be used against the French. While it was obvious the Delaware were no longer "women," the Iroquois still refused to acknowledge them as warriors.
The "women" still "on the warpath" defied another Iroquois order to lay down their arms, and the raids continued. During the summer of 1757, Munsee raids struck Orange and Duchess Counties in New York and the frontier in northern New Jersey. The primary motivation for the hostility of the Pennsylvania Delaware was their anger over being cheated out of their lands at Minisink and the massacre of the Munsee families in the Esopus Valley the year before. After another Munsee attack hit Walpack, New Jersey in the spring of 1758, a second peace conference was held at Easton in October. As a matter of courtesy, the Iroquois were allowed to speak for the Delaware and Munsee, but their authority over them was gone. The Second Treaty of Easton provided for payments for the Munsee and Pompton lands taken by New Jersey without compensation; purchased the remaining Delaware lands in New Jersey; established a 3,000 acre reservation at Brotherton; and most importantly for the Delaware in the west - Pennsylvania unilaterally renounced its claim to the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains which had been ceded by the Iroquois at Albany in 1754.
The news of agreement immediately reached Ohio, and the Delaware and Shawnee offered no resistance to the capture of Fort Duquesne by General John Forbes in November. Rebuilt as Fort Pitt, this was the site of the peace treaty signed between the Ohio Delaware and British in July, 1759. Fort Niagara fell to the British that same month, and after the fall of Quebec in September, the struggle between France and Great Britain for North America was over. When the treaty was signed at Fort Pitt, the Delaware were holding more than 600 white prisoners at a Caughnawaga (Christian Iroquois) village on the Ohio River. The British wanted them returned, and the exchange occurred in 1761. Surprisingly, almost half of the white captives refused repatriation and stayed with the Delaware and Shawnee. After a final treaty at Lancaster in 1762, the Delaware expected the British to leave Fort Pitt, but this did not happen. Garrisoned with 200 soldiers, it remained as an annoying symbol of British authority in the region.
As his soldiers occupied French forts in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, the British commander in North America, decided the former French allies were a conquered people. Ignoring the advice of William Johnson, Amherst ended the practice of annual gifts to treaty chiefs, raised prices on trade goods, and restricted their supply, especially gunpowder and rum. By 1761 the Seneca were passing a war belt calling for an uprising, but only the Delaware and Shawnee responded. Johnson uncovered the plot during a meeting at Detroit with the tribes of the old French alliance. The unrest continued, and other belts were circulated by the Illinois and the Caughnawaga. However, it took a religious movement to unite the tribes against the British. This came from the Delaware Prophet, Neolin (The Enlightened) who the British referred to as the "Impostor." From his village near the Ohio River, Neolin urged the rejection of the white man's trade goods (especially rum) and a return to traditional native culture and values. His teachings gained a large following among the Delaware, but his most important convert was Pontiac, the Ottawa chief at Detroit.
The Ottawa were one of the most French allies, Pontiac's acceptance of Neolin's new religion provided a basis for the Delaware, Shawnee and Mingo to unite with the tribes of the French alliance against the British. In what has been called the Pontiac Conspiracy (1763), Pontiac secretly organized a general uprising which caught the British totally by surprise. After it began in May, the rebellion captured nine of the twelve British forts west of the Appalachians. However, an informer warned the garrison, and Pontiac failed in the critical mission he had reserved for himself of taking Fort Detroit. The Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo surrounded Fort Pitt cutting if off from the outside world and then attacked the Pennsylvania frontier killing 600 colonists. In an effort to break the siege at Fort Pitt, Amherst wrote its commander, Captain Simeon Ecuyer, suggesting that he deliberately infect the tribes outside the fort by giving them blankets and handkerchiefs infected with smallpox. Ecuyer did exactly this, and the resulting epidemic spread from the Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo to the Cherokee in Tennessee and then the entire Southeast.
The uprising collapsed after it failed to take Forts Pitt, Niagara, and Detroit. The French refused to help and even urged their allies to stop. During a bloody two-day battle at Bushy Run just east of Pittsburgh, Colonel Henry Bouquet defeated a Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo ambush and reached Fort Pitt in August. The Delaware and Shawnee retreated west into Ohio but continued their raids in Pennsylvania. After his failure to take Detroit, Pontiac's allies began to desert him. In the summer of 1764, they attended a conference with William Johnson at Fort Niagara and made peace with the British. In August, Colonel John Bradstreet, with 1,200 men, advanced west along the south shore of Lake Erie to attack the remaining hostile Ojibwe, Wyandot, and Ottawa at Detroit. Enroute, Bradstreet met with the Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo chiefs at Presque Isle (Erie, PA) and concluded a preliminary peace treaty. Bradstreet reached Detroit in September, where another treaty was signed with the remainder of Pontiac's allies.
Meanwhile, General Thomas Gage had rejected Bradstreet's treaty with the Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo because it had been signed without first consulting William Johnson. Bradstreet was ordered to move south and attack the Delaware and Shawnee villages in Ohio. At the same time, Bouquet's army moved west from Fort Pitt trapping the Delaware and Shawnee between. In November, the Delaware and Shawnee signed a peace with the British at Coshocton and released the 200 white prisoners they were holding. Pontiac made his own peace with the British in 1765, but was disgraced by his capitulation and failure to take Detroit. With his own people defying him, he left the area and moved west to the Illinois country where he still had a considerable following. During a visit to Cahokia in the spring of 1769, he was murdered by a Peoria (Illinois) warrior.
Connecticut had never renounced its claim to the land ceded by the Iroquois in that drunken treaty signed at Albany. With a terrible sense of timing, the Susquehanna Company brought the first Connecticut settlers to the Wyoming Valley (Wilkes-Barre) in the spring of 1763. In April the newcomers decided to encourage the Delaware to leave the area by setting fire to the house of Teedyuskung, the Delaware sachem who had been the first to make peace with the British at Easton in 1756. Teedyuskung was asleep inside the house at the time, his slumber aided by some rum provided to him free of charge by the whites, and the next time he woke up he was in the spirit world. The Delaware village was also torched, and its residents forced to flee for their lives. When the Pontiac uprising began that May, the Ohio Delaware attacked settlements in the Juanita, Tuscarora, and Cumberland Valleys, and in the fall, they combined with the Seneca to raid the Wyoming Valley in retaliation for the murders and burnings in April. Pennsylvania once again offered a bounty for Delaware scalps, and Colonel John Armstrong attacked the Delaware village at Big Island. In October a Delaware war party killed 26 colonists during a raid near Allentown. Since the innocent were always easier to find, a mob of Lancaster colonists (Paxton Boys) murdered 20 peaceful Christian Conestoga (Susquehannock) in December.
Threats of mob violence forced the Moravians and Quakers to evacuate the converts from their Pennsylvania missions. For more than a year, 140 Christian Delaware were confined in a Philadelphia warehouse under the constant danger of massacre. Before being sent to New York, 56 had died from smallpox. William Johnson convinced the Mohawk to punish the Delaware for joining Pontiac, and they destroyed Kanhanghton and six other Delaware villages on the Susquehanna. With settlement taking their land in the Wyoming and Susquehanna Valleys, the last of the Pennsylvania Delaware left for Ohio in 1764. The Movarian missionaries made plans to follow them west. Shaken by the uprising, the British government issued the Proclamation of 1763 closing the frontier west of the Appalachians to further settlement. In the east, the law angered the colonists and started them on the path to revolution. In the west, the frontiersmen simply ignored it and settled illegally in western Pennsylvania beginning with the Redstone and, appropriately enough, Cheat Rivers. The British military simply could not stop them. By 1774, there were 50,000 whites west of the Appalachians.
The Ohio tribes would call these squatters the "Long Knives" (Mechanschican in Delaware). They were Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiersmen who by this time had been fighting Native Americans for several generations, and no government (French, British, or American after 1775) was going keep them from taking the Ohio Country from the "Injuns." Unable to enforce the law, the British realized its very existence was pushing the colonies towards revolt, and in 1768 they met at Fort Stanwix with the Iroquois to negotiate a treaty to open Ohio and western Pennsylvania to settlement. Without consulting the tribes which lived there, the Iroquois ceded the Ohio Country. They also sold their remaining lands in the Susquehanna and Wyoming Valleys which resulted in a civil war as Connecticut and Pennsylvania militias fought each other for control of the area. When news of Fort Stanwix agreement reached Ohio, the Shawnee sent overtures of alliance to all the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley tribes including the Cherokee and Chickasaw.
In the initial steps towards the formation of the western alliance, meetings were held on the Scioto River in Ohio in 1770 and 1771, but the failure of the Pontiac Rebellion was still fresh, and William Johnson was able to thwart the effort by threatening war with the Iroquois which left the Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo to face the invasion by themselves. Having seen this before, the Delaware made preparations to move and in 1770 obtained permission from the Miami to settle in Indiana. The Movarian missionaries were the most gentle element in the settlement of the Ohio Valley. Beginning in 1772, they followed 400 of their Delaware converts to Ohio and built three missions along the Tuscarawas and Muskingum Rivers. By 1775 the traditional Delaware had accepted the Moravian villages as equal members, and the influence of the Moravian Delaware at councils encouraged other Delaware to seek a peaceful accommodation with the Long Knives.
Both Virginia and Pennsylvania claimed the area around Pittsburgh, but Virginia's claim included Kentucky. The Iroquois had ceded this area at Fort Stanwix, but it was also claimed by the Cherokee. Treaties signed at Watonga (1774) and Sycamore Shoals (1775) extinguished the Cherokee claims but totally ignored the Shawnee. When Virginia sent survey crews to Kentucky in 1774, there were clashes with Shawnee warriors who were prepared to defend their hunting territory south of the Ohio. As tensions rose in April, Michael Cresap organized a party of vigilantes near Wheeling which killed several Shawnee. The Delaware chief Bald Eagle was ambushed, scalped, and his body placed upright in a sitting position in his canoe to float down the river to his tribesmen. The following month, other frontiersmen massacred the family of Logan, a Mingo war chief, at Yellow Creek (Stuebenville, Ohio). The Shawnee chief Cornstalk went to Fort Pitt to keep the peace by getting the whites to "cover the dead." The Delaware also offered to mediate, but Logan went to the Shawnee-Mingo village at Wakatomica and recruited a war party. His gruesome retaliation killed 13 whites - none of whom had anything to do with the murder of his family.
In Lord Dunmore's War (Cresap's War,1774), settlers along the upper Ohio moved into the safety of their blockhouses, until the governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, arrived with 2,500 militia. Wakatomica was destroyed as well as five other villages in the area. The Delaware stayed neutral, and the Detroit tribes refused the Shawnee war belt. This left Cornstalk's Shawnee and the Mingo alone to attack a portion of Dunmore's army near Point Pleasant (West Virginia) as it was preparing to invade Ohio. Forced to withdraw after a hard-fought battle and heavy casualties on both sides, the Shawnee signed a peace treaty agreeing not to settle south of Ohio. This opened Kentucky for white settlement, and as the American Revolution began in the New England in 1775, new towns sprang up at Boonesboro and Harrodsburg. The battle at Point Pleasant has sometimes been called the "opening shot of the revolution," and in many ways, this is correct. The war in the east may have been about "no taxation without representation," but in the Ohio Valley, it was about land.
The British urged the Ohio tribes to attack the settlements because the Americans were trying to take Ohio - a very obvious lie, since the Americans wanted everything, not just Ohio. Only the Detroit tribes, Seneca, Mingo, and some Shawnee, sided with the British at first, but their raids and indiscriminate American retaliation were enough to start a spiral towards total war. The Delaware remained neutral, and their head chief White Eyes (Koquethagachton) even addressed the Congress in Philadelphia during 1776. However, this meant little, since the new government had almost no control over the actions of the Long Knives west of the Appalachians. Cornstalk kept his Shawnee neutral until taken hostage at Fort Randolph in 1777 and later murdered. The Shawnee retaliated with raids in Pennsylvania and Kentucky. In February, 1778 General Edward Hand left Fort Pitt with Pennsylvania militia for a punitive raid. He never found any hostile warriors but attacked two peaceful Delaware villages killing the brother, and wounding the mother of Captain Pipe (head of the Wolf Clan). Hand's infamous "Squaw Campaign" ended Pipe's neutrality, but for the moment, he was held in check by the other Delaware chiefs, White Eyes (Turtle Clan) and Killbuck (Turkey Clan). In September all three signed a treaty at Fort Pitt with the Americans - the first treaty between the United States and Native Americans.
Among other things, the Americans promised not to take any Delaware land; to protect them from the British; and if desired, they could have a representative in Congress. In return the Delaware became American allies and would permit the construction of a fort in their territory. Unlike Penn's 1682 treaty with the Delaware, this one was immediately broken. The commander at Fort Pitt, General Lachlan McIntosh, asked the Delaware to join him in an attack on Detroit. Since this would have involved fighting British-allies with whom they were at peace, the Delaware declined. However, to show his good will, White Eyes agreed to escort McIntosh to the proposed site of Fort Laurens (Bolivar, Ohio). He was murdered enroute, but the Delaware were told he died of "smallpox." Fort Laurens soon proved isolated and indefensible, but the Americans had killed their best friend on the Delaware council. Many Delaware did not accept the explanation, and the pro-British faction began to unite around Captain Pipe. Killbuck attempted to keep them neutral, but it did not help when frontiersmen tried in 1779 to kill a Delaware delegation enroute to Philadelphia for a meeting with Congress. As tensions built, many of the Munsee left Ohio for what they thought was the safety of the Seneca villages in New York. This placed them directly in the path of Colonel Daniel Brodhead's offensive up the Allegheny Valley in support of General John Sullivan's 1779 campaign against the Iroquois. The Munsee villages were also destroyed, and they retreated to southern Ontario. When the war ended, most stayed in Canada and did not return to the United States.
In the spring of 1780, the British launched an offensive to seize the Ohio valley as well as St. Louis and New Orleans. The result was a major escalation in the warfare in the west. That April Captain Henry Bird left Detroit with 600 warriors to attack Kentucky. By the time he reached the Ohio River there were almost 1,200. Throughout the summer, the Americans took a terrible beating in Kentucky and Pennsylvania. By this time, most of the Delaware had joined Captain Pipe at Pluggys Town (Delaware, Ohio) against the Long Knives. Only Killbuck remained loyal to the Americans who ignored his requests for a fort to protect Coshocton. Threatened by Wyandot and Mingo warriors, he relocated to Fort Pitt, and the hostiles took over the Delaware capitol. In the spring of 1781, Killbuck guided Brodhead's militia to Coshocton. Before the attack, a chief trying to negotiate surrender was tomahawked by a soldier while he was speaking to Brodhead (militia discipline was this bad). Coshocton was burned. Orders to spare women and children were generally followed, but 15 male prisoners were executed by tomahawk. By the summer of 1781, the only neutral Delaware were the Moravians. After a council of war at Chillicothe, new raids hit the American settlements.
The Moravian villages lay on one of the main warpaths, and as a result they were harassed by both sides. In the fall the British ordered their arrest, and a Wyandot war party gathered the Moravians and escorted them to Captive's Town on the upper Sandusky. Food was scarce, and some of them returned to Gnadenhuetten that winter to salvage the corn from their abandoned fields. In March a Delaware war party returning from a raid in Pennsylvania passed through on its way back to northern Ohio. Close on their heels were 160 Pennsylvania volunteers from Washington County, Pennsylvania commanded by Colonel David Williamson. Finding the Moravians at Gnadenhuetten, Williamson placed them under arrest. In the democratic style of frontier militia, a vote was taken whether to take the prisoners back to Fort Pitt or kill them. The decision was to execute them. The Moravians were given the night to prepare. In the morning, two slaughter houses were selected, and 90 Christian Delaware - 29 men, 27 women, and 34 children - were taken inside in small groups and beaten to death with wooden mallets. Among the victims was old Abraham, a Mahican and the first convert the Moravians had made in Pennsylvania. Afterwards, the troops burned Gnadenhuetten and the other Moravian missions. Then loaded down with plunder from their victims, they took it home with them to their wives and children in Pennsylvania.
Word of the massacre spread to the other Delaware, and in June they joined the Wyandot to defeat a large force of Pennsylvania militia (Battle of Sandusky) sent to attack the Sandusky villages. The Wyandot captured the commanding officer, Colonel William Crawford, and honoring a request from Captain Pipe, they turned him over to the Delaware. Crawford suffered a slow, terrible death (burned at stake) to atone for the Gnadenhuetten Massacre. The war continued in 1782 with the Shawnee inflicting a major defeat on Kentucky militia at Blue Licks (Daniel Boone's son was killed in this battle), and the Mingo burning Hannastown in Pennsylvania. In November George Rogers Clark attacked the Shawnee villages on Scioto River. The Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War in 1783, but the war between the Ohio tribes and Long Knives continued with few interruptions until 1795. The British in 1783 asked their allies to stop the attacks, but so much blood had been spilt few listened. For their part, most of the frontiersmen did not consider the peace with the British as extending to "Red Devils." George Rogers Clark asked Congress for permission to raise an army to conquer all of the Ohio tribes. Politely thanked for his past services, the request was denied. Meanwhile, Simon De Peyster, the British agent at Detroit, was encouraging the formation of an alliance to fight the Americans.
With a new war threatening, the Delaware decided their old villages in east-central Ohio were vulnerable and relocated most of them to northwestern Ohio and southern Indiana. The new locations were crowded, and the Delaware habit of hunting for profit created friction with neighboring tribes. Some of the Delaware and Shawnee peace factions separated from the militants in 1784 and moved to Ste. Genevieve, Missouri in Spanish Louisiana. The Spanish found them useful as a buffer against the Americans and protection against Osage horse thieves. In 1788 the Spanish governor sent emissaries to the Shawnee and Delaware in Ohio inviting others to immigrate, and in 1793 Baron de Carondelet, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, made a formal land grant (25 miles square) at Cape Girardeau to the Missouri Shawnee and Delaware. They remained here until 1807 when American settlement began in the area. By 1815 most of the Cape Girardeau Delaware and Shawnee (Absentee Delaware and Shawnee) had left for Texas where they were welcomed by Spanish government as a defense against Comanche raiders. The departure of these moderates left the Delaware and Shawnee war factions in control back in Ohio.
The Munsee who were forced to leave the lower Hudson Valley in 1756 eventually ended up with the Oneida in upstate New York. As a result of the efforts of the Reverend Samuel Kirkland, many of them became Christians. Other Christian converts joined them after the war: the remaining Stockbridge from western Massachusetts(1786); Brotherton Indians from Connecticut and Long Island (Mohegan, Metoac, and Mattabesic) (1788); and a group of Unami (mostly Raritan) Brotherton from New Jersey (1801) - closing the Brotherton Reservation which had been created by the Treaty of Easton in 1758. Although patriots who rendered valuable service to the American army during the Revolutionary War, the Oneida, Brotherton, and Stockbridge slowly lost their lands to New York land speculators. In 1822 they sold their remaining lands in New York and moved to a reservation established for the Oneida near Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 1856 a separate reserve was created for the Stockbridge, Brotherton, and Munsee on land purchased from the Menominee.
Despite their bad experiences through the years, a tradition persisted among the Ohio tribes which allowed the Iroquois to handle their negotiations with the British and Americans. The Iroquois, however, had almost been destroyed by the Americans and would never regain the power and influence they enjoyed before the war. Treating them as a conquered enemy, the Americans forced a treaty upon the New York Iroquois in 1784 which confirmed the cession of Ohio they had made in 1768. The Iroquois name still carried weight, and the British brought the Mohawk sachem Joseph Brant west from Ontario to encourage the formation of an alliance to keep the Americans out of Ohio. The western alliance was born at a meeting held at the Wyandot villages on the upper Sandusky in 1783. Its first capitol was at the Shawnee village of Wakatomica, but this was burned by the Americans in 1786, and the council fire was moved in November to Brownstown, a Wyandot village just south of Detroit. Besides the Delaware, the membership ultimately included: Miami, Wyandot, Iroquois, Wyandot, Kickapoo, Fox, Sauk, Shawnee, Ottawa, Ojibwe, Chickamauga (Cherokee), and Potawatomi.
Although the Delaware war faction dominated their affairs, the natural instinct of the "grandfathers" was towards compromise and resolution of disputes. This re-asserted itself within the alliance, and the Delaware became one of its more moderate members. The new government of the United States also wished to avoid war and, if possible, settle the dispute through treaty. In January, 1785 the Delaware, Ojibwe, Ottawa and Wyandot signed the Treaty of Fort McIntosh acknowledging American sovereignty in Ohio and agreeing to the boundary of the frontier at the Tuscarawas and Muskingum Rivers. However, neither the government nor the alliance chiefs could enforce the agreement as long as their constituents did not really want peace. A similar treaty was signed at Fort Finney with the Shawnee in 1786, but many alliance warriors demanded the Ohio, not the Muskingum as the boundary, while the Long Knives would not be satisfied until they had the entire Ohio Valley. Congress, meanwhile, had sold the land rights to a New Jersey syndicate and the Ohio Company to pay its war debts. Americans flooded into Ohio and took native land as squatters. There were 12,000 whites north of the Ohio in 1785 and more coming all the time. Short of starting a civil war, the American military commander, General Josiah Harmar, could not stop them.
The Fort McIntosh Treaty did not even receive the approval of the majority of the Delaware, and as a result, Captain Pipe was replaced by Big Cat as head of the Wolf Clan. War resumed almost before the ink was dry when Miami and Kickapoo warriors attacked American settlements along the lower Wabash in southern Indiana during the spring of 1786. George Rogers Clark arrived at Vincennes in relief that fall with Kentucky militia, but Harmar ordered him to disband. The alliance chiefs also tried to slow the slide towards war. That fall they ordered a truce, until their new demands had time to reach the Congress in Philadelphia. For some reason, it was delayed until July and by that time, the fighting had already resumed. After a summer of raids, Benjamin Logan and his Kentucky militia retaliated with an attack against Shawnee villages in southern Ohio. In December, the American governor Arthur St. Clair asked the alliance for a meeting at Fort Harmar on the falls of Muskingum. The alliance council agreed to settle for the Muskingum as the border, but there were serious divisions.
The Joseph Brant demanded the council repudiate all treaties ceding any part of Ohio and left in disgust for Ontario. The Miami, Kickapoo, and Shawnee also pulled out, but the Delaware, Wyandot, and Detroit tribes decided to attend. The result was chaos. In July, 1788 soldiers building the council house for the meeting were attacked by an Ottawa-Ojibwe war party, and the Kickapoo ambushed an army convoy on the Wabash. The meeting began in December with the Americans furious and half the alliance determined to ignore any agreement. The Treaty of Fort Harmar (January, 1789) proved worthless. After Patrick Brown's Kentuckians attacked the Wabash villages that summer, the Shawnee and Miami were able to establish a consensus in the alliance council favoring war. With the militants dominating the alliance, the Americans decided in 1790 to resolve the matter with force. Faced with another war, the Moravian Delaware left Ohio for southern Ontario. Known as the Moravians of the Thames, by 1792 they had established themselves in a peaceful community at Moraviantown only to have it burned to the ground by an American army in 1813.
Little Turtle's War (1790-94) began with a series of disasters for the Americans as they attempted to destroy the alliance villages in northwest Ohio. Josiah Harmar's army of militia was ambushed on the upper Wabash in 1790 with more than 200 casualties. The following year, Arthur St. Clair suffered an even greater humiliation in western Ohio (worst defeat ever inflicted on an American army by Native Americans - 600 dead, 400 wounded). At Philadelphia, President George Washington exploded in a rage when told. When he calmed down, he sent "Mad" Anthony Wayne to Ohio. Wayne established himself at Fort Washington (Cincinnati) and during the next two years made careful preparations to destroy the alliance. While a line of forts was built aimed directly at northwest Ohio, Wayne trained a "Legion" of disciplined regulars to back the militia. Meanwhile, the prolonger war was causing the alliance to come undone. The Wabash tribes (Piankashaw, Kickapoo, Illinois, Potawatomi) made a separate peace with the Americans in 1792, and the Fox and Sauk left because the alliance was having trouble feeding its warriors.
Although the British were still encouraged the war, the Americans had opened negotiations with them to end their support of the alliance and to agree to abandon the forts they still occupied on American territory. Peace overtures were also made to the alliance, but the Shawnee in 1792 killed two of the American representatives enroute to meet with the alliance council. The following year, however, the Delaware protected the American delegation because it included Hendrick Aupamut, a Stockbridge (Mahican), with many Delaware relatives. The peace negotiations that summer failed, and in October, Wayne began his advance into northwest Ohio. After a Shawnee attack on Fort Recovery failed to stop Wayne, a council was held on the banks of the Maumee. Only the Miami, Shawnee and Wyandot favored war, but even the Miami war chief Little Turtle was beginning to think the alliance would lose and urged negotiations. He was replaced by the Shawnee Blue Jacket, and on August 20th, the alliance was defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. To avoid a fight with Wayne's army, the British at Fort Miami closed their gates to the retreating warriors. The war for Ohio was over.
Wayne burned the alliance villages along the Maumee and destroyed the stored food supply to insure a hungry winter. Then he returned to Fort Greenville and waited. In August of 1795, the alliance chiefs signed the Fort Greenville Treaty agreeing to peace and ceding all of Ohio except the northwest corner. The treaty left the Delaware without land, and with the exception of Captain Pipe's small band on the upper Sandusky, they relocated, with the permission of the Miami, to White River in east-central Indiana near the site of present-day Muncie. Some of their villages were located in southern Indiana near the Ohio River which placed them in the path of the next wave of American expansion. Indiana was never a happy place for the Delaware who felt like squatters on Miami land. After their defeat in the fight for Ohio, there was social disintegration, the men refused to farm, and alcohol abuse became a serious. In 1801 the Shawnee chief Blue Jacket tried to resurrect the alliance at Brownstown, but there was little enthusiasm for this. The Moravians opened a mission, but the Delaware had had enough of the whiteman's religion for the moment. It closed in 1806.
The leading chief of the Delaware was Tetepachksit of the Turtle Clan. He had an impossible and thankless job. As a "peace chief," he was responsible for dealing with the Americans and therefore was often in danger of being killed by his own people. In 1803 the Delaware ceded part of their land in southern Indiana, but this created a problem with the Miami who felt they still owned the land and that the Delaware had no right to sell it. A second treaty was needed in 1806 to resolve this. Meanwhile, the Long Knives had resumed their encroachment which the government made little effort to stop. It was the right time for a prophet, and in 1805 a Shawnee named Lalawethika received a vision after which he changed his name to Tenskwatawa (the Open Door). His message was similar to what Neolin's had been in 1763 except for an ugly side where anyone disagreeing with Tenskwatawa was killed as a witch or traitor. His brother was Tecumseh, a spell-binding orator and respected Shawnee war leader whose dream was to unite all of the tribes against further American expansion. To do this, it was essential for Tecumseh to win the support of the Wyandot (keepers of the council fire of the western alliance) and the Delaware (grandfather tribe of all Algonquin).
Since his message was so familiar, the Delaware listened with great interest to what Tenskwatawa words. The results were deadly. In March, 1806 the Delaware followers of the Prophet began to kill the Christian converts, accusing them of witchcraft. Although he was not a Christian, the head chief Tetepachksit was struck down by his own son and burned to death. Another elderly Delaware chief, Hockingpomsa, narrowly escaped the same fate. When the Delaware witch hunt ended in April, the Delaware leadership had passed to William Anderson (Kecklawhenund), a man strongly opposed to Tecumseh and the Prophet. By 1808 Tecumseh had received a promise of British support. When the "peace chiefs" signed the Treaty of Fort Wayne in 1809 ceding more than 3,000,000 acres of southern Indiana and Illinois, Tecumseh denounced the treaty, threatened the chiefs who signed with death, and promised territorial governor William Henry Harrison the provisions would never be carried out. In 1810 his followers executed the Wyandot chief Leatherlips. The reaction of the Brownstown council was to denounce Tenskwatawa as a witch.
Without the Delaware and Wyandot, Tecumseh was forced to build his coalition among the tribes of the western Great Lakes. In time, he would command the allegiance of almost 3,000 warriors, but it was not enough. He went south in 1811 to recruit the Choctaw, Creek and Cherokee, but during his absence, Harrison attacked and burned Prophetstown (Tippecanoe). At the outbreak of the War of 1812 (1812-14), most Delaware, Shawnee and Wyandot remained neutral or supported the Americans. After the death of Little Turtle in July, the Miami joined Tecumseh and sent a war belt to the Delaware which William Anderson did not accept. Things did not go well for the Americans at first, and Detroit and several other forts fell. Harrison took command and in early 1813 occupied the upper Sandusky. At the same time, he moved the Delaware from Indiana to Piqua, Ohio "for their own safety." That summer almost 10,000 Indians were "safe" at Piqua, and Harrison began an offensive which, following Perry's naval victory on Lake Erie, recaptured Detroit and invaded southern Ontario. After Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of Thames in southern Ontario in October, his movement collapsed.
In 1814 the Delaware returned to Indiana from Piqua where they were joined by a group of Stockbridge from New York. In July they signed the second Treaty of Greenville as American allies ending their hostilities with the Kickapoo, Miami, Ottawa and Potawatomi who had sided with Tecumseh and the British. Indiana became a state in 1816 and immediately began to pressure the federal government for the removal of Native Americans from its territory. Two centuries of standing in front of the European advance across North America had cost the Delaware 90% of their original population and left them scattered from Texas to Canada. The 1,000 Delaware in Indiana had no doubt what the outcome would be of a confrontation with the State of Indiana and, at the St. Marys Treaty in October, 1818, ceded their Indiana lands and agreed to move west of the Mississippi. Between 1820 and 1822, the Delaware left Indiana and moved to the James Fork of the White River in southwest Missouri. Only 100 Delaware remained behind on their small reserve at Pipestown on the upper Sandusky in Ohio. However, the Stockbridge remained in Indiana until 1834 when the finally left for Wisconsin.
Missouri was a worse experience than Indiana for the Delaware. Although the Osage had ceded the land to the United States in 1808, they continued to use it for hunting and when they encountered Delaware, they regarded them as intruders. The Osage were also skilled horse thieves, and the Delaware were often victims. There was nothing personal about this, since the Cherokee and Kickapoo who had also been relocated to the same area had similar experiences with the Osage. After a Delaware hunting party was attacked in 1824 and an Osage horse raid in 1826, the Delaware and Kickapoo united against the Osage. The government had to intervene to prevent war, and a treaty was signed between the parties at St. Louis in 1826. Unfortunately, this did little good. The basic problem was the area had been over-hunted for years, and there was just not enough game to feed everyone. Bad feelings over Tecumseh and the Delaware sale of Miami land in Indiana had also persisted. These almost led to another war, until the Miami reminded their "grandfathers" that they had given them land when they were landless in 1795.
In August, 1829 the Ohio Delaware ceded their reserve and agreed to join the Delaware west of the Mississippi. The thought of another 100 mouths to feed made the Delaware on the James Fork agree to exchange their Missouri lands for a new reserve in northeast Kansas just north of the Shawnee - subject to their approval (they had learned). The new location proved satisfactory, and in December, 1829 the Delaware arrived in Kansas and settled on the Missouri River north of its junction with the Kansas (Kansas City). Unfortunately, much of Delaware's new land had formerly belonged to the Pawnee, and the United States had neglected to inform the Pawnee before relocating the Delaware. In 1831 a Delaware hunting party on the plains was attacked by Pawnee warriors. Meanwhile, the Kansas Delaware signed a treaty at St. Louis in October surrendering the abandoned lands of the Spanish grant given the Cape Girardeau Delaware (Absentee Delaware) who had moved to Texas. The Absentee Delaware were living in Mexican territory at the time and received nothing for their old lands, but the Delaware chiefs from Kansas who signed on their behalf got $100/year for life.
The following March, the Pawnee attacked another Delaware hunting party only this time a Delaware chief was killed. The Delaware formed a war party and burned the main Pawnee village on the Republican River. To avoid a war, the government negotiated a treaty with the Pawnee in 1833 recognizing the right of the Delaware to hunt in the area. It also threatened to stop the Delaware's annuity payments if they did not stop attacking the plains tribes! This ended most confrontations, but in 1835 a Delaware hunting party killed 12 Pawnee they caught trying to steal their horses. Many Delaware became professional buffalo hunters which created problems and confrontations with the other plains tribes, especially the Sioux and Cheyenne. Delaware hunting parties were attacked: by Santee Sioux near Des Moines, Iowa in 1841; Sioux and Cheyenne on the Smokey Hill River in Kansas in 1845; and by Sioux on the upper Platte in 1852. The Delaware, Shawnee and Kickapoo also joined the Potawatomi during a brief war between the emigrant tribes and Pawnee during 1850.
After agreeing to removal in 1829, it took the Ohio Delaware almost three years before they joined the other Delaware in Kansas in 1832. Two groups of Moravian Munsee also left their reserve in southern Ontario in 1837 and 1838 and emigrated to Kansas. Despite these new arrivals, the Delaware still had more than enough land to sell some of it to the Wyandot when they were removed from Ohio to Kansas in 1843. The Absentee Delaware (Red River Delaware) from the old Cape Girardeau Band remained in Texas and allied themselves with the Texas Republic in 1836. In 1854 they were moved to a reservation with the Caddo and Tonkawa on the upper Brazos River. They served as scouts for the Texas Rangers until 1859 when they were expelled to Oklahoma and settled at the Wichita Agency (Anadarko) with the Caddo, Tonkawa, Kitsai and Wichita. By 1874 they had merged with the Caddo and by the turn of the century had almost disappeared as a separate group (less than 100). They were considered as part of the Wichita and Affiliated Bands until given a separate identity and federal recognition.
From their reserve in northeast Kansas, the Delaware became very much a part of the American movement across the west. Delaware scouts served with Colonel Henry Dodge's 1835 expedition to meet the Comanche, and in 1837 eighty-seven Delaware enlisted in the American army and saw service in the Seminole War. Delaware also served as scouts and buffalo hunters for immigrant wagon trains crossing the plains during the 1840s and 50s. They participated in all three of the Fremont expeditions (1842, 1844, and 1845), and during the last one, twelve Delaware who had volunteered as scouts ended up serving as American soldiers in the capture of California during the Mexican War (1846-48). Another 30 Delaware joined Alexander Doniphan's Missouri volunteers and saw service as part of Stephen Watts Kearny's conquest of New Mexico. By 1854, "civilization" had once again caught up with the Delaware in Kansas, and Congress was ready to open Kansas and Nebraska to settlement. In May the Delaware were pressured into signing a treaty reducing their reserve to 275,000 acres with the excess land to be sold at auction to whites. By the end of the month, Congress had passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which not only opened the area to settlement, but allowed slavery to be decided by "popular sovereignty." In a prelude to the Civil War, thousands of white men arrived on the lands of red men to kill each other over the enslavement of black men. The result was a period of lawless mayhem known as "Bleeding Kansas."
The Delaware, Wyandot, and Shawnee sided with the anti-slavery forces and offered to defend Lawrence against possible attacks from Missouri. In 1860 the Delaware signed the Treaty of Sarcoxieville agreeing to allot their remaining lands. The treaty was an good example of corruption and bribery of tribal officials. While each individual Delaware was given only 80 acres, the head chief received 640 acres and the other chiefs 320. In addition, the treaty authorized the chiefs to draw annual salaries of $1,500 from tribal trust fund. Excess land was to be sold to Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western Railroad. Although they were still not citizens at this time, the Delaware declared for the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War. Ultimately, 170 of the 200 able-bodied Delaware men of military ages served in the Union Army - mainly in the 6th and 15th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. In 1862 a group of Kansas Delaware and Shawnee attacked the Wichita Agency in southern Oklahoma which had been seized by the Confederates. The agency was destroyed forcing the Tonkawa who lived there to pack up and head back to Texas. Very few of them made it. Their old enemies, the Comanche caught them in the open east of the Wichita mountains and killed almost all of them. During the war, Delaware soldiers also fought several engagements against Confederate Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw units.
Ignoring the service of Delaware and Shawnee to the Union, the Kansas legislature in 1863 called for the removal of all Indians from Kansas. On July 4th, 1866 the Delaware signed their final treaty with the United States which allowed the Secretary of the Interior to sell their remaining Kansas lands to the Missouri River Railroad Company. Individual Delaware, if they wished, could keep their 80 acre allotments and become American citizens, but in a situation reminiscent of the burnings in the Wyoming Valley in 1763, the Delaware Council House mysteriously burned afterwards. Most Delaware took the "hint," and of the 1,160 Delaware in Kansas, 985 of them decided to move to Oklahoma. The 1854 treaty had reserved four sections for the Moravian Munsee, but white squatters had forced the sale of these lands in 1857. Rather than leave with the other Delaware, the Munsee chose to join the Swan Creek and Black River bands of the Ojibwe near Ottawa, Kansas. Much of this group's land was lost to allotment in 1859. Some of the Munsee returned to Canada at this time, but the others stayed in Kansas with the Ojibwe. The two groups eventually merged, accepted allotment and citizenship, and most of their descendants still live in the vicinity.
In April 1867 the Delaware and Cherokee signed an agreement whereby the Delaware would pay $280,000 for Cherokee land in northern Oklahoma and become part of the Cherokee Nation. The arrangement was mutually beneficial, since with almost $1,000,000 in their tribal fund, the Delaware were landless with money, while after the Civil War, the Cherokee were poor with more land than they needed. The Delaware had a difficult move to Oklahoma in 1868. Once there, they found themselves unwelcome by the Osage (old enemies from Missouri) and the Cherokee (opposite side during the Civil War). While the Delaware intended to maintain a separate identity and tribal organization, they assumed the purchase gave them full voting rights and citizenship in Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee disagreed, and the dispute finally had to be resolved through a long court battle fought during the 1890s.
As part of the Cherokee Nation, the Delaware in Oklahoma were able to avoid allotment until the Curtis Act (1895) dissolved tribal governments and forced allotment in 1901. The Delaware felt that since they had purchased their land from the Cherokee, they were immune. However, in a 1904 decision, the federal courts ruled that the government had not conferred ownership on Native Americans, but only the "right of occupancy." Therefore, the sale of land by Cherokee in 1867 had only given the Delaware the right to occupy the land during their own lifetimes. As a result, the Delaware lands were allotted in 1907 just like everyone else's - 160 acres to each head of household with the excess being sold to whites. In 1979 the BIA terminated the separate tribal status of the Delaware and Shawnee living among Cherokee in eastern Oklahoma in favor of the Cherokee Nation. Following a legal battle covering almost 20 years, the Delaware, who were the first tribe to sign a treaty with the United States, have just been successful in reversing this decision and regaining federal recognition as a separate tribe, the Delaware Tribe of Indians.
First Nations referred to in this Delaware History:
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