The Lenape had a distinct language and a broad geographic range before the Europeans arrived in the Americas. They were located from the lower Hudson River valley, west to the Adirondack and Appalachian Mountains and south along the coast onto the Delmarva Peninsula…
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Women were the people in the culture that held the real power. When a young couple would marry, they would stay with the wife’s family. The husband was welcome but was always treated as an outsider because he was from a different clan. The oldest brother of a child’s mother took on the role of father. In this way, clans were established through the mother’s family, not the father’s. This matriarchal arrangement gave women real power (Kraft, 1986). Clans did not own property, but they did retain rights of use. Women were the members of the clan that determined how the land was used. They were also the individuals that would get rid of leaders that they felt were bad for the clan. At the beginning of European settlement, the Lenape established friendly trade relations with the new settlers. They recognized the superiority of iron tools and were willing to trade fur for these implements. Unfortunately, this created the collapse of the beaver population in the Hudson River valley, so the Lenape and the Europeans that traded with them began to move to the north and west in search of new beaver populations. Moving from one place to another was not a new experience for the Lenape. They were mostly settled, growing traditional crops such as corn, beans and squash. Women planted and maintained farms while men hunted, trapped and fished to support families and for trade. Seasonal migrations were common among the Lenape, but they were far from being nomadic. Seasonal activities such as fishing and maple sugaring required portions of each clan to travel and resettle, but these resettlement camps were not very far from the other members of the clan. The Lenape people were organized along lines of lineage and language. They all spoke a form of Eastern Algonquin, but there were two different dialects. The culture of all Lenape clans was similar. They all practiced a form of nature worship that held all life to be provided by a creator (Lenape Religion, 2002). Animals, plants and people all sprang forth from a great tree when bidden by the creator. After European settlement, many of the Lenape were evangelized into various sects of Christianity. The Moravian church successfully converted many Lenape. The Moravians were strict pacifists, so they actually ended up assisting Lenape communities when the European rulers displaced them to the west. This pacifism was something that early European leaders appreciated, but later leaders would grow to mistrust the Moravians and the Lenape because they refused to participate in and of the wars that would come to dominate life in the early colonies and the young American nation. During the early years of contact, one of the famous Lenape leaders was Tamanend. The early inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia loved him because he wanted to live in peace with the new colonists. He believed that the colonists and the natives could cooperate and live as separate peoples with mutual respect. He helped the founders of Pennsylvania see that the Native Americans were human and were worthy of respect and even admiration. He becomes known as King Tammany and Saint Tammany. There were Tammany societies established all through the colonies and the early American nation over the next decades. This was an important part of developing a uniquely American identity to oppose the overwhelmingly European influence in early America. King Tammany was uniquely American and therefore celebrated (Vickari, 1996). Unfortunately the good feelings that King
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