Delaware Nation


Last Updated: 3 years

The Delaware Nation, or Lenape, also known as Lenni Lenape, signed the first-ever “Indian treaty” with the United States of America in 1778, and are the oldest known nation in the Eastern  US.

Official Tribal Name: Delaware Nation

Address:  31064 State Highway #281, Building 100, P.O. Box 825, Anadarko, OK 73005
Phone: 405-247-2448
Fax:  405-247-9393

Official Website:

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning: Lenni Lenape, meaning The People (Pronounced len-ah’-pay)

Common Name: Delaware

Meaning of Common Name:

It has long been said that the name applied to the Native people who lived along the Delaware River was taken from the title of an Englishman, Lord de la Warr, whose name was Sir Thomas West. He was appointed governor of the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia in 1610.

One of his followers, Captain Samuel Argall, once sailed into a majestic bay which he named “de la Warr Bay” in honor of the governor. The river that flowed into the bay was given the same name, and they both were later contracted into Delaware. So, the Delaware were the people who lived along the Delaware River.

The Lenape have their own story about the origin of the name “Delaware.” It is as follows:

The Lenape story is that when the Europeans first arrived a white man kept trying to ask a Lenape what tribe he belonged to, and he told him “Lenape.” For some reason the white man had trouble saying the word properly, and would say “Lenuhpee,” “Renahpay” and other mispronunciations.

Finally he said “Lenape” correctly, and the Lenape said, “Nal në ndëluwèn! Nal në ndëluwèn!” (That’s what I said! That’s what I said!).

The whiteman heard the DULUWEN part and he said, “Oh, you said Delaware! So you are a Delaware. Now I know what to call you,” and the name stuck. 

Alternate names: Formerly Delaware Tribe of Western Oklahoma, Lenni-Lenape

Alternate spellings / Mispellings: Deleware, Linape, Lenapee,

Name in other languages:

Early Swedish sources listed the Lenape as the Renappi.

Region: Northeast

State(s) Today: Oklahoma, Canada

Traditional Territory:

Originally located in the river valleys and woodland mountains of Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and some areas of Pennsylvania, the Delaware peoples have achieved an extraordinary record of negotiations with both the United States and Canadian governments.

The Delawares traded with the Dutch, and early in the 17th century sold much of their land, and began moving inland to the Susquehanna valley. In 1682 they made a treaty of friendship with William Penn, which he did his best to honor. In 1720 the Delaware fell victim to Iroquois attacks and were forced to move into what is now Ohio.

In 1782 a peaceful settlement of Christian Delaware at Gnadenhutten was massacred by a force of white men. Anthony Wayne defeated and subdued the Delaware in 1794, and by the Treaty of Greenville (1795) they and their allies ceded their lands in Pennsylvania and Ohio. They crossed the Mississippi River and migrated to Kansas and then to Texas. They were later moved to the Indian Territory and settled with the Cherokee.


Delaware – The Delawares evolved into a loose confederacy of three major divisions: the Munsee (wolf), the Unalachtigo (turkey), and the Unami (turtle). They occupied the territory from which most of the Algonquian tribes had originated and were accorded the respectful title of grandfather by these tribes.


The Delaware, or Lenape, signed the first-ever “Indian treaty” with the United States in 1778. Succeeding treaties included:

Treaty of 1785 (known as the Wyandotte Treaty)
Treaty of Greenville in 1795
Treaty of 1803
Treaty of 1804
Treaty of 1809
Treaty of 1818
Treaty of 1829
Treaty of 1854
Treaty of 1860

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In 1990 there were close to 10,000 Delaware in the United States, most of them in Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Around 600 Delaware live in Ontario, Canada.

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Related Tribes:

The Delaware Tribe of Indians, sometimes called the Eastern Delaware and formerly known as the Cherokee Delaware, are based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.A small group of separately-organized Delawares (the Absentees) called the Delaware Nation are located in Anadarko, Oklahoma on lands they jointly control with the Wichitas and Caddos. The Stockbridge Munsee Community is made up of Mohican and Munsee (Lenape) peoples. They are located in Shawano County, Wisconsin. More Lenape or Delaware people live in Canada.

Traditional Allies:

The western Delaware sided with the French in the last of the French and Indian Wars, took part in Pontiac’s Rebellion, and sided with the British in the American Revolution. Some of the Delaware in Pennsylvania had been converted to Christianity by the Moravians. 

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