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From DE to OK

From DE to OK

This picture is of two Lenape women, Jennie Bob and her daughter, Nellie Longhat. It was taken in Oklahoma in 1915. Most Lenape (Delaware) Indians now reside in Oklahoma. There are a few Lenape communities in Wisconsin, in Delaware and in Ontario, Canada. The Lenape are also called Delaware Indians because their historic territory was in the Delaware River watershed. That traditional territory spanned eastern Pennsylvania, western New Jersey and eastern Delaware. While growing up in that same area I became interested in and tried to learn quite a bit about those people. They were a matriarchal people, with all that denotes, and flourished in the southern reaches of New Jersey prior to the advent of the incursion of Europeans into their territory. Then, as with most if not all of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, diseases from which they had no protection, and land greed on the part of incoming white hordes took a terrible toll on their population. They moved westward out of the lower reaches of the Delaware River area, westward into Pennsylvania, and ever westward, Their traditional way of life, based on year-round farming and fishing, was seriously disrupted by the incursion of white settlers into their homelands. Eventually, they were sent to Oklahoma, along with all Indian tribes that could be conquered or coerced by U.S. governmental decrees. A small but flourishing population in lower Delaware carries on their traditions, including an annual Pow-Wow near Milton, Delaware.

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