Original Inhabitants of Delaware

Present-day Delaware, at the time of the first European settlements, was occupied by the Nanticoke in the southwest regions and the Lenni Lenape or Delaware in the north. Delaware is not a Native American word. The Lenape are traditionally regarded as the "grandfather" or progenitors of all Algonkian-speaking tribes. The Lenape, however, fell under the influence of the neighboring Susquehannock, or Minqua; the latter term was used by detractors to denote "stealthy" or "treacherous." They were superior warriors and soon supplanted the Lenape as the prime fur traders with the Dutch.

There were relatively few conflicts between the natives and white settlers in the early years, due largely to the efforts of William Penn, who concluded land acquisition and peace treaties with the tribes.

Peaceful relations ended with the outbreak of the French and Indian War (1754-63), when some of the Lenape sided with the French. However, the Indian presence in mid-18th century Delaware was not great; most had moved to the relative isolation of the lands beyond the Ohio River.


See Indian Wars Time Table .
Native American Cultural Regions map .