Douglas Folsom II communication 1020

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The Delaware


Douglas Folsom II

Communication 1020

The Delaware Tribe

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen my name is Doug Folsom and today I will be informing you on the Delaware tribe of Indians. The reason I chose to speak about the Delaware is because I am Delaware. I saw this as a great opportunity to discover and share more about my heritage. Most of this information I already knew because of my mother whom I get my Delaware heritage from. I will be giving a synopsis on their history, lifestyle and Culture, Stories and animals.

(Slide 1) The name Delaware was given to the Native Americans that lived along the Delaware River, which was named after Lord de la Warr. The name Delaware eventually applied to almost all Lenape people. The word LENAPE (len-NAH-pay) means something like "The People." The Delaware were also referred to as the "Grandfather" tribe because other tribes respected them and they were peacemakers who often settled disputes between rival tribes .1

(Slide 2) Delaware Indians lived in “Lenapehoking,” which means “Land of the Lenape.” This is modern day New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, southeastern New York State, a small section of southeastern Connecticut and northern Delaware. Lenapehoking contained many lakes, rivers and streams and contained thick forests and abundant wildlife. Two groups of people lived in Lenapehoking. Those living in the northern part of Lenapehoking spoke a Munsee dialect of the Eastern Algonquian Delaware language but those in the south spoke Unami, a slightly different dialect. Although their beliefs and cultures were similar, there were differences. The Lenape lived near the Iroquois and Seneca who also share simmialr beifes in their creations stories.1

The Delaware tribe has a long standing relationship with the federal government. They were the first tribe to sigh treaties with the United States federal government. Have an outstanding military service record with the U.S governments. Because of the move west and the trail of tears with the Shawnee, Cherokee and Osage tribes. When the Delaware’s left the east coast they traveled and lived near the Shawnee. As result of the trail of tears and the tribes dwindling number the Delaware’s moved into Kansas and finally Oklahoma. At which time the Delaware were adopted into the Cherokee tribe. Because being of being adopted by the Cherokee and the near extinction of the language we struggle to preserve our culture. The Lenape language is Algonquian in origin and is spoken mostly in Oklahoma, although the Munsee Delaware language is spoken by elders of that tribe in Ontario Canada. The language is nearing extinction with few elders still speaking it. Those who do still speak the language are all over 90 years of age.

The Delaware never had a reservation because of Daws act of 1887 they were just given land allotments in north east Oklahoma.

The Delaware have a love hat relationship with the US government throughout the years they have been recognized as a sovereign nation and many times the recognition has been taken away. Currently the Delaware are a federally recognized tribe.

(Slide 3) The lifestyle and culture of the first Lenape to greet European settlers were gentle people who lived in harmony with everything. They were surprisingly nonaggressive and had no ambitions of gaining land or political power.2 The majority of Lenape lived in bands of 25 to 50 people although some villages were in excess of 150 people. Families were extremely important to the Lenape Indians. Strong bonds existed between everyone in the clan. The Lenape had four parties or clans – Wolf, Turtle, Turkey and the Crow, although the Crow clan has been extinct for over 250 years.3 the tribes traces their descendants through the maternal line. If you were a man from the wolf clan and you had children with a woman from the turtle clan, their children would be members of the turtle clan. The Delaware were very kind to one another and felt a sense of responsibility to everyone in the community. There was no theft amongst the people because everything was shared and they did not horde valuables. Sachems or the chiefs were chosen based on their behavior, communication skills, ability to make wise decisions and honesty. The chiefs also had to be knowledgeable in religious matters so they could lead the clan in spiritual rituals and ceremonies. The chiefs were not the leaders in war as that was a separate position. War leaders gained power because of their bravery and success in battle.4

(Slide 4) I now will now tell you about the Delaware creation story and some animals that hold significant meaning. The Delaware Creation story begins with Kishelamàkânk, the Creator. One day the creator had a great vision. In this vision he saw the stars and the moon and the earth with trees and birds and other animals. First he created the four powerful Spirit Beings to help him in his task of fulfilling and creating the vision. He gave them different characteristics and powers. These four beings were:

Muxumsa Lowànewànk, our Grandfather in the North. He controls the power of rock. He gives us the wintertime, ice, snow, and cold; also, our bodies, the rocks, the trees, and all that we see around us;

Muxumsa Wapànewànk, our Grandfather of the East. He controls the power of the wind. He gives us springtime, the breath of life, birth and new beginnings, and brings forth the light, the winds, our minds, creativity, knowledge, music and songs;

Huma Shawànewànk, our Grandmother in the South. She gives us the summer, warmth, growth, maturity, our inner fire and Spirit. She also gives fire to the Sun;

Muxumsa Wunchènewànk, our Grandfather in the West. He controls the power of water. He gives us autumn, gives us death, and readies us for renewal. He also gave us the waters, our life's blood, healing, intuition, emotions, dreams/visions, and rain.

These four Spirit beings, guardians of the Creation, helped the Creator to make the stars, the sun, the moon and the Earth. Next the creator instructed the four spirits to come together on the earth and create life. Nux Kishux, our Father Sun, gave heat and light, and Nipahuma, our Grandmother Moon, came down to Earth and gave of her powers of fertility and reproduction. Kukna, the Mother Earth, upon which all life was to be born, gave growth and healing. North Grandfather gave form to all life, East Grandfather gave the breath of life and Spirit, South Grandmother gave inner fire and Spirit, and West Grandfather gave of its water to life, life's blood.

The first life they made was the plant beings then they made the animal beings. Now, Nipahuma, our Grandmother Moon had become lonely and asked the creator for a companion. The Creator sent her a Spirit, Grandfather Thunder, Muxumsa Pethakowe, to keep her company. With him she conceived and gave birth to twins, a man, and a woman thereby Creating mankind last. Though they were different they found wholeness in one another. There was an evil spirit called Matantu, a Spirit of destruction. He was responsible for all bad things. The creator put Kichichax'kàl, the Great Toad, whose duty was to rule all the water on earth. One day this evil spirit took the form of an ugly horned serpent. Maxa'xâk, the horned serpent, fought with Kichichax'kàl, the Great Toad, because he wanted to rule over the waters. One day they fought and The Great Toad tried to swallow the evil snake but the serpent killed the toad. The four winds lash out in fury at the snake. Now, Kishelamàkânkthe creator sent the Thunder Spirit to battle the horned serpent, Grandfather Thunder came shooting his lightning arrows, making the evil serpent run away. The entire world started to flood because the rain would not stop. At this time there was a being called Nanapush, the Strong Pure One. Seeking safety from the rising waters, Nanapush went to the tallest mountain were there was a cedar tree on the peak. Nanapush picked up the animals and he tucked them carefully and safely in his shirt. On the peak of the mountain he went to the tree and as the water rose he started to climb it. As he was climbing the tree he broke branches off and put them under his belt. He reached the top of the tree and the water continued to raise so Nanapush started to sing. As he sang the sacred tree grew and it kept on growing as the waters continued to rise. Out of the branches he broke off he crafted a raft that he put all the animals on. Only Nanapush and the animals survived the great flood that covered the earth.

After some time had passed, Nanapush decided a land should be created, a task he could do through the powers given to him by the Creator. He talked to the animals and they decided to help him create a new world. The first thing they would have to get is some dirt from the submerged Earth. The first one to try was the Loon but When he came back up to the surface he had died so Nanapush breathed upon him and he came back to life. Next the Otter dived down but he met the same fate and was brought back to life. Next the Beaver tried but he failed as well. Finally the Muskrat tried and returned exhausted, but still alive and he had retrieved the mud. The great Nanapush was pleased and showing his gratitude to the little Muskrat he blessed him, promising that his kind would never die out. Nanapush then called for a helper who would carry the new Earth. The Turtle rose to the duty and mud was placed on the Turtles back. Nanapush breathed on the turtle and it immediately began to grow until it became the land we stand on today. On this new land there grew a tree with two pods and in these pods were the first man and woman. From those two beings came our Lenape'wàk, Lenapé people.5 Believe it or not, that is the watered down version. The Full story actually goes more in depth into all the different animals and their significance. The Iroquois and the Seneca tribes have similar creation stories where animals retrieved mud for the turtles back to make land. In the different stories it there are variations with regards to which animals were successful in retrieving the mud.

Obviously the turtle is of great significant for they believed that the land they lived on existed because of the turtle. The rabbit is a sacred animal because when Nanapush was confident that the people would survive, he turned himself into a rabbit and was never seen again. Since then our people have never used rabbit for food because it is a symbol of the regeneration and continuing of life.5 The Lenape have an interesting story about the dog. “First man and first woman were nourished by food and drink brought by the animals, our elder brothers. The birds brought song and dance, the butterflies and bees amusement. All the animal beings served in some way except Màka'na, the Dog. Being less gifted than other animals, he had nothing to offer, but felt he must give something. So, the Dog pledged his love, and lay down beside where first man and first woman were sleeping. From that day the dog has remained by the side of humankind.”5 I love that story it gets me every time.

(Slide 5) The final animal I will talk about is the rainbow crow. This is a story I grew up hearing from my mother. One year the winter became so cold and snow was covering the earth the animal started to worry. They needed someone to ask the great spirt in the sky for help. Rainbow crow the most beautiful bird volunteered and made the journey to the sky spirt and was given the gift of fire. Upon arrival he was black and scorched from the fire and his voice hoarse because of the smoke. the sky spirt promised “when the people come, they will not hunt you, for I have made your flesh taste of smoke so that it is no good to eat and your black feathers and hoarse voice will prevent man from putting you into a cage to sing for him. You will be free. Then the Creator pointed to Rainbow Crow's black feathers. Before his eyes, Rainbow Crow saw the dull feathers become shiny and inside each one, he could see all the colors of the rainbow. "This will remind everyone who sees you of the service you have been to your people," he said, "and the sacrifice you made that saved them all."6

In conclusion as I reflect on my tribe I can see how it has helped form this country and is deeply rooted in the history of this nation. They were the first to make treaties with the government and despite all the troubles they have had with the government and relocation they have always been willing to join in at times of war to fight and protect the land they hold so dear to their hearts. I am glad that I have learned about my heritage and proud to be one of these people.

Written speech work site:



3. Legends of the Delaware Indians and Picture Writing by Richard C. Adams




Power point work site

Slide 1- Official Delaware Seal

Slide 2-‏

Slide 3-‏

Slide 4-

Slide 5-

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