Introduction: Numerous native populations occupied what is now Pennsylvania before the first Europeans arrived here. Perhaps the best known were the "Delaware" Indians, a somewhat broad term used by colonists, that included the Lenni Lenape and related groups which spoke similar languages. Through a long history of land purchases, wars, emigration, and forced relocation by state and federal governments, many or most surviving descendants of the Delawares ended up in Oklahoma. But they arrived there by different routes, resulting in two separate groups in that state today, one in the eastern part of the state, and one in the west. The eastern group claims to be the larger of the two, with 10,500 members.
The Delaware Tribe of Western Oklahoma had an attractive website, but it disappeared many months ago, and at this time it still has not reappeared. I've dug a bit, but found no other information about them, so for now I'm just leaving the old link here, in the off chance they might revive the site by the time you see this.
The Delaware Tribe of Indians are Lenape/Delaware descendants now living in eastern Oklahoma. They are again recognized by the U.S. government as a sovereign Native American nation, after a ruling in 1996.
The Ramapough Mountain Indians are an eastern group, descended from Delawares, who had been seeking government recognition. They had developed a nice website with historical and other information, but for the past several months it has been offline. So, this is another case where I will simply leave the old link to the last known web address, in case they reactivate the site.
The Powhatan Renape Nation - Rankokus American Indian Reservation is recognized by the state of New Jersey. Among its goals are "to educate the non-Indian community about our traditional ways, beliefs, traditions, and culture."
The Lenape Nation is another group in eastern Pennsylvania that seeks to preserve cultural traditions and tribal identity, and hopes for state recognition.
The Thunder Mountain Lenape Nation[Revised URL] includes members of the United Lenape Nation who live primarily in Western Pennsylvania. They have various informational links, and report on their cultural activities and other news.
The Kansas Delaware tribe views itself as another distinct branch, and although it is currently incorporated in the state of Oklahoma, it is seeking recognition in Kansas.
The Delawares of Idaho are also separated from the "main" branches of the tribe, but are organizing and working toward recognition, while they preserve their culture with the help of their website, powwows, and other activities.
Research and History
The Lenni Lenape Historical Society in Allentown, PA provides a museum, an annual schedule of educational and cultural events, and more.
Historical and other information on the Delaware[Revised URL] Indians, as well as the Susquehannock, the Erie, and much more, can be found on First Nations/First Peoples Issues, a large website that has stirred a bit of controversy within the ranks of Native American activists.
Lenape Delaware History Net is essentially a labor of love maintained by Thomas Swiftwater Hahn and Chris Hahn, and although they disclaim any official link with specific tribal groups, they provide lots of links and other information. I only hope they eventually move the site to a server without popup ads...
The Delaware State Historic Preservation Office offers an illustrated, multi-section overview of Indian history in that state based on archaeological findings, going back 12,000 years and up to the time of contact with Europeans.
With all the digging it does, the Delaware Department of Transportation keeps track of Archaeological Exploration and Historic Preservation in Delaware, including a Prehistoric Archaeology page that summarizes what is known about Native American life in the pre-colonial period.
The Indian King Tavern Museum, Haddonfield, NJ hosts a page with interesting anecdotes describing local Indian activities in early New Jersey history.
Pennsylvania on the eve of colonization[Revised URL] part of the PA State Historical Museum site, this page describes the indigenous people who lived here before Europeans arrived. Also at that site: Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: "North America's Forgotten Conflict at Bushy Run Battlefield" -- a very detailed description of a large battle among Indians and Europeans that marked a turning point in the westward expansion of the state, and the nation.
The Pennsylvania State Data Center has analyzed 1990 U.S. Census data and offers a Research Brief analyzing Native American population in Pennsylvania[Revised URL], along with a data chart and county-by-county map. For your convenience I've posted a reduced-size version of the statewide map right here. Visit the source to see the original. The Center also offers a 1998 article commemorating Native American History Month[Revised URL] in Pennsylvania.
Larry Smith's huge site devoted to Bedford County, in West-Central Pennsylvania, contains extensive information about The Indian Occupation Of Mother Bedford, with particular emphasis on the Susquehannocks and their Iroquois relatives.
Not to be outdone, Rick Nicholson's Delaware County site features his laborious presentation of the History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania written by Henry Graham Ashmead in 1884. Ashmead's text provides numerous references to Indian activities and influences in the southeastern part of the state, going back to the 17th century -- and to top it off, the entire site is searchable by keyword. Thanks, Rick!
The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends has maintained an Indian Committee continuously for well over 200 years. Many of the records it accumulated from 1745 to 1983 are housed within the Special Collections of the Haverford and Swarthmore College Libraries. You can get some idea of the collection's breadth by exploring its Finding Aids online.
Mohican Press operates a tribute site to the film Last of the Mohicans. Their The Mohicans: Children of the Delaware touches on the relationships among these tribes.
Unfortunately, Marist College has apparently cut back its web pages on Native Americans. Other sources report on some of the same topics, including Indians of the Lower Hudson Valley and Native American Tribes of the Hudson River.
As they migrated out of Pennsylvania, some members of the various tribes known as Delawares settled for a while in Ohio, where they made enough of an impression to merit a page on Ohio History Central.
The Library of Congress offers a look the infamous boarding schools where authorities tried to quash Indian culture and language, under the guise of "helping" Indian children through mainstream education away from their families and tribes. A search of the collection yields photographs from the Indian school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. For a deeper and well-documented exploration of the school's history and context, visit the Carlisle Indian School Research Pages. Stephanie Anderson's thoughtful article "On Sacred Ground" attempts to put the Carlisle experience into perspective from a modern viewpoint.
As a graduate student at the University of Virginia, Tuomi J. Forrest created an incisive look at the interaction of culture, politics, history, and art in Penn in the Capitol, which examines various marble panels within the U.S. Capitol building. * The panel shown here depicts William Penn making a treaty with the Indians. The Virginia site has better versions of the original photograph, other Indian-related images from the Capitol, references to the sources, and an informative and interesting commentary.
The Schuylkill Heritage Ecosystem Discoveries Project developed several pages of information about the Lenni Lenapeand related topics, now hosted by Web-Savvy Productions.
United American Indians of the Delaware Valley[corrected URL] is a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization providing numerous support services and cultural activities for Indians of all backgrounds. I am told that UAIDV has undergone a major reorganization in recent months, and as of this writing, the site is still rather bare. But no doubt more information will be added, and at least the contact information is included.
Hope Farm Press publishes a particularly large and eclectic selection of books on Native American history, culture, and related topics, especially about this region.
The Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College offers archives for visiting scholars, including specialized microfilm collections. Most such collections provide summaries or "finding aids." Sometimes the "finding aid" is useful all by itself, such as this Historical Background of the Moravian Missions Among American Indians. If you want more detail, however, you'll have to go look at the microfilm in person.
Ever since I launched this page, people have written to me asking me if I could help them identify their long-lost Indian ancestors, and similar questions. Folks, I am not a psychic, nor am I a free research service. I just run a free website on my own time, and I provide links that you could find yourself, except that I make it easier to find things all in one place. In that spirit, here are some links that are just meant to get you started if you have a question about Native American family links. If they don't meet your needs, just learn to use the search tools that are available on the web. I simply can't answer personal questions about your family tree. Thanks.
The Reading (Pennsylvania) Moravian Church has generously provided a wealth of Moravian Church Genealogy Linksas well as books, mailing lists, and links to non-Moravian genealogy resources.
Betty and Ray Terry's Mitsawokett site focuses on the history and genealogy of "Native American Isolate Communities" primarily in the Delmarva Peninsula area. Unfortunately, a bit too much Java and loose coding slows the site down. However, they host some unique materials. One, a series of papers by consultants Ned and Louise Heite under the title Delaware's Invisible Indians arose from research into the Bloomsbury archaeological site in Delaware, with extensive followup research into the geneaology of people nearby.
A site called "Access Genealogy" provides a page specific to Pennsylvania Native American Genealogy.
To get an idea of just how hard it is to get access to the information stored in some early records, take a look at "The Records Of The Moravian Indian Mission: A List of Published Transcriptions and Translations" which puts the records in historical perspective, and describes how much of the original data still has not even been microfilmed yet, much less transcribed and then translated from the original German.