The Delaware Nation
, sometimes called the Absentee or Western Delaware, is one of two federally recognized tribe of Delaware Indians
The Lenape are an Algonquian group of Native Americans of the Northeastern Woodlands. They are also called Delaware Indians. As a result of the American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, today the main groups live in Canada, where they are enrolled in the...
, along with the Delaware Indians based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Bartlesville is a city in Osage and Washington counties in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The population was 43,070 at the 2010 census. Bartlesville is located forty-seven miles north of Tulsa and very close to Oklahoma's northern border with Kansas. It is the county seat of Washington County, in...
. The Delaware Nation's tribal complex is located two miles north of Anadarko, Oklahoma
Anadarko is a city in Caddo County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 6,645 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Caddo County.-Early History:Anadarko got its name when its post office was established in 1873...
on Highway 281.
The Lenape people were divided into three dialectal divisions, which later became the basis for the three Clans of the Lenape. These divisions were the Monsi
(Munsee) or Wolf, the Unami
or Turtle, and the Unilactigo
or Turkey. Today the clans are known as the Tùkwsit
(Wolf Clan), Pùkuwànko
(Turtle Clan), and Pële
(Turkey Clan). The Delaware Nation is the Pùkuwànko
The Delaware Nation was the first Indian nation to enter into a treaty with the newly formed government of the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
; the treaty
The Treaty of Fort Pitt — also known as the Treaty With the Delawares, the Delaware Treaty, or the Fourth Treaty of Pittsburgh, — was signed on September 17, 1778 and was the first written treaty between the new United States of America and any American Indians—the Lenape in this case...
was signed on September 17, 1778.
The Oklahoma branches were established in 1867, with the purchase of land by Delaware from the Cherokee Nation
The Cherokee Nation is the largest of three Cherokee federally recognized tribes in the United States. It was established in the 20th century, and includes people descended from members of the old Cherokee Nation who relocated voluntarily from the Southeast to Indian Territory and Cherokees who...
; they made two payments totaling $438,000. A court dispute followed over whether the sale included citizenship rights for the Delaware within the Cherokee Nation. The Curtis Act of 1898
The Curtis Act of 1898 was an amendment to the United States Dawes Act that brought about the allotment process of lands of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indian Territory: the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee, Cherokee, and Seminole...
dissolved tribal governments and ordered the allotment of tribal lands to individual members of tribes. The Lenape fought the act in the courts but lost, and in 1867 the courts ruled that they had only purchased rights to the land for their lifetimes. The lands were allotted in 160-acre (650,000 m²) lots in 1907, with any land left over sold to non-Indians.
The tribe became federally recognized on July 5, 1958 as the "Delaware Tribe of Western Oklahoma." They ratified their current constitution in 1972. In November 1999, the tribe officially changed its name to the Delaware Nation.
In 2004 the Delaware of Oklahoma sued Pennsylvania over land lost in 1800. This was related to the colonial government's Walking Purchase
The Walking Purchase was a purported 1737 agreement between the Penn family, the proprietors of Pennsylvania, and the Lenape . By it the Penn family and proprietors claimed an area of 1,200,000 acres and forced the Lenape to vacate it...
of 1737, an agreement of doubtful legal veracity.
The Delaware Nation has 1422 enrolled members. Their President is Kerry Holton. They are headquartered in Anadarko, and their tribal jurisdictional area is located within Caddo County, Oklahoma
Caddo County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of 2000, the population was 30,150. Its county seat is Anadarko. It is named after the Caddo tribe who were settled here on the 1870s...
. They operate their own housing authority and issue tribal vehicle tags. The nation's annual economic impact is estimated at $5 million. Their tribal casino, Gold River Bingo and Casino, is located north of Anadarko.
The Delaware peoples traditionally spoke the Delaware language (also known as the Lenape language), Munsee
Munsee is an endangered language of the Eastern Algonquian subgroup of the Algonquian language family, itself a branch of the Algic language family. Munsee is one of the two Delaware languages...
Unami is an extinct Algonquian language formerly spoken by Lenape people in what is now the lower Hudson Valley area and New York Harbor area, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, but later in Ontario and Oklahoma. It is one of the two Delaware languages, the other being Munsee...
, two closely related languages of the Eastern Algonquian
The Eastern Algonquian languages constitute a subgroup of the Algonquian languages. Prior to European contact, Eastern Algonquian consisted of at least seventeen languages collectively occupying the Atlantic coast of North America and adjacent inland areas, from the Canadian Maritime provinces to...
subgroup of the Algonquian
The Algonquian languages also Algonkian) are a subfamily of Native American languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is a...
language family. The Cultural Preservation Office of the Delaware Nation indicates on its webpage that it is "committed to the preservation and protection of Lenape... language," but it is unclear if there are any speakers of traditional languages among the present Delaware Nation.