The Delaware – Terminology:
Lenape: The original inhabitants of Manhattan Island and the coastal region called themselves Lenape, which means the People. For some time, the Delawarehave begun to reuse this original selfidentification. , as “Delaware” is derived from a British Baron and is a term imposed upon the Lenape. The term “Delaware” continues to be how this Nation is known in Europe.
As a political umbrella term, the term Aboriginal has become the general term referring to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. However, many Indigenous Peoples themselves prefer to be identified by their individual Nations, specifically; and First Nations, generally. The registered reserve name for the Delaware Nation is Moravian of the Thames Reserve, which is used for official business.
Historical relationship between the Delaware and the Moravians
The Delaware were the original inhabitants of Manhattan Island, New York. The Delaware were pushed westward, dispossessed of their homeland, beginning in 1626. At this time, the Moravian missionaries joined the expellees, to provide support. Under the protection of the “Indian missionary” David Zeisberger, the survivors came to what is now Ontario, Canada. In 1792, they founded Fairfield on the north side of the Thames River. The final days of the War of 1812 would see the town burned to the ground by American troops. The village and the mission station were rebuilt on the south side of the Thames River as “Moraviantown” (Town of the “Moravian Brothers”). The name Moravian Town was given to dozens of villages created by the Moravian missionaries and Delaware Indians since the 1600s. All Moravian Towns were either destroyed or abandoned. The reserve retains this name today.
The Delaware Nation at Moraviantown, Ontario, Canada – a community on the move
Over the past ten years, members of the Delaware Nation community at Moraviantown have come together to begin the process of decolonization, which not only includes revival of their language and culture and running their own education and health systems, but also requiring Canada to uphold its promises, recognizing their aboriginal rights under Canadian law, and charting a course toward healing. The community understands that the legacy of colonization is manifested today through alcoholism, drug addiction and dysfunction; and that these are coping mechanisms for dealing with the loss of culture, history and identity.
Community members are striving to bring back the art of communicating in their own language, from their worldview a worldview which embraces the concept of man and the environment co-existing in harmony. The journey toward decolonization however is not without struggle. There are a number of Delaware community members who suffer from poverty, nutritional deficiency, and high rates of diabetes. But just as their ancestors never gave up despite dispossession, persecution, famine, war and assimilation attempts, , today’s Delaware are resilient and continue to fight for their traditional values and the revival of their proud Nation.
More information can be found on the Delaware Nation’s website:
Delaware Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma, USA:
Another group of Delaware, who fled westward, now lives as a Delaware Tribe of Indians in Oklahoma.
The former AssistantChief, Mike Pace, brought the dances of the Delaware from the brink of extinction back to the Delaware of Moraviantown where they danced again today.
Linguist, Jim Rementer explored the language of the Oklahoma Delaware, which has evolved differently from the language of the Delaware Nation at Moraviantown. Rementer is responsible for the Lenape Language Project, which cares for the preservation and teaching of the language.
More information can be found on the website of the Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma: