Delaware Tribe of Indians
Nora Thompson Dean (1907–1984),
tribal member, language educator, and herbalist, ca. 1973
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States ( Oklahoma)|
|Christianity, Native American Church, traditional tribal religion|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Lenape tribes,
other Algonquian peoples
The Delaware Tribe of Indians, sometimes called the Eastern Delaware, based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is one of three federally recognized tribes of Delaware Indians in the United States, along with the Delaware Nation based in Anadarko, Oklahoma and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Wisconsin. More Lenape or Delaware people live in Canada.
Government and economic development
Paula Pechonick is the elected Chief, the first woman to lead the tribe. The Assistant Chief is Chet Brooks. They are headquartered in Bartlesville and have no tribal jurisdictional area. Their housing program covers Washington, Nowata, Rogers, Craig and Part of Tulsa Counties. Their annual tribal economic impact is $2 million.
The Delaware Tribe of Indians is located at 170 NE Barbara, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 74006.
Tribal membership is limited exclusively to descendants of Delaware people on the 1906 tribal rolls from Indian Territory. They based enrollment on lineal descent, that is, they have no minimum blood quantum requirements.
The Council of Lenape Elders works to sustain traditional dances, culture, and the tribal language and works with the Delaware Gourd Society. The tribe maintains a Delaware Center, on a 80-acre (320,000 m2) parcel land in Bartlesville. Delaware artists are known for their wood carving and ribbon work skills.
The historically Algonquian-speaking Delaware refer to themselves as Lenni Lenape. At contact, in the early 17th century, the tribe lived along the Delaware River, named for Lord de la Warr, territory in lower present-day New York state and eastern New Jersey, and western Long Island
The Delaware people was the first Indian nation to sign a treaty with the new United States. They signed the treaty on the 17th September 1778. Despite the treaty, the Delaware were forced to cede their Eastern lands and moved first to Ohio, later Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, and Indian Territory. The ancestors of the Delaware Nation, following a different migration route, settled in Anadarko. Other Delaware bands moved north with the Iroquois after the American Revolutionary War to form two reserves in Ontario, Canada.
Traditionally the Delaware were divided into the Munsee, Unami, and Unalachtigo, three social divisions determined by language and location.
After dealing with the United States on a government-to-government basis, the ancestors of the Delaware Tribe of Indians agreed in 1867 to relocation to Oklahoma, to live within the Cherokee Nation. The Delaware Tribe of Indians operated autonomously within the lands of the Cherokee Nation.
Following passage of the 1972 Appropriations Act, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) reviewed the 1958 Bylaws of the Delaware Tribe of Indians. It recommended that the tribe adopt membership criteria to comply with the distribution requirements of the Act. In a General Council meeting, the Delaware Tribe amended its bylaws to include such criteria, and the BIA approved the amendments on September 30, 1974. In 1975, the BIA certified that the Delaware Tribe's amended bylaws provided “the legal entity which in the judgment of the Secretary of Interior adequately protects the interest of the Delaware Tribe of Indians pursuant to the [1972 Appropriations Act].” Due to suit filed by the Kansas Delaware, a non-recognized tribe, BIA reviewed all federally recognized Delaware tribes' legal documents. Then in 1979, BIA revoked the Delaware Tribe of Indians' status, citing that the removal to Oklahoma in 1879 with the Cherokees effectively placed the tribe under the authority of the Cherokee Nation. The BIA had determined that the Department of the Interior would generally engage in government-to-government relations with the Delaware Tribe only through Cherokee Nation, and that the Department would engage in direct relations with the Delaware Tribe solely with respect to the Tribe's claims against the United States.
The Delaware Tribe of Indians regained their federal recognition by the Secretary of the Interior in 1996, when the BIA rescinded their 1979 decision. However, the Cherokee Nation disagreed with the decision and filed suit against the BIA and the Secretary of their decision. The Cherokee Nation's position was upheld in court, leading to the Delaware Tribe's loss federal recognition in a 2004. After years of negotiations, the two tribes resolved their differences through an agreement in October 2008. Delaware voters approved the agreement and voted to reorganize in May 2009, under the authority of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act.
On July 28, 2009, The United States Department of the Interior notified the tribal office in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, that the Delaware are again a federally recognized tribe.
Notable tribal members
- Nora Thompson Dean (Touching Leaves Woman, 1907–1984), traditionalist, herbalist, and language instructor
- 2011 Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory. Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. 2011: 13. Retrieved 3 Jan 2012.
- Delaware Tribe regains federal recognition. NewsOk. 4 Aug 2009 (retrieved 5 August 2009)
- "Chief, Assistant Chief, and Trust Board Chairman." Delaware Tribe of Indians. (retrieved 16 Nov 2011)
- Delaware Tribe of Indians. (retrieved 5 August 2009)
- Frenchman, Titus. Federal Recognition Weeks Away for Delaware Tribe. Native American Times. (retrieved 5 Aug 2009)
- McCollum, Timothy James. Delaware, Western. Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. (retrieved 5 August 2009)
- Delaware Tribe of Indians’ federal recognition restored. Indian Country Today. 7 Aug 2009 (retrieved 11 August 2009)
- Delaware Tribe of Indians, official website
- Eastern Delaware, Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture