Black Beaver, Delaware, 1806–1880
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States ( Oklahoma)|
|English, Unami, Delaware, Munsee|
|Christianity, Native American Church, traditional tribal religion|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Lenape and Algonquian peoples|
The Delaware Nation, sometimes called the Absentee or Western Delaware, is one of three federally recognized tribes of Delaware Indians in the United States, along with the Delaware Indians based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Wisconsin. Communities also reside in Canada.
The Delaware Nation's tribal complex is located two miles (3 km) north of Anadarko, Oklahoma on Highway 281. Their tribal jurisdictional area is located within Caddo County, Oklahoma. They operate their own housing authority and issue tribal vehicle tags.
The tribe's current administration is as follows.
- President: Kerry Holton
- Vice-President: Michael McLane
- Secretary: Sue Stone
- Treasurer: Ann Brower
- Committee Member: Deborah Dotson
- Committee Member: Orlan Holder
The nation's annual economic impact was estimated at $5 million in 2010. Their tribal casino, Gold River Bingo and Casino, is located north of Anadarko. In August 2012, the Delaware Nation opened Casino Oklahoma located in Hinton, OK.
The Delaware peoples traditionally spoke the Delaware language (also known as the Lenape language), Munsee and Unami, two closely related languages of the Eastern Algonquian subgroup of the Algonquian language family.
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 (Turtle Clan).
The Oklahoma branches were established in 1867, with the purchase of land by Delaware from the Cherokee Nation; 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 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 of 1737, an agreement of doubtful legal veracity. The court held that the justness of the extinguishment of aboriginal title is nonjusticiable, including in the case of fraud. Because the extinguishment occurred prior to the passage of the first Indian Nonintercourse Act in 1790, that Act did not avail the Delaware.
As a result the court granted the Commonwealth's motion to dismiss. In its conclusion the court stated: ... we find that the Delaware Nation's aboriginal rights to Tatamy's Place were extinguished in 1737 and that, later, fee title to the land was granted to Chief Tatamy-not to the tribe as a collectivity.
Notable Western Delaware
- Black Beaver (1806—1880), Delaware leader, scout, and rancher
- 2011 Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory. Archived May 12, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. 2011: 12. Retrieved 3 Jan 2012.
- Delaware Tribe regains federal recognition. NewsOk. 4 Aug 2009 (retrieved 5 August 2009)
- "Executive Committee." The Delaware Nation. Retrieved 3 Jan 2012.
- Gold River Bingo & Casino. 500 Nations. 2009 (retrieved 21 Feb 2009)
- McCollum, Timothy James. Delaware, Western. Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. (retrieved 21 Feb 2009)
- Duffy, Shannon. "Indian Tribe Sues Over Pennsylvania Land." Law.com. 20 Jan 2004. Retrieved 3 Jan 2012.
- "Walking Purchase", Delaware Tribe of Indians