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Map showing the Lenapehoking region

Lenapehoking is a term for the lands historically inhabited by the Native American people known as the Lenape (named the Delaware people or Delaware Nation by early European settlers) in what is now the Northeastern United States. Though it is sometimes said to be a word in the Delaware languages for this area, like much of the toponymy involving languages in the Algonquian linguistic group, there is some confusion about the meaning and history of the name. Much of this land is now heavily urbanized and suburbanized. Although the Delaware generally proved to be good neighbors to the colonies of New Sweden and New Netherlands,[1] the poisonous relations that resulted between natives and English settlers in New England and Virginia[1] created a bias that ultimately, by the early 18th century, largely genocidally depopulated or ruthlessly displaced the surviving tribal peoples.[1]

Linguistic controversy[edit]

There is no universal agreement among scholars regarding the autonym of Lenape territory. Some[who?] believe the area the Lenape inhabited was called Scheyischbi, or "the place bordering the ocean". According to some people,[who?] the Lenape called this territory "Lenapehoking" (lənape haki-nk), meaning 'in the land of the Lenape'. This assertion has gained widespread acceptance and is found widely in recent literature on the Lenape, including in the websites of purported Lenape people. Ray Whritenour, a philologist, says that the term does not appear in any sources from the 18th century, but is a modern name coined by Nora Thompson Dean (Touching Leaves Woman) in 1984, in order to provide the archaeologist-author, Herbert C. Kraft, with a convenient term for the area once inhabited by ancestors of the Lenape people.

Range and bounds[edit]

At the time of the arrival of the Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Lenape homeland ranged along the Atlantic's coast from western Connecticut to Delaware, which generally encompassed the territory adjacent to the Delaware and lower Hudson river valleys, as well the hill-and-ridge dominated territory between them. Relatives of the Algonquian Amerindians whose territories ranged along the entire coast from beyond the Saint Lawrence River in today's Canada, and the tribes throughout all of New England,[1] down into northern South Carolina,[1] the Delaware Confederation[a] stretched from the southern shores of modern-day Delaware along the Atlantic seaboard into western Long Island and Connecticut, then extended westwards across the Hudson water gap into the eastern Catskills part of the Appalachians range around the headwaters of the Delaware River and along both banks of its basin down to the mouth of the Lehigh.

Inland, the tribe had to deal with the fierce and territorial Susquehannocks; the Delawares' territory has generally been plotted with boundaries[b] along mountain ridges[c] topped by the drainage divides between the right bank tributaries of the Delaware River on the east—and on the west and south—the left bank tributaries of the Susquehanna and Lehigh Rivers; bounds which included the Catskills, northern parts of eastern Pennsylvania down through the entire Poconos along the left bank Lehigh River. The Schuylkill River and its mouth (future Philadelphia area counties) or right bank Lehigh was contested hunting grounds, generally shared with the Susquehannock and the occasional visit by a related Potomac tribe when there wasn't active tribal warfare. The greater Philadelphia area was known to host European to Indian contacts from the Dutch traders contacts with the Susquehanna (1600), English traders (1602), and both tribes with New Netherlands traders after 1610

Along the left bank Delaware valley, the territory extended to all of present-day New Jersey, and the southern counties of New York State, including Rockland, Orange, Westchester, and Putnam Counties, Nassau County, and the five boroughs of New York City.[d]

Today's ranges[edit]

Today, some Native Americans, but not limited to the Lenape (Delaware) tribes, live in the Northeast Corridor or Eastern Seaboard. Many of them first arrived in the 1920s to 1960s from the Iroquois Confederacy employed as skyscraper construction workers, where they were nicknamed "Mohawks" and played an important role in building the skyline of Philadelphia and New York City. In the University City section of West Philadelphia, there has been some political activity by Urban Indian residents of the area, who adapted the namesake Lenapehoking to where they live.

Lenape place names[edit]

Lenape place names within the region included:

  • Manhattan
    • Manhattan is derived from Manna-hata, a Dutch version of a Lenape place-name.

The name Manhattan derives from the word Manna-hata, as written in the 1609 logbook of Robert Juet, an officer on Henry Hudson's yacht Halve Maen (Half Moon).[2] A 1610 map depicts the name Manahata twice, on both the west and east sides of the Mauritius River (later named the North River, and now called the Hudson River). The word Manhattan has been translated as "island of many hills" from the Lenape language.[3] The Encyclopedia of New York City offers other derivations, including from the Munsee dialect of Lenape: manahachtanienk ("place of general inebriation"), manahatouh ("place where timber is procured for bows and arrows"), or menatay ("island").[4]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The Delaware peoples organized themselves into divisions. Tribal government was through the appointment of Sachems (chieftains) by the tribal matriarchs. A Sachem could also come about by merit, these were generally earned in acts of warfare.[1]
  2. ^ Natural barriers to foot travel predominate defining the limits of cultures without written languages. In tribal North America, between rivals and deadly enemies, hunting ranges devoid of permanent settlements were the rule, but summer hunting or fishing camps with temporary shelters were also common—as were the peaceful visits and trading along people historians have incorrectly painted as eternally at war. Games and competitions, trade and social visits were far more common, even among supposed hated enemies than were periods of warfare.[1]
  3. ^ Given the foot-and-birch-bark-canoe-travel technology of the era, anyone familiar with hunting in the Appalachian topographies, would find this eminently sensible. Topping any ridge away from a major stream would be a climb only be undertaken if crossing into another drainage catchment. Canoe navigable streams occur only after waters have had time to gather and possibly dam up in broader valleys carved by glaciers or spring floods and beaver dams, so are well away from the boundaries marked logically atop drainage divides and their characteristic small steep rock strewn streams that were difficult to walk, and impassible by valuable & fragile birch bark canoes. The implication is the drainage divide areas, were little visited and unpopulated areas between tribes since they were difficult to travel into, across, or out of—the reader is reminded the nature of the forests in North America ran to tree sizes we rarely see today in isolated specimens with trunks starting over two feet in diameter. Only where a mountain pass, such as the gaps of the Allegheny was part of the goal, were such remote areas commonly visited before the extensive trapping and hunting beginning with the Beaver Wars period.
  4. ^ Along with New York City, Newark, Trenton, Princeton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Delaware, Atlantic City, and numerous other urban and suburban areas are in Lenapehoking today, as are the Jersey Shore, Pine Barrens, the Sourland Mountains, the Delaware Valley, Poconos, and parts of the Catskills.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Editor: Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., by The editors of American Heritage Magazine (1961). "The American Heritage Book of Indians". In pages 168–189. ,. American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc. LCCN 61-14871. 
  2. ^ Full Text of Robert Juet's Journal: From the collections of the New York Historical Society, Second Series, 1841 log book, Newsday. Accessed May 16, 2007.
  3. ^ Holloway, Marguerite (May 16, 2004). "Urban tactics; I'll Take Mannahatta". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2007. He could envision what Henry Hudson saw in 1609 as he sailed along Mannahatta, which in the Lenape dialect most likely meant island of many hills. 
  4. ^ "More on the names behind the roads we ride", The Record (Bergen County), April 21, 2002. Accessed 2007-10-26. "The origin of Manhattan probably is from the language of the Munsee Indians, according to the Encyclopedia of New York City. It could have come from manahachtanienk, meaning place of general inebriation, or manahatouh, meaning place where timber is procured for bows and arrows, or menatay, meaning island."
  5. ^ The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, "Gowanus Canal History", accessed May 12, 2004, revised April 2, 2004
  6. ^ William Martin Beauchamp: Aboriginal place names of New York (1907); p.179 [1]
  7. ^ History of Long island from its discovery and settlement to the present time. Volume 1 By Benjamin Franklin Thompson, Charles Jolly Werner (1918)[2]
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p indian.htm
  9. ^ http://www.hopatcong.org/1d.htm
  10. ^ The origin of certain place names in the United States By Henry Gannett
  11. ^ "Lenapenation - Preserving Tradition With Technology" (PDF). LenapeNation.org. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i RESEARCH OF Donald R. Repsher, of Bath, PennsylvaniaFriend and Brother of the Lenape
  13. ^ "Catasauqua - Tales of the Towpath". DelawareAndLehigh.org. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  14. ^ Nude Walker: A Novel By Bathsheba Monk
  15. ^ Names which the Lenni Lennape Or Delaware Indians Gave to Rivers, Streams ... edited by William Cornelius Reichel
  16. ^ http://www.phillyh2o.org/backpages/PDFs_Misc/PeggsRun_HK.pdf
  17. ^ "History of Connoquenessing, Pa.". Rays-place.com. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  18. ^ a b "Lenapenation - Preserving Tradition With Technology". LenapeNation.org. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  19. ^ History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania ... edited by John Franklin Meginness
  20. ^ The Centennial Celebration, 1776-1876 at Pottstown, Pa., July 4, 1876 and ... By L. H. Davis
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Lenape language LEGACY". Mcall.com. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  22. ^ The Story of Berks County (Pennsylvania) By A. E. Wagner, Francis Wilhauer Balthaser, D. K. Hoch
  23. ^ "PA DCNR - Black Moshannon State Park". State.pa.us. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  24. ^ http://shelf3d.com/i/Lenapehoking
  25. ^ "Pennsylvania State University - All Things Nittany". PSU.edu. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Boy Scouts of America Camps". 205BSAShrewsburypa.org. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  27. ^ OpenLibrary.org. "History of Delaware county, Pennsylvania (1862 edition)". OpenLibrary.org. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  28. ^ The New England Magazine, Volume 37
  29. ^ http://www.philaplace.org/resources/South%20Philadelphia%20Timeline.pdf
  30. ^ History of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, Volume 1 By Luther Reily Kelker
  31. ^ "Pennypack Creek - Philadelphia, PA - Wikipedia Entries on Waymarking.com". Waymarking.com. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  32. ^ "Penn Treaty Museum". PennTreatyMuseum.org. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  33. ^ Specht, J. Henry (1974). A History of Towamencin Township. Lansdale PA. pp. 1–69. 
  34. ^ "Tulpehocken Creek". FoundationsOfAmerica.com. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  35. ^ on, Best Books (1 January 1939). "Philadelphia, a Guide to the Nation's Birthplace". Best Books on. Retrieved February 13, 2017 – via Google Books.