Saturday, August 20, 2011

Delaware (Algonquian)

Delaware (Algonquian)

          In my new book, Doublehead: Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief, I discuss in detail each tribal faction that made up Doublehead's confederacy.  Even though the Delaware did not live in north Alabama, they were an important part of Doublehead's alliance.  Through intermarriage, the Delaware became members of Doublehead's extended family.

       Doublehead, as did Dragging Canoe, built alliances with surrounding tribes including the Delaware in efforts to stop white settlement on their sacred hunting grounds.  Doublehead’s third wife was a Delaware Indian probably from the northern part of Kentucky along the Ohio River.  His Delaware wife was thought to be born about 1750 and they had one daughter Corn Blossom who was born about 1770.  His marriage to the Delaware woman was an appropriate way to establish a friendly relationship with her people who controlled a great portion of the Ohio River Basin.  The Delaware alliance with the Chickamauga was helpful to Doublehead in controlling the northern portion of Tennessee and Kentucky.  The hunting areas from the Cumberland River to the Ohio River were assessable to all factions of the Chickamauga which included the Yuchi, Delaware, Shawnee, Upper Creek, and Lower Cherokee. 

The Delaware, known as Leni Lenape meaning “Real People” or “Human Beings”, originated around the Delaware River Basin, but they were forced westward by white encroachment into their homelands.  By the 1750’s, many of the Delaware were living in the Ohio River Valley.  The Delaware were considered by some historians to be one of the oldest tribes in the northeastern United States, and the parent tribe of the Cherokee people who migrated from the north and settled in the mountainous Appalachain region of the Southeast.  The Cherokee and Delaware had many cultural similarities.

The factions of the Chickamauga made raids that overlapped into the territories of each tribe making up the confederacy.  Doublehead and his war parties made raids into Delaware territory against white settlers on the Rolling Fork section of the Salt River Basin in northern Kentucky. Even though the Delaware were not documented inhabitants of the Muscle Shoals area of the Tennessee River Valley, they also considered the Cumberland River Valley their hunting grounds.  The Delaware were documented taking part in raids on the Cumberland settlements within the territory claimed by the Lower Cherokee.  During some of the Cumberland raids, the Delaware faction of the Chickamauga was particularly brutal by cutting up some of their victims and scattering the remains in the yard around their log cabins.  Some of the Delaware warriors would take the heads of victims as war trophies.

Dragging Canoe, in his speech to the delegation after the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals in 1775, mentions the Delaware as a vanishing people being destroyed by the encroaching white settlers.  At this time, he said the Delaware tribe was only a remnant of its once great nation.  Eventually the Delaware were defeated in 1794 by General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.  By June of the same year of this defeat, Doublehead signed a peace agreement with President George Washington.  Doublehead probably saw the handwriting on the wall and knew that his days were numbered if he did not make the change from war to peace.

The Delaware had tried to stop further white settlement of their new Ohio lands in order to protect their homes and save their people from destruction.  They were not successful, and many Delaware were later forced on to the lands of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

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