Delaware (or Lenni Lenape) Indians , a confederacy of American Indians, at one time the most important of the Algonquian language group. Other tribes called them by names meaning ``grandfather,'' because they were assumed to be the first Algonquians; they called themselves Lenni Lenape, ``original people.'' The main Delaware tribes were the Munsee (or Minsi), Unami, and Unalachtigo. They numbered about 11,000 in the 17th century.
In 1682 the Delaware signed a treaty of friendship with William Penn at Shackamaxon, near Philadelphia. At that time, they occupied the Delaware River basin. One of their chiefs of this period was Tamenend. (The famous Tammany political organization of New York was named for him.) In the 18th century the Delaware, like many neighboring tribes, came under the domination of the warlike Iroquois.
Pushed from their lands by white colonists, the Delaware moved westward, eventually reaching eastern Ohio in 1751. There some were converted to Christianity by the Moravians. (The converted group later moved to Canada.) Others, freeing themselves from Iroquois domination, joined with the French in the French and Indian War to oppose the British and their Iroquois allies. This group moved to Indiana in 1770. During the Revolutionary War, they allied themselves with the British. They also fought against settlers moving westward until forced to sign a peace treaty, the Treaty of Greenville, in 1795. The Delaware moved from Indiana to Arkansas and Missouri and had reached Texas by 1820.
In 1835 the Delaware settled on a reservation in Kansas, and in 1867 they moved to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), where some were absorbed into the Cherokee Nation. Meanwhile many Delaware went to the far west, where they worked for fur companies and as army scouts.
There are several hundred Delaware living in Oklahoma and Canada.