To Be Shawnee:
A Bond Between Brothers pt.1Before the white man ever set foot on North America the native inhabitants already had a complex system of trade, government and intertribal relations. The Shawnee were not any different. The Shawnee believed the red man had been spared in Noah's Flood by the Great Spirit (Moneto). All red men were descended by one woman and made the great tribe. This belief influenced the Shawnee and their relations with the other tribes.
The Shawnee and the Delaware (Lenni Lenape)
Called the grandfathers by the Shawnee people, the Delaware (known as the Lenni Lenape) shared a close bond with the Shawnee. The Shawnee showed this group of people the utmost respect because they believed the Delaware had been the first tribe to be created after the flood.
"Curiously enough, Our Grandmother did not create the Shawnee first, but they began with the Delaware. When she completed a Delaware man and woman, she put them on the east side of a fire which she had kindled. Then she created one Shawnee division, in the form of an old man and an old woman. After this she created a young man and young woman who were expected to have children who would constitute three of the Shawnee divisions. Here, apparently her interest in creating people ceased..... (Told by Mary Williams, an absentee Shawnee in the book Shawnee by James H. Howard)
There is a story that was once told by the Shawnee and Delaware in Pennsylvania of how the Shawnee and Delaware were once one people. The story is known as "The Grasshopper War" and is still told today at Native American PowWows.
The Delaware originally lived along the Northeast Coast of the Atlantic between the Hudson and Delaware rivers. They were one of the first tribes to come into contact with the white man in the early 1600's.
Unami(Turtle) and Munsee (Wolf). Each group spoke their own dialect.
Like the Shawnee, the Delaware also has a clan system. Unlike the Shawnee, the Delaware were matriarchal. A child would inherit their clan identity from their mother. Hereditary leadership passed down from mother to child. If the women elders did not approve of any leader they could remove that leader from their office. Agricultural lands were controlled by the women but the Delaware did not recognize ownership of the the land. Land was collectively owned by whichever clan occupied that area. Unlike the Shawnee, the Delaware did not travel with the season from village to village.
The Shawnee and Delaware enjoyed a friendship from long ago. While the Shawnee were in Pennsylvania, they were closely associated with one another. Like the Shawnee, the Delaware were affected by the outbreak of Smallpox during the 17th century. After the Shawnee left Pennsylvania for Ohio, the Delaware stayed behind briefly. Conflicts with the Europeans and the Iroquois contributed to the Delaware abandoning their homelands. In 1766, through a peace treaty with the British, the Delaware moved west across the Allegheny Mountains into Ohio using Shawnee trails. This pattern would continue until the Delaware were removed by the United States to Oklahoma in the 1860's. The Shawnee would always move first, establish the trails then the Delaware would follow.
The two tribes often joined forces to fight a common enemy together. In 1776, the combined forces of Shawnee and Delaware forced the Cherokee to move deeper into the south. The Shawnee and Delaware fought together in the French and Indian War but not the American Revolutionary War. While the Shawnee were helping the British fight against the newly formed American army, the Delaware were one of the first tribes to sign a peace treaty with the leaders of the future United States. In the treaty, the Delaware promised they would aide the patriots by providing food and supplies. The future United States agreed to grant them a place of importance at the head of the new country in return. Although they fought on opposing sides, the Shawnee and Delaware never lost the close relationship. Even today, the Shawnee honor the Delaware.