Lenape Indians Essay

Submitted By caskia
Words: 2123
Pages: 9

Lenape Indians

Caskia Czworkowski
World Religions - RELG110
Prof Heiland
23 July 2014

Caskia Czworkowski
World Religions
Prof Heiland
23 July 2014
Lenape Indians
The Lenape Indians originated from the majority of the eastern part of the United States. They covered an immense amount of land, so different areas referred to themselves by different names. They believed in many different spirits, good and evil, that affected how they lived their daily lives. The Lenape Indians participated in rituals and put forth physical offerings to the spirits as well. They not only offered gifts to just the good spirits, they gave them to the evil spirits too. Some other rituals involve burial rituals and ceremonies. Eventually the Europeans arrived and caused a shift in some Lenape beliefs and customs. The daily life of a Lenape Indian included hunting, farming, fishing, and making tools. Believe it or not, quite a few of Lenape Indians are still continuing their traditions today. The Lenape Indians are known by many different names but they all share the same beliefs, customs, rituals, traditions, and daily life activities. The Lenape Indians, also referred to the Delaware Indians or Lenni Lenape, originated from Lenapehokeing which translates to “Land of the Lenape” and that’s exactly what it was. They had an immense amount of land, which covered from all of New Jersey to Northern Delaware and even some small parts of Connecticut. Some other areas in between included East Pennsylvania and Southern New York State. From the headwaters of the Delaware River all the way down the boarder to the Delaware Bay, were the main clans, which were referred to as the Unami, Unalachtigo, and the Munsee. Unami means, “people down the river”, Unalachtigo means, “people who live near the ocean”, and Munsee means people of the stony country”. They are all different groups and usually stick together while traveling, etc. Another name, previously mentioned, are the Lenni-Lenape Indians who are said to be the eldest of the Indians or “the ancient ones”. There was also the Nanticoke Indian ancestors who were referred to as the “tidewater people”. They migrated from the Nanticoke River in Maryland and originated as early as the 1950’s! The Nanticoke Indians didn’t begin their migration to the Delaware River until the 1600’s and were settled there around the 1800’s. Eventually they became friendly with the Lenni-Lenape Indians who were mainly throughout New Jersey. The Lenape Indians believed in many different spirits. According to them, some of the spirits were helpful and some were actually harmful. The Lenape believed that all of the spirits needed to be treated with respect. The Lenape called the spirits that were all around them, Manetu. They believed in a great spirit and an evil spirit. The Great Spirit was called Kishelemukong, who according to their beliefs, created the world.
The evil spirits on the other hand, were known as Mantuwak. The Mantuwak were the evil spirits that the Lenape’s believed brought sickness and death to their people. Even though the spirits were considered to be evil, the Lenape Indians insisted on giving them gifts, or offerings, thinking that the spirits would be nice to them in return. They would leave the offerings wherever they thought the spirits lived such as by a tree or even a rock. The offerings were small items like a flower, stick, or a few leaves for example. There was a spirit who went by the name of Mesingw who was responsible for taking care of all the animals that lived in the forest of their lands. The Lenape Indians would call upon him to scare the bad children in the area. They wanted to have peace in their villages and children always seemed to be the ones causing the ruckus. Mesingw never physically spoke but he did communicate to the Lenape Indians by using a stick and turtle shell rattle. The Lenape Indians would try to drive out the evil spirits though certain rituals…