Nanticoke Indian Tribe

The Nanticoke Indian Tribe is a Native American tribe from Sussex County, Delaware comprising the Nanticoke River watershed which empties into the Chesapeake Bay. An annual pow-wow held near Oak Orchard, Delaware attracts some descendants of original Nanticoke Indian populations and representatives of other tribes and nations.


The Nanticoke claim to originally descend from the Lenape. They spoke an Algonquian language that has since become extinct.

The area has been home to an indigenous population of Nanticoke and other Indians since pre-European times. In addition to the Nanticoke proper, the tribe originally included the Arseek, Cuscarawoc and Nause. Neighboring tribes were the Choptank, Matapeake, Ozinies and Tocwogh. [Hodge, Frederick Webb (Editor) Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Part 2. [Washington, DC] : Government Printing Office, 1910.]

Evidence for the early population of the Delmarva Peninsula by Native Americans is easily found, arrow points, pottery shards, axe-heads and other items such as bone drills, etc, are turned up regularly in farmer's fields and some excavated sites along the riverbanks of the state have revealed evidence of long term settlement.

The Nanticoke suffered after the English incursion into Maryland. Their leaders disliked the large amount of liquor brought into the area by traders. This lead to violent incidents that in turn caused the government of Maryland Colony to declare the Nanticoke "Hostile Indians" in 1642. which lead to a series of attacks on the Nanticoke.

The Nanticoke also suffered some from the violence connected with Bacon's Rebellion. Between 1678 and 1742 progressively smaller parts of their traditional lands were allotted to the Nanticoke, with the rest being taken over by English settlers. In 1742 the Nanticoke were deprived of the right to chose their Sachem. In 1747 the Nanticoke migrated to Wyoming, Pennsylvania. In 1753 they moved to the Onondaga valley and joined the Iroquois confederacy.

However not all the Nanticoke left in 1747. There is a Nanticoke Indian Association today based in Millsboro, Delaware. The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians are based in Bridgeton, New Jersey and have members with both Nanticoke and Lenape ancestry.

The last speaker of Nanticoke, Lydia Clark, died in the 1840s. []

Modern day

The Nanticoke Indian Association is a group of Nanticokes who have their headquarters in Millsboro, Delaware. They received recognition from the state of Delaware in 1922. [cite web|url=
title=The backstory on the Nanticoke Indian Tribe ||accessdate=2008-08-11|last=|first=

In 2002 Kenneth S. "Red Deer" Clark Sr. the head chief of the association, resigned because of actions by other members of the association that he felt were shortsighted and not beneficial to all members. One of the main issues was over how large the annual pow wow should be and how much all association members should participate in preparations for the pow wow. []

The chief is now Larry Jackson, who succeeded Tee Norwood in 2008.

ee also

*Unalachtigo Lenape


Further reading

*Waldman, Carl. "Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes". (New York: Checkmark Books, 2006) p. 183.

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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