Chadds Ford Historical Society

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Lenni Lenape: Dreams, the Art of Healing, and Death & Burial Practices

In this last segment on our study of the Lenni Lenape/Delaware culture, we would like to visit one last important aspect of the Lenape culture. The Lenape view of dreams and visions,  art of healing, and death and burial practices provide much insight into a culture that has called the Pennsylvania and surrounding region home for thousands of years. Hopefully, the previous installments of this series have offered an interesting variety of information about a culture that thrived and influenced groups of European settlers who were first introduced to the landscape of a new land, here on the eastern seaboard of North America.


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Dreams, Medicine, and Healing

Dreams are important to many cultures. It is because of dreams that many people try to understand the ability of their subconscious to gather information about themselves that they would not have otherwise thought of when struggling with particular issues of stress, sadness, happiness, rage, or contentment. Among many other things, the brains ability to capture feelings and emotions attached to a particular event and then recreate it with symbolism in ones sleep, is often confusing and hard to decipher. Cultures throughout the world over many millennia have used dreams as a way to determine the outcome of a future event or to make decisions about certain things. Sigmund Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams suggests that,

“Properly speaking, the unconscious is the real psychic; its inner nature is just as unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is just as imperfectly reported to us through the data of consciousness as is the external world through the indications of our sensory organs.”

The Lenape people were no different in their understanding of the importance of dreams. They believed that their Creator communicated with them through dreams. Just as with many other Native tribes and cultures all over the world, they believed that dreams could foretell the ability of hunting plentiful game, how long or short their life may be, or even if there was a danger that may present itself to the individual or tribe in some way.

In order to avoid bad dreams, the future dreamer would offer tobacco and wash themselves in order keep the bad spirits at bay. If a person were to dream about something tragic or the presentation of a dearly departed family member, the bed and home would then be purified with red cedar smoke.

Sometimes when dreaming of a dead relative or a nightmare of someone becoming sick, there were rituals that could be produced in order to counteract the message of the dream. Vision quests or engaging in a ritual behavior associated with having visions were also common introduction into the lives of boys and girls at a young age. This would have given them the ability to be introduced to their “guardian spirit” which would watch over them for their entire life. These vision quests were almost akin to having a particular type of psychic ability to predict future events of both themselves and of others. They believed that certain rituals gave them the power over spirits in order to combat a particular illness. The visions were often what lead particular individuals into their calling of spiritual healing as a practitioner of medicine. One example of this type of ritual, known in many other societies throughout the world, is fasting. Fasting as we know it is similar to the ways that the Lenape would have exercised it. Abstaining from food and drink for a prescribed number of days or weeks, would allow the person to purify themselves of whatever was ailing them. Sweat lodges or pimewakan were also a common practice among the Lenape. After sweating out the illness, an individual would plunge themselves into the closest water source for final purification and cooling.

Aside from fasting, vision quests, and dreams, individuals within each clan or family unit through out the entire tribal entity had an understanding of the medicinal uses of herbs and other plants. Many of the plants of the area, or that were found locally or obtained through trade were: white mullen, sassafras, water germander, mallows, wild marjoram, wild leek, blessed thistle, violet, wild indigo, snake root, tower mustard, lingwort, etc. These items would be prepared medicinally in herbal tea form, poultices, or other decoctions. Many of the ailments they would have healed abscesses, headaches, swelling, cuts, bruises, menstrual cramps, and arthritis, to name a few. There was typically a ritualistic means of acquiring the plants for use medicinally. For example, if the bark of a particular tree was being used, the east portion of the tree’s bark would have been stripped first and only. It was believed that the morning sun infused its strength and healing into the tree bark. Sometimes families knew the importance and potency of plants in order to cure sicknesses. But, if there were something occurring that the family could not heal on their own, an expert practitioner would have been called upon for a more in depth healing.

There were two specific types of healers:

Nëntpikès: herbalists who cured diseases and healed wounds and infections.

Mëteìnu or Medew: herbalists who also dealt with “witchcraft” or negative spirits.

The latter of the two practitioners was known for being able to both heal physical ailments through natural remedies of applying poultices or preparing other tonics for healing and also combating negative spirits.

Some might question, “Would they have the power to heal themselves if they were overcome with an illness upon their own person?” Simply, the answer is: “no”. They had power over other peoples lives, but not their own unfortunately. They would have to call upon another expert in the area of healing in order to combat their illness.


The Lenape people believed there were different spirits called manetu who were always present. The creator God, known as Kitanitowit, created the world and all in it. The  manetuwak (or negative/evil spirits) were responsible for all sickness and death.

In certain rituals, the Lenape believed that the spirits around them could either be easily offended or appeased based on an individual’s relationship to the spirit world. In order to keep the spirits at peace, they would make and place offerings in and around the area they resided. For example, a person could place a handful of leaves or flowers in a nearby river for an offering. They could also offer pipe smoke near a local stony bank. Ritual ceremonies were also practiced at certain times of the year in order to honor the good spirits. This would also keep away the negative spirits that would affect the tribe or an individual. Sometimes these ritual ceremonies were done for special events, such as weddings, births, successful hunts and harvests.

Some ritual ceremonies required an individual shaman/medicine man to dress in a particular attire. For example, there would have been a man dressed in bearskin with a red and black painted mask that would pretend to be a mesingw.

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This particular type of spirit was known to be a watcher and caretaker of the forest and all the creatures that lived in it. He was also known as “Keeper of the Game Animals”. He used a turtle shell to communicate and never talked when in the presence of others. According to the Lenape, this man was also called on in certain situations to  put a scare into the younger children of the tribe who misbehaved. This spirit was so important, that the Delaware Tribe of Indians actually has it in the forefront of all the other symbols on their official tribal seal.

Sickness, Death, and Burial

Oftentimes if an individual became sick and died, it was not attributed to natural causes. The view of sickness and of death were viewed as a cause of something more supernatural – mostly from  a negative spirits who intended harm on individual people. Sometimes, particular types of illness were blamed on the way a family or individual did not perform ceremonies or particular rituals. The Lenape tribe, around the 17th and 18th centuries, did not have a lot of elderly individuals. Many people died at  a very young age. Many did not live past their 40s. Children, because of their high mortality rate, were not typically given a name until they reached the age of three.

When a person died, their ceremony was fairly simple. A shallow grave was dug and lined with tree bark or dried grass or other plants, or they were given a coffin to lie in. Pots filled with food and/or other items may have been placed in the deceased grave according to what they enjoyed to do in life. An individual would have been laid with their legs bent close to the body and arms folded across their chest. As with the Christian faith, the Lenape believed that there were both desirable and undesirable places in the afterlife.


The Lenape believed that the soul of good people went to live with the creator God  Kitanitowit. Those who lived in a negative or evil way were not welcome into the desirable afterworld. Those who did not live according to the right path and who were cursed by evil spirits to live a life that was not pleasing to the community, were thought to have been sent to the undesirable place, similar to what might understand as “hell”.

According to Lenape traditional spiritual/religious teaching, it took eleven days for an individuals spirit to go from their grave into the highest heaven with their creator God. Wailing women were often called upon to mourn the dead during the ceremony. There was much crying, pulling of hair, and sadness. After a persons death, people were no longer allowed to speak of the deceased. They believed it would bring much sadness to the family and people closest to them. Therefore, once a person died, so did their name.

The Lenape understanding of the world through the eyes of the first settlers to the area must have been a fascinating one. It must have been quite a learning experience for both the European settlers and the Lenape who were not familiar with the ways of European society. There was a lot of misunderstanding but also an observation and sharing of cultural knowledge and heritage that passed through both groups of people, that to talk about the history of one group of distinct individuals, over another, would be leaving out a large chunk of history. When studying any historical topic, it is always important to understand ALL of the individuals who make up that story. Their lives are all pivotal in the role of how history is played out and how society develops over time. Therefore, we must always recognize how individuals within each society shape the foundation and build the society up over time, so we can recognize our own origin story and where we have come from.

There is so much more to be said about the Lenape and their practices of medicine, healing, death and burial practices, and all of the previous information we have discovered in our research on the cultural history of the Lenni Lenape/Delaware people. Hopefully these bits of information were interesting enough for you, that you decided to share it with others! We want to know how you feel about our month long series on the Lenni Lenape/Delaware people!

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Written by: Sarah Krykew

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Family, Women, and Children and Gender Roles in the Lenape Tribe


This week we will focus on an area that is very important to understanding Lenape culture and how their society functioned. Each society is governed by its own traditions and the way it functioned based on sex, gender, class, and/or race. There are also other variants to the way societies function, but these are typically very important when trying to understand the way each society has shaped itself and the rules or laws it creates over time to keep order within.

The Lenni Lenape/Delaware people were known to have been a matrilineal based society. The children born into the mother’s clan gained both their social identity and status through that system of kinship. All members of the mother’s side were considered more significant in the upbringing and education of the children than was their father and father’s side. Within their society, women made a large percentage of the decision making in affairs considering who was sent into battle and who stayed home, property rights, leadership for the community, etc.

Marriage within the Lenape Tribe

Matrilocal families made up the Lenape tribe. A man and woman would live with the woman’s family after marriage – this harkens back to the matrilineal system that promoted the importance of female leadership within the community. Exogamy was practiced, where the man would typically marry outside of his own clan but within the tribe. When William Penn arrived in the area of where the Lenape lived, it was thought that the Lenape only had 3 clan lines that were known: the Turkey, Turtle, and Wolf. This is a largely false understanding of the Lenape people and the over 30 or more clans that existed at the time when the Lenape people were losing a large percentage of their people to both war and epidemic disease. This 3 clan system was only seen as such because many of the other clans that existed were being absorbed into one of these three in order to keep the population together.


Gender Roles Within Lenape Society

The women were typically in charge of land/territory rights. However, the men were largely responsible for hunting, community protection, building, and clearing (slash and burn) swaths of land for farming or building on. The women were the cultivators of the society. They planted and harvested the crops and gathered more than they would have hunted (although it wasn’t uncommon for women to hunt). They were also known for preparing a large portion of the meals. They created woven baskets, pottery, and clothing.

The role of women broken down into pregnancy and childbirth are also important topics that are not always discussed when regarding the lives of regular, everyday people. The importance of women’s needs during this time in their lives was something that was recognized and catered to. There were ways in which women dealt with both pregnancy and childbirth that may seem fairly different than how one would approach those events today.

Women, like today, were supposed to refrain from eating certain foods. Liver was a common food not intended for pregnant women. Today, we know that the amount of Vitamin A (retinol) stored within the liver of an animal may be harmful to an unborn child. The effects of eating this particular animal food is something that was known well before our modern medical science established this understanding. They were also not allowed to eat chicken, its organs, or byproducts. Their belief was that eating these items would cause the baby to scratch the pregnant mother from within her body and it would actually cause non-pregnant girls and women to age/wrinkle prematurely.

Pregnant women were also not supposed to look at certain animals during this time. Two known animals that the Lenape women avoided were both opossums and rabbits. These animals were thought to cause a “harelip” or what we now call a “cleft palate” in newborns. The spirit of the unborn child was also thought to disrupt the fathers ability to successfully hunt. Sometimes small bow and arrow or corn mortar and pestle were made and pinned to the clothing to detract the child’s movements in the womb from frightening the deer or other animals being hunted.

As with many other cultures around the world, a Lenape woman’s place during her time of menstruation or birthing was done in a special hut or shelter. Women’s fertility and “that time of the month” or during childbirth were considered very powerful times in a woman’s life that could disrupt the outside world in many ways. Therefore, it was important for women to have their own protective place for both themselves and the people who were to be protected from them outside in the village. Men and women at certain times, especially during times of the afterbirth period when a mother was breastfeeding , abstained from sexual relations only because it was believed the mothers milk would go bad. Therefore, it was acceptable at times for the men to cohabitate with other wives or partners during this period. Women were also allowed this same type of open relationship for a time, depending on the circumstances of her relationship with her husband.

For the boys who were born, the umbilical cord was typically buried in the forest or in an area of non-domestication. This was believed to influence the spirit of the boy for the future so that he would become aware of his role as a hunter and protector in and around the forest. The girls umbilical cord would have been buried near the home, with hopes that she would understand her role in the domestic sphere of birthing children, harvesting and preparing food, and working in and around the home. Girls and boys were given toys according to the work they were expected to do as they got older and according to the gender roles within their society. The girls were given corn husk dolls, mortar and pestles, and clay pots to mimic their mothers within the domestic sphere. They typically stayed with their mothers and female figures near the gardens or gathering foods and preparing clothing within the home. The boys were given toy tools and weapons to mimic their fathers or other head male figures in the hunting and protective non-domestic way of life. Boys were given the task of learning how to make stone tools, traps, and repairing nets in order to hunt and fish. This only came as they were getting old enough to handle the work more effectively. Later, as he became a successful hunter and fisherman, he would have been seen as a sufficient partner for marriage because of his capability to provide food and other necessaries required for the family.

Women in the Lenape tribe typically breast-fed their children until about 2 years of age – the complimentary food in early stages of the infants life would have been a gruel or thin mush of Indian corn. This amount of time for breastfeeding, plus complimentary feeding of solids is still recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) today.

Babies were often kept from the time of birth, until they were able to walk, on cradle boards strapped to their back.



Children were typically plunged into cold water at an early age to “harden” them as they got older. If they misbehaved, they were not “spanked” or disciplined by what most people would see as “corporal punishment” but instead were made to have water poured over their heads, dunked in the river (if they were thought to be in need of a more severe punishment), or were scolded. Any type of corporal punishment (spanking) was frowned upon. It was considered a curse that the child may one day grow to lash out against the person who inflicted this type of punishment, and therefore, the parents resorted to different means of disciplining their children.

The interesting thing about this particular tribe is that Europeans were highly confused about the importance of women within the society and their ability to select male warriors for battle, grant permission of land rights, and electing male leaders of the tribe. Even though they worked much in the domestic sphere, their ways of electing leadership was not in line with a patriarchal society. In the eyes of a patriarchal European society, which was not familiar with the customs of the Lenape, their understanding of the typical gender roles they associated with their own culture was much confused with how the Lenape society actually functioned, from a matrilineal and matriarchal perspective.

Next week, I will focus on another interesting aspect of Lenape culture and their understanding of medicine and its ability to heal the sick through dreams, healing ceremonies, and the ritual of death and burial practices.

Written by: Sarah Krykew

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Lenni Lenape Methods of Gardening and Food Preparation


In this weeks installment, I have chosen to write a little about the Lenape style of gardening and food preparation. These are two important ways, that people in general, have to survive. Without food, we surely would not be here! Methods of gardening would obviously differ from the agricultural, industrial, and large scale production methods we know of today. It is always a good idea to take a step back to the roots of our region, and ours being here in Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, to see what types of food would have been hunted and foraged and also grown through the use of subsistence gardening/farming methods.

The local European population was very much aware of the presence of Lenape people and owe much to their understanding of the landscape, weather patterns, and the types of flora and fauna present at the time in order to survive.

From April to October, much of the planting, weeding, and food cultivation was done by females of the Lenape tribe. A common variety of “Indian corn” grown was much different than what we know of as a typical corn cob and plant today. Roughly 4 inches in size with only about 8 kernels, this variety was found in early Munsee related sites. Once the early Dutch settlers arrived to the area, a larger and more hearty (soft and hard) corn were grown. The “heirloom” looking white, red, blue, yellow, black, brown, spotted, and tan corn was grown along with what are known as “sister” plants. Commonly known in many native societies, squash and beans were grown along with the corn plants. The vining beans and squash would be held up by the strong corn stalks. Other crops, such as tobacco, sunflowers, and pumpkins would have also been grown. Many of these crops were both eaten daily and stored for later use when the colder fall and winter months were to arrive. Some other foods that were foraged were strawberries, raspberries, huckleberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries, plums, crab apples, grapes, onions, cabbage, water lily roots, may apple, swamp potatoes, hazelnuts, hickory nuts, chestnuts, beechnuts, walnuts, and acorns.

Beans were boiled and dried, clusters of corn was hung to dry by its braided husks, pumpkins and other types of squash, berries, roots, fish, and nuts were dehydrated in the summer sun. Many or all of these types of foods were stored away in many different ways. They were either completely processed first and turned into a type of flour, cut apart, boiled, or dried “as is”. Storage pits were a commonly used area of storage, as well as granaries either attached to or located close to a nearby shelter. Skin pouches, earthenware jars, bone containers, wood, or baskets were also used as a place to store the food items in when they were stored in and around the home. Before food could be stored each year, dried corn cobs and/or grass could be set ablaze inside the storage pit to kill off field mice and other critters that would otherwise eat the newly replenished food supply.


For a type of corn hominy, dried corn was taken and boiled with wood ash. This process allowed the hulls to come off and kernels would then swell in size and soften. The repeated washings in the final process removed all wood, ash, and lye from the hominy. Dried corn was also ground into flour or meal in order to make bread or sapan which was a cornmeal type mush similar to grits. Often times corn would be eaten by grilling right in the fire or boiled and paired with fish, beans, and other vegetables. Berries, honey (a European introduction), and maple sap were used to sweeten different foods. Meat (deer, elk, bear) and fish had to be completely cooked and was almost always never eaten rare or raw. Food was also not eaten at set times. Corn was eaten in some form almost daily and fish, wild game and plants, roots, nuts, berries, seeds, tubers, and other vegetables were eaten along with the corn.

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Nuts were easy to preserve over time and were roasted in their shells under the ashes in a hot fire. After this, they were crushed/ground with the shell intact and boiled. Once boiled, the oil would float to the surface. This oil was reserved in a separate container for cooking and also used medicinally for healing practices. Pulverized bones from meat were boiled in water – this allowed the collagen and fat to float to the top. This was also used for cooking and for use on the skin and hair to protect against bugs. Meat from deer, elk, bear, and other animals was typically cut into thin strips and dehydrated to make jerky or smoked over a hot fire to preserve it. The dried meat would be pulverized and added to soups and stews or carried around and eaten just as a dried jerky to stave off hunger if one was on a long journey. Birds were also eaten. Pigeons and duck were a common variety.

The way food was prepared was also a process that required a lot of time and specific techniques and tools. Types of materials that tools were made out of would have been bone or stone  that were shaped and sharpened for a specific purpose; sometimes foods were simply eaten with the hands. Bowls were often made of bone from the shells of turtles, scull caps of other animals, or carved wood/tree bark.



Much of the way the Lenape lived in the pre-Colonial era was the same up until the time Europeans arrived. Upon their arrival, it was the Europeans who were largely influenced by methods of agriculture, foraging, and hunting in an area that were not particularly familiar with. Over time, the Lenape also adapted to Colonial methods of farming and hunting using metal tools and weapons.

The influence each group had one one another was immense and allowed for the cultural sharing of techniques important for the survival of both groups. Even though we live in an industrialized and convenience based society today, it is important that we understand the place from which all of these methods of production began. Something that seems like it came from a more “simple” time was actually not always reliable and could have been the demise of individual people groups because the weather was not exactly the same as it was in previous years and that would have changed the landscape in the flora and fauna present (or not) and the way the landscape weathered during certain seasons. This would have affected subsistence methods of farming and hunting.

Even though the methods of food production were not always reliable, we do recognize the importance of the many valuable lessons and appreciation for some simplicity that has been almost lost over time with the invention of mechanized large scale production. If you have your own backyard garden, understanding the subsistence method should be pretty clear. Sometimes the crops you may rely on for your daily meal constitutes a lot of time and effort, but it is a way to see the difference between the generic store bought produce and the fresh, nutrient rich food that is grown in your own yard. There is a lot to be learned from the local population of Lenape that lived in this area. They were not only aware of the landscape they inhabited and found methods of hunting, foraging, and subsistence gardening to benefit themselves, they also utilized the remains of animals, plants, and stone from the area surrounding them to create the tools to allow them to do the best job possible from farming to preparing food and then to eating it.

Next week, I will talk a little bit about the Lenape of the past and their customs regarding the family, marriage, and women’s role in the tribe.

Written by: Sarah Krykew


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A Modern Take on Tea Culture

Do you love tea? Do your friends or family love tea? I for one am fond of the drink myself. It seems today that much of our culture is fueled more by a nice, hot or iced cup of coffee, rather than a hot or iced cup of tea. It is true that the American love for coffee seems to surpass the allure of the unlimited variations of tea flavors that exist today. But, there are still stores dedicated to selling tea only. Tea rooms also exist. There is no set “tea time” anymore, but people still practice this form of entertainment on the weekends or on a summer weekday, when they know other friends or relatives may have the allotted time off from their work or school schedules. Society has changed over the course of 400+ years. People in society live in class and social structures very differently than they did in the settlement period of America’s early history.

Tea Chai seller on the street, Varanasi Benares India

Women work more often outside the home. We have schedules that definitely do not mimic our colonial ancestors in terms of the type of work we do or the functions of daily life we adhere to. Technology has changed and thus with it, a whole new world of possibilities in the way our society has evolved in entertaining over time.

Then, in comes in tea. As Henry James in The Portrait of a Lady says, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea“. Most of us would not get the complete concept of an afternoon tea, because the Victorian Era in which the writer James lived was much different than our modern day society’s afternoon of fast and easy lunches, where most people are usually on the go during a regular work day. But, it almost was a lost art of entertaining and relaxation that seems to be coming back into vogue again…”Thank God for Tea! What would the world do without tea! How did it exist! I am glad I was not born before tea,” mentioned Reverend Sydney Smith (colonial era writer and Anglican cleric). He was right. The world owes a lot to tea and the culture that it has given to areas all over the world. It is a beverage for enjoyment and social drinking that surpasses race, class, age, and sex. It is an egalitarian beverage for sure.

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Tea rituals were introduced to this country early on through the Dutch and their importation of tea beginning in the 1630s. Since then, it has had a solid footing here. From the beginning, ladies of New Amsterdam tried to recreate the Old World aristocracy into a New World tradition. Their porcelain tea cups and pots, silver spoons and strainers, and other tea service items were used when serving each other and creating a new ritualistic time, place, and set of objects for tea. Benjamin Harris, in the 1690s, was granted licensure to sell tea to the public in Boston. The ritual art of tea consumption would eventually become a popular tradition that was taxed by the British government, and we all know that caused a whole slew of problems not to far down the road. Today we’d say, “There ain’t no party, like a Boston Tea Party!” – but it wasn’t that simple.


People were just a bit perturbed by the fact that a food staple and an enjoyable drink  was being taxed to the point that smuggling became an option many saw fit. In the words of Monty Python, “Make tea, not war!” should have and could have possibly been the cry of the masses.

All kidding aside, tea culture was quite popular enough that Benjamin Franklin had proposed that an American tea ceremony, much like the Japanese should exist and that it may possibly happen in his future. He was right. Although many tea rituals already existed in people’s homes, it wasn’t until the Victorian and Edwardian period that there were more elaborate ways of preparing tea and entertaining with it.


Let us fast forward to the modern era in which we live. Because we no longer live in a society where we would have time to serve tea almost daily in our homes, we have accommodated our taste for tea to be more convenient. We drive our cars, take the bus, or walk to the local grocery and convenience stores to grab our bottle of Lipton tea or Snapple. We pick up a box of tea bags to quickly plunge into microwaved or boiled hot water. Even loose leaf tea has its own individual tea strainer for a single serving cup.

About 90% of the tea consumed in America, these days, is “iced” or a cold brewed tea. We can easily drink our pre-bottled iced-tea while watching a baseball game with a friend or eating our lunch with our co-workers. However, this is not the same version of tea time we had in the past. As was mentioned moments ago, it is more of a drink of convenience. If one were to really get into the old style ritual of tea time, then a special day would typically be set for a weekend afternoon for friends to enjoy this every once and a while occasion. Even though is not part of our every day culture, it is still a fun way to entertain and experience the drink that has been around all through out the world for thousands of years.

Some interesting tea facts:

~ Tea in colonial America was loose leaf tea and not brick tea. While doing some of your own research you may find that some say this was true, however historians have debunked that myth that somehow has gotten passed around for way too long.

~ 1898: Did you know that the modern tea bag was created out of silk bags and sent to potential clients as “samples” but were never truly intended to be used as tea-bags? A patent was given for this new creation, however it wasn’t until 1935 that tea bags were actually considered to be worth utilizing in full scale production for the general public.

~ The U.S. is the third largest importer of tea next to Russia and Pakistan.

Every day, more than half of the U.S. population drinks tea in either hot or cold form.

~ Most of the tea sold through out the world, is grown in mountainous regions.

~ Some countries that lead in the worlds production of tea are: Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Taiwan.

~ Black, Green, Oolong, Dark and White teas all come from the same plant. While black tea is completely oxidized, oolong is only partially oxidized, green and white teas are not oxidized and dark teas are fermented after their manufacture. Time, withering, and rolling of the leaves produce each tea’s individual color and flavor. 

~ Tea was originally used as a medicinal and not for enjoyment.

~ Herbal teas are not actually “real” tea. The true forms of tea black, green, and oolong are all from the same plant called Camellia Sinensis. They are actually blends created from the stems, roots, leaves, flowers, fruit, or seeds or individual or a variety of plants.

~ The important phytochemicals, antioxidants, and vitamins that are found in straight warm or cold tea are often cancelled out by adding  dairy milk and sugar. Studies done on the vascular system showed that tea consumed by people without added milk actually relaxed blood vessels and improved dilation and blood flow – whereas tea consumed with milk actually creates an inflammatory type response and the casein binds with the catechins (polyphenols) in the tea – the most important and beneficial flavonoids found in tea.

~ The many health benefits of all forms of tea is overwhelming. Green tea offers these in particular: heart and brain protective, aids in weight loss, anti-cancer, diabetic friendly, assists in anti-imflammatory responses that cause arthritis, and liver protective.

Hopefully this post was beneficial and will prepare you for some other interesting things that will be discussed at our Tavern Talks for LiberTEA! EqualiTEA!

Written by: Sarah Krykew

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A Brief Look at Lenape Culture and Settlement



In this post, I will talk a little bit about the period of European settlement and its effect on the Lenni Lenape over time. An example of this would be the reservation system imposed on Native peoples throughout the United States over an extended period of years. Did you know that there were once reservations in both New Jersey and in Delaware? We will find out a little bit about that shortly. First, let’s take brief step back to a previous post about the Native definitions for the three dialect clans that made up the Lenni Lenape people.

The Munsee – “People of the Stony Country

The Unami – “The People Down River

The Unalachtigo – “The People Who Live Near the Ocean


The Lenape people were considered “grandfathers” or “ancient ones” by many tribes and were to be among the oldest of Northeastern Nations who lived in the area. This tribe was known to be more peaceful and less interested in warring with other tribes. They were also considered a mediator between those tribes who were having disputes and often very hospitable toward European settlers upon their arrival in the 1650s.

But in 1698 the government of Maryland set aside the Chicacoan/Chicone/Chiconi reservation and in 1711 the Broad Creek and Indian River Reservations were established by colonial British authorities. There was also a reservation in New Jersey called the Brotherton Reservation located in Burlington County between the years of 1758-1802. Some of these places were intended to be protectorate locations for Native people, yet in fact became burdensome to the tribal people inhabiting the area. Once the reservations were closed, it left Native populations to fend for themselves in terms of land settlement. Land was already being encroached upon before the reservations were set in place. Then as the Native people were displaced to areas and forced to live in a sedentary manner not typical of their culture, their release from this land left them in the hands of the government which allowed settlement for the colonial population in areas previously lived in by the Lenape and Nanticoke tribes.

A migration of the Nanticoke people from the E. Maryland shore to S.E. Delaware in the 1600s would eventually lead them to unite with the Lenni Lenape people in the New Jersey region. Some Lenape people tried to adapt or assimilate themselves into the general population after the Revolution in order to survive and without having to migrate to other locations. Some lived as farmers and others as tradesmen. It is unfortunate however, that the Lenape people were not considered “persons within the meaning of the law” until 1879, due to a U.S. Federal Court law. In 1924, Native people in general were finally considered “citizens” of the United States. According to the Nanticoke and Lenni Lenape Indians of New Jersey, their website states that:

With the protections of the “American Indian Religious Freedom Act” emboldening our people to be far more assertive on behalf of our tribe, the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe established a tribally governed 501(c)3 non-profit community benefit agency, “The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey,” which is chartered exclusively for educational, social, and cultural purposes, to promote the welfare of Native Americans who reside in the Delaware Valley; to extend charity in all forms to those Native Americans in need, giving priority to Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians residing in the Delaware Valley; to establish cultural and instructional facilities; to improve health and welfare, housing, human rights, and economic security; to acquire and preserve land and water areas in a natural scenic or open condition consistent with the heritage of the Native Americans who reside in the Delaware Valley“.

In 1978, Congress signed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, allowing Native people from all tribes the right to practice their religious beliefs in the ways they sought fit under the current law.

Native people have struggled to reclaim their rights over an extended period of 400 years. Their struggle for the rights and ability to maintain their culture is still threatened in many areas of the country, even today. It is not something that most of us will witness in the local or even national news, but it is still something that needs to be worked recognized and addressed. It is important to note that they have brought themselves from some of the most incredibly trying of situations into a new chapter in American history. They are still trying to educate the public in many ways about their culture (as individual nations, tribes, bands, and clans) and the relevance it has to our own history as citizens of this country. Only time will allow a more welcoming and empathetic spirit from non-Natives toward all Native people residing in our area and throughout the country. It is clearly noted, however, that we have already come a long way, but progress in any area of historical study and the understanding of cultures will be ongoing into perpetuity.
Published by: Sarah Krykew
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The Lenape – Who They Are


Typically a series about Native or First Nations people would start off in a chronological fashion by focusing on the past history and then graduating up to a present day retelling of their story. However, it is always a good thing to recognize a people with such a rich history as still living and thriving as a community. To search the past, without giving acknowledgement to these individuals as living breathing people who have overcome adversity,  and who are still trying to maintain their culture, would be a huge disservice to what they have accomplished in their own cultural struggle over time.

In today’s post, we will focus on the question, “Who are the Lenni Lenape/Delaware people?” and try to establish and understanding of who they see themselves as today. I was given the opportunity to visit with the Museum of Indian Culture in Allentown, PA. This site has so many interesting things to offer the community who want to get in touch with their own past or just a curious mind, to find out the important aspects of Lenape/Delaware culture (among other Native people groups) and how it is still lived today. This site offered both interesting and valuable information within its exhibits.

Most individuals (non-Native) are not usually familiar with the Native cultures of North America, in general. Many tend to look at Native peoples as a past relic, meant to be studied and kept in the museum setting. There is no understanding in the differences of band/tribe/nation affiliation or the cultural traditions they held. Oftentimes, if the name “Indian” or “Native American” are being used, people tend to visualize a male warrior on horseback wearing feathered headdress. People often do not realize that this depiction is a small drop in the bucket compared to the amazing diversity held within each band/tribe/nation.

Oral traditions are important to many modern day Native people. Retellings of how the Earth or the first people and/or animals were formed are integral to some tribal cultures understanding of who they are and how they came to be. Some of these retellings can be found in the Powwow ceremonies that are done throughout the country and throughout the year. Did you know that “powwow” is actually an Algonquin term? According to one American historian Francis Jennings, in his book the Invasion of America, “pauwau” or “pauau” referred to a group of spiritual leaders and/or medicine men. When people were “pauwauing” it referred to a curing religious ceremony. During the early settlement period of America’s history, the powwow ceremony made some European settlers feel at unease. In The Three Affiliated Tribes, historian Joseph H. Cash stated that, “In 1646 the Massachusetts General Court decreed that “no Indian shall at any time pawwaw, or perform outward worship to their false gods, or to the devil.”


These words in particular show how misunderstood Native song and dance ceremonies were. Fortunately, the understanding and appreciation for the powwow ceremony has changed since the 1600s. These ceremonies have also evolved over time in many ways.

For the Lenape and other Native people all across the continent, it’s a special way of meeting together to dance, sing, visit relatives or friends or to make new friendships, embrace a competitive spirit amongst different Native tribes, or for spiritual reasons. Each person’s regalia, song, and dance have special meanings. Their regalia is not a “costume” and only those participating in the event are allowed to wear it. It is considered highly offensive to those who are involved in the powwow ceremony to have an outsider “dress up” as one of the group when they are not involved in the spiritual and cultural significance of the ceremony. It’s so important, in fact, that regalia is usually prayed over and blessed before the outfit is worn and the ceremony begins. However, many of the dances are social dances and religious ceremonies are typically kept privately. The social aspect is to celebrate pride in the culture and heritage of the Lenape and other Native peoples.



Some examples of the modern day powwow for the Lenape would include the “Traditional”, “Jingle, “Grass”, and “Fancy (Shawl)” dances.

The traditional style of dance tells a story of bravery or of a hunt. Each dancer is required to create their regalia in a traditional fashion. Eagle feathers, sinew, bones and animal skins are also used as part of the dancers regalia. The items for the regalia and even the regalia itself must be blessed before being used.

The women’s jingle dance was originally started in the 1920s as a healing dance for a young girl who fell ill. The design of the dress and dancing were revealed to an Ojibwe medicine man in his sleep, after seeking a vision for the recovery of his sick daughter. Once he awoke, he asked his daughter to wear the dress he made and dance according to what was revealed in the dream. It is said that this particular dance helped heal the young girl and has been used ever since. They typically took side-ways steps around a person who was ill as their unique dance choreography.  In this dance, rows of metal cones across the front of the dancers dress, called ziibaaska’iganan in the Ojibewe language, clink and clank as the dancer moves. The dancer also carries a feather or a fan of feathers as she dances. A woman who wants to become a jingle dress dancer is asked to purify herself through the fasting of food and water for four days and also to give a personal offering. A woman is asked to fast because of the healing powers brought about by the dress and dance to the First Nations people and their use of song, step, and ceremony.

Next, is the grass dance. This particular style of dance originated from the men of the northern Plains tribes. It was later used in powwows by other Native tribes. The fringes on their regalia demonstrate the prairie grass, all-the-while, their movements were originally done to depict the stomping down and flattening of the tall prairie grass when creating a new settlement. The regalia for this type of dance is usually very colorful and contains colored fringes made of yarn or ribbon.When a dancer moves, he must create symmetry on both sides of the body to mimic the waving of tall grass. Sometimes it is often done to depict the hunter stalking wild game within the grass.

Last, is the fancy dance. This style of dance is said to have originated in the 1920s, to curtail the U.S. government’s ban on tribal dancing – but still recognized the importance of it for the entertainment of visitors.This dance is much faster than all of the other styles and expects the dancer to keep perfect timing with the beats of the drum. The regalia is typically bright with the inclusion of feathers, bustles, beaded bodices, breech cloths, bells, moccasins, beaded arm/head bands, and others. This dance is a predominantly male centered one. This is also one of the most popular forms of dance. Women took part in this dance originally, but eventually branched off on their own calling their version the women’s fancy shawl dance. The intricately beaded and sometimes fringed shawl spans from the end of one hand, across the back, to the other hand. Almost resembling the wingspan of a butterfly. This dance is not the same as the men’s fancy dance and does not require the women to have choreographed foot steps. They are to be light on their feet and not necessarily required to hit the ground with their feet every time the drum is hit. If they are doing jumps or spins it is not required.

Modern day powwows are an evolution of past cultural stories that are still important to individual tribes and the connection they share with each other as First Nations people. They are an amazing way to gain a better knowledge about the past that was experienced by Native people. They are also very fascinating and beautiful to watch and to partake in, while listening to traditional styles of music, both vocal and instrumental. If you have the opportunity to ever visit a local powwow, take full advantage of it. The Lenni Lenape/Delaware tribe Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware hold powwows and other music and dance performances throughout the year. Here is a link which will provide you with information of the areas closest to ours here in Chester County, PA!

Nanticoke-Lenape People:


Next week, I will discuss some past historical traditional roles of the Lenape and how many of their customs influenced the people who lived in our area during the early settlement period.

Written by: Sarah Krykew

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A Short History of the Lenni Lenape


In a book titled, “On Records: Delaware Indians, Colonists, and the Media of History and Memory” author Andrew Newman discusses the account of Lenape/Delaware Indian history in their own words. He says that the Lenape described an event many of us have become familiar with over time. He stated (based on their story) that:

  “Many hundred years ago, they had lived in a very distant country in the Western part of                       the American continent…and after a large migration had settled in the region of the                               Atlantic seaboard spanning the Hudson and Delaware Rivers”. 

As was discussed in last weeks posting, the Native (or Indian) populations throughout the continent held stories of their origins that either led them to believe that culturally, as a people, they had been placed in one particular spot by their creator(s) and did not migrate from elsewhere. Many archaeologists suggest that Native people had traveled into the North American continent on foot through the Bering Strait or possibly across/or used ice sheets (glaciers) as guides that spanned the Atlantic from Europe to the North American coast. It seems from the perspective given from Newman’s account that the local Lenape population had believed they did migrate from a more western portion of the continent. In a moment, I will discuss a bit about the Lenape origin story.

First, let’s find out how the Lenape/Delaware Indians got their name. The Lenni Lenape name actually derived from two name meanings: Lenni, meaning: genuine, pure, real, and/or original; and Lenape, meaning: Indian or man. This information comes from the Lenape Talking Dictionary. ( The term Indian is not an original native First Nations term, but may have been added later to distinguish the group based on the cultural adoption of the misused title from European populations.

The name Delaware is also not an original native First Nations term. Thomas West 3rd Baron De La Warr, was the first English governor of Virginia. The name Delaware was given to the river in Virginia, but then also applied to the Native people (by Europeans) inhabiting the area surrounding the river at the time of contact in the 16th and 17th centuries. The name eventually stuck with the group and they were interchangeably called Lenni Lenape (or Lenape) and Delaware Indians.

The location which the Lenape inhabited was originally called Lenapehoking. This area which encompassed the mid-Atlantic coastal areas of New Jersey, Southern New York, Northern Delaware, Eastern Maryland, and Eastern Pennsylvania. This Algonquin linguistic group, the Lenape, people define the name to mean, “In the land of the Lenape”.

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Here is the Lenape origin story as told by Robert Red Hawk. (This information can be found at

                “At one time everything was dark. There was nothing. But there was a spirit in that nothingness, and it would have remained that way, but the spirit fell asleep. As he slept, he dreamed. He dreamt of a world: mountains, sky, the ocean, all of the fish in the ocean, all the birds in the sky, all the trees, the deserts, all of the animals on the earth. He dreamed of man. He dreamed of ceremony: of people drumming and singing. But then, he awoke, and because it was just a dream, everything was still black. But because the seed had been planted in him, that dream, he started to manifest it. The first thing he did was create helpers—spirits: the grandfather of the North, the Grandfather of the East, the Grandmother of the South, and the Grandfather of the West. And they, in turn, put their dreams and thoughts into creating the Earth, the stars, the sun, and the heavens. They added their gifts, and more was created. And everything the Creator dreamed came true. And one of the last things that they did was dream a special tree—a shimmering tree. And from that root, the first man arose. The tree bent down and kissed the ground. And where it kissed the ground, the first woman came. And everything was good—everything was good and perfect, and everyone had a job from the creator. Squirrels were given the task of collecting nuts and burying them to make trees grow. Deer were sent to go through the underbrush and eat and make room so that the trees could grow. Man’s job was to take care of the earth—to be a caretaker of the land. As time went on, there was a great problem that arose among the people. There was a certain charm—it was the tooth of a giant naked bear. When you had this tooth, you could have lots of magic powers. The people started to fight each other over the tooth. They fought so hard and so long, that some of the people started moving. This is why we have different languages. But, when the creator saw what was happening, he sent a spirit being to help the people, Nanpush. 

Nanabush went atop one of the mountains and started a fire. It was the first sacred fire that was ever made. From that fire, he sent up smoke. And all the people from all over saw that smoke, and they came to see what the smoke was. Nanapush reached down and came up with a stone. It was a soapstone. And from that soapstone he fashioned a bowl. And then he took from a branch of the sumac tree. He made a stem and fashioned that and put that together with the bowl. Then he reached down and the creator gave him a sacred plant. And they called it tobacco. Nanapush held that pipe up and told the people, “Whenever there’s discord, whenever you hold council, whenever you want to come together, and bring you minds together as one, take this tobacco, put it in a pipe, and smoke it. And that smoke will go into you and when you blow it out your thoughts your prayers will all intermingle together. And you’ll be able to make decisions that are right for everyone and everything. Nanapush comes back into our stories a lot. One of them is an emergence story. As I told you before the people originally started fighting over the tooth of that naked bear but what happened was there was some evil spirits here. One of them was a giant toad. He was in charge of all the waters. There was also a giant snake. They started fighting over that tooth and the great frog ate the snake and ate the tooth. The snake jabbed him in the side and all those waters started coming out in a big flood. Nanapush again came and he saw everything was being destroyed. He came upon a mountain and he started gathering all the animals and sticking them in a sash. Eventually he got to the top of this mountain and there was a cedar tree. He started climbing the tree. As he climbed, he would snap cedar bows off and stick them in his belt. He got to the top and what he did was he took his bow and started plucking on his bow and he sang a song and all the waters stopped rising. Then Nanapush asked of the animals, who will let me put all the cedar branches on top of you so that all the animals can go on top of you? And the turtle said, you can put them on me and I’ll float on the water and you can put the branches on me. So they did. That’s why we call this land turtle island. Then Nanapush said, “Well, we gotta make it a little bigger than it is—turtle’s only so big, even a snapping turtle’s only so big—so they had to go down and get some of the old earth under the water and put it up on top of the turtle. So first guy that goes down, the beaver, says I’m gonna go down. Beaver went all the way down. He comes up dead with no soil. Nanapush breathes some more life into him and brought him back to life. Then the bird nation came up and the loon said, ” I wanna go down. I wanna go down and see if I can do it.” Loon went down; he was down for a long time. He came back up dead. So Nanapush breathed into him. So finally the little bitty muskrat said, Let me try.” So he went down. And poor little muskrat, he was down for the longest time, and he come up dead, but on his nose was some of the old earth. So he breathed into the little muskrat and they put the earth on the back of the turtle.

And he told the muskrat he would always be blessed and his kind would always thrive in this land. Then Nanapush took his bow out again and started singing a song. And as he sang the turtle’s back grew and grew so much that you couldn’t even see from one end to the other anymore. And it kept growing. Nanapush says I wonder how long we should let this turtle grow. I’m gonna send out each of the animals. He sent the bear out. Bear came back 2-3 days later and said, “OK I got to the edge.” He sent the deer out. Deer came back two weeks later and said, “I made it to the edge.” Finally they sent the wolf. The wolf went. They waited for the wolf to come back. They waited months. They waited years. The wolf didn’t come back. That’s how big the land got. In fact to this day wolves at night will often howl, and what they’re howling for is they’re calling for their ancestor who went off to see if he can find his way back home again. That’s the story of how the earth was first made and how the first pipe came to our people and how the first flood came and we re-emerged from the flood”.

Some of the creation stories differ depending on the geographic location or assimilation of individuals within their tribe into other bands/tribes/nations. The Lenape were not limited to living in one area, but inhabited many areas on the eastern seaboard. Earlier, I discussed the regions where they lived before and during the colonial period. Eventually, due to European settlement, the Lenape migrated or were displaced out of their original territory (from about 1600 to 1900) and forced to move in areas north, south, and/or west. These locations included Ontario, Canada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri, Louisiana,  Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas.


According to many Lenape people and scholars, there were 3 main groups. The Munsee (Munsi), Unami, and Unalactigo. Their differences were based on the dialect of the Algonquin language they spoke and their their geographic location. Their shared practice of living in a matrilineal clan system gave them a commonly shared cultural identification as Lenape people. Their three clans were the Turtle, Wolf, and Turkey. There were subdivisions among the three based on their tribal affiliation, band, and village. This allowed them to each have certain unique characteristics, all-the-while still identifying as Lenape.

The language dialects, called Munsee, Nanticoke, and Unami which were spoken during the colonial period, are now considered “dead” languages. This is not necessarily true. Although they were distinct and separate in their language, efforts are being made to combine what is known from the old dialects into one unified language. There are some elders in the Ontario, Canada community of the Lenape who still speak in the Munsee dialect.

Next week, we will learn a little more about the cultural traditions of the Lenape and how they are still being used today.

Written by: Sarah Krykew