Lenape History & Food

A very short version of Lenape History and Food
See our November Links for Thanksgiving information, resources, activities and more!  Lenape history and food - pot & basket

LF-ambesonLittle Flower with her Ambeson – A baby carrier that works like a backpack.  Also a place for the baby to sleep in at night.  Clay pot & Bark basket.

Lenape History for Children  & Elementary Teachers & Parents with activities.

The Lenni Lenape (Len-na Len-NAW-pay) people (also called the Delaware Indians) are in the ALGONQUIN language group.  They had permanent, seasonal settlements with social and political organizations. The absence of natural barriers permitted trade routes and the other cultural expressions among the Lenape and other Native groups.

“I sailed to the shore in one of their canoes, with an old man, who was a chief of a tribe, consisting of forty men and seventeen women; these I saw there in a house well constructed of oak bark and circular in shape, with the appearance of having a vaulted ceiling. it contained a great quantity of maize, and beans of last year’s growth, and there lay near the house, two mats were spread out to sit upon, and immediately some food was served in well made red wooden bowls;  two men were also dispatched at once with bows and arrows in quest of game, who soon after brought in a pair of pigeons which they had just shot…….. The natives are a very good people; for when they saw that I would not remain, they supposed that I was afraid of their bows, and taking the arrows, they broke them in pieces, and threw them into the fire……” Henry Hudson, describing an encounter with a group of Lenni Lenape on the west shore of the Hudson River near present day Catskill, New York, in 1609.

Map of LenapehockingWith the arrival of Europeans, the Lenape and other Native societies suffered radical and often devastating changes.  The newcomers introduced diseases such as measles, smallpox, and venereal diseases, which severely reduced native populations.  The most pervasive influence on the relationship between native people and Europeans was the FUR TRADE.  Furs were traded for metal tools, utensils, cloth, rum, and more.  Fur trade encouraged competition among natives and led to dependency on European goods.

The European immigrants re-named the Lenapehanna (River of the Lenape) after the British Lord De la Warre.  The word was slurred into Delaware, and the newcomers called the Lenape people “the Delaware”.   As more Europeans traveled westward to Penn’s Woods (today called Pennsylvania), some of the Lenape went North through New York into Canada.  Others moved to Ohio and farther westward away from the Europeans. The influence of other Native cultures on the migrating Lenape (and vice versa) can best be seen in art work, craft adaptations, and clothing modifications.

There are three main groups of the Lenape people:

Group Name         Unami         Muncy             Unalachigo

Group Symbol      Turtle           Wolf                Wild Turkey
Picture Symbol       Turtle symbol           wolf symbol               wild turkey symbol

Lenape people today still celebrate their cultural survival! Garrett “Wolf” Derr – Garrett makes firemaking a fire

Reciting from Walum Olam  Garrett read from Walam Olam                               dancing       Garrett dancingLittle Flower dancing

Little Flower dancing.

Check the other pages for more pictures of her doing chores and having fun.  Did you find the Ambeson (baby carrier)? You can also find pictures of traditional wikwams and lodge houses, as well as a canoe. Native people today live and dress like everyone else but at special time of the year, during special ceremonies or festivals, they often wear their traditional regalia.  Some attend powwows and wear dance regalia.Little Flower & Laughing Girl


Little Flower crayonsLittle Flower coloring a page.  She is wearing her “everyday” clothing.
                                              Little Flower & Laughing Girl.


tools on deer skinThings to Consider … 

How do you celebrate your culture?  What do you do that is special?  Do you have special clothing, foods, or games? How do you dress, play, worship?  What special foods do you eat?  Which Native American foods do you eat everyday?

Scene from When the Shadbush Blooms

old folks river Compare walking along the stream – then & now.walk along river

Visit our Shadbush Activity Page!

Attention Teachers: We help you meet Pennsylvania’s Academic Standards in History & Arts / Humanities and New Jersey’s Core Content Standards in Social Studies. There are also resources on the Teacher’s Pages!

Border flowers

ear of cornCHASQUEM – Corn                              Look for Thanksgiving Food & native Food in General   

What is “Indian Corn“? It is ANY and every type of corn! The Lenape were peaceful farmers who grew a wide variety of crops. While some crops were eaten fresh, a large part of the crops had to be dried to preserve them for winter use. Over 12 kinds of corn were grown, including popcorn, corn-on-the-cob, corn for chowder, grits, hominy and corn pudding. Corn comes in a variety of colors -white, yellow, blue, reddish, multicolored and flesh colors.

Special “hard” corn was dried and pounded into corn meal for corn bread AHPONE, now called corn pone; hominy, grits, and soups; and pounded into flour for bread and travel food, called JOURNEY CAKES. In those days CAKE meant BREAD.

SAMP is a coarse HOMINY. NASAUMP means corn mush. SUPPAWN is now called “hasty pudding”. SAMP was enjoyed alone or in a one pot meal of pre-soaked corn (SAMP), vegetables and meat – like a crock pot meal of today. SUCCOTASH is still enjoyed too.

CORN HUSKS were saved and used to make mats, baskets, moccasin liners (used as socks) and dolls. Dolls were dressed in leather scraps for clothing.

PAKIHM – CRANBERRIES The Cranberry is a native North American fruit. Long before the settlers came, the Native people from Nova Scotia to North Carolina enjoyed fresh and dried cranberries.

cranberryPAKIHM is the Lenape word for cranberry. The famous chief PAKIMINTZEN used the cranberry as a symbol of peace. Pakimintzen means cranberry eater. PERKIOMEN Creek comes from the Lenape word Pakihomomink – “where there are cranberries growing”. The cranberries were enjoyed fresh or dried in soups, such as succotash of cranberries, corn and beans. They were also used in pemmican where the cranberries were crushed, dried and combined with dried venison (deer meat) and fat drippings. This mixture was then molded into small “cakes” (loaves of bread). This would keep for a long time and was good on a long trip.

Corn colored 1Corn Recipe 

Carla’s Corn Fritters

2 Cup raw corn

1 beaten egg

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1/3 tsp salt (or less)

1/8 tsp pepper

1 TB melted butter

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix dry ingredients, add wet, fry it up!  Server with drizzles maple syrup, honey or powdered sugar! I did not list the famous Dried Corn Pudding here! Check our other pages for additional recipes.