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Delaware Indian Clothing

DELAWARE INDIANS dressed for inclement weather.They dressed warm for howling winds and snowy winters, and also for warm spring months and the warmth from the sun in the summers.

Men wore a breech clout and leggings tied to a belt. Delaware women wore a skirt and shirt usually made of deer hide. Clothing worn next to the body was usually made of deerskin or beaver skin. There were no pockets in garments..Purses were used by the Delaware people.In colder weather people also wore a hide shirt, a robe and at times mittens and fur caps. Turkey feathers were used for making warm cloaks and ornaments, and were a recognized symbol of great deeds performed. Cattail leaves were woven into mats.The soft cattail fluff was used as diapers.

Settlers thought the Delawares most valuable resource was beaver skins.Settlers demands for the pelts were so great that by 1800 they were trapped out.


Deer were a blessing to the Delaware Indians

Men and women wore soft-soled deerskin moccasins. Deer skins were tanned to make clothing and packs. Moccasins  were only worn for ceremonies. They usually went barefoot. Hunters wore deer hides as camouflage. Deer antlers were made into jewelry. They were also used as a hoe when a handle was attached. Slivers from smashed deer bones were made into needles, and thread was made from the sinews. 

What did Delaware Indians Eat?

Delaware Indian Food-Corn, beans, deer, squash, blueberries, pumpkins, tomatoes,cattail roots and peppers. The Delaware made soup, bread, puddings, sarsparilla soda. Teas were made from sumac and white cedar. The teas had vitamin C which prevented the disease scurvy.  

Food Preparation

The Delaware people preffered to have their corn, beans , and squash prepared in different ways. Corn on the cob was boiled or baked or fried in bear grease. Sometimes the women scraped the corn kernels off the cobs, ground them into a paste, and shaped the paste into patties, which were then wrapped in leaves and baked or boiled.  Corn was also used to make soup, bread, and puddings. Beans were boiled or fried, made into soups, or added to meat dishes. Squash was boiled or baked whole. Greens were added to meat dishes, wild herbs to soups, and berries to puddings or breads.

The Lenni Lenape prepared a  variety of food and believed in sharing the food they were blessed with having.  People were entitled to what they had trapped or gathered. Their belief was that but no one should be allowed to go hungry.  When visitors arrived, they offered  them food. Researchers discovered that the guests always ate the food that what was given  them. 

What utensils did Delaware Indians use for cooking?

 Delaware Indian utensils consisted of bark plates or wooden bowls and spoons. Food was cooked in clay pots over the fire or wrapped in leaves and set in the hot ashes.  In time, the Indians began to use metal cooking pots brought by the Europeans. Their baskets and gourds were also handy utensils. 


Delaware Indians Language

Algonquian Languages

Delaware Indian Language is the Algonquian language spoken by the Delaware people.The Algonquian (also Algonkian) languages are a subfamily of Native American languages that includes most of the languages in the Algic language family (the two Algic languages that are not Algonquian are Wiyot and Yurok of northwestern California). Speakers of Algonquian languages stretch from the east coast of North America all the way to the Rocky Mountains. The proto-language from which all of the languages of the family descend, Proto-Algonquian, was spoken around 3,000 years ago, most likely in southeastern Ontario.

The Algonquian language family should be carefully distinguished from Algonquin, which is only one language of the family.Each group spoke a different dialect of language that belonged to the Algonquian family.The Lenape language (of the Algonquian family) is virtually extinct.

Algonquian speakers met the Pilgrims and Sir Walter Raleigh, and gave them words such as caribou, skunk, moccasin, hominy, and raccoon. Algonquian languages are also spoken across most of Canada and down to the Plains in the U.S Midwest: languages like Shawnee, Fox, Potawatomi, Cree, Cheyenne, and Blackfoot.

Of the more than thirty languages within this family recorded since the seventeenth century, only Arapaho, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi, Ojibwa, Potawatomi, Menominee, Sauk-Fox-Kickapoo, Maliseet-Passamaquoddy, and Micmac currently have significant numbers of speakers, and many of these are elderly. The majority of extinct Algonquian languages were spoken in the Northeast and along the Atlantic seaboard.

  Linda Mauser 2018


    Linda Mauser 2018

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