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Delaware Indians

In the early 17th century, the Delaware Indians lived along the Delaware River in present-day New York and New Jersey. By 1831, after several relocations by the United States government, the Delaware were settled at the junction of the Kansas and Missouri rivers in present-day northeastern Kansas.

The Delaware, also known as Lenape, established villages along the Kansas River where the woodlands provided plentiful deer, elk, and antelope. After first living in temporary structures, they built small log cabins with fireplaces.

Eleven-year-old Windagamen Marshall, better known as Annie, was among the new arrivals in 1831. Her father was a white trader to the Indians and her mother was Delaware. Annie, along with the other women and children, planted gardens and harvested some of the area’s wild vegetation such as pokeweed greens and morel mushrooms. Corn was the most abundant garden crop and cornbread a staple in their diet. A popular specialty was corn dumplings soaked in grape juice.

In the 1830s white settlers from the East began moving into the area near the Kansas and Missouri rivers, and the Delaware prospered by offering services to the newcomers. They served as traders, ferry operators, military scouts, and guides.

Among the newcomers was former soldier Moses Grinter. Grinter was appointed by the government to operate a ferry from the north bank of the Kansas River within the Delaware reserve, not far from the Chouteau trading post and Shawnee Methodist Mission. Annie and Moses met in the late 1830s and were married in 1838. Moses eventually purchased the Chouteau trading post and sold more than 150 types of goods to the Delaware in exchange for cash and furs. The couple lived on the Delaware reserve until 1857 when they moved into a new two-story brick house, constructed with bricks made onsite. There they farmed and planted an apple orchard.

After the Civil War white settlement grew rapidly, the railroad expanded greatly, and the Delaware were forced to give up their reservation in Kansas and relocate to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Any tribal members who wanted to remain in Kansas could do so if they dissolved ties to the Delaware and became citizens of the United States; 69 chose to stay in Kansas, including Annie Grinter and several of her family members. Today Delaware tribes live in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Canada.
 

Entry: Delaware Indians

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: July 2015

Date Modified: December 2015

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.