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Like most tribes, Lenape communities were weakened by newly introduced diseases originating in Europe, mainly smallpox but also cholera, influenza and dysentery, and recurrent violent racial conflict with Europeans. As the 18th century progressed, many surviving Lenape moved west—into the (relatively empty) upper Ohio River basin.

During the decades of the 18th century, most Lenape were pushed out of their homeland by expanding European colonies.

While clan mothers controlled the land, the houses, and the families, the clan fathers provided the meat, cleared the fields, built the houses, and protected the clan. The practice effectively prevented inbreeding, even among individuals whose kinship was obscure or unknown.

Members of each clan were found throughout Lenape territory and clan lineage was traced through the mother.

Today, only elders speak the language—although some young Lenape youth and adults learn the ancient language.

The German and English-speaking Moravian missionary John Heckewelder wrote: "The Monsey tong [sic] is quite different even though [it and Lenape] came out of one parent language." At the time of first European contact, a Lenape individual would have identified primarily with his or her immediate family and clan, friends, and/or village unit; then with surrounding and familiar village units.

Ethnicity seems to have mattered little to the Lenape and many other "tribes".

Archaeological excavations have found Lenape burials that included identifiably ethnic Iroquois remains interred along with those of Lenape.

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