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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.

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Traditional Lenape lands, the Lenapehoking, was a large territory that encompassed the Delaware Valley of eastern Pennsylvania (especially the Poconos and New Jersey from the north bank Lehigh River along the left bank Delaware thence south into Delaware and the Delaware Bay.

Their lands also extended west from western Long Island and New York Bay, across the Lower Hudson Valley in New York into the lower Catskills and a sliver of the upper edge of the North Branch Susquehanna River.

By 1682, when William Penn arrived to his American commonwealth, the Lenape had been so reduced by disease, famine, and war that the sub-clan mothers had reluctantly resolved to consolidate their families into the main clan family.

This is why William Penn and all those after him believed that the Lenape clans had always only had three divisions ('Turtle, Turkey, and Wolf) when, in fact, they had over thirty on the eve of European contact.

For individual people from the state of Delaware, see List of people from Delaware. 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.

This means that a male from the Turkey Clan was expected to marry a female from either the Turtle or Wolf clans.

His children, however, would not belong to the Turkey Clan, but to the mother's clan.

On the other hand, The New American Book of Indians point out that competition, trade, and wary relations were far more common than outright warfare—but both larger societies had traditions of 'proving' (blooding) new (or young) warriors by 'counting coup' on raids into another tribes territories.

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

"Delaware Indians" and "Delaware people" redirect here.

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