The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation is the northernmost of three interrelated tribes of the area of the Delaware Bay. We are a made up of the American Indian families from southern New Jersey and the Delmarva Peninsula who remained in our ancestral homeland after many of our relations were removed to the west and to the north as far as Oklahoma and Canada. Centuries ago, our Lenape and Nanticoke ancestors were among those locally referred to as “Cohansies,” “The Indians of Cohansey Bridge,” Alloways,” “Little Siconese,” among other names.
The Lenni-Lenape (or simply “Lenape”) are the ancient root of many other American Indian nations. The Lenape homeland included all of New Jersey, northern Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania, and southeastern New York. The Nanticoke are the people of the Delmarva between the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. Our tribal nation of Nanticoke and Lenape people are the result of the coalescing of these two interrelated tribes, beginning as far back as the 1600’s.
Our ancestors never surrender their tribal identity or inherent sovereignty. From the mid 1600’s through to the establishment of the United States, we shared our homeland with the Swedes and Finns, Dutch and British… but, always kept our tribal community alive and well. Throughout much of the 1800s and 1900s, our tribal governance continued as a self isolating family-clan style leadership operating in conjunction with our tribal churches. By the 1970’s, a new generation of leaders began to advocate for our people in a more open manner among the non-native public and government agencies, reorganizing the tribe with an
elected chief and council which no longer functioned solely within the traditional tribal church.
Our tribe is governed by a constitutional government, which provides for executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Our community services are administered through a tribally controlled 501(c)3 social services / community development organization called, “The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey,” which is subordinate to our tribal government.
Our main headquarters is in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, New Jersey, where we also operate a tribal store, the “Turtle Trading Post.” The tribal headquarters and store is open to the public. Artifacts are on display 24 hours a day in our shop window. Arts and crafts from among our own tribe and other American Indian nations are on sale in the store, as well as interesting souvenirs and unique gifts, books and music.
We also have tribal grounds, called “Cohanzick,” in Fairfied Township, New Jersey. This is the location of our tribal community center and ceremonial ground… and is where many of our tribal families have lived for hundreds of years.
For more information on our history, please visit: