A Brief History of South Jersey’s Last Native Tribe

A dancer at a Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape powwow in 2014
A dancer at a Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape powwow in 2014 | © Larry Wilder / Flickr
Kate Morgan

The Nanticoke and Lenape tribes have 10,000 years of history in their homeland along the East Coast. The descendants of those tribes still live in South Jersey today, and they work hard to ensure their proud cultural legacy remains a thriving part of life in the state.

Loved by over 40s

The Lenape tribe, also known as Lenni-Lanape, were the inhabitants of much of what is now the tri-state area—New Jersey, Delaware, southern New York, and eastern Pennsylvania—when Europeans arrived. At the beginning of the early 17th century, European settlers called the Lenni-Lenape (the literal translation of which is “men of men,” but which actually means “Original People”) the Delaware Indians.

There were originally three clans of Lenape. The Munsee lived in the north, near the headwaters of the Delaware River. The Unami lived in the center of the territory, and the Unalachtigo lived along the southern edge of the Lenape homeland.

A map showing the tribal territories of Delaware tribes

According to the tribe’s historical documents, many other tribes refer to the Lenape as the “ancient ones.” In fact, many tribes along the northeastern seaboard can trace their origins to the Lenape. The Nanticoke people lived in Delaware and Maryland, where they were some of the first native people to resist colonization by Europeans.

In 1778, the newly formed United States government signed a treaty with the “Delaware Indians.” It was the first treaty post-Declaration of Independence, and it promised that if the Lenni-Lenape helped win the war against the British, they’d be given statehood.

A painting titled “Treaty of Penn with Indians” by Benjamin West

Instead, after the Revolutionary War, the tribe continued to clash with their new European neighbors, and many native people were killed or removed from their homeland. The tribe’s numbers dwindled.

By the 1800s, the Nanticoke and Lenni-Lenape had united, and they’ve been working to preserve their people’s rights and culture ever since. Congress did not recognize Native Americans as citizens of the United States until 1924. In 1978, Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, which emboldened the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape. They established a tribally governed nonprofit agency, and today, they work to support their community in South Jersey and beyond, and to preserve the language, land, and heritage of Native Americans in the Delaware Valley.

A dancer at a Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape powwow in 2014
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.