To Save the Lands born on the Turtle's back


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Delaware Tribe of Indians


The Delaware Tribe of Indians (DTI) is known as the Grandfather Tribe by the other tribes and is considered to be among the most ancient of the Northeast area. The name DELAWARE was given to the people who lived along the Delaware River, and the river in turn was named after Lord de la Warr, the governor of the Jamestown colony. The name Delaware later came to be applied to almost all Lenape people. In our language, which belongs to the Algonquian language family, we call ourselves LENAPE which means something like “The People".

The Tribe was known as warriors and the peacemakers, often keeping the peace between neighboring nations and admired by early European colonists for hospitality and mediation skills. DTI was the first Indian nation to sign a treaty with the newly formed United States government on September 17, 1778 and the first section of the treaty called for the Delaware to be the head of a friendly Indian state with representation in Congress.


Turtles play positive roles in the folklore of many Native American tribes. In the creation myths of some East Coast tribes (such as the Iroquois and Lenape), the Great Spirit created their homeland by placing earth on the back of a giant turtle. This is why some contemporary Native Americans refer to North America by the name "Turtle Island." Turtles are a symbol of the earth in many different Native cultures. To Plains Indians, turtles are associated with long life, protection, and fertility. In some Plains tribes, a newborn girl's umbilical cord was sewn into a figure in the shape of a turtle to ensure her health and safety. In other tribes, turtles are often associated with healing, wisdom, and spirituality. Turtles are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Turtle Clans include the Chippewa (whose Turtle Clan and its totem are called Mikinaak,) the Menominee (whose Mud Turtle Clan is named Maehkaenah,) the Huron-Wyandot (who at one point had four different turtle clans: mud turtle, water turtle, striped turtle, and great turtle,) and the Abenaki, Shawnee, and Iroquois tribes. The turtle was also the special tribal emblem of the Lenape Delawares, who have a Turtle Dance among their tribal dance traditions. On the Northwest Coast, the sea turtle is sometimes used as a totem pole crest.