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Munsee Indians, Munsee People, Munsee First Nation (Min-asin-ink, ‘at the place where stones are gathered together. Hewitt). One of the three principal divisions of the Delaware, the others being the Unami and Unalachtigo, from whom their dialect differed so much that they have frequently been regarded as a distinct tribe. According to Morgan they have the same three gentes as the Delaware proper, viz, Wolf (Tookseat ), Turtle (Pokekooungo), and Turkey (Pullaook). Brinton says these were totemic designations for the three geographic divisions of the Delaware and had no reference to gentes. However this may be, the Wolf has commonly been regarded as the totem of the Munsee, who have frequently been called the Wolf tribe of the Delaware.
The Munsee originally occupied the headwaters of Delaware river in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, extending south to Lehigh river, and also held the west bank of the Hudson from the Catskill mountains nearly to the New Jersey line. They had the Mahican and Wappinger on the north and east, and the Delaware on the south and southeast, and were regarded as the protecting barrier between the latter tribe and the Iroquois. Their council village was Minisink, probably in Sussex county, N. J. According to Ruttenber they were divided into the Minisink, Waoranec, Warranawonkong, Mamekoting, Wawarsink, and Catskill. The Minisink formed the principal division of the Munsee, and the two names have often been confounded. The bands along the Hudson were prominent in the early history of New York, but as white settlements increased most of them joined their relatives on the Delaware. In 1756 those remaining in New York were placed upon lands in Schoharie County and were incorporated with the Mohawk. By a fraudulent treaty, known as the “Walking Purchase,” the main body of the Munsee was forced to remove from the Delaware about the year 1740, and settled at Wyalusing the Susquehanna on lands assigned them by the Iroquois. Soon after this they removed to Allegheny river, Pa., where some of them had settled as early as 1724. The Moravian missionaries had already begun their work among then, and a considerable number under their teaching drew off from the tribe and became a separate organization. The others moved west with the Delaware into Indiana, where most of them were incorporated with that tribe, while others joined the Chippewa, Shawnee, and other tribes, so that the Munsee practically ceased to exist as an organized body. Many removed to Canada and settled near their relatives, the Moravian Indians.
On account of the connection of the Munsee with other tribes, it is impossible to estimate their numbers at any period. In 1765 those on the Susquehanna were about 750 in 1843 those in the United States were chiefly with the Delaware in Kansas, and numbered about 200, while others were with the Shawnee and Stockbridge, besides those in Canada. In 1885 the only Munsee officially recognized in the United States were living with a band of Chippewa in Franklin county, Kans., both together numbering only 72. The two bands were united in 1859, and others are incorporated with the Cherokee in Indian Territory, having joined them about 1868.
These Munsee were more commonly known in recent years as Christians.” In Canada the band of Munsee settled with the Chippewa on Thames river, in Caradoc township, Middlesex County, Ontario, numbered 119 in 1886, while the Moravians, who are mainly Munsee, living near them in Oxford township, Kent County, numbered 275 in 1884. According to the Canadian Ind. Aff. Rep. for 1906, the Moravians of the Thames numbered 348 persons, and the “Munsee of the Thames” numbered 118. There are also a few with the Stockbridge at Green Bay agency, Wis.
The Munsee have been parties to the following treaties with the United States:
- Treaty of Fort Industry, O., July 4, 1805, with the Ottawa, Wyandot, and other tribes.
- Appendix to the Menominee treaty with the United States at Green Bay, Wis., Oct. 27, 1832, by the Stockbridge, Munsee, Brotherton, and others.
- Treaty of Stockbridge, Wis., Sept. 3, 1839, by Stockbridge and Munsee.
- Treaty of Stockbridge, Wis., Feb. 5, 1856, amending treaty of Sept. 3, 1839.
- Treaty at Sac and Fox agency, Kans., July 16, 1859, in connection with certain Chippewa.