Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Mary Lou Lustig


Many past and current generations of historians, anthropologists, and literary writers have acknowledged the existence of a Delaware Indian nation. They, however, have failed to thoroughly understand or address the historical and cultural dynamics that contributed to both the formation and quick decline of this Indian nation. This multidisciplinary study includes the oral traditions and oratory of Delaware Indians, the observances of Moravian missionaries and colonial-revolutionary officials, and contemporary anthropological and historical sources, to construct the building of the Delaware nation during the eighteenth century.;Once decentralized and living in the Delaware River watershed, three phratries or animal tribes (Turtle, Turkey, and Wolf) of Delawares, in response to their unfair treatment at the hands of the Pennsylvania-Iroquois alliance of 1732, moved west to the Allegheny Valley of western Pennsylvania and eventually across the Ohio River into the Muskingum River valley. Western Delawares developed a sense of common cause and weathered the turmoil of imperial conflict between the French and British during the Seven Years' War in western Pennsylvania. A regional identity was greatly enhanced when western Delawares by 1765 separated themselves politically from their eastern kin who remained on the Susquehanna.;This dissertation also considers the creation of a National Council or Lupwaaeenoawuk, the influence of Moravian missionaries, and the importance of visionary leaders, such as Tamaqua, White Eyes, and Captain Pipe---three important factors, imperative to the story of Delaware centralization and nationhood in the Ohio. The stability of a lasting political Delaware nation, however, was undermined by the stress of factionalism in the Great Council as the American Revolution divided Delaware leaders in 1780.;This study will also examine the processes, which led to the fractured state of the Delawares after Washington's Indian War in the Old Northwest Territory and the subsequent Treaty of Greenville that followed in 1795. The story of the Delawares from 1730-1795 demonstrates a dramatic and arduous struggle for autonomy, identity, and political union. In the end, however, the Delaware nation became weakened and broken, driven from the Ohio and forced to migrate west once again.