The original inhabitants of what is now Pennsylvania included the Lenape, or Delaware, tribe and the Susquehannock tribe. Other tribes, particularly the Nanticoke and the Shawnee, migrated into Pennsylvania and New Jersey after the Europeans arrived.
In the early 1600s, there were an estimated 5,000-7,000 Susquehannock but by 1700, their numbers had dwindled to 300, most likely brought on by the introduction of European diseases. According to historical accounts in 1763, a mob lynched the remaining 20 known Susquehannock. Descendents of the Susquahannock remain, although there is no known descendant community.
There are no federally recognized Indian tribes in Pennsylvania, although the most recent census reports an American Indian population of more than 12,000. The Lenape continue to have a modern presence and are working to preserve the heritage of the Algonquian-speaking tribes of eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.
*Despite being denied land in Pennsylvania, Indigenous Peoples of these lands are present across the U.S. and maintain sovereign nation status:
From the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia
American Indian or Native American?
American Indian, Indian, Native American, or Native are acceptable and often used interchangeably in the United States; however, Native Peoples often have individual preferences on how they would like to be addressed.
The Inuit, Yup'ik, and Aleut Peoples in the Arctic see themselves as culturally separate from Indians.
In Canada, people refer to themselves as First Nations, First Peoples, or Aboriginal.
In Mexico, Central America, and South America,the direct translation for Indian can have negative connotations. As a result, they prefer the Spanish word indígena (Indigenous), comunidad (community), and pueblo (people).
Tribes of Pennsylvania
Northeast tribes are organized by language family: Algonquian or Iroquoian. "The American Indian cultures of northeastern North America [are] also known as the Woodland Indians...." UXL Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes
Tribes in the Algonquian Family are:
Iroquois are also known as Haudenosauanee. Tribes in the Iroquoian Family are:
What are land acknowledgments?
Land acknowledgments are oral or written statements used to recognize Indigenous peoples as the original stewards of the lands on which a person may live, work, or go to school. Land acknowledgment is a traditional custom that dates back centuries for many Native nations and communities. For example, in Coast Salish communities along the Pacific Coast, another tribe or nation would ask permission to come ashore, thus acknowledging they were visitors to the lands. Acknowledging original Indigenous inhabitants today is often complex because of the centuries of displacement experienced by many Native peoples through (broken) treaties, government policy, and relocation efforts. Throughout their histories, Native groups have relocated and successfully adapted to new places and environments. Many Native peoples are active members of city communities today and many cities are built on top of Indigenous villages and towns.
(9 Min) Native Americans of the Lenape Tribe, early inhabitants of Pennsylvania. From WPSU.
"Transforming Teaching and Learning About Native Americans" From the National Museum of the American Indian
The Iroquios of the North East - An exhibit from the Carnegie Museum that examines different aspects of the Iroquios culture.
Delaware Indians - Ohio History Central site provides good background information; discusses the history of the Delawares in Ohio. Related entries include Algonquian Indians, Iroquois, and Shawnee. Some information is pertinent to Pennsylvania. Use search box or search from History > Groups.
First Americans - Choose the Tribes category. There are three hotlinks that pertain to the Iroquios: the squash, the clothing and the longhouse. Other icons are for other tribes. You will need to mouse over the icons to access the information.
Indians of Pennsylvania - Interesting information but may be difficult to use for research. Stories from Pa History.
Learn About Native Americans - Select "Woodland Indians" and follow the arrowhead.
Mohawk Iroquios Village - Information on agriculture, longhouses and the village.
Native American Geneology - Select tribe from list. You may need help to read this.
Native Languages of the Americas Fact Sheet for Kids- Search list for tribe.The fact sheet has questions and answers on specific tribes and nations. Scroll down past the top paragraphs and ads to locate Fact Sheet information.
Native Tech - Includes sketches of traditional clothing. When you are done with your research, play the interactive games. You have to be quick to play the shuttlecock game! Also: recipes and a virtual Woodland tour.
Pennsylvania Indians - textbook exerpt provides an overview of the history of several Pennsylvania tribes.
Pennsylvania Native Americans - Interactive History includes information on the Lenape and Susquehannock.
Click on a link below to find all books on that subject at Murray Library
People and Events
The following subject headings and genres can help identify works in Primo, the Library Catalog created by Native Americans.
These genre headings work best if combined with another subject heading, such as Indians of North America. For example, Indians of North American Interviews or Indians of North America Personal Narratives.
Database access provided by Murray Library. These particular resources include collections from throughout the Americas and are not limited to Pennsylvania.
What can you do?