Forging Peace

This region was radically transformed by the influx of European settlers in the 17th century. The indigenous Lenape inhabitants who had lived here for centuries and whose population originally included some 8000 people was halved due to European diseases for which they had no immunity. Between 1681 and 1684 alone, William Penn brought over 7000 English settlers to the region, all who were looking to buy land, build homesteads, and create villages and cities.

Early Relationships

Between 1681 and 1735, the initial relationship between the Lenape and the European settlers was peaceful. Guided by a treaty made between Metamequan and Tamanend, Sachem of the Lenape, and William Penn, the indigenous people agreed to share the land with the new settlers. This first deed encompassed 300 square miles and was sold for 5 pair of stockings, 20 bars of lead, 10 tobacco boxes, 6 costs, 2 guns, 8 shirts, 2 kettles, 12 awls, 5 Hatts, 25 lbs. powder, 1 peck pipes, 38 yds, duffills, 16 knives, 100 needles, 10 glasses, 5 capps, 15 combs, 5 hoes, 9 gimbletts, 29 fishhooks, 10 tobacco tongs, 10 pr. Scissors, 7 half gills, 6 axes, 2 blankets, 4 handfull Bells, 4 yds, Stroud Water and 20 handfuls wampum.

Selling the "Land"

However, the idea of ownership of property was different for the Lenape. An anecdote shared by Benjamin Williams Sr. who owned land in Nockamixon in the 18th century clarifies these communication issues, “soon after taking possession of the land in Nockamixon, he found young Indians roaming over it at will, gathered the apples from his trees and taking them away... Benjamin expostulated with Nutimus (A Lenape Sachem) and asked why they did it. Nutimus replied, it was true that the Indians had sold the land, but not the apples or the spring. Benjamin asked how much they wanted for the apples and the spring, and the Sachem replied 5 bushels of Indian Corn, five bushels of Buckwheat and five loaves of rye bread.  After that, the spring and apples were not disturbed.

Reference: Davis, William W. H., A. M. History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] Volume III

Map of the Lenape Territory Before 1600

Lenape Portrait Purported to be Nutimus

Drawing of the Nutimus Lenape

Signature of Tamanend

Tamany Signature