Along the Indian River

I sent a message to Kenneth Clark after the Nanticoke Pow Wow and asked him this question:

The Nanticokes were in Maryland years ago, yes? Tell us how you got to be in Delaware now.

Here is his reply...

Patti and students,

Prior to John Smith's first contact with the Nanticokes as he sailed up the Chesapeake, our nation spanned, and controlled, the entire central delmarva Peninsula, from the Chesapeake Bay east and south to below Cape Henlopen, and down toward Assateague.

The Assateauge Indians paid tribute to the Nanticokes. We had about 9 villages, mostly on the shores of the Chesapeake, and one on the Indian River here in Delaware, and about 10,000 souls. The Maryland colonial-catholic government declared open season on the Nanticokes from about 1680-1740, and greatly decimated our numbers.

From increasing murders, land theft and other pressure, some members of the tribe moved over to the tribe's "summer residence" on the Indian River; which became under the control of William Penn after the mason-dixon settlement. The Tribe officially petitioned Penn and the Susquehannocks for permission to relocate into the Susquehanna valley due to the rude treatment at the hands of maryland colonists, which was granted. Many of the Tribe relocated to the Susquehanna, under the protection of the Iroquois.

During the Revolutionary War, the Nanticokes fought on the side of the British (they offered more money); and subsequently became persona non grata in the US afterwards. The tribe then split, some going into Canada, to the Six Nations Reservation, the others returning to the swamps along the Indian River, the only lands left to them. The Canada Naticokes were subsumed into the Canada Iroquois. We have remained, and held onto our identity, throughout this persecution and exodus.

Kenneth Clark
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