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What am I celebrating?

May 1, 2014

tamanend2This statue of Tamanend is in Philadelphia

May 1 is St. Tamanend’s Day.  Tamanend was leader of the Lenni Lenape nation (Delaware Indians) who lived from about 1625 to 1701.  He is celebrated for being a proponent of friendship and civility in relations between the native and European settlers in the Delaware Valley around the time Philadelphia was being settled.

Treaty_of_Penn_with_Indians_by_Benjamin_WestWilliam Penn signing a treaty with the Algonquins

The Lenni Lenape belonged to the greater Algonquin people — tribes who spoke similar languages and who loosely identified with one another. Among the Algonquin, the Lenni Lenape were known as the grandfathers as they were traditionally regarded as the progenitors of all Algonquin tribes.

Tamanend’s people lived in eastern Pennsylvania when William Penn (1644-1718) first settled the colony. As a prominent member of the Society of Friends (i.e. the Quakers), which promoted pacifism and egalitarianism, Penn felt it was important to deal fairly with the indigenous people. Thus, Penn purportedly paid 1,200 pounds for the land on which his first settlement was founded. This is universally regarded as a fair price. Among the Lenape he was given the nickname Minquon which means “quill,” suggesting the pen with which treaties were signed.

Tamanend was one of the indigenous leaders present when, in 1682, Penn signed a treaty of eternal friendship under a great elm tree in the Lenape village of Shakamaxon. Tradition states that on this occasion Tamanend declared that the peace between the Quaker settlers and the Lenape people would endure as long as the streams and rivers flowed and as long as the stars burned in the sky. It is also said that Tamanend was present at a council in Philadelphia in 1694 when the Iroquois people wanted to attack the settlers. Tamanend insisted that despite the occasional obstacle standing in the way of their friendship his people should remain true to their word and keep the peace with the Christians.

tamanend1I don’t know.  I think this statue was Johnny Depp’s inspiration for his portrayal of Tonto in the 2013 Lone Ranger film.

Reblogged from Too Much Information.

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2 comments

  1. A VERY good read about the Lenape is: “Dickon Among the Lenape Indians: (Harrington, 1938)


    • Thanks – I will look that up!



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