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Munsee Indians: A History

Overview

The Indian sale of Manhattan is one of the world’s most cherished legends. Few people know that the Indians who made the fabled sale were Munsees whose ancestral homeland lay between the lower Hudson and upper Delaware river valleys. The story of the Munsee people has long lain unnoticed in broader histories of the Delaware Nation.

Now, The Munsee Indians deftly interweaves a mass of archaeological, anthropologi-cal, and archival source material to resurrect the lost history of ...

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Overview

The Indian sale of Manhattan is one of the world’s most cherished legends. Few people know that the Indians who made the fabled sale were Munsees whose ancestral homeland lay between the lower Hudson and upper Delaware river valleys. The story of the Munsee people has long lain unnoticed in broader histories of the Delaware Nation.

Now, The Munsee Indians deftly interweaves a mass of archaeological, anthropologi-cal, and archival source material to resurrect the lost history of this forgotten people, from their earliest contacts with Europeans to their final expulsion just before the American Revolution. Anthropologist Robert S. Grumet rescues from obscurity Mattano, Tackapousha, Mamanuchqua, and other Munsee sachems whose influence on Dutch and British settlers helped shape the course of early American history in the mid-Atlantic heartland. He looks past the legendary sale of Manhattan to show for the first time how Munsee leaders forestalled land-hungry colonists by selling small tracts whose vaguely worded and bounded titles kept courts busy—and settlers out—for more than 150 years.

Ravaged by disease, war, and alcohol, the Munsees finally emigrated to reservations in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Ontario, where most of their descendants still live today. Coinciding with the four hundredth anniversary of Hudson’s voyage to the river that bears his name, this book shows how Indians and settlers struggled, in land deals and other transactions, to reconcile cultural ideals with political realities. The result is the most authoritative treatment of the Munsee experience—one that restores this people to their place in history.

This book is published with the generous assistance of Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Although it is well known that the Dutch West India Company purchased Manhattan for a pittance in 1626, few realize that it was the Munsee Indians who made the sale. The Munsee have traditionally been ignored by scholars owing to the lack of research materials, probably because the Munsee were a refugee population by the 1760s, with members scattered to join many different Native American polyglot communities. Grumet (senior research associate, McNeil Ctr. for Early American Studies, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Historic Contact: Indian People and Colonists in Today's Northeastern United States in the Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries) supplements the available archival resources with anthropological and archaeological data to reconstruct the history and culture of a people who were extremely influential in the development of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, which eventually became New York. VERDICT This is an illuminating and well-written history that should be read alongside Amy C. Schutt's Peoples of the River Valleys: The Odyssey of the Delaware Indians.—John Burch, Campbellsville Univ. Lib., KY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806140629
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 11/25/2009
  • Series: Civilization of the American Indian Series
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 834,472
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert S. Grumet, anthropologist and retired National Park Service archeologist, is a Senior Research Associate with the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His numerous publications include The Lenapes and Historic Contact: Indian People and Colonists in Today's Northeastern United States in the Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries.

Daniel K. Richter, Professor of History and Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, is author of Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America.

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