The Influence of Christianity Upon Early Indians


Indians along the Delaware River called themselves “Lenape,” meaning in Algonquin “the people,” and were in three clans: Turtle, Wolf and Turkey.

William Penn, called “Miquon” meaning quill, made a peace treaty with Tamanend, chief of the Turtle clan, on JUNE 23, 1683, under an elm tree in what was to become Philadelphia.

The Peace Treaty with the peaceful Quakers lasted over 70 years.

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In 1697, Tamanend’s last message before he died was:

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“We and Christians of this river have always had a free roadway to one another, and though sometimes a tree has fallen cross the road, yet we have removed it again and kept the path clear.”

During the French & Indian War, the Turkey clan attacked English settlers.

In 1778, Turtle clan Chief Gelelemend signed the first Indian treaty ever with the U.S. Government and later was converted to Christianity by German Moravian missionaries.

The Wolf clan converted, being called Christian Munsee, but were mistakenly confused with hostile Indians and tragically many were killed by vigilantes.

The Lenape Indians fled to Canada, Kansas and finally to Oklahoma, where in 1861, the great-grandson of Chief Gelelemend was born, John Henry Killbuck.

John attended the Moravian Seminary and in 1884 was one of the first Christian missionaries to the Yupik Indians in Alaska.

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