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Delaware Indians

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A Short History of New Jersey

Delaware Indians

The first people to live on the land now known as New Jersey were the Delaware Indians. They lived here starting at least 10,000 years ago. Anywhere from 8,000 to 20,000 Delaware Indians lived in the area when the first Europeans arrived. Their name means "original people" or "genuine people." They spoke an Algonquian dialect.

Though they were considered one tribe, the Delaware Indians didn't act as one unified group. Instead, they lived in small communities made up mostly of extended family members. The men would hunt or fish during the day. Depending on the season they might search for clams off the Jersey shore or hunt in the woods. The women worked in the gardens. They grew squash, beans, sweet potatoes, and corn.

When the first explorers came, the Delaware Indians lived in parts of Delaware, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania. Europeans called them the Delaware Indians. (For more information on the Delaware Indians, visit their official web site.)

Next: Colonial Times

 
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