Decision Activity: Chief Tishcohan, Warren County, 1737

Decision Activity: Chief Tishcohan (He Who Never Blackens Himself)

Delaware River Valley, Warren County, 1737

During the eighteenth century, the relationship between the Lenni-Lenape and the colonists would continue to deteriorate. Land ownership became a major issue throughout New Jersey, as well as the rest of the colonies, as the English took over control and established their dominance throughout the continent.

Several Lenape chiefs attempted to secure land deals with the New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware colonies. These efforts culminated in the Walking Purchase of 1737. Chief Tishcohan (or He Who Never Blackens Himself) was one of the signers of the Walking Purchase of 1737. The Walking Purchase was a treaty with the Penn family that later caused the Lenape to lose most of their land in the Delaware Valley.

Chief Tishcohan

The original event occurred September 19-20, 1737 when Thomas Penn, refer to a Treaty that was allegedly made between his father, William Penn and the Delaware Indians, hired three runners to “walk” for a day and a half westward from Springfield, Bucks County.  The walkers actually ran during the entire event and he Penn family claimed over 1,200 square miles of Indian lands. 

It’s certain that the infamous Walking Purchase defrauded the Lenni-Lenape of a considerable amount of land in eastern Pennsylvania. The Walking Purchase led to years of recriminations and bad feelings. This was one of the factors that led to many Lenni-Lenape leaving New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania prior to the American Revolution.

Answer each question below.

  • Hypothesize why Chief Tishcohan and the other Lenni-Lenape leaders have signed the Walking Purchase of 1737?
  • How did this agreement affect the Lenni-Lenape over time?

This was one of the dozens of land deals that were either fraudulent or not honored by the colonies and later by the United States government. Answer each question below.

  • How would history be different if the U.S. government honored these land agreements?
  • Would the United States look differently today?
  • Were repartitions an appropriate solution for compensating the Indigenous people, specifically the Lenape and Delaware nation) living within the borders of the United States for the land that was taken from them? Indian Claims Commission  Delaware Indian Land Claims  U.S. Decision on July 17, 1899

Below is an excerpt from the transcript of a deed associated with the Walking Purchase of 1737.  Read and analyze the excerpt and answer the following guided questions:

  • Write one sentence summarizing this passage.
  • What was happening at the time in history when this passage was written?
  • What did you find out from this excerpt that you might not learn anywhere else?

“We, Teesshakomen, alias Tisheekunk, and Tootamis alias Nutimus, two of the Sachem’s or Chiefs of the Delaware Indians, having, almost three Years ago, at Durham, begun a treaty with our honourable Brethren John and Thomas Penn, and from thence another Meeting was appointed to be at Pensbury, the next Spring Following, to which We repaired with Lappawinzoe and Several others of the Delaware Indians, At which Treaty Several Deeds were produced and Shewed to us by our said Brethren, concerning Several Tracts of Land which our Forefathers had, more than fifty Years ago, Bargained and Sold unto our good Friend and Brother William Penn, the Father of the said John and Thomas Penn.”

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