Decision Activity: Should the Lenni Lenape Support the British, Patriots, or Remain neutral?

Decision Activity: Should the Lenni Lenape Support the British, Patriots, or Remain Neutral?

Delaware River Valley, Warren County, 1778

The Lenni-Lenape from New Jersey had already begun to leave by the start of the American Revolution. The Lenape were a divided people with only a small number remaining in the Garden State, while most moved north or west.   The Lenni-Lenape that remained in New Jersey during the American Revolution played a significant role.

During the American Revolution, many Lenni-Lenape attempted to stay neutral at the beginning of the war.  However, they were soon divided as some joined with the British, while others sided with the Patriots. In 1778, the United States signed the Treaty of Fort Pitt with the Lenape who sided with the Patriots. Unfortunately, promised supplies were not delivered, and villages of friendly natives were attacked.  In the end, the results were disastrous for the many Lenni-Lenape no matter what side they took.

The outbreak of the American Revolution had great consequences for the Lenni-Lenape. Answer each question below.  Your response should be at least ONE full paragraph.

  • Why did many Lenni-Lenape leave New Jersey at the beginning of the American Revolution. 
  • From the perspective of the Lenni-Lenape, do you think this was the best decision or how long should they have waited before making a decision to leave?
  • Was it possible for the Lenni-Lenape to remain neutral? Explain the advantages and disadvantages of neutrality, declaring allegiance to the British, and supporting the Patriots at the start of the American Revolution?

Many historians have concluded that the Native Americans played a shadowy but important role during the American Revolution. Answer each question below. 

  • To what extent was the role of the Native Americans important to either side during the American Revolution?
  • Identify ONE critical factor that may have been used in the decision-making process of the Lenape to sign the Treaty of Fort Pitt.

Read the excerpt from Article II of the Treaty of Fort Pitt (1778).  Read and analyze the excerpt and answer the following guided questions:

1. Write one sentence summarizing Article II.

2. Is the text of Article II consistent with the text of the Declaration of Independence? What was happening at the time in history this excerpt was written?

“He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.” (Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence)

3. Identify a Claim and Argument regarding the decision of the Lenape to sign to Treaty of Fort Pitt?

Article II from the Treaty of Fort Pitt, 1778

“That a perpetual peace and friendship shall from henceforth take place, and subsist between the contracting: parties aforesaid, through all succeeding generations: and if either of the parties are engaged in a just and necessary war with any other nation or nations, that then each shall assist the other in due proportion to their abilities, till their enemies are brought to reasonable terms of accommodation: and that if either of them shall discover any hostile designs forming against the other, they shall give the earliest notice thereof that timeous measures may be taken to prevent their ill effect.”  Treaty of Fort Pitt

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