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The Lenni Lenape or the Delaware

The Lenni Lenape, or Delaware Indians are divided into two distinct tribes in Oklahoma. The Western Delaware are based in the town of Anadarko and are to be found under a separate heading within this report. The Eastern Delaware still utilize the Algonquin name for themselves which means "true men". The Lenni Lenape are to be found in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma.

The flag of the Lenni Lenape is white and bears the tribal seal in the center. That seal appears in red and black (seal provided by Annin & Co., Roseland NJ). Centered on the seal is a traditional Delaware mask. Mask making and usage is common amongst aboriginal peoples on all continents and was widely practiced amongst the Native American peoples of the United States. Many southwestern nations continue to carve masks and use them in various ceremonies and dances. The mask appearing on the flag of the Lenni Lenape is divided vertically into black and red halves.

This mask, however is a very specific mask. It represents Mesingw, the "Masked Spirit" of traditional Lenape legend (The Indians of the Delaware Valley, exhibit, Mercer Museum, Doylestown, PA). Mesingw is the guardian of the creatures of the forest. These creatures were of vital import to all eastern tribes, they were the main source of food, much as the buffalo served the nations of the Plains. Each of the creatures was embued with certain traits or attributes and the various clans of Woodland Indians associated themselves with a particular aninmal as a clan totem or symbol.

In front of the mask of Mesingw appears a peacepipe and fire starter. The peacepipe is a widely used symbol on many Indian tribal flags since it was the ultimate greeting and bonding mechanism of tribal life in most northern cultures.

Surrounding these central devices, one each at a prime direction of the compass are symbols relevant to the Lenni Lenape people. To the north is a Christian cross, representing the history of the Christian faith within the people. To the east is a turkey claw, symbol of the Unalactigo; one of the three main divisions of the Delaware nation. To the south is a turtle for the Unami division and to the west lies a wolf paw print for the Wolf clan.

Separating these emblems from the verbiage are a series of bars or sticks bearing various designs. These sticks represent the prayer sticks from the Big House Church

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603