DOVER, Delaware (AP) – Two Native American tribes in Delaware are buying back land that was part of their ancestral lands.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that the Nanticoke Indian tribe acquired 30 acres in Millsboro this fall. The Lenape Indian tribe is expected to strike a deal in early 2022 for 11 acres near the Fork Branch Nature Reserve in Dover.
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Behind land deals are partnerships between individual tribes and several other entities. They include the nonprofit Environmental Conservation Fund, the State of Delaware, and a private conservation group located near Wilmington called the Mt. Cuba Center.
Blaine Phillips, senior vice president of the Conservation Fund, said the land deals were “to restore culture. It was about honoring their ancestral rights.”
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The chiefs of the two tribes said that they tried for years to buy the plots of land. But they said they couldn’t close the deal or they were running out of money.
“We Indians had free rein in the state of Delaware before contact with the Europeans,” said Dennis “White Otter” Coker, the main chief of the Lenape Indian tribe of Delaware. “All this land was ours.”
This article originally appeared in the Delaware News Journal: The Nanticoke and Lenape tribes buy back plots of their ancestral homeland