The Delaware Indians: A History

The Delaware Indians: A History

The Delaware Indians: A History

The Delaware Indians: A History

Excerpt

One of the important uses of a preface is to enable the author to explain what he has tried to achieve in his book. This clarification is often necessary because readers frequently look in vain for something the author did not intend to include; and then they unjustly censure him for supposed sins of omission.

When I made up my mind to write a book about the Delaware Indians, my daughter, a voracious reader, suggested that I focus on an imaginary Indian family and, through the lives of several generations, tell the story of the family's trials and tribulations against the changing historic backdrop of the American scene. Although this would have been a worthy undertaking, it would have required the talents of one proficient in writing fiction, and I quickly disqualified myself. Conversely, one of my faculty associates suggested that I produce a work of two or three volumes, encyclopedic in concept, that would be a magnum opus on the Delaware Indians. Such a ponderous work, if I were ever capable of completing it, would be limited in its readership to a few scholars, and it would not fill the need that now exists for a comprehensive account in a single volume. What I have tried to do is to write a book that can be enjoyed by the general reader, including intelligent young adults. Yet I am also hopeful that the historian and anthropologist will find it a worthwhile contribution to the literature.

Obviously it has been necessary for me to synthesize some material already in print and familiar to scholars; for example, I felt it desirable to discuss the story of the Walam Olum, because no history of the Delawares would be complete without it. The chapters dealing with William Penn and the Indians, Pennsylvania's Indian policy, the infamous Walking Purchase, and the part played by the Delawares during the French and Indian War represent condensations of material covered in greater detail in papers and monographs. But . . .

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