The Delaware people have a long and ancient history and are the descendants of the Lenape people originally located in New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania. They were among the first Indians to come into contact with Europeans. In 1682, William Penn purchased Pennsylvania from the Delaware. Pushed westward by colonists to the Midwest, they signed 12 treaties between 1795 and 1830, surrendering their land in Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri. The Delaware moved again with one group settling on a reservation in Kansas and the other being removed to southwest Missouri.
In 1820 the Missouri group, known as Absentee Delaware, entered Spanish Texas and received a land grant from Spanish authorities. In 1839, land was set aside for them on the Brazos, but that was short-lived as well when Texas settlers demanded the Indians be removed to Indian Territory. In 1859, the Delawares settled near present-day Fort Cobb, Oklahoma, sharing a reserve with the Caddos and Wichitas, but after allotment, many of the lands passed out of their hands due to pressures from assimilation.
Much of the Delaware's history and culture have disappeared due to the successive removals endured by the tribe. Regardless, tribal members are proud of their heritage and are working to preserve as much of their culture as possible via a museum and archive at the Delaware headquarters. They also participate with the Caddo and Wichita in dances and play Indian football to open their spring ceremonial season.