1919 NANTICOKE INDIAN TRIBE COLONY
Living in semi-seclusion along the Indian River area of Sussex County Delaware, between Millsboro and Oak Orchard , a summer resort, is a colony of Nanticoke Indians, prosperous, wealthy and friendly, mainly unknown to the rest of the population of Delaware. This article is first hand information of this colony, nearly 2000 acres of fertile and productive farm land of Sussex county.
These Nanticoke Indians are a separate and distinct class hen compared to the Moors, once a Sussex County people, but now centered in Kent county, in the vicinity of Cheswold. Errors in history by Delaware historians had grouped these two people together which is not the fact. The Nanticok's are descendants of an Native American Indian Tribe and the Moors proved to be of black and white intermarriages of the early American colony . It is probable that early settlers of the Indian River area did marry together and there is a admixture of red and white blood who were persecuted within both the white and black population causing many to emigrate north as far as Canada and its reservations. Still more persecutions were seen, churches and schools burned, etc., rebuilt with the notion that these Nanticoke's would maintain treatment the same as whites.
Their church, Indian Mission , is under a white denomination, Methodist Protestant, and they register in civil authority as Indians. They have their own schools instituted in 1881, once known as Moorish Schools, now called Indian Schools, and no one except a Nanticoke Indian descendant can attend.
William Russell Clark, leader of the Sussex county Indian race, has said
“We Indians of this region do not ask or call for any help from the government or the state, what we do want is to be accorded our rights and not be 'battered' in ny way whatsoever. We claim to be of different blood from the Moors, and have no relations with the blacks. Yes, there are cases of 'going astray' which are few and are boycotted and disallowed, treated harshly.”
Tribe history tells that they inhabited the region of Dorchester county Maryland, Fork District , between Chicone Creek and Nanticoke River. The tribe is known to be honest and very handy with their hands, are wheelwrights, carpenters and masters of many trades.
The last migration of the Nanticoke Indian was in 1869, about the time of the Civil War, when a group of men, women and children of the Sussex tribeand went west. The story is that this group became assimilated with whites to such a degree that no trace has been found of them in the past fifteen years. The Canadian Nanticoke Tribe were recently found by Doc Speck of the University of Pennsylvania on a reservation nd were found to be keeping with their customs as are the Indian River Nanticokes. They are now known as the six Nations, their Chief is Joshiah Hill, a Nanticoke descendant , who is hopeful for a big reunion , intending to visit this region but the war prevented that from coming about.
The last ancestor who was conversant with the language was Lydia Clark, great great, grandmother of W. Russell Clark.
Not only in farming and a financial way are the Indians of Sussex progressive but during the world war they were also patriotic to a large extent. Out of a colony of 150 a total of a dozen men were called to the colors. All served as Indians as the government recognized them, and were treated accordingly.
Two of Chief Clark's sons were in the service, Ferdinand, an excellent and bright soldier, was in an Engineer Company of the Second Division. The second son, Charles served in the Navy with a good record. The father was proud that his sons served their county when called upon.
A story that has to deal with the Harmon family was told as partly true by Chief Clark. It seems Isaacs Harmon was one of the first to harvest the great bed of crabs and ship to the cities wholesale making a fortune and became looked up to for leadership. This part is true. As such he had a rather large family, most very attractive girls . Three of his sons were Levin, Noah and William. It is told that Isaac, would give a daughter to the proper white man who presented himself and a peck of gold coins. This part of the story is incorrect as the daughter choose to marry in the tribe although she had many white men proposals.
Source: STANLEY R. PIZECK, WILMINGTON MORNING NEWS,
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 6. 1919