Native Languages of the Americas: Munsee Delaware (Minsi, Muncey, Minisink)
Language: Munsee is an Algonkian language closely related to
American Delaware, or Lenape, but is considered by most linguists a
distinct language. Only a handful of elders in Ontario still speak the Munsee language. Munsee is is a polysynthetic language with
complex verb morphology and fairly free word order.
People: The Munsee are a northern offshoot of the Lenni Lenape, considering
that tribe their elder kin. Today there are 2000 Munsee Delawares in Ontario, and another 1500 people on the
Stockbridge-Munsee reservation in Wisconsin.
History: The Munsee originally lived in what is today southern New York, northeastern New Jersey, and southeastern Connecticut.
Decimated by European diseases and under increasing pressure from Dutch and English colonists, most of the Munsee merged with neighboring tribes:
the Stockbridge Mahicans,
and Cayugas. The safety provided by numbers was only temporary, unfortunately, and
the Munsees were soon deported to Wisconsin with the Mahicans, Ontario with the Cayugas, and Ohio, Indiana, and eventually Oklahoma with the Lenapes.