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Native Languages of the Americas:
Nanticoke (Southern Delaware)

Language: Nanticoke was an Algonkian language closely related to Lenape and Munsee. Some linguists class it as a dialect of Lenape. Unfortunately the point is moot, as the last of the Nanticoke speakers died in the mid-1800's.



People: The Nanticoke Indians are a southern offshoot of the Lenni Lenape, considering that tribe their elder kin. Today most people of Nanticoke descent have either merged into Lenape groups or passed into American society, but about 1000 people identifying as Nanticokes still remain today, primarily in Delaware.

History: The Nanticoke tribe originally occupied the area between the Delaware and Chesapeake bays, in what is today Maryland and Delaware. After the British conquest of the east coast, the tribe was granted a reservation near the Nanticoke River, but the British soon disbanded it and forced the Nanticokes off the land. Some Nanticoke people fled north to Pennsylvania or joined the Delawares on their westward migrations to Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Ontario, Canada. Other Nanticokes remained behind in their traditional territories. Dispossessed and isolated, the Nanticoke tribe became known for sheltering escaped slaves during the early days of American history--one 18th-century recording of "Nanticoke" vocabulary turned out to be Mandinka, a West African language! After emancipation many Nanticokes passed as black, or sometimes as white if they were mixed-race, but despite losing their language and much of their culture, other Nanticoke people have maintained their heritage to the present day.



Nanticoke Language Resources
Wordlists, articles, and indexed links on the Nanticoke language.

Nanticoke Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Nanticoke tribe past and present.

Nanticoke Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Nanticoke Indians.



Nanticoke Language Resources

Our Online Nanticoke Language Materials

Nanticoke Vocabulary:
    List of Nanticoke words with comparison to words in other Algonquian languages.
Nanticoke Animal Words:
    Illustrated glossary of animal words in the Nanticoke language.
Nanticoke Body Parts:
    Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in the Nanticoke language.
Nanticoke Colors:
    Worksheet showing color words in the Nanticoke language.

Nanticoke Dictionary, Audio Tape and Language Resources

Vocabulary of the Nanticoke Dialect * Heckewelder's Nanticoke Vocabulary * Minor Vocabularies of Nanticoke-Conoy:
    Nanticoke dictionaries for sale.
American Indian Language Dictionaries:
    Nanticoke and other American Indian language books.

Nanticoke Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Nanticoke Dictionary:
    Erratically spelled English-Nanticoke glossary (A through D only) from an early 19th century missionary.
Nanticoke Vocabulary:
    Goldeneagle's Nanticoke wordlist (actually this appears to be Lenape to us, but it may still be of interest.)
Nanticoke: * Piscataway-Conoy:
    Ethnologue classifications of Nanticoke-Conoy.
Nanticoke-Conoy Language Tree:
    Theories about Nanticoke's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Nanticoke Language Structures:
    Nanticoke linguistic profile and academic bibliography.

Additional Resources, Links, and References

   La Lengua Nanticoke:
   Article on the Nanticoke language in Spanish. With a language map.
  Nanticoke Tribe:
  Nanticoke Indian books.



Learn more about the Nanticoke Indian tribe
Go back to the list of American Indian tribes
Go back to our Indian Tribes Facts for Kids



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