The People of Native New York,

The area between the Atlantic coast and the Hudson River was home to many different groups of Native people with a long history of exchanging goods, foods, and materials as well as techniques for hunting and food preparation. While many Native groups participated in the fur trade, this lesson focuses on the Lenape and Mahican.

The People of Native New York, c. 1615 Map

Examine the map to learn about the Lenape, the Mahican, and the Dutch who traded with them.

Fort Nassau

The Dutch built a trading house called Fort Nassau in 1614 to exchange goods with Native people. Trading houses stored European goods that Native people wanted.


T'Fort Nieuw Amsterdam op de Manhatans
Used as trade routes, the Hudson River and other waterways were the highways of the day, and dugout canoes were the cars.
Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. "T'Fort Nieuw Amsterdam op de Manhatans" New York Public Library Digital Collections

The Mahican lived near what is known today as the Hudson River. Today, they are called the Mohican. In their language they call themselves the Muh-he-con-neok, “People of the Waters That Are Never Still.”


Lenape Village
Men used stone tools to fell trees and carve the trunks into canoes. Native people living nearby used the boats to travel to Manahatta. They came ashore to hunt, harvest, or trade with those who lived on the island.
Lenape Village, 1991. Illustration courtesy of John T. Kraft

The Lenape lived in Manhattan and the surrounding area before European contact. Today, Lenape refers to the descendants of the many communities that spoke the Munsee and Unami languages. The word Lenape means “the original people” in their language. The term Delaware now refers to some Lenape people.

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you notice about the Lenape and Mahican ancestral territories?
  2. Why do you think the Dutch built Fort Nassau where they did?
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