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Indian Affairs Committee

Detailed Information About Contemporary Native Peoples of Pennsylvania

Compiled by the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Indian Affairs Committee (2017)

Number of American Indians and Alaska Natives in Pennsylvania Today

Those identifying solely as American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN)1 26,843 (.2% of PA's population)
Those identifying as AI/AN and another race (mixed heritage)2 54,249 (.4% of PA's population)
Total 81,092

Number of American Indian/Alaska Native Residents in United States3

According to the 2010 Census, the number of individuals identifying as solely American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) is 2,932,248, which is 0.9% of U.S. population. The number of individuals identifying themselves as having mixed heritage, i.e., identifying as AI/AN and another race, is 2,288,311, which is .07% of U.S. population. The combined total of American Indian and Alaska Native individuals is 5,220,579. For other important facts, go to The link to obtain action alerts to help everyone in Indian Country is

Location of Individual American Indians and Alaska Natives in Pennsylvania Today4

A large number of the Native Americans living in Pennsylvania today immigrated during the federal government's 1950s initiative to move Native people to cities. Subsequently, the 2010 census shows the largest numbers are living in: Alleghany county (1,702), Berks County (1,285), Bucks County (1,232), Lancaster County (1,195), Lehigh County (1,279), Montgomery County (1,174), and the city of Philadelphia (6,996). The University of Pennsylvania and Penn State have student organizations.

Number of Federally Recognized Tribes in Pennsylvania

There are no federally or state recognized tribes in Pennsylvania. Nationwide there are 567 federally recognized tribes as of 2016. For background on Indigenous peoples who previously lived in Pennsylvania, see the appendix.

Members of Tribes Living in Pennsylvania Today6

Different branches of the Lenape and Delaware Nations are located in Bradford, Indiana, Monroe and Philadelphia counties. In a 2009 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, some of the non-historic tribes represented in Pennsylvania are Cherokee (1,679), Sioux (657), Navajo (319), and Chippewa (109).

Indian History in Pennsylvania - Carlisle Indian Industrial School7

Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania was the first federally funded off-reservation Indian boarding school. It operated from 1879 through 1918 and was founded on the principle that Native Americans were a vanishing race and therefore Native American children must be taught Euro-American culture to survive and advance in society. Carlisle became the model for 26 Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding schools in 15 states and territories, and hundreds of private boarding schools sponsored by religious denominations including the Religious Society of Friends. Its founder, Captain Richard Pratt, who believed in total assimilation, is famous for his pronouncement that: "A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him and save the man." Boarding schools were extremely traumatic for many Native youth; many, including many sent to Carlisle, did not survive. Later, many of the Carlisle children were exhumed and reburied to make room for new construction on the grounds. The U.S. Army has agreed to pay the costs of returning the remains of children to their tribes upon request. The Carlisle School is now a National Historic Landmark.

Pennsylvania Legislation Today8

Pennsylvania Senate Resolution 476, a bipartisan resolution recognizing the month of November 2016 as “Native American Heritage Month” in Pennsylvania, was passed on October 24, 2016. However, bi-partisan House Resolution 985 designated the month of October as Native American Month by a vote of 187-0.

Pennsylvania House Resolution 776 honored Jacobus Franciscus Thorpe by designating May 21, 2016 as “Jim Thorpe Day” in Pennsylvania was passed on May 18, 2016 by a vote of 190-0. “Jim” Thorpe was a Sac and Fox American Indian who attended Carlisle Indian Industrial School and attained distinction as a 1912 Olympic athlete and as a professional baseball, football, and basketball player.

Pennsylvania House Resolution 552 honoring and recognizing Pennsylvania’s Native American peoples and communities and recognizing the first Saturday in October of every year as “Indigenous Peoples Day” in Pennsylvania was passed on October 21, 2015 by a vote of 198-0.

Pennsylvania House Resolution 731 commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Indian Citizen Act was passed on June 2, 2014 by a vote of 195-0.

Source for National Legislation Regarding Native Americans

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 838 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Indian Culture and Education Contacts

Indians are organized in Pennsylvania, despite the lack of state or federal recognition. Here is contact information.

Southeastern Cherokee Confederacy of Pennsylvania
Chief Buffy Red Feather Brown
PO Box 27405
Philadelphia, PA 19118

The Eastern Delaware Nation, Inc.
Susan Taffe Reed, President
Corrine Remington, Secretary

The Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania
Chief Robert Red Hawk Ruth
PO Box 43
Saylorsburg, PA 18331

Thunder Mountain Lenape Nation
236 Skyline Drive
Saltsburg, PA 15681

Organizations Sponsoring Pow-wows

Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center, Inc.
120 Charles Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
412-767-4808 (fax)

Museum of Indian Culture
2825 Fish Hatchery Road
Allentown, PA 18103
quite small, holds festivals

Lobbying Organizations

National Congress of American Indians
1516 P Street NW
Washington, DC 20005

Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker)
245 Second Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
202-547-6000 or 800-630-1330

Primary Sources for This Fact Sheet

Invisible Indians: Native Americans in Pennsylvania by David Minderhout and Andrea T. Franz (Cambria Press, 2008). A wonderful if limited book that calls for a follow-up study.

Indians in Pennsylvania by Paul Wallace (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2000)

Online Communicator: Indians of Pennsylvania and Delaware Valley. This website was started by non-Native Rich Wilson who has made documentaries about tribes. It provides basic facts, leads toward a wealth of information, and gives guidance about links.


1. The Census uses AI/AN to designate this population and gives the following definition: “ 'American Indian or Alaska Native' refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment. This category includes people who indicated their race(s) as “American Indian or Alaska Native” or reported their enrolled or principal tribe, such as Navajo, Blackfeet, Inupiat, Yup’ik, or Central American Indian groups or South American Indian groups.” Understanding Race and Hispanic Origin from the 2010 Census, report by Karen Humes, Nicholas Jones, and Roberto Ramirez. For assistance, contact the Pennsylvania State Data Center. The numbers for those who solely identify as Americans or Alaskans rose 46.3% from 2000 to 2010.

2. The Census Bureau started allowing people to identify with more than one race or ethnicity in 2000. Norman DeWeaver of the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center has found, “At the national level, the AI/AN alone population counted in the 2010 Census increased by 18.4% over the AI/AN alone count in 2000. However, the multi-racial component of the AI/AN population (persons identifying with one or more other races in addition to AI/AN) increased by 39.2% over the similar count in 2000.” In Pennsylvania, the numbers for both groups grew in the past decade. See numbers below from the 2000 Census.

Individuals identifying solely as American Indian or Alaska Native 18,348 (0.1% of population)

Individuals identifying as multiple race (mixed heritage) 34,302

Total of two groups 52,650 (0.4%)

Native people who live in areas away from traditional Indian lands and reservations are more likely to be multi-racial (mixed heritage).

3. "Understanding Race and Hispanic Origin” report based on 2010 Census by Karen Humes, Nicholas Jones, and Roberto Ramirez, p.4.

4. location

5. For information on federal recognition, see For a list of federally recognized tribes see For a list of state recognized tribes, see For detailed information on tribes, see

Native peoples in the eastern U.S. often lack documentation of their affiliation compared to those in the west. The Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania has gained high visibility in creating museum exhibits and Lenape language classes (embraced by the University of PA and Swarthmore), yet some well-established communities in New Jersey and Delaware do not necessarily accept the Lenape in PA who claim this heritage as legitimate.

6. Due to the regional overlap of the Lenape people, it is worth noting that New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs includes two members from each of the following: Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians; Powhatan Renape Indians; Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation; and Inter-Tribal People. Inter-Tribal People refers to American Indians who reside in New Jersey but are members of federally and/or State-recognized tribes in other states.




William Penn’s Own Account of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Indians (1683; 1970 edition edited by Albert Cook Myers)

The Lenapes by Robert S. Grumet (Chelsea House Publishers, Indians of North America series, 1989)

A History of the Indian Villages and Place Names in Pennsylvania by Gerald Donehoo (1997)

 “We the People: American Indian and Alaska Natives in the United States,” report released February 2006 by Stella Ogunwole based on the 2000 census

We Are Still Here! The Tribal Saga of New Jersey’s Nanticoke and Lenape Indians by John Norwood

History and Other Educational Resources Online (individuals to contact, may be dated)




Appendix - History of Tribes in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania (PA) has no federally or state recognized tribe, no reservation within its borders, and no state Indian commission. Over the centuries, most Indigenous peoples were either obliterated or driven out of Pennsylvania to Canada or other parts of the United States.

Two tribes, the Erieschronon, in northwest PA, and the Monongahela, in southwest PA, died out before major European contact. The Susquehannocks were a warrior society. After small pox decimated their numbers and they lost their native allies, vigilante groups such as the “Paxton Boys” massacred many in 1763. “Paxton Boys” bragged they killed all Susquehannocks, but Native Americans interviewed today say, “They hid. They hid with people they knew would protect them and no, they don’t exist as a cohesive tribe.” (Invisible Indians, p. 55) The Haudenosaunee (or the Iroquois- five tribes Mohawks, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca) lived in the area of what we now call southern New York /northern PA. In the 18th century, these tribes withdrew northward. Today, many Haudenosaunee, including the Tuscarora who joined the Confederation later, live on reservations in NY and Ontario, Canada.

The Lenni Lenape lived along the Delaware River basin. They were horticulturalists, generally peaceful, and kinship and community oriented. When William Penn arrived from England, about 8,000 Lenapes lived in the area. He established a relationship, paid for their land, learned their language, and in 1683 wrote a very positive account about them. However, in 1739 his sons enforced a dubious contract (“Walking Purchase” 1737) with the Lenape that entitled them to all the land within a day and half walk of their current property. In short, the Penn sons cheated the Lenape out of a huge land mass. Eventually tribes relinquished all land rights in Pennsylvania.

Of Pennsylvania’s historic tribes, it is primarily Lenape people who remain in the state. By now, many are of mixed ethnicity. While most Lenape people moved involuntarily or voluntarily, they often left family members behind “to keep a connection to the land, which is sacred to a native” (Invisible Indians, p. 31). Two federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma have Lenape roots: the Delaware Tribe of Indians in Bartlesville and the Delaware Nation in Anadarko. Three state recognized tribes in New Jersey have Lenape roots: the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians, the Powhatan-Nenape Nation, and the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation (Ramapo Mountain Indians). There is division within the Lenape groups about which ones are legitimate. Native people do not always agree.

This profile/fact sheet was prepared by volunteers for the Indian Affairs Committee of Baltimore Yearly Meeting (established by Quakers in 1795) based on the most reliable information that could be obtained in 2016. Total accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

Indian Affairs Committee, Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 17100 Quaker Lane Sandy Spring, MD 20860, Website:

For Friends in Pennsylvania area, see

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