2 Tribes Are Buying Back Parcels Of Their Ancestral Homeland

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Two Native American tribes in Delaware are buying back land that had been part of their ancestral homelands.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that the Nanticoke Indian tribe acquired 30 acres in Millsboro this fall. The Lenape Indian tribe is expected to close a deal in early 2022 for 11 acres near Fork Branch Nature Preserve in Dover.

Behind the land deals are partnerships between the individual tribes and several other entities. They include the environmental nonprofit Conservation Fund, the state of Delaware and a private conservation group located near Wilmington that is called Mt. Cuba Center.

Blaine Phillips, a senior vice president for the Conservation Fund, said the land deals are "about restoring culture. It’s about honoring their ancestral rights.”

Leaders of both tribes said they tried for years to buy the parcels of the land. But they said that they either couldn’t make the deal come together or lacked the money.

“We, the Indians, had free run of the state of Delaware before contact with Europeans,” said Dennis “White Otter” Coker, the principal chief of the Lenape Indian tribe of Delaware. “All of this land was ours.”