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Lenapeowsi Foundation

Matchen Stick

1. "It was in 1686 that Jonathan [Stout] came to Hunterdon County,
[NJ]... When he was ready to return late that Fall, a heavy snow had
fallen in ...the night. So the Indians gave him a matchen stick (a stick
displaying a symbol that would identify him as a friend) to present to
the different natives he might meet along the way to Middletown. He was
treated with great kindness when he presented this to the Indians at
Princeton and Cranbury." [from Lewis, Alice B., HOPEWELL VALLEY
HERITAGE, Hopewell, NJ, 1973, page 24]

I don't think there's another mention of the "matchen stick" in other
sources. However, Nora Thompson Dean ("Touching Leaves Woman")
remembered an item her people called an "invitation stick," which was
delivered to other Lenapes, or other tribes, when they were invited to
visit the Delaware country. This item appears to be what this "matchen
stick" was. Mrs. Dean had her husband make one for the Governor of
Oklahoma. It was made from a small elm limb, about five or six inches
long. The limb (about one inch in diameter) was split in two, and only
one half of it used, so that the stick was flat on the front side and
rounded on the back. A "head" and "neck" were carved on one end and the
"body" tapered down to a point from the "shoulders" to the other end
(like a dagger). The flat "face" of the "head" was painted with the
left side, black, and the right side, red. (Sound familiar?!) Finally,
a string of 24 wampum beads were hung around the "neck." [thanks to Jim
Rementer for this information]

IMHO, the matchen stick or invitation stick embodied a protective
spirit, who would see the holder to his or her destination, safely.

Arm Lock

2. "In Col. Mss. v, 75, p.10, is preserved a paper in which it is stated
that the Indians residing at Goshen, Orange County, [NY], having
'Removed to their hunting houses at Cashigton,' were there visited, in
December, 1744, by a delegation of residents of Goshen, consisting of
Col. Thomas DeKay, William Coleman, Benj. Thompson, Major Swarthout,
Adam Wisner interpreter, and two Indians as pilots, for the purpose of
ascertaining the cause of the removal... that the delegation found
...that they had removed from Goshen through fear of the hostile
intention on the part of the settlers there, who 'Were always carrying
guns.' Later, a delegation from the Indian town visited Goshen and was
there 'Linked together' with Col. DeKay, as the representative of the
Governor of the province, in their peculiar form of locking arms, for
three hours, as a test of enduring friendship." [from "Indian
Geographical Names," by E.M. Ruttenber, page 233, in PROCEEDINGS OF THE

This was the only treaty ever recorded for Orange County, NY. The
symbolism of "locking arms" is unmistakeable, though we are left to
imagine what this actually looked like. Here is an old custom I've not
seen recorded elsewhere.

Lip Pointing

3. "According to my observation and judgment of Indian tribes, the
Minsies [i.e., 'Munsees'] have a peculiarity which signalises them from
other nations or tribes; and I have seldom failed in pointing them out
among a crowd, where they, Delawares [i.e., 'Unamis'] and Mohicans were
together. The principal distinguishing marks with me, are ..lips
seldom closed, or rather having their mouths generally somewhat open,
which, as I am inclined to believe, may be owing in some measure to an
awkward custom of this people, who, instead of pointing to a thing or
object with their hands or fingers, as other Indians do, generally draw
out their mouths or lips in the desired direction." [from an undated
manuscript in the handwriting of John Heckewelder. Quoted in
page 32, footnote]

Now, Heckewelder saw a lot of Indians, in his day. This practice of
"lip pointing" is fairly widespread among Indians, today. It may have
begun with the Munsees; or, maybe they picked up the habit from more
westerly tribes. It's clear that the Unamis and Mohicans didn't
practice this method of pointing, in Heckewelder's time.

Arm Strokes

4.In 1654, a treaty took place between the Swedes and Lenapes, on
Tennakonck (Burlington Island) in the Lennapewihittuk (Delaware River).
During the proceedings Naaman, a Lenape Chief, rebuked the other

"...that they at times had spoken ill of us and injured us. We were
good people. 'See there,' said he, 'what they bring us and how they
offer us friendship,' and then [he] stroked himself down his arm a few
times as a sign of particular good friendship." [Lindestrom, Peter,
GEOGRAPHIA AMERICAE, tr. by Amandus Johnson, pages 128-29.]

Left-handed Handshake

5. Most are familiar with this method of greeting, from an illustration
done in 1980 by Wm. Sauts Netamuxwe Bock, which appeared on page 52 of
the tercentenary edition of WILLIAM PENN'S OWN ACCOUNT OF THE LENNI
LENAPE OR DELAWARE INDIANS, ed. by Albert Cook Myers. The illustration
is titled, "The Heart-Hand of Greeting," and dipicts, in a historical
reconstruction, such a handshake taking place between the Lenape Chief
Idquoqueywon and William Penn, at Perkasie, in present Pennsylvania.

While we don't know, for sure, just how old this practice is among the
Lenape, there are, at least, two historical references to it. They are
brief, and to the point. The first is from about 1764:

"...they also taught, in shaking hands, to give the left hand in token of
friendship, as it denoted that they gave the heart along with the hand..."

[Source: "A Narrative of the Captivity of John M'Cullough, Esq.," in Archibald
Loudon, A Selection of Some of the Most Interesting Narratives of Outrages
Committed by the Indians in the Their Wars with the White People, vol. 1.
(1888 reprint of 1808 edition), p.275]

In the manuscript called "Answers to General
Cass's Questions," which was recorded in 1821, among Delawares living in
Indiana or Ohio, occurs the following short Q & A, under the heading,
'General Manners and Customs:'

"What is their mode of salutation when they meet?
"2. By shaking each other by the left hand as a token of friendship
considering the left hand to be the nighest to the heart."

"Is shaking hands an Indian custom, and if not, what analogous custom
had they?
"4. It is and they say an ancient custom."

Wallingford, PA, 1978, page 117]

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Lenapeowsi Foundation

Lenape word for today.
hàki (haw-kee)
ground, dirt, earth, land