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Stories of New Jersey
The Story Of The Discovery Of Scheyichbi
The Aborigines of New Jersey. (Period, prior to 1600)

By Frank R. Stockton

Originally published in 1896
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

It is a law of nations, founded then upon the same principles of justice as it stands upon now, that discovery by a nation, or the agent of a nation, of unknown lands entirely uninhabited, gives the discoverers the right to those lands; and, in accordance with that law, the Lenape became the discoverers and original owners of New Jersey.

We will not now allude to the rights they then acquired to the country which is now Pennsylvania and other States, because we are confining ourselves to what relates to the country of Scheyichbi, the land where their eastward migrations ceased. Now, they could go no farther towards the rising sun, and they were satisfied to stop.

These Lenape, or "Grandfather Tribe" as they were often called, were not merely cruel and ignorant savages: they had many admirable traits of character, and some of their manners and customs might well have been imitated by those who found them here.

They had an admirable system of government; and at regularly appointed periods their wisest men met at the great "Council House" to make laws, and arrange the affairs of the nation. Their conduct in their councils was far more decorous and becoming than that we often hear of among legislators of the present day, whether they are met together in Congress, Parliament, or Reichstag. These chiefs, chosen for their wisdom and experience, treated each other with the highest regard and respect. When one of them arose to address his fellow-legislators, every man in the council room paid the strictest attention to what he said; and interruptions, jeers, and ridicule, such as legislators often make use of at the present day, were totally unknown among these grave and earnest Indians.

There can be no doubt that the Lenape were superior to other Indian nations, and worthy of the proud title which they gave themselves ; and in later years, when the river was named after Lord De la Warre, and they were called the Delawares, they were considered the noblest of the Indian tribes.


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