Archaeologists estimate that the first inhabitants of Sussex County arrived between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago. The people were later called American Indians by European Colonial powers who mistakenly thought that the New World they reached was India. Native Americans in Delaware called themselves by various tribal names of the Algonquin Nation. Most notable were the Leni Lenape and Nanticoke tribes. They settled along the tributaries of numerous bays, streams, branches, and rivers. In the fall and winter they harvested fish, oysters, and other shellfish. In the warmer months they planted crops, and hunted for small deer and mammals.
Many members of the Nanticoke Tribe reside along the banks of the Indian River. Every year the Nanticoke hold an annual Pow Wow in Oak Orchard that celebrates their traditional culture. In addition, the Nanticoke Museum is open year round to teach visitors and tourists about their way of life.
Picture Courtesy of State Archives, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Dover, Delaware