October 8, 2011 Marshall Becker, PhD: "Mahamickwon and Cultural Change in Southern New Jersey: The Story of a Lenopi Family and Native Conservatism from 1660 to after 1810"

 Most readers are surprised to learn that the Lenopi, the native people of southern New Jersey, continued to speak their own language and maintained a traditional, if somewhat modified, foraging lifestyle well into the 1800s! Documents relating to Mahmickwon, ca. 1665 to after 1740, and his heirs, spanning the period from 1677 to after 1802, reveal the persistence of traditional culture among the Lenopi even as the lives of the increasing numbers of colonials around them were becoming radically altered. Lenopi traditions also were changing, but their basic subsistence economy remained remarkably intact. Even as early as 1697, Mahamickwon was recognized as an important member of the Rancocus band. This band resided part of the year in the area around Coerxing, a Lenopi summer station, or Indian Town, where he was active. From his first appearance in known records, as mahomecun in 1697, he was also identified as King Charles. This English name indicates one element of apparent early acculturation among the Lenopi, and the title reveals his high status. The information drawn from an array of deeds, journals, and other documents enables us to identify Mahamickwon as the native also known as Him-mick-son also Hymickhone and Hinneron and to reconstruct his life story and that of his family. The narrative of the life of Mahamickwon and that of his family reveals several important aspects of Lenopi cultural history.
       Marshall Joseph Becker received his B.A., M.A. and PhD from The University of Pennsylvania; all in anthropology. At present he is Professor Emeritus in Anthropology at West Chester University where he continues his research. His primary interest relates to culture contact and processes of culture change, with a focus on interactions among the Native peoples of the lower Delaware Valley and Bay and their contacts with early Dutch, Swedish and English traders and colonists. He has spent 40 years researching the Lenape or so-called Delaware, of southeastern Pennsylvania, and their native and colonial neighbors such as the Lenopi and Sekonese. His many publications in scholarly and popular journals document the success of  these peoples in maintaining their cultures much later than is generally recognized. A number of granting agencies have supported Dr. Becker’s work, including the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society.

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