The Esopus tribe is a tribe of Lenape (Delaware) Native Americans who were native to the Catskill Mountains of what is now Upstate New York. Their lands included modern-day Ulster and Sullvan counties. The Lenape originally resided in the Delaware River Valley before their territory extended into parts of modern-day New York (including the Catskill Mountains and Lower Hudson River Valley), Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Eastern Delaware. The exact population of the Lenape is unknown but estimated to have been around 10,000 people in 1600. The Esopus people spoke an Algonquin dialect known as Munsee
The tribe generally lived in small communities consisting of 10-100 people. They traveled seasonally and settled mostly in clearings by sources of water, developing diverse agricultural practices. The Esopus people's main crop was corn, but also planted or foraged beans, squash, hickory, nuts, and berries in addition to hunting elk, deer, rabbits, turkey, raccoons, waterfowl, bears, and fish. They generally ate two meals a day according to what was seasonally available.
Socially, the Esopus people traditionally had strict heterosexual marriages with rules to prevent inter-breeding. The average lifespan was generally 35–40 years old. Sachems or chiefs were temporary power holders meant to make decisions based on the well-being of the tribe, and although there were definite gendered roles within the tribal community, there was no sense of patriarchal structure
Esopus people today
After the Esopus Wars, many Stockbridge-Munsee moved to Western New York near Oneida Lake. They were eventually pushed off these lands by the Indian Removal Treaties in the 1800s, eventually forced to settle on “inhospitable land” in Wisconsin by the 1830s.
Today, descendants of the Esopus tribe now live on the Stockbridge-Munsee Community reservation in Shawano County, Wisconsin and among the Munsee Delaware of Ontario, Canada. Historians believe some Esopus joined with some Wappinger people after Kieft's War in 1643.