Neolin (the Delaware Prophet) was a prophet of the Lenni Lenape, who was derided by the British as "The Imposter."[cite this quote] Beginning in 1762, Neolin believed that the native people needed to reject European goods and abandon dependency on foreign settlers in order to return to a more traditional lifestyle.[1] He made arguments against alcohol, materialism, and polygamy. Neolin emphasized that the favor of God in blessing the Indians with game to hunt would be spoiled if they did not forsake their evil collusion with the alien white men. Neolin's most famous follower was Pontiac.

In 1761 Neolin went through a period of fasting, incantation and dreaming. It was then that he saw his purpose was to go see the Master of Life (or Great Spirit). The Master of Life told him that the path to Heaven was to reject the ways of the European Americans and to return to the traditional way of living (the ways of their ancestors). Primarily he mentions to stop drinking alcohol, participate in respectful monogamous relationships and sexual abstinence, live by the bow and arrow, and to dress themselves in animal skins.

The Master of Life also called for the American Indians to drive the British settlers out of their land. This is why he allied with Pontiac on a military campaign.

There is great resemblance between the religion that Neolin introduced to the Lenni Lenape and Christianity, probably because of the exposure of Christianity through missionaries.

Around 1761, hundreds of Ohio Indians became disciples of the Indian visionary Neolin (meaning "The Enlightened One," in Algonquian). The core of Neolin's teachings was that Indians had been corrupted by European ways and needed to purify themselves by returning to their traditions and preparing for a holy war. "Drive them out,"[cite this quote] he declared of the settlers. A confederacy of tribes organized by a group of chiefs who had gained influence by adopting Neolin's ideas laid plans for a coordinated attack against the British in the spring of 1763. The principal figure among them was the Ottawa chief Pontiac, renowned as an orator and political leader. This combination of inspirational religious and political leadership was a pattern in the long history of Indian resistance to colonial expansion in North America.

In 1762, Neolin was shown a prayer by the Master of Life, to be said every morning and evening. Neolin's greatest work was the "Great Book of Writing", a chart in which he mapped the path a person’s soul took to get to the Indian heaven.


  1. ^ Trafzer, Clifford E. As long as the grass shall grow and rivers flow a history of Native Americans. Fort Worth: Harcourt College, 2000