The general area of what we know today as Flatbush and Flatlands was comprised of three flats, or open areas of land, that Native Americans called Keskachauge and the Dutch colonists came to know as Nieuw Amersfoort. The Dutch established Flatlands, the first white settlement on Long Island, and Flatbush or Midwout. Before that, these lands were home to the principal Indian tribe in Brooklyn: the Keskachauge[i]. The name of their tribe is believed to come from a large, formal, and public Native American meeting called Keesaqunnamun, which celebrated the harvest and often included food, religious observation, and sports.[ii] The Keskachauge are also known as the Canarsie Indians, and were part of a larger confederation called the Lenape. ­They inhabited the land that is now eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, northern Delaware, and southeastern New York (in Brooklyn).[iii] Native Americans usually referred to themselves by their small tribe names, like the Canarsie and Rockaways. The Canarsie Indians lived in all of modern-day Brooklyn and part of Jamaica in Queens. The Rockaway Indians inhabited the eastern shore of Jamaica Bay.[iv]

They were part of the Lenape nation, often referred to as the Delaware Indians, who lived in “Lenapehoking” (Land of the Lenape). Those who lived above the Raritan River and the Delaware Water Gap would speak a different dialect than those to the south.[v] Despite the difference in language, their cultures remained similar.

[i] Frederick Van Wyck, Keskachauge, or The First White Settlement on Long Island (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1924). ix.

[ii] Van Wyck, Keskachauge, or The First White Settlement on Long Island, 7.

[iii] “Who were the Lenape?” Lenape Lifeways. (Accessed April 26, 2015).

[iv] Frederick R. Black, “Jamaica Bay: A History,” Gateway National Recreation Area. (Accessed April 20, 2015).

[v] “Who were the Lenape?” Lenape Lifeways