I was recently notified by Ancestry.Com that there were responses to my first mention of Hickmans with Native American Ancestry - I had not checked the Hickman message board in quite awhile, so was very excited to see so much discussion on this subject.
My own research has focused primarily on the Hickmans who came to Pennsylvania from England in the late 1600's or early 1700's. The earliest name I have is Francis Hickman who married Elizabeth Chamberlain, a widow who was first married to Robert Chamberlain (on my mother's side of the family, I descend from Robert and Elizabeth Chamberlain.) A daughter of Robert and Elizabeth (also named Elizabeth)married Richard Ridgway, a prominent Quaker who was first granted land near William Penn's manor. (William Penn was said to be one of the few men in early american history who held the Delaware Indians in high esteem, and peace seemed to reign in the area until Penn returned to England, where he died.)
Francis Hickman and his wife, Elizabeth Chamberlain Hickman, had children Joseph, Benjamin, Mary, and Hannah.
Joseph became a trader with the Indians, first living at "Caln Township" -an area named after the town of Calne in Wiltshire, England. (The Hickmans, as well as some of the other settlers, had emigrated from this area of England.)
The majority of settlers who came into this area (near Philadelphia, PA) became traders with the Indians. (All of this information is from a History of Chester County, PA, authored by Futhey and Cope.) Joseph Hickman was one of these settlers, and was also a trader with the Indians. Many, if not most, of these traders took Indian wives.
In April of 1709, Joseph was assaulted in his home by several of his neighbors; the perpetrators were indicted, but I have been unable to find out why Joseph was assaulted. I do know that Joseph, his wife (known only as "Mary") and their children, left Caln soon after the assault to live at Pequea, which was a Delaware and Shawnee Indian village.
After that, Joseph's siblings claimed to have no knowledge of his whereabouts. This may have been due to increasing hostility toward the Indians - in many cases families "disowned" their relatives who had married into Indian tribes.
Meanwhile, Joseph's brother Benjamin married Ann Buffington, and they also had several children including John Hickman. (It is interesting to note that the family name "Buffington" is also associated with Native American descent, though at the moment I do not recall their tribal affiliation.)
According to family members at that time, John Hickman held the nickname of "Nunkey" - they thought this might have been a corruption of "Uncle". Anyway, they also stated that he lived to the age of 92, but never married. Although this may be true, it is also likely that any "marriage" to an Indian would probably not have been acknowledged.
I was intrigued by the nickname "Nunkey" because of its similarity to the french word "Nuncie" which means "messenger". Prior to, and during the French and Indian wars, several Hickmans are mentioned as being members of the Delaware tribe - and also "messengers" between Indians and whites who were attempting to negotiate peace. (At this point in history, many members of the Delaware tribe abandoned their loyalty to England - which had existed for some time due to their high regard for William Penn.)
They instead began to go over to the French, and since the so-called "French-Indian" war was actually several conflicts between the French and English, both of these countries were desperate for Indian allies.
Several Hickmans, including the names John, Thomas, Benjamin, and Joseph acted as interpreters, messengers, etc. during this time of unrest. They seemed to reside most of the time at Kittaning, an Indian village along the Ohio River in western Pennsylvania. Several prominent Delawares also lived at this town, and their names show up on a number of treaties. One of them, Thomas Hickman, also used the name "Jecasse" - the French word "Jacasse" means "magpie" or "chatterbox" - possibly a good name for someone acting as interpreter and messenger!!
Now to jump ahead a bit - my ancestor (on my father's side), Christina Hickman Keeling, was born in the 1770's - not long after the French-Indian war was finally coming to an end. I do not know where she was born, but do know she married in Winchester, Virginia - not far from Western Pennsylvania.
For a variety of reasons, I feel that Christina was a descendant of the Hickman Delawares who had resided in Kittaning, PA. But, this has proven to be the most difficult part of my research.
I have learned that there are Hickman representatives in several Indian tribes. This shouldn't be too surprising, as many Eastern tribes ended up settling in the same areas, and even those who moved to reservations were often part of mixed Indian communities.
I hope we can continue this discussion of Native American descent within the Hickman family, and appreciate the information so many of you have shared.
I have more information to add, but will stop for now since this is getting far too long!