Magua, having reached the nearby Delaware village, leaves his fellow warriors in the outlying forests, and walks in, to a group of Delaware warriors seated in the main lodge. There, Magua announces himself as the de facto leader of the local Huron village, and he is welcomed by these Delawares as a crafty ally, if not as a friend—for this Delaware group maintains a distant truce with the Mingos and French, and also maintains some relations with the English, protecting most of all their sovereignty over this portion of the forest.
The political status of this particular branch of the Delawares is an interesting case, one that is not fully explained in the novel. It appears that these Delawares, led by Tamenund and not unlike Magua himself, attempt to wait out the colonial wars raging around them by playing one side, then the other, maintaining uneasy truces with both, and hoping that peace will come of it in the end.
Magua begins by asking the Delaware warriors how the prisoner Cora is faring. The Delawares say she is fine, and Magua, sensing the reticence of the Delawares, who perhaps do not trust Magua’s intentions, provides a large number of trinkets, plundered from the massacre at Fort William Henry, to the assembled Delawares. This token of friendship cheers the Delawares, who speak more openly to Magua. Magua then asks if the Delawares have received among them members of the “band,” including Hawkeye, Uncas, Alice, and Heyward—the Delawares then bustle about, realizing that one of the prisoners they have captured is “La Longue Carabine,” or Hawkeye, the most famous scout in the region, of neither “red” nor “white skin.”
Another instance of the fair treatment given to prisoners, much of the time, by native societies. When Cora and Alice were split up, both were given their own cells, and both were fed and were not treated harshly. Now, as before, the line between “prisoner” and “combatant” is easily crossed in native culture, and there have been moments when Alice and Cora’s lives have been threatened. But in cases like these, when the holding of prisoners has a symbolic weight within a community, those prisoners are afforded relative comfort and security.
Magua then brings his Huron warriors into the village, where they assemble in a circle and wait for the elders of the Delaware village to enter and speak to them. The Delawares slowly aid their great patriarch Tamenund, who will grace Magua with his presence and speak with Magua about the prisoners. After Tamenund is seated and venerated by his younger Delaware warriors, some Delawares go to the village’s prison-lodge and lead out Cora, Alice, Hawkeye, and Heyward, as the assembled Hurons and Delawares wait to hear Tamenund speak.
This is the introduction of Tamenund, who does not participate directly in the action of the novel, but who serves as an elder to his community and as a kind of narrator-within-the-novel. In the final chapter, Tamenund will deliver the speech identifying Uncas as the last of his people, as a noble warrior, and as a tragic hero bound for glory in the afterlife.