Idaho State Historical Society
Oral History Center
An Interview With The Delaware Indians of Idaho, Inc
By Elizabeth Bryant-Merrill
April 12, 1979
Transcribed By Francis Rawlins
Name: Delaware Indians of Idaho, Inc.
Mrs. Charlotte Simmons (CS)
Mr. Clyde Wesley Creech Sr. (CWC)
Mr. Arthur Albert Creech (AAC)
The Interviews took place in the dining room of Mrs. Charlotte Simmon on Topaz Avenue in Meridian Avenue. We all sat around the dining room table during the taping sessions. Charlotte Simmons, Clyde Wesley Creech, Sr. and Arthur Albert Creech tell the story of their groups migrations, which ended in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. The narrators were all in good health, and had vivid memories at the time of this interview. Their recollections, reminiscences and oral history contained in this interview are credible in my opinion. While the interview contains some information already documented in written sources, it contains much that is unavailable elsewhere.
Signed May 17, 1979 by Elizabeth Bryant-Merrill.
EBM: This interview with Mrs. Charlotte Simmons, spokesperson for the Delaware Indians of Idaho, Incorporated; Mr. Arthur Albert Creech, Tribal Chairman; and Mr. Clyde Wesley Creech, Sr., By Elizabeth Bryant-Merrill for the Idaho Oral History Center. The interview took place on April 12, 1979 at the home of Mrs. Simmons. This interview deals with the story of the Delaware’s migration from Kansas to the reservation in Oklahoma Indian Territory; to Billings Montana; to Basin Wyoming and finally to the Treasure Valley in Idaho in 1924. The Interview also contains some of the band’s oral traditions, as well as information on diet, customs, life-style, work, contemporary problems and needs, much of which is not documented elsewhere.
EBM: Mrs. Simmons, how did your band get to Oklahoma?
CS: They were members of the Delaware Tribe, as it existed in Kansas in 1866. Our oldest progenitor, that we have records on, is Rebecca Lucas. She was entry number 638. Her Daughter was Lucinda Marshal, nee Lucinda Llewellyn, entry 310 and she married William Marshal, entry 399, and their daughter Mary Frances Marshall, held the minor allotment number 310. All of these entry numbers are listed on the John G. Pratt’s Registry of 1867, as original Delaware Indians. Under the treaty of 1866, these people agreed to move to Oklahoma, and they did move with the other people and they moved into what was known as the verdigris Valley of Oklahoma. They were listed there in 1898 and they resided there until approximately 1907, when the younger members of the group that hadn’t died off in the years in-between traveled to Billings, Montana. And Billings Montana at that time was the area office setup to handle the complaints of those Indians that did not get their allotments in Oklahoma, because they had taken the land belonging to these people in Kansas for new allotments in Oklahoma and anyone that did not get one, if they had a complaint they made it in Billings Montana. They arrived in Billings Montana in the fall of 1907. There were others that traveled with them that have branched off and left the group. Those others, who were thought to be members of this group was the Clark family, the Johnson and Alsott family, several of the married older ones in the Creech family, Charlotte Smith and another Smith family, Jack Stevens and later on after they left Billings and went to Wyoming they were joined by Cora Watches family and Charlie Fent. So, originally there were more that just the ancestors of our group, but over the years they have broke off and went there own way, having taken into other ways of life, I guess that would be the way to put it. During the time the group lived in the Verdigris Valley, it is my understanding that their diet consisted of beans, potatoes, corn pumpkins, onions, fish and sage hens. I understand that the horses and cattle were fed from the willows along the Verdigris River. It’s my understanding that at that time our people used unusual markers to distinguish the graves of men and women. The markers for the women consisted of a cross and there were little balls, you know kind of a little diamond deal on the top and on the three points of the cross for the women. The men’s marker was a wooden marker that looked like the center of the cross with a little diamond on the top without the cross bar. Now these were wooden markers and they were used to distinguish between the men and the women. Another thing that I understand that they did is that they threw cedar twigs into the open grave. Now, I don’t know the reason for this, it was something that the older ones had done. From Oklahoma the group traveled to Billings, Montana and the Creech children involved started school in the Billings, Montana area. And, it is my understanding that they had attended the Indian schools before coming to Montana. During 1911 to 1914 the group resided in Montana and several members of the group employed an attorney by the name of Thad Smith to look into the reason why they had not obtained their allotments. I have a letter here that was dated October 8th, 1912(Mrs. Simmons reads the letter. Exhibit #1). Violet Creech was called Katy. Signed by Thad S. Smith; he was the attorney. Now with this ancestry, these people were denied their allotments, because they did not have the records to prove this table. Since then we have filled in the missing links and I can supply these, if you would like them. (Mrs. Simmons goes over the genealogical table, which is attached.) But this record that is dated 1912, definitely met the Delaware ancestry requirements. These people were denied their allotments. They could not find any reference to an allotment of land in Indian Territory or for that matter, any connection with the Delaware’s. I don’t understand that because the registry of original Delaware’s in 1867 contains the names of the ancestors listed in the letter of October 12,1912. (Mrs. Simmons reads letter. Exhibit #2). We have two letters that listed the ancestry of these people, both concurring with the facts that we now have. The other letter, dated February 8, 1911(Mrs. Simmons reads the letter. Exhibit #3). Now I’d like to add that at the time of these letters being written, it was a federal offence for anyone but the Commissioner of the Indian affairs and the Indian Agent to see the records concerning these people. It was a hanging offence. So, really all they had was there word, which was rejected. In 1915 the group traveled to Basin, Wyoming, where they lived in what was known as the Basin gardens. The later moved to Alamo Flat in 1918, where they were the hardest hit in the flu epidemic of 1918. Several members died; two were brothers of Arthur Albert Creech. Do you have their names?
AAC: Merle Creech and Esaw.
EBM: How do you spell Esaw?
CS: E S A W.
EBM: Before we get into the Basin Wyoming, can you tell me a little bit about the life style in Billings, and the work the group did in Billings?
CS: I really don’t know myself because I was not born at that time, and my father, who’s the eldest, was born in 1909. We have been told that they hunted for different organizations. I understand that before they left the Oklahoma-Kansas area that they provided game for the railroad and Army. Dad could probably tell you more about that.
AAC: Well, they hunted prairie chickens and wild turkey and antelope, for the United States Army. The used to put ‘em in boxes, they’d rough dress ‘em out and take ‘em into the forts and they supplied them for several years before they left Kansas and Oklahoma and come west.
EBM: Can you tell me something about the trip to Billings?
CS: They traveled west in a wagon train. Most of the wagons were make-shift, what they could put together, there was no big fancy, wagon, because they had very little possessions, by the time they had been moved out of Kansas to Oklahoma and then out of Oklahoma again. Some of the photographs that have passed down that were taken on the trip show these wagons, and they are not very sturdy. They had endured quite a few hardships. One of the photographs shows 1 of the wagons tipped over in a deep snow bank. (photo #1). Another photograph that we have shows Leander Creech, his brother, John Creech, his wife, Otelia Fent-Tillie Creech, his brother-in-law, Charlie Fent, and his father-in-law James Ross Fent. (photo #2). This was taken before the group left, so it would have been before 1907. I would assume it was taken in Kansas and I believe that this was possibly old Fort Dodge, Kansas. 1 interesting thing about this picture if you look closely, you can see the long braids on Charles Fent and also some of the Indian dress on Otelia as well as the way her hair was styled.
EBM: Can you tell me something about the Indian dress for women?
CS: Yes, at the time my grandfather gave me this photograph he gave me 2 others, which I have lost myself, through the many moves the group has made. The only picture I ever saw of Otelia in buckskin, it showed her in a long braided buckskin dress that came down to the calf of her leg. The dress had long sleeves with fringe, running on the outer side from the shoulder to wrist, it came short at the shoulder, long at the elbow and up short again at the wrist with the fringe. It had kind of an open hole for the neckline; there was no collar or open part down the front. She wore several ropes of beads that hung to the waist. She wore her hair in a braid that went round and round the back of her head. I believe this buckskin dress was beaded in the front, I don’t know about the waist. From just below the dress at the calf she wore long moccasins, and these moccasins and fringe going down the outside of the calf to the ankle, and it looked like there might have been some beading on the toes. That was the only buckskin style dress that we have seen. The usual form of dress was, again, wearing the hair up in a bun or French braids, a long sleeved shirt, open at the neck, several ropes of beads. This was belted at the waist, came out over the skirt and the skirt was generally long to the ground. I don’t know the type of shoes. We have several types of Indian blood. The other side of the house, which most of the men seemed to copy, was the Creech side, which was said to have been of Cherokee blood. And we were told that their way of dressing was a handlebar mustache and shoulder length hair and suits. And some of the older pictures of the group show this style. Now this was the style back in the ‘probably in the 1850’s to 1910’s and it kind of carried over with different versions going to the Levi’s and six guns and that sort of thing.
EBM: Now the move to Basin, Wyoming in 1915; how did that group get to Basin, Wyoming?
CS: They traveled in the same wagons that had brought them from Oklahoma. We have one picture that we have here that shows some sort of wagons when they were in Basin, Wyoming. This picture was taken in the early days. Now this house belonged to Clinton Watches, (photo #3). How he came to own it, I don’t know, but they apparently knew someone in the Basin area, and like I said, later on the house was purchased by one of the sons of one of the members that came West in that photograph.
EBM: When was this photograph taken? 1915?
CS: It would have had to be around 1915.
EBM: Can you identify the people in the photograph?
CS: Yes. This lady here with the dog in front is Annie Taylor Creech; she is the wife of Fred Creech, who is the brother to Leander Louis Creech, the brother-in-law, or she would have been the sister-in-law to Otelia Creech. The other lady, I believe was Cora Watches, and the other man I don’t know. It is just too difficult to see his face to know exactly who he was.
AAC: She’s a full blood Cherokee Indian on the Cherokee roles.
EBM: What type of work did the band do in Basin, Wyoming?
AAC: We farmed and bought and sold horses; just general everyday work. We moved on what they called the Basin Gardens, on a ranch we had leased, called the Randal Ranch; there were four different groups out of Montana lived on this property of about a thousand acres. We lived there ’til we moved out on Alamo flats; that’s about ten miles south of Basin. At which time, we were in the beet work mainly, which was the only thing that was going on them days. The flu epidemic come along, I lost two brothers, Merle Creech and Esaw Creech in 1918.
CS: Didn’t the Basin or Graybull paper carry an article telling about the Creech people being the hardest hit in the flu epidemic of 1918?
AAC: Yes, we have a copy of that paper, 1918.
CS: No, I don’t have a copy of it; you were the only one who brought a copy back from Wyoming last year.
AAC: Yeah. See, World War I started and my three brothers enlisted in the United States army there, and two of ‘em or one of ‘em was called to service as Grant Creech and he was in the United States Cavalry for, oh, probably five years. Clinton Watches, my cousin, he was also in the service and Bruce, my oldest brother, got married and had a small child. During the flu epidemic he was down with the flu, so he didn’t get to go and then Merle, he had also enlisted and he passed away, so that’s what happened on the Alamo Flats.
EBM: Is there any thing else you can remember about that time when you were in Alamo Flats? Any of the hardships or stories that you’ve heard about; any other memories?
AAC: Well at that time Wyoming was famous for sage hens, deer, antelope, and elk, and that was principally our main food, outside of garden vegetables.
CS: Of course, they really liked ling fish too. Ling fish was popular in Big Horn River, but it had a poison sack or bag along the back. They used to catch these and eat them, too.
AAC: At that time the sage hens-you don’t see it nowadays– I’ve seen ten thousand of ‘em in one flock, just a whole countryside. We’ve killed hundreds of ‘em in order to have meat.
CS: While they were in Basin several members died. Cora Watches died and Charlie Fent died besides Dad’s two brothers and they’re buried there. At this time after the flu epidemic of 1918, the survivors of this group split and this is where the Creech portion came into Idaho. We’re told that some of the others went on to California. Back in those days, the winters got to be forty below, and the snow drifts got ten, fifteen feet high, so I can’t really blame them for that. They came into the Payette Valley in 1924, approximately as near as we have been able to establish. Their employment at that time was principally the fruit harvest. They picked different types of fruit over in the Emmett-Payette area. They did pruning. They also worked in the beet fields. At that time they would go out and contract as a group to do a field, and the eldest member of the family was paid for all of the workers and then it was up to him to decide who had earned what. And everybody that was old enough to walk, even some of the youngest children that was just big enough to pick up the fruit off of the ground worked. And I think probably Clyde or my father A. A. Creech, could tell you a little bit more about some of the places that they worked,. I remember the work, but I don’t remember the places.
AAC: Well, we worked for approximately seven or eight years pretty steady in Payette Valley until the winter of 1929 when the big freeze come and killed a lot of the orchard out. At that time we started migrating to Oregon and Washington for the fruit harvest, and also the Emmett Valley. We went to Freewater, Oregon for a period of approximately seven or eight years, every year in the spring. After the first year we worked for a man called Heidinright. He had a big campground down along the Walla Walla River and which one of the members got there first would pick out the camp for the rest that was coming and get garden stuff out of the people’s gardens therefore the fruit workers got all of their garden stuff free. And we put in cooling boxes along in the water along the creek to keep the vegetables fresh. So whenever you pulled in, your camp was all spotted up, your wood was there, vegetable box full of vegetables, where we worked.
CS: One thing I remember, too, that helped with the diet was the fact that all of the members when they left the field in the evenings would carry several handfuls of the fruit back to camp and this was canned by the women of the camp after the supper was over. And these jars of canned fruit were then stored in boxes, you know, and whenever a load of it was full, then it was taken back to the home place in Payette where they spent the winters. And this helped to keep the diet through the winter.
EBM: Can you tell me something about the home place in Payette? Where it was?
CS: It was down on the river.
AAC: It was known as Birding’s Island. About 3000 acres down there and we owned 127 acres along the river. We had one main house and then the small houses around. My dad and mother lived in the main place with the kids that wasn’t married, and then we would set up tents and little houses, one room deals, all over the place.
CS: They called them tent houses because the floors were constructed of wood and then the tops of the houses were tents, and they lived in that through the winter and then in the summertime the tents were taken off of the tops of the houses, you know these floorings would come up four feet on the wall, were wood and the tents were taken off and this is what they used during the summer when they followed the fruit harvest.
EBM: How was that land in the Payette Valley acquired?
CS: I think probably Leander Creech purchased it. He was the eldest.
AAC: Mother bought it, Mother and Dad together. I had a brother died in Ontario Oregon, he was a Woodsman of the World, an insurance company, and they got finances out of his death to buy this land.
EBM: Is that land still owned?
AAC: No; it’s been sold.
CS: Well, one of the things I thought rather interesting was the fact that it’s been a tradition for the younger members to leave their babies with the grandparents while they traveled to and from-around the country for months at a time when working. My granddaughter just recently spent five months with me. As a young woman, my children lived with my father and mother, and as a child I also spent a great deal with my grandparents.
EBM: Where did the grandparents stay then; with the children?
CS: In the Payette Valley; now, this was just the babies, anyone old enough to reach the bottom of the trees worked.
EBM: Can you remember picking fruit?
CS: Well, my first recollection of working was in the potato fields. And at that time each member of the group, and there were probably forty people, had so many rows to do., and at that time I was not big enough to pull a potato sack, so my father doubled up the rows and my job was to shake the potatoes from the vine so he could carry my row. Then later, I recall working in the beet fields and we also picked cherries and peaches. I did not like the peaches on account of the fuzz. And apples and prunes. I’ve heard ‘em talking about working in the hop fields, but I don’t really have any recollection of that myself.
EBM: What are the hop fields?
AAC: Over in Yakima Valley and the Wapiti Indians, there’d be 400 or 500 camps there, used to pick ‘em by hand. My father used to say he talked nine different Indian languages and he used to sit out by the hour and talk to the Wapiti Indians, that came in there, tell ‘em about Oklahoma history, and they was really interested at that time; they sat and listened. And all the Indians-their lingo is just a little bit different than Dad knew; but they could still understand one another. They had some great old times.
EBM: When you were working in the fields in Idaho, what other types of migrant laborers did you work with?
CS: We worked with a lot of Spanish-speaking people, and there were Mexicans and other Indians in the camps.
EBM: Did you know what groups of Indians they were?
CS: No, I don’t remember. It’s been thirty years ago.
EBM: Did you ever travel with any of these other people?
CS: No, our group stayed pretty much to itself, you know, we traveled as a group, sometimes there would be 15, 20 car loads, you know, of people strung out down the road and they would make periodic stops to make sure everyone was there. I remember one time, it was quite funny, we had been traveling and my mother was riding in the front of the truck and we stopped at a station to get gas and she got out to go to the bathroom. Well, the group in the front was replaced by one of the boys from the back, and so they just automatically assumed that Mother had gotten into the back of the truck with some of the other members and we had traveled almost 200 miles before we realized that they had left her behind! (Chuckles)
AAC: She was one mad woman. We worked with the Wapiti Indians, the Yakima, and the Nez Perce; four or five different tribes. In them days the work’d come on in different areas and everybody knew when the job would start. We’d finish up the prunes; we’d go to Yakima into the hop yards. Hops usually lasted six weeks to two months and from there we’d go over to Lake Chelan, Brewster, Washington and get into the apples and put in maybe two months over there, sometimes three months. When the apples wound up we always came back to New Plymouth, Idaho. Other groups, most of them, went over to Oregon into the onion fields; we never worked in the onions. We didn’t get into that. Every spring, why, it was just like a family reunion; three or four hundred of us, pull into camp when the job started.
EBM: These stories that you have been telling me from way back, before you were born, how were these passed down in your group?
CS: By the older ones. Most of the things I speak of I learned from the time that I spent living with my grandfather, Leander Louis Creech. It’s more like a tradition for the younger kids to be left with the grandparents.
EBM: And that’s where most of the stories are passed down?
AAC: That’s where my dad tried to learn her the Indian war dance.
CS: Yeah, he used to tell us kids stories. He claimed that he danced the last war dance before they left the Okalahoma Indian Territory. He also talked about his family coming out of the Cumberland Valley in Virginia and he claimed that they had passed the war belt down along the war tree, I think probably with his parents that were involved. They used to tell us how it was nothing for them to wake up in the morning and find people sleeping all over the floor, people that were from the tribe traveling through. A lot of times, you know, if they were being chased they,d even change horses and they’d get up and find horses and maybe there’d be some furs or some money left to make the trade.
EBM: Now, why would they have been chased?
CS: I don’t know.
AAC: The Army was after ‘em. That’s when they was driving ‘em West.
CS: My grandfather was born in a place called Coo Wee Scoo Wee District. It is my understanding that Coo Wee Scoo Wee District means White Bird District. And White Bird was the name given to Chief John Ross from the Cherokee country last, which is where the Creech people came from, and there again, we’re going back to the other side of the house, rather than the Delaware side. I don’t know yet whether or not; I know that the wife of Esaw Creech was a descendant of Chief James Lourey, who had been the son of James Lourey from Scotland, and Chief Broom’s daughter, who was principal Chief of the Cherokees way back in the beginning. But they had intermarried back and forth; I think the connection probably came through the Monrovian missionaries in Tennessee and also in Ohio. But how many of the different intermarriages between these two groups who were apparently enemies at the time, you know, the Cherokees and Delaware’s were supposedly enemies, but we’re finding connections back and forth between these two groups, and I believe that connection was made through the Monrovian missionaries, and probably also because of the fact that the progenitors of the Cherokee Chief, Lourey, was a Scotsman and the Creech people was also a Scotsman. So, I think this probably gave these people quite a bit in common. During the time that they lived in the Payette Valley their usual diet was beans, potatoes, corn, fish, and egg gravy. Now egg gravy is kind of an interesting dish, we grew up on it. It was originally made from wild honey and wild foul eggs, and it is cooked in such a way that it becomes thick, almost like a jam and it was served on hoe cakes or Johnny cake. Another dish that we ate was Slumgullion stew and this was made with fresh vegetables; tomatoes, corn, potatoes, onions and deer burger. Another thing that they ate was lamb quarters. Now I can remember helping to picking these greens, but that’s been so many years ago, you know. They also ate the dandelion greens and wild leeks. They ate pheasants and sage hens, ducks, and geese, buffalo berries, and that’s what the fresh fruit in the summer work and then the canned fruit they brought into the camp in the evening. Then they ate salmon. And the wild game and fish was taken year round as the need prevailed, if they needed it, they went out and took it. Wild honey from the bee trees was also taken.
EBM: How did you divide the labor between the men and women on the gathering of the food?
CS: Everybody gathered and everybody ate. The money was divided. It was paid to the eldest male, and after a job was completed and the members of the different households gathered at the table and he passed it out. It was my understanding that he changed it into silver dollars, and he divided it up according to need and how he felt you’d worked, not according to how many boxes you’d picked, but according to what the eldest said you had coming.
EBM: Was there any type of division between the sexes that you can think of, things that the women did that the men didn’t do, things that men did the women didn’t do? As far as just living.
CS: Oh, I think everybody pretty well worked the same. The women were never paid as much as the men, but they did not work as hard. The women did all of the cooking and this sort of thing. The hunting took place in groups, and everybody hunted until everybody had their game, you know, you didn’t just hunt until you had yours. If you got yours it went to whoever they said it went to and you continued to hunt until everyone had some. If the hunt ended and there wasn’t a deer or antelope for everybody that was in the group, then it was divided up according to how the oldest said to divide it.
EBM: What about the cooking? Was that done in a family unit or more as a group?
CS: A group. Generally in the summertime they just had one big kettle over the fire and they prepared the Slumgullion stew; it’s similar to what they call stew and everybody ate. They’d take turns; the women took turns on the dishes and the camp work. They continued this until 1947; when the members of the group, the elder ones that were still surviving, returned to Basin, Wyoming. They stayed there until 1954 and then during that time Leander Creech and Bruce Creech, the two eldest living males passed away, and they were buried in Basin, Wyoming along with the members that died prior to that time. The group returned to Idaho in 1954. And at that time the group-mining operation, called the Big 8 Mining Corporation in Elmore County was, what, filed?
CS: Incorporated. It was shut down when it became unprofitable to the group. They sent all of the members that remained in Idaho, with the exception of the young and they come back and forth around the center of the group. The group is kind of unique because over the years we have what we call the hard-core or the nucleus, and these are the ones that decide when and where they’ll move, and they move as a unit. The younger ones that are going out, working for jobs, some of them being gone for a year or two at a time, they come back and forth, and they are always in constant touch with the ones in the unit so that the ties really aren’t broken.
EBM: Can you tell me more about this Big 8 Mining Corporation; how it got started and how it worked?
AAC: Yes, I guess I better answer that one. One of our members located what they called tungsten ore, which was pretty valuable at that time. He came back to Wyoming and notified us that he had made this discovery, so I made the decision to move back to Idaho. So we came back , we filed on two thousand acres of mining property and about eight of us put in one whole summer black-lighting. You know what that is?
AAC: Well, that’s fluorescent light; tungsten will show up under this light. So, we worked at night staking this property out, wherever it was. And after we’d made our preliminary discovery and investigated it, then every member of our group filed claims and then we sold our claims to the corporation. The records is on file in Elmore County, every member of our group, pretty near, made a mining claim.
EBM: Whereabouts in Elmore Count is it located?
AAC: Up on what they called Castle Rock Creek; it’s about thirty miles east of Mountain Home.
EBM: Then the group actually did some mining though?
AAC: Oh, we done it all.
EBM: How was that done?
AAC: Well, we made connections with people that had bulldozers, loaders, and one thing and another and brought the equipment in. But originally we put in six months night after night; all of us out there black-lighting rocks, is what they done. And whenever we’d find it we’d mark it with a cloth so we could see it in the daylight. It covered three miles by eleven miles. This mining situation, it was quite a job and it was really interesting.
EBM: You say it became unprofitable for the group to continue mining?
AAC: Yes, the government had what they called a subsidy on it and they needed it and when we went into it, it was $60.00 per unit, about 3 years after we got all set up and got into production, the government took the subsidy off it and it went down to $6.00 a unit; which made it unprofitable and we couldn’t even truck it for that money, so we just quit.
EBM: After the group quit mining, what happened then?
CS: Well, the majority of the group still resides, I think in what you call the Treasure Valley, they live in Meridian, Boise, Nampa, Emmett, Payette, New Plymouth, we’ve scattered throughout the area doing various jobs. As the younger ones grew up, they obtained more skills and moved on to other types of employment.
EBM: What types of employment did the group do after the mining operation closed down?
AAC: I went driving a taxi cab. I drove taxi cab for ten years here in Boise.
CS: Clyde, you had gotten into bricklaying by that time.
CWC: I got into bricklaying back in 45′ in California and I worked as a brick mason for 28 years and I have worked all over the 7 states in the Northwest. But I have traveled a lot in order to find employment.
CS: Now, they have also done dairy work. Some of them bought and sold cattle and horses. Some of them still work in the fields, just whatever each one could get into.
AAC: I and your mother got into the restaurant business, we run the Bouquet Caf’, the old Bouquet for about eight years down there. And then we had what they call the Scenic Junction Gas and Beverage out on 44th. We run that for 5 years until I retired. She still works as head baker down to the Capital High.
CS: There’s some of the customs you might be interested in that I think is interesting, is that our group has been led by the oldest living male. That is a no vote job, and it doesn’t end until death. Now, it doesn’t pass from father to son, as you might think, it crosses lines sometimes jumping from brother to brother, sometimes from brother to uncle, or brother to nephew, depending on who the oldest male is. At the present time it’s Arthur A. Creech.
EBM: This is kind of related to this, but then how does the inheritance work? Would it work within the family?
CS: The way they have always worked that is that the eldest son goes into the place after the death and he decides who will have what.
EBM: And that’s in the family or in the family group as a whole?
CS: It’s been done in the nucleus of the group, some of those that are off and on the outer edges. We have probably 10 or 15 that haven’t been as close-knit as the majority of the group, but in the majority of the group, that is the way it works.
EBM: It’s still that way I take it?
CS: Yes. Another thing that was interesting in the customs was the fact that they used to take the 2 eye teeth from a fresh killed elk and put them on a leather thong and wear it about their neck for good luck. I can recall as a young girl, the older ones making something similar to a flute. They took a piece of wood, cut it in half, and hollowed out the center then in the top half they made little holes in the top, maybe three or four finger places, and after it was hollowed out and the finger holes were put in, it was put back together and rawhide was wrapped around it. When you blew through this, it was similar to what you would get from a flute. It was a lot of fun, but that was one of the things we had. They also made willow baskets and chairs.
EBM: How were these made? Do you know?
CS: I don’t remember.
CWC: Go down to the creek and cut willows, cut ‘em certain lengths, put ‘em together, and then use this florescent paint, make it real pretty. We sold lots of ‘em all across Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
CS: Another thing that they did was that they wore rattlesnake rattles.
EBM: What was that for?
CS: Well, my grandfather claimed that a rattlesnake wouldn’t strike you if you had the rattlesnake rattle. It was supposed to be good for headaches. As a young child I remember having milkweed. You take a milkweed and you cut it and there is a kind of little milky substance that you get from the milkweed and this was put on your skin for a skin treatment. You were telling us that in your day they used skunk oil for bad colds and the sumac bush for blood poisoning and poultices and mud for bee stings.
EBM: Can you tell me a little bit about how they did that?
AAC: Well, they, this sumac bush is a bush that grows about so high, all over Oregon and some of it in Idaho and you gather the lower leaves of it and boil it, steep it into tea to make a poultice, and its awful good for blood poisoning or anything like that, a boil or something that festers up, it’ll cure it. And what else was it we; oh, skunk oil. We’d take deer tallow and render the tallow out and render the oil out from the skunk, and mix the two together for a poultice. It’s good for bad colds, flu, and such like that; asthma.
EBM: Was there quite a bit of the herbal type of treatments done?
AAC: Practically all of it. The oldest one is usually. Like they call in my Dad or Mother and me here in the last thirty-five years, forty years, “Well, what’s wrong with my kid?” Then at that time we treated ‘em at home. We didn’t go to doctors. Of course now everybody goes to a doctor,. Originally we didn’t use doctors; we done our own doctoring.
EBM: Were there certain people within the group that traditionally did that kind of doctoring?
AAC: The elders.
EBM: The elders? All of the elders?
CS: Another thing that I thought was particularly interesting was the fact that they broke their horses in water. This was so that the horses wouldn’t buck. If they put their head down to buck, you know, they would get water. All of the older members could speak the Indian dialect. Some of the things that I remember was the fact that they could gobble like a wild turkey. They did numerous bird calls, and were even able to communicate with some of the bird calls. They were able to call in a bull elk. And some antelope hunts, they waved white rags to get antelope to come in for a close shot. One of the things that was taboo was the fact that the young girls were not allowed to eat the gizzards.
EBM: Why, I wonder?
CS: They were supposed to be bad for them. I don’t know any more than that. As a child whenever we played there with the grandparents, my grandfather made headdresses for the children. The boys were allowed to wear numerous feathers, but the girls were allowed to wear one feather. And at that time I thought my grandfather didn’t like me very much, because he mutilated the feathers, cut the tip of the feather out, and pinched it twice on one side.
EBM: I wonder why.
CS: I don’t know the meaning, but I was never allowed to wear more than that. I used to get my feelings hurt and go around the barn and gather up some more because they kept wild pheasants and other things and gather up some more feathers so I could have one like the older boys. But when ever I showed up back with the group then I’d have my feathers taken away and the top pinched out and it was mutilated again. I had my feelings hurt a great many times. Some of the celebrations that they had: Thanksgiving was always one of the biggest, and another was the Corn Harvest.
EBM: Can you tell me any of the details about the Thanksgiving?
CS: The thanksgiving was huge. Everyone came. It was nothing to see 200 people sitting down to dinner. And they had turkey, duck, geese, ham, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob. You know this sort of thing. Sweet potatoes.
EBM: Who prepared the meals?
CS: Generally it went from one house to the house of the one most capable. Whoever had the largest house, you know, at the time of the dinner. And it’s still traditional, the one that had the largest house prepared like the meat and the potatoes and gravy, then they allotted out a menu to all of the other women, you know, like one woman was to bring pumpkin pies. Maybe she would have to bring ten or fifteen pies. Another woman would bring three or four salads, and this sort of thing. And the dinner was prepared this way, but the menu was prepared by the one having the largest house, and cooking the meat. It was up to her to say who brought what.
EBM: Can you remember any of those?
CS: Oh, yes, we had many of those. I think on of the largest ones was held in Wyoming in the home of Kate Hobson, her maiden name was Viola and I think that was the largest gathering. And that was probably twenty-five years ago.
CWC: Or thirty.
CS: Or thirty.
EBM: What can you remember about that?
CS: Well it was in that house down on the river bank and all of the kids after dinner were shooed outside and they played games outside. As a child we played mumblety peg. And I remember, grandpa had given me this switchblade knife and I was really quite proud of that because it was a long pearl-handled knife about that long, and press a button and the blade would switch out. And we played mumblety peg with that. One of the other games we played was slap stick.
EBM: I don’t know what that is.
CS: Well, you hold a stick in your hand and you hold it out like this, and the other person tried to pick up the stick and hit your hand before you can move it. And if you didn’t move you hand fast enough you know, you got some pretty good welts and then it turns and goes the other way.
EBM: What did the adults do at these celebrations?
CWC: Well, mostly, as far as I can remember, they mostly talked and conversed as a group. Am I doing all right Art?
AAC: Yeah, story telling; what had happened years and years ago.
EBM: What about this Corn Harvest? What was that all about?
CS: Well as near as I can remember, and like I said, this is going to be better than thirty years; whenever the corn would be ripe, they had a big feast to celebrate. And there again, all of the members came in and one of the main dishes was corn. Another thing that I found interesting was the fact that when ever the group went on a hunt, and fresh deer or elk was killed, when they dressed it out they built a fire and cut off fresh steaks and cooked them over the fire. Now some of this meat was thrown into the fire and allowed to burn up.
EBM: I wonder why.
CS: I don’t know. I was too little to remember. I don’t know if there is any pictures of some of those hunts or not. Someone was saying they had a picture of the antelope hunts.
CWC: I do have a picture at home of one of the antelope hunts. I believe there was 6 antelope in that group, and there were 6 of us went out that day and about 8:00 we got on the ground and by 10:00 we had our antelope killed, dressed out and hanging on a fence. And I do have the picture at home.
EBM: As far as other types of recreation; were there any different types of amusement that adults or children engaged in during different periods of time?
CS: Swimming. Races. Hunting. Everybody hunted.
AAC: Done lots of fishing.
AAC: We still do.
CS: They were great for dancing, too. They were all pretty well; they would have a dance and dance all night, you know, until time to go home and milk the cows.
EBM: Were there any of the traditional dances?
CS: I don’t know. It’s been too many years, I would assume there were, because some of ‘em were taught us as children around a chopping block by the older ones, you know, when we stayed with the grandparents, but it has been so many years since any of us did any of those dances that I would hesitate to even try to do one.
EBM: Were there any other organizations or clubs amongst your group? That people were involved in?
CS: No, not that I know of. They were extremely clannish. Most of their association was with other people within the group. Whenever they had business contacts with an outsider it was generally conducted by the eldest living male or some of the elders. We, as children, were taught the language, as I mentioned, all of the older ones spoke it. That, you know, whenever you don’t have contact without to continue speaking it, you soon forget. And, of course, it was more desirable for us to speak English than to speak Indian because the older kids called us “gut eaters”.
EBM: Tell me a little bit about that.
CS: Well, when I, myself, going back to my own memories, when I attended the schools in Letha, we suffered a lot of harassment, and, of course, “gut eaters” and “dog eaters” and “dog lovers” and “no wash” tribe. Anything that was an insult to our race.
EBM: Hoe do you think that affected you as a child and the children?
CS: We didn’t refer to our background at all. You soon learned to keep quiet when you were with others, because if you didn’t, you had to fight your way home. we fought our way home for a good many years.
CWC: That’s why most of our school records, you will find that they’re always put down as a race of white people or Americans. We were never classified-well, we never told ‘em we were Indians because we usually had to fight if we did. And then we were harassed and picked on for being Indians. Consequently, we were never listed as Indians in most–
CS: Of course, too, I remember the older ones passing on a little bit of information like, “Keep your mouth shut or the Agency will come and take you away.” I don’t know who they meant by the Agency, but anyway, we learned.
AAC: No, Grace, my oldest sister, tell her about her stroke.
CS: Yes, Dad’s oldest sister was listed on these letters back in 1911 as one of the originals that came out of Okalahoma. She was born in Indian Territory. She’s still living and also listed on our roles as the Delawares of Idaho, Inc.. Recently she had a stroke and is working with this doctor over in Nampa to regain her speech and everything, she seems to have gained back, I don’t know how you would put it, clear recall.
AAC: She’s transgressed back to her childhood days.
CS: She is once again speaking much of the dialect. now whether or not we can get it on tape and who would be able to decipher is beyond me, because the majority of the group, outside of a few words, don’t understand the language anymore. But I understand that even the Delaware tribes in Oklahoma, they only have 1 or 2 speakers. So, I don’t think that is unusual. My father as a child was called Gomegooliken. I don’t know what that means.
AAC: Well, that was the name of one of the Delaware Chiefs. Brought through what church outfit?
CS: The Moravian Missionaries?
AAC: The Delaware Chief at that time was called Gomegooliken.
CS: One thing, going back to the opposite side of the house from the Delaware side to the Cherokee blood that were supposed to have; one thing that terrified me as a child — was always the treat that “bloody bones” would get me if I did not behave. And the story from that stems back to Chief Lourey, who was married to Ocheltrea from Ireland, and it’s been told in our family that when she died in Virginia, the Chief packed her bones on his back, up until the time that the soldiers shot him in the back and killed him in Kansas and then they were buried side by side. And so, when ever any of us were misbehaving we were always told that “Bloody Bones” would come get us in a sack, you know and pack your bones around! (laughter.) It was kind of scary, because when they told you something you generally believe it.
EBM: Back to the education: When did the actual formal public education to the children begin?
CS: Well, the majority of the earlier members of the group didn’t get past the 3rd grade. My generation, back in the 40’s, got into probably 8th or 9th grade, some of them through the 6th grade. It’s just been, I’d say, in the last 10 years that we had any high school graduates at all, you know, of course as our status improved so did our education. I, myself, was a ninth grade dropout.
EBM: And the reasons for that were work?
CS: To work. To survive.
CWC: I completed the 5th grade, and had to leave school and go to work and help support the family and i left home later on, because there was not enough food to feed the family, so i took off on my own. I was only 14 years old at that time, and i have been on my own ever since.
CS: It was customary for the young people when they get began to get old enough to go out on there own and work or get married or whatever, to subsidize many of those that didn’t have enough by sending it back home. Some of the money they earned came back.
EBM: Other than the grandparents telling the children the stories of the group, was there any any other way that the children were educated amongst the group, the things they needed to know in life?
EBM: Just the grandparents?
CS: You obeyed all the older ones; like, if you had a group of children belonging to 5 or 6 families in the household of one adult, not necessarily their grandparents, but an aunt or uncle, or an older member, they were taught to obey that person. Like, if I see Clyde’s — now Clyde is my second cousin, — if I happen to be in town and see Clyde’s children misbehaving then I could correct them and they would mind or vice versa. If Clyde came into my home and his attention was drawn to something that was going on while I was busy elsewhere, then Clyde would and could correct ‘em. This has always been the way. One of the ways that they have maintained control is by, I would think probably what you call ostracizing the offender. all doors closed. you know, its mighty lonely out there when none of your people will let you on the place! (chuckles) So, this is one of the ways that they have kept the young people in line or the majority of them. And I don’t think we’ve ever had any serious offenders. One thing that we are quite proud of is-every war that has ever been fought in this county, we have had young men in it who have fought honorably.
AAC: From the beginning.
EBM: Which would be what war?
CS: Back between the English and the Colonies, was the first war.
EBM: Revolutionary War?
CS: They served out of the state of South Carolina, Barnhill, South Carolina. They fought in the war between the Union and the South. What was that called? They fought on the side of the Union and turned out down to the age of fifteen. And they fought in the Mexican War.
CS: Who was that?
AAC: Charley Fent.
CS: They fought in the World War.
AAC: Every war, we’ve got the history of.
CS: We have people that served in cavalry. You fought in what war?
AAC: World War II. My brother, Dale served in the Korean War. Lanny, your nephew, was in the Vietnam War. Every war that we’ve ever had in this country we’ve had men in that served honorably for the United States of America.
EBM: Is that documented anywhere or is that written down?
AAC: Yeah, war records.
CS: I think that the war records could pick up these people.
AAC: We’ve had a lot of them on my grandfather-his father in our records. But Charlie Fent fought in the Mexican War with Teddy Roosevelt and he fought in World War I. He come back with mustard gas and died in 1917 or 1918. 1919, I guess, along in there, I just don’t recall, but he died at our place.
CS: In the Union War it was James Fent and Henry K. Fent and William Fent. Stephen Creech was the one that served in the war between England and –
EBM: The Revolutionary War?
CS: The Revolutionary War.
CS: Eddie served In the Navy In World War II. Clyde was In World War I–
CS: –or. Dale Creech was in–
AAC: World War II-Korean–
CS: Korean War. And Lanny and one of his brothers, David, was in the Vietnam War. In fact, David and Lanny are still in the service, they’re twenty-year men. My brother, Charles, served his time on Eniwetok (Eniwetok Atoll thermonuclear and fission tests.) Who was in World War I?
AAC: Oh, Bruce. .
AAC: Grant and Merle; Clinton Watches. Charley Fent.
CS: Grant was the one that served in the cavalry.
EBM: Do you feel any amount of bitterness’ towards the donation of your lives and people to the government?
CS: It’s kind of a one-sided affair.
AAC: We’ve been downtrodden, to be plain honest about it. You get back into the history, we’re the ones that helped the white men to start with, and then we fought their first war, the braves of the Delaware Nation and then the white man got the Cherokees, they whipped the Delaware’s–
CS: That was the Iriquois, Father.
AAC: The Iriquois– ’
CS: After the Delawares had helped colonize it.
AAC: They tried to kill ‘em all off. They killed women and kids by the hundreds.
CS: They were cannibals. .
EBM: The Iriquois?
CS: They ate the Delaware people. And then, finally, they made contact again with the Hurons, who they had helped prior to that time and the Hurons told them that if they could escape the Iriquois and cross the, I think it was the Allegheny Mountains that they could join them in their territory.
EBM: Which was where?
CS: I think in Ohio at the time. So they crossed the Allegheny Mountains into Ohio and there the French supplied them with guns and the Delawares and the Hurons wiped them out, all but just a few members of the Iriquois.
EBM: About what time was this? Do you know?
CS: Oh, gosh, as near as I can recall from the stories I’ve heard this would have been back in the early 1800’s They were then set upon by Mad Anthony Wayne and I understand that his orders were to annihilate the Indians and if they didn’t have an excuse, to make up one. The survivors of the war with Anthony Wayne were driven into Missouri In 1829 – 27?
CS: It was that early?
CS: I’m not sure of the date, because this goes back a long ways. The treaty was done in Missouri, was that they would supply the food, the shelter and anything else that the Delawares needed. Any Delaware Indian who had anything, a knife, rifle, anything, that could be construed as a weapon was to be shot on sight. They moved these people into Missouri, as I understand it, and in one of the worst winters that Missouri has ever had, and they gave them sheets for tents; and there was no food. They died, froze to death, starved to death until even the white people in Missouri were complaining about the situation. At which tine they sent the Army back in to deal with them. And when the survivors finally agreed to sign over the Missouri land, they were carted, the dead, the living and the dying, in, I think it was forty wagons, into Kansas where they were given this land that was in Kansas, that William Marshall, and Lucinda Marshall, Rebecca Lucas and Mary Marshall held for “as long as the grass grows and the water flows.” It lasted three years until they decided that It was better to give it to the Missouri River Railroad. At which time, they were forced to agree to a treaty that removed them into the Cherokee Nation for new land allotments in the Verdigris Valley and they did move. But then when our’ people came time for the allotments, nobody knew ‘em anymore, so then, that’s when they traveled to Billings, Montana to file a complaint. Now, I have not been able to find any records from the area office that was set up in Billings. We have substantiated the fact that they did go there and did attempt to right the error through the attorney, Thad Smith, 1911 to 1914. Since that time there has been continuous research done, first with Otelia or Tillie Creech, then Viola Smith, or Viola Creech, later known as Katy Hobson, then through Grace Creech and then through my father, Arthur Albert Creech and then through myself. A great deal of the authentic dates to back the blood lines, I have researched myself and put together.
EBM: Where did you find most of the information?
CS: Scattered all over the country.
AAC: Tell about your letters and the first documents from Mr. Church.
CS: Well, Senator Church was very helpful In opening up the doors because we didn’t know where any of these records were kept, and so the first thing we had to do was to establish what reservation they came off of, you know, and where those records were at. So, we contacted Senator Church’s office. We contacted Senator Church’s office in regards to the family, and naturally one of the reasons we were searching for Dad’s youngest brother who was buried on the home site in the Verdigris Valley before they moved off the land. And he in turn contacted John D. Rhodes of the National Archives and Records that were in Washington, D. C. and through that inquiry we received from John D. Rhodes through Senator Church, through myself, Charlotte Simmons, a reference report. Mrs. Simmons reads (See exhibit #4.) We were able to go to Pratt’s Registry and after establishing who they were and their connections with that document, which was the original list of Delawares in 1867. we were able to go back through John G. Pratt’s records (see exhibit #5) that are stored in the Historical Society in Kansas and find the original allotments. Traveling back down through the line with the oral history that we had we were able to pick up marriage licenses, birth certificates, death certificates to substantiate what was written in the letters of 1911 by Otelia, or Tillie, Greece and Viola Creech. We found that these people were entitled to 5,640 acres in the Verdigris Valley in the land allotment. As of this date, they’ve yet to receive the first acre. Now this was according to the terms of the 1866 treaty between the Cherokees, the Delawares and the United States of America. They did not receive patent for their land. They did not get their share of the tribal assets when they were moved out. They did not have any say in the tribal government that was established as the Cherokee-Delaware tribe of Oklahoma. We’ve had no vote, we’ve had no benefits; nothing all these years. We have not had any contact with the Delaware tribe since they were excluded. We believe that the land was allotted and that another surname was added on behind the original on the enrollment cards’ in fact, I’ve seen the card that we believe is the one belonging to our family and the surname on it is-the name is listed as Esaw Creech Killer. We’ve been unable to get this card. Esaw Creech was written in one handwriting, and the name of Killer was added behind in a different handwriting and different color ink. We saw this record on a microfilm roll in Fort Worth, Texas. Esaw Creech was listed as the head of the house, his wife Elizabeth, his son Lee, the daughter-in-laws was Tillie and it named several of the children that were living at the tine of the enrollment. I saw this card, myself, the microfilm copy of the card, as did my brother, Thomas E. Creech, when we were told by the lady that was running the records that we would be allowed to bring these films in on the interlibrary loan system. Since that time we’ve had no access to the records. Recently we did, through Dr. Ourada contact Kent Carter and he told us that they did not do personal research, that he had checked the index for the final rolls and found no Creeches or no Creech Killers. We already knew that if the names had been on the final rolls we would have been on the reservation. So, I am assuming that what has happened is that they have added the name of Killer to the name of Esaw Creech, marked off the head of the house as dead and the others remarried and became Mrs. Johnson or Mrs. Smith or what ever name they happened to take. But I think that if the card could be located that it would open a lot of doors.
AAC: We do have a certified record showing that Esaw Creech was on the rolls.
CS: The, I think it was the 1870 census listed Elija Creech-Creeches– Creeches pertained to the families of Elija Creech. Elija Creech was the grandfather of Esaw Creech, and many of our people that are listed on the census record In Coo District and were born in the Coo District in 1868 during that time period are not to be found on the final rolls, but there are other people who are totally unknown by any of us, that are on the roles that claimed to be there at the same time we were; when our people were on the Nation.
AAC: The census shows that our parents were the only ones there by that name.
CS: So there is a discrepancy as to who was who. And the same thing with William Marshall, the husband of Lucinda Marshall. He held an adult allotment in 1865. Now in order to get an adult allotment from the United States government you had to be twenty-one years of age. In 1867 he was re-listed as William Marshall Connor, a twelve year old minor child in the home of James Connor and later in 1898 he was re-listed as William Marshall Connor, deceased. Now, our William and Lucinda Marshall ended up with nothing. I can’t believe that a twelve year old boy was the husband of a woman that had a daughter that was born in 1825. So, there is some discrepancy there as to who was who. But, then there on the reservation, we’re not so…
CWC: We know that this Marshall was the same Marshall down through the area by the allotment number and the entry number that he carried under each name that followed him.
CS: Up until the time we moved into Oklahoma, at that time there seems to be quite a mix-up on the records and it’s hard to tell during the allotments who was who. We have found one record for Ida Creech that was given to a woman by the name of Emma Coker. Now, I thought this was particularly interesting that a woman claiming to be Ida Creech was named Emma Coker, because in the book called, “Still the Waters Flow”, by Angle Debo, which was a documented book, it shows where a woman by the name of Emma Coker received twelve allotments on the Creek Nation by the Dahl’s Commission and was taken into court for receiving fraudulent allotments. Now, I’m wondering myself if the Emma Coker that received allotments from twelve different people from the Dahl’s Commission on the Creek Nation is the one and the same Emma Coker that received the allotments for Ida Creech on the Cherokee Nation from the same Dahl’s Commission. But these are all still, “ifs and ands”.
AAC: But we know they are because we’ve got the documents showing it. They’re certified documents.
CS: I don’t know, but I thought maybe you’d like to know the difference between the groups that are involved in the Delaware judgment funds. The one group, which is known as the Cherokee-Delawares of Oklahoma, was the Delaware tribe, are the descendants of people who were members of the Delaware Nation in Kansas who elected to remove to the Cherokee Nation according to the terms of the 1866 Treaty and their ancestors received their allotments of land. The absentee Delawares of Oklahoma is the other group, and these people’s ancestors split off from the tribe before they ever reached Kansas, going down into Texas and then eventually back into Oklahoma. The other group is the Kansas Delawares and these people are descendants of people who were members of the Delaware tribe in 1867, but who, according to the terms of the 1866 Treaty sold their citizenship rights for eighty acres of land, a per capita payment, their share of the tribal assets and white citizenship and they remained in Kansas. Now, our group, the Delawares of Idaho, again, are descendants of ancestors who were members of the Delaware Nation in 1867, who’s ancestors agreed along with the Cherokee-Delaware’s ancestors to remove to the Verdigris Valley in Oklahoma, but who after removing did not receive allotments. We then traveled to Billings to make a complaint and went on through Wyoming and into Idaho. Now, the Kansas Delawares had sold their rights but the Idaho Delawares, which is our group, have never sold their rights. They’ve never given them up, there is a distinction between the two groups that are involved. At the present time, we’re incorporated under the Delawares of Idaho, Inc.. Before that time we were just a roving band, you know. When we incorporated, we incorporated with a Nine Member Council, which is a little bit different because the council is elected by the total group and they run for three years. The terms run for three years. They have to attend all the council meetings, there’s one held each month in a different home. If they miss two meetings, two council meetings, they are replaced by the rest of the. Council until the next annual meeting which is held in July. The last couple of years we’ve held the annual meeting at the Ponderosa Park in McCall and we’re scheduled to hold it there again this year. One of the things that we insist upon is that all of the members exercise their right to vote. That and the fact that they have to be a lineal bloodline descendant of our ancestors that were on the Delaware Nation, is the eligibility requirements for membership, and this has to be substantiated. It can’t just be someone coming in and claiming to be. All of our members, we have 196 people, men, women and children. This does not include spouses. It does not include adopted children or stepchildren not of the bloodline, this includes 196 lineal bloodline descendants.
EBM: One thing I wanted to skip back to-we might as well do that now. We didn’t talk any about arts and crafts among the group.
CS: Yeah, there seems to be quite a few people In our group that have a natural talent that has not been able to develop because of financing. Mother thing that they’re particularly into is turquoise Indian jewelry. And we have a great deal of that, in fact, my father owns this turquoise mine in Nevada that supplies most of the group with their turquoise.
EBM: So, those are the major forms of arts and crafts now? Right?
EBM: What about prior-the traditional arts and crafts of your group?
AAC: That Is music, painting. We’ve been painters ever since I can recall any talk.
CS: Aunt Kate was quite good at that.
AAC: Played the violin quite a bit, too. We were all either musical or painters. It was natural.
EBM: Were those people highly regarded for their talent?
AAC: Well, they was in the area we lived. It was quite known.
CS: Most of the things, like myself, most of the things that were in the group, stayed in the group. Like I’ve been painting for about two years, and all of my paintings have went to members in the group.
EBM: Can you remember as a child any kind of teaching of arts and crafts by the older members of the group?
CS: They taught us how to make Indian bracelets. I can’t recall-it was long strings of something, you know. They took a piece of really thin metal and then it was clamped over on the end. It was wrapped around in such a way that you could put initials or designs onto the bracelets. But, like I said, that’s been thirty-five years. Most of the types of things, you know, that we had when I was a child, we don’t have any more because of the fact that it was easier to get along. Nobody cared to be an outsider and we were kind of a group all to ourselves, so to speak, you know, and back in those days nobody ever heard of a Delaware Indian in Idaho, not to mention the fact that an Indian of any kind in Idaho wasn’t very well thought of. And so, like I said, it was kind of a “keep-it-to-yourself” deal, particularly after they denied the group in 1911.
AAC: They had to make it the white man’s way.
CS: Some of the things that I remember from the older ones talking about we can’t substantiate this at all-they talked about a place called Buckstown — where Isaac Creech and his wife, Maria Pennington are supposed to be buried. And, it’s been my understanding that Buckstown was a Unlatigo village. That’s the way I pronounce it; my grandfather pronounced it differently. He rolled his tongue in such away that it didn’t sound quite like the way I sound it.
EBM: I’m not sure what that is.
CS: That is a segment of the Delaware tribe that’s supposed to be extinct. He talked about places called Costalogas town, Killbuck, French Creek, you know, they told stories, and these are just some of the names that I can recall. Now, we were told that we were the Antelope Eaters clan. We can’t prove that either.?
EBM: Do you know what that means?
CS: They were antelope eaters. I think that probably is how that name came to be and I imagine that they were just a small part of the larger group. I don’t know what the larger group would be. It’s my understanding from what I can remember that whenever a clan reached a certain proportion the younger ones, a group of younger members broke off and started a new clan. It was customary. And I think the clans normally were around 150 – 200 people, hardly ever more than that. But, like I said, the way I understood it, was that they were descendants of these Unlatigos, and there again, I say that I am probably not pronouncing it right because I have a lisp and I can’t roll my tongue the way he did. But it’s my understanding that that is supposed to be an extinct portion of the tribe. The tribe in the beginning, according to the history that we have, was in three parts. These three parts then, you know, were-like the Unlatigos — were one portion and then there was another section and another section, I don’t know who they were. But these three different parts then had dozens of other smaller subgroups and ours was supposed to have been a subgroup of this one. We have no proof.
CWC: The reason, we’re told that the Delawares couldn’t be annihilated was because the whole of the Delaware tribe didn’t live in one area, they lived in sometimes as much as a thousand miles apart. And they would live on this one spot and they’d clean the berries and eat everything that was eatable in the area and when they couldn’t live any longer in the area they’d move ten, fifteen, twenty miles further to where they could get food to eat.
CS: We have kind of followed this, too. It’s our understanding that the last true council of the Delaware Nation before they left Council voted to recognize all roving members of the tribe. And we have tried to continue in that tradition, keeping the lines open with people that don’t really live in this area, but who we still consider to be members. Often times they’re moving back, you know, back and forth. Some of them have been out over a period of time, but still we feel that if the original Council of the Delawares recognized their roving members that we should, too. So, you know, other than the nucleus or the majority of the group remaining in Idaho, we do have these little stringers in various places.
CWC: We have one member that’s doing business in Scotland. A man, he has been in Australia.
CS: Well, we have another member that was in Honduras, just recently returned to Texas. You know, we try to keep track of the movements of the kids and that sort of thing. A lot of times our meetings do not have the whole group there-present, but a lot of times, we have, say, a dozen members in one area and they can’t all come in, so they’ll
send one, maybe one is financially able to come and he’ll come in and gather all the business and the news and he’ll take that back, you know, and they’ll hold kind of a submeeting in those areas and disperse the news of what is happening.
CWC: And another thing, our council, when we hold a meeting, we always send out newsletters to every member-adult member-of the families, and this is the way they keep in communication with them now and know what’s going on.
CS: The newsletter has only been going on, what, four or five years?
AAC: Four or five years now.
CS: Because I’m the only one In the group that types, so prior to that time it was either telephone communication, you know, or word of mouth. When somebody would come in, then it was passed back through them by word of mouth. And another thing that I thought was. In fact we just got the letter in today — was that when someone on the outer edges dies, the announcement comes in to a member that they’re closely affiliated with and that member passes the news, you know, and it’ll pass like the call we got today, telling us of the death of Arlene Hatcher’s son. And probably by tomorrow night the whole group, regardless of what area they are in will know that she has lost a son. Many trees if there is a hardship, a call will come into the older ones that they’re in difficulty and then other calls will go out telling the members of the group that It’s time to send money to help this call, and it will come in to the elders or the eldest and then a check will be issued in the amount back to help whatever member has it promised.
EBM: So, I kind of hear you saying that oral tradition has always played a very important role in your group and still does.
CS: I think so. I can’t think of anything else.
EBM: To summarize a little bit. Other than the fact that this big problem that you haven’t gained federal recognition as a group, what other kinds of contemporary problems do you feel that your band has?
CS: Well, the lack of education; they can’t compete with — the majority of the group. I’d say ninety percent of the group can’t compete with the white man, because they don’t have the same level of education. Housing is a problem. The majority as a group don’t own their own houses because, there again, the lack of education has restricted them to more menial jobs with less pay, and with less pay they haven’t been able to accumulate enough to buy a house. The health, Medicaid ‘I mean medical aid, ‘course, like I said, the Medicaid program is now helping a few of the older ones, but still there’s a vast majority that have illnesses that go untreated. Dental care; that’s never been taken care of. I myself in my younger days, lost my top teeth at the age of twenty-five because of gangrene. I couldn’t afford to go to a dentist. You know, of course, my situation has improved over the years. This has always been one of the problems.
EBM: Are there any other problems that you can think of?
CS: Well, one of the things that I thought was a problem, was the marriages of the group. Many of the first marriages of the group have not worked out. And the majority of those that have had successful marriages have intermarried back with people that have some Indian background. Up until that time it seems to be a case of simply not being suitable to one another. And another thing, too, that I’ve noticed, is that you marry into this group, you don’t marry out. And, of course, if the mate, either male or female, is unwilling to marry into a group like ours, then the marriage doesn’t work. Because like, if you’re called upon to go and do something, you go. And, you know, with a lot of different cultures, it is something that you normally talk over between your husband and wife, where, I think, in this situation, it’s more or less, if someone calls and says they’re meeting it’s up to you to go; you go. And this is a part of the relationship that your husband and wife have to assume.
EBM: Do you feel that that problem that you just mentioned has caused a lot of strain on the close knitness of the group? Or do you feel that that just made the group closer?
CS: Well, I don’t think it caused any strains on the closeness of the group; it caused a lot of marriages to break up. But, like I said, you marry into this group, you don’t marry out. I would say that’s the way it is, wouldn’t you, Clyde?
EBM: I thought of one more area that skips way back again: about traditional religious beliefs and that kind of thing. Do you remember stories from the elders about that and how that changed as you migrated to Idaho?
CS: Oh, I know that my granddad was able to dance and do all the worship dances, such as the Sun and the Moon and the Weather, the Rain and such and Crop dances: and as far as the religious-think probably Art could answer that better than I can, because it was back beyond my time.
AAC: I don’t know exactly how to put It In words.
CS: Don’t you think. Dad, that the religious affiliation of the group has been more or less forced upon the young people in the communities that we lived in and yet later rejected by those same people?
CWC: I had three daughters that attended the Bible College In Los Angeles; two of ‘cm married ministers and they are in the ministry, and the other one, she married a young man that went three years to the Bible College and they work with the church and very closely.
CS: Don’t you think though, Clyde, that this the exception to the rule? And that the majority of he members do not have any strong religious ties.
EBM: Do you think there was any carryover of some of the traditional beliefs through time?
CS: I think there was; I remember as a child when my sister died, I was told that, “Pick out the brightest star in heaven.” That was her. Something to do with, I recall, shooting stars, but I can’t recall what the story was, it was so long ago, because most of the old ones have been dead and gone for a good many years. But the majority of the group are basically peaceful people. Family people. The associations and friends are pretty much within the group. Whatever religious connections, that they have, the majority of them, with the exception of Clyde’s girls, which were an exception, do not have any strong ties with any group other than, you know, the children that more or less have whatever religion that’s in the area put upon ‘em. I’ll put it that way. The majority of them that were baptized into this church or the other church, have been rejected in it as they grew older and came back to the group’s way. The majority does not attend any particular religion.
EBM: That’s Interesting. I think that’s about all I can think of now, unless any of you have something to add, any memories or any other thoughts.
CS: I don’t know if it would be of interest, but it seems to me that I recall in the old days, the way they split up with the woman she threw the man’s blanket out of the house. And he took his blanket and removed himself and that’s all he took. Everything else stayed with the woman. And then, if at a later time she took his blanket back then he was welcome back, but until she took the blanket back, he stayed out of sight.
EBM: So it was up to the woman more or less. Wasn’t that the way it went?
CS: That’s about right.
EBM: Anything else?
CS: I can’t think of anything else.
EBM: Okay, well, thank you, very much.
End of Interview.
Transcribed by Frances Rawlins May 3, 1979
Retyped with corrections May 17, 1979