Idaho State His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety
Oral His­tory Center

OH 736A

An Inter­view With The Delaware Indi­ans of Idaho, Inc
By Eliz­a­beth Bryant-Merrill
April 12, 1979
Tran­scribed By Fran­cis Rawlins

Inter­view­ers Comments:

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?

CS: Hops.

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?

CS: Right.

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?

AAC: Incor­po­rated.

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?

EBM: No.

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?

AAC: Prac­ti­cally.

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.

CS: 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?

CWC: Mora­vian

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?

CS: No.

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.

AAC: Yeah.

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. .

CS: Bruce.

AAC: Grant and Merle; Clin­ton Watches. Charley Fent.

CS: Grant was the one that served in the cavalry.

AAC: Yeah.

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?

CWC: 1793.

CS: It was that early?

CWC: Yeah.

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?

CS: 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?

CWC: Uh-huh.

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