Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
May 20, 2000 - Issue 10

The Wallam Olum
A Legend of the Lenape Indians
Our thanks to: Timm Severud (Ondamitag)

Editor's note: The Wallum Olum is a pictographic history that was carved on twenty-two (22) tablets each measuring seven (7) inches by two (2) inches. Book One - Creation consists of three (3) tablets, Book Two - The Great Flood: two (2) tablets, Book Three - The Migration three (3) tablets, Book Four - History eight (8) tablets and Book Five - History (continued) six (6) tablets. Sadly, it appears that the original wooden tablets have been lost. We present drawings of replicas of some tablets made in the 19th century. We will publish each of the five books. This is Book Three.

A Legend of the Lenape Indians by Leander Leitner

WALLAM OLUM, meaning, red score, is a translation from the picture writing record of the Lenãpe Indians by Daniel G. Briton about 1860. In the language and dialect of the Delaware Indians and a legend of the Creation, the Great Flood, Migration and History from their beginning to the time of the coming of the white man to the eastern shore of Delaware.


The Lenape and the turtle lived together closely
In caves when all the rushing water had subsided.
It froze and snowed where they abided,
It stormed and it was cold where they abided
The ancient country in the north was Turtle Country,
It were the best of Lenape that were the turtle men,
The stronger most united and the priests were hunters;
The foraged the north, the east and south and west.
At this could northern place the spoke most favorable
Of mild, cool lands off to the south
With many deer and buffalo.
The father of Bald-Eagle with White-Wolf
Remained along the sea; were rich with fish and mussel.
Head-Beaver with Big-Bird said, "Let us go to Snake Island."
All said they would go along.
So all the cabin fires of the land were then extinguished;
Some said unto the priest, "Come let us go."
So split asunder, weak and trembling, torn and broken,
Then going east they all went forth,
And earnestly they grieved, when going to Snake Island.
Those of the north agree, those of the east agree.
They journey, some strong, some rich;
They separated into home builders and hunters.
Some of their fathers being rich
They floated up the stream in their canoes,
Their people were the light and they were at these island.
Then over the frozen water they journeyed,
Over the wonderful slippery water,
Over the stone hard water,
Over the great tidal sea,
The mussel bearing sea;
Many, many at night, all at one night,
To Snake Island, to the sea at night.
The rich were head men,
They walked and walked, all of them,
The people of the north, the east and the south,
The Eagle-Clan the best of them.
Those with wives, those with daughters,
Those with dogs,
They all came to tarry
At the land of the Spruce-Pine.
Those of the west came with some hesitation and regret,
Esteeming highly their old home at Turtle Island.
By fate the restless men were ever their incentive.

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