Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
April 22, 2000 - Issue 08


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 were 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 in the next five issues, beginning with this issue.

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 story has been put to rhythm, re-adapted to make it consecutive. The first part was part of a pageant given the Brooklyn Poetry Circle in the story of the Poets of Old Breukelen, at the Garden of Security, at the Worlds Fair in New York in 1939, later finished, and is presented in the brochure. - Leander Leitner.

Illustrations by Author
Second printing June 1952
Skyline Press,
480 East 34th Street
Brooklyn, N. Y.

The Algonquin Indians
(Notes from "New Larned History" and from D. G. Briton's "Lenape and their Legends.")

About the period 1500 - 1600, those related tribes whom we know by the name of Algonkins were at the height of their prosperity. They occupied the Atlantic coast from the Savannah River on the south to the Strait of Belle Isle on the North. The dialects of all these were related and evidently at some distant day had been derived from the same primitive tongue.

All the Algonkin nations who dwelt north of the Potomac, on the east shore of the Chesapeake Bay and in the basin of the Delaware and Hudson rivers, claimed a near kinship and identical origin, and were at times united in a loose defensive confederacy. The members of the confederacy were the Mohegans of the Hudson, the various New Jersey tribes, the Delaware on that river and its branches, etc. Mohegans, Munsees, Manhattans, and other affiliated tribes and bands of Algonkin lineage, inhabited the banks of the Hudson and the islands, bays and seaboard of New York, including Long Island, during the period of the rise of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Mohegans finally retired over the highlands, the last of them into the valley of the Housatonic. The Munsees and Nanticokes retired to the Delaware River, reunited with their kindred the Lenape, of modern Delaware.

THE WALLAM OLUM
Part 1 - CREATION

In the beginning of our time in this far space
Which now surrounds the earth,
There was a great expanse of fog,
Beyond the fog, the Great Creator our Manito abided
He made the land, He made the sky,
He made the sun, the moon, the stars;
He made them all to move in harmony.
He made the wind blow and clear the fog;
The waters flowing far and wide
As islands grew and they remained.
Then wisely thought the Manito, a Manito to Manitoes,
To make a heaven of the earth
For being mortal, souls and all.
He gave them first a mother, a mother He created,
The mother of all beings
To those very first men, of first of mothers,
He gave them wives.
He brought them food when first they needed it
And gratitude for gratitude.
He gave the fish, He gave the turtle,
He gave the beasts, the birds.
All men had cheerful knowledge, all had leisure,
And all had thoughts of earth in gladness,
And ever after He was Manito to them,
Their children and their children's children.
But secretly an evil being,
A sly magician came upon the earth;
He made the evil beings, he made the evil manito,
He made the evil monsters,
He made the flies, he made the gnats.
He brought with him the badness,
He brought the quarreling and much unhappiness.
He brought the stormy weather;
With sickness -
Brought with him the pain of the end in death.
All this took place upon the earth
And far beyond the great tide waters.
But at the first, before the evil manito had come
All was peaceful, all were friendly.
It was the selfishness of man that brought
This evil unto him.
While wisely, our Manito, the Great! Great Manito!
"The Manito to Manitoes!".
Is patient, just and kind.

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