Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
May 6, 2000 - Issue 09

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 Two.

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.


"All is born of beauty, all is born of innocence, all is born of peace."
A long time ago there was a mighty snake;
The mighty had hated all, annoying all it hated,
And with this hate prevailing
None could be at peace.
He brought three enemies with him,
A monster, an oppressor, and a rushing water.
Between the hills the water rushed and rushed
By dashing through and destroying much.
Then being driven from their homes by their oppressors
They fought with them,
And all did harm by injuring each other.
Then beings, men and all go forth, they waled in floods
And in the shallow water down the stream.
Some monster fish had eaten some of them
As Nanabush the Strong-White-One, Grandfather of all men,
Grandfather of all beings,
Was walking by and saw the suffering;
He then created Turtle Island.
The Daughter Manito had come to help with her canoe
And helping all that came and came.
Then also Nanabush, Nanabush Grandfather of all beings,
Grandfather of all men, Grandfather of the turtle,
Grandfather of them all, gave his sympathy.
The men and turtle were together, like the turtle;
While on the turtle,
They were frightened and they prayed,
And prayed with all sincerity,
Unto their Manito,
That which was spoiled should be restored.
The water then ran off, the earth had dried,
The lakes were all at rest and all was silent,
All was peaceful;
And then the mighty snake departed.

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