Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
June 3, 2000 - Issue 11

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. This is Book Four. This translation of the Wallum Olum does not necessarily express the beliefs of all Lenape....

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.


Long, long ago the fathers of the Lenape
Were at the land of the Spruce Pine.
Hitherto the Bald-Eagle had been their great Pipe-Bearer.
While they were searching the Snake Island
That great fin land;
Many having died, the hunters desired to leave,
Had met together.
All said to Beautiful-Head, "Be thou our chief."
Then coming to the Snake Slaughter at the Snake Hill,
They leave it.
All the snake tribe were weak and hid themselves
In the swampy vales.
After Beautiful-Head, White-Owl was chief
At Spruce-Pine Land.
After him Keeping-Guard was chief of the people,
After him Snow-Bird was chief; he spoke of the south,
Our fathers should possess it by scattering abroad.
To the east was Fish-Land
Towards the lakes was Buffalo-Land;
Snow-Bird went south, White-Bear went east,
The Snake Land was to the south,
The great Spruce-Pine Land was by the shore.
After Snow-Bird the Seizer was chief,
The robbers, snakes, the evil men and Stone-men
All were killed
After the Seizer there were ten chieftains,
There was much warfare south and east;
After them the Peacable was chief of the Snake-Land.
After him Not-Black was chief, who was a straight man,
After him Much-Loved was chief, and he was good,
After him No-Blood was chief, who walked in cleanliness,
After him Snow-Father was chief,
He was of the big teeth.
After him Tally-Maker was chief who made records,
After him Shiverer-with-Cold was chief,
He went to the south, the Corn land.
After him Corn-Breaker was chief,
He brought about the planting of the corn.
After him Strong-Man was useful to the chieftains,
After him Salt-Man was chief;
The Little-One was chief.
There was no rain, there was no corn,
They moved towards to the sea,
After the place of cares in the Buffalo Land
They at least had food on pleasant plain.
After the Little-One came the Fatigued.
After him the Stiff-One.
After him the Reprover, disliking him, unwilling to remain
And being angry, some went secretly, moving east.
The Wise-One remained and made Loving-One chief.
They settled then along the Yellow River
And had much corn on stoneless soil.
All being friendly they made the Affable their chief.
He was so very good this Affable
And coming as a friend to all the Lenape.
After this good one
Strong Buffalo was chief and Pipe-Bearer.
Big-Owl was chief, White-Bird was chief,
The Willing-One was chief and priest,
He made the festivals.
Rich-Again was chief, the Painted-One was chief.
White Fowl was chief, again there was much war.
North and South.
The Wise-One-in-Council was chief,
He slew Strong-Stone, he fought against the Snakes.
Strong-Good-One was chief,
He fought against the Northerners
The Lean-One was chief, he fought against the Tawa people.
The Opposum-Like was chief, he fought in sadness
And said that there were many, so let us go together
To the east, to the sunrise.
They separated at Fish River, the lazy ones remaining.
Cabin-Man was chief, the Talligawi possessed the east,
Strong-Friend was chief, he wanted all the eastern land;
Some passed to the east.
The Talega ruled and killed some of them,
All said in unison, "War, war."
The Talmatan friends came from the north
And all then go together;
The Sharp-One was chief, he was the Pipe-Bearer
Beyond the river,
They all rejoiced that they should fight
Destroying the Talega towns.
The Stirrer was the chief;
The Talega towns were much too strong.
The Fire-Builder was the chief, they gave him many towns.
The Breaker-in-Pieces was chief,
All the Talega people going south.
He-Has-Pleasure was the chief, all the people rejoiced,
They stay south of the lakes,
The Talmatan friends, north of the lakes.
When Long-and-Mild was chief
Those who were not his friends conspire.
Truthful-Man was chief, the Talmatans made war;
Just-and-True was chief;
The Talmatans trembled.

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