Voices from the Delaware Big House Ceremony (Civilization of the American Indian Series)

Overview

Voices from the Delaware Big House Ceremony examines and celebrates the Big House ceremony, the most important Delaware Indian religious observance to be documented historically. Edited by Robert S. Grumet, this compilation of essays offers diverse perspectives, from both historical documents and contemporary accounts, which shed light on the ceremony and its role in Delaware culture. As Grumet says, "The many voices brought together in this book produce something more akin to a...

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Overview

Voices from the Delaware Big House Ceremony examines and celebrates the Big House ceremony, the most important Delaware Indian religious observance to be documented historically. Edited by Robert S. Grumet, this compilation of essays offers diverse perspectives, from both historical documents and contemporary accounts, which shed light on the ceremony and its role in Delaware culture. As Grumet says, "The many voices brought together in this book produce something more akin to a chorus than a chant."

The annual fall festival known as the "Gamwing" (Big House) was the center of life for Delaware Indian communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana west to Ontario and Oklahoma. The last ceremony was performed by the Eastern Oklahoma Delaware community in 1924. Determined to preserve their traditions for future generations, Delaware Big House followers have worked with anthropologists to preserve Big House texts, rituals, songs, and sacred objects.

Including commentaries by Delaware traditionalists from communities in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Ontario, where most descendants of the Big House Church live today, the volume also features an ethnographic description of the Big House ceremony and historical accounts dating from 1655 to 1984.

Voices from the Delaware Big House Ceremony contributors and consultants are John Bierhorst, Ruthe Blalock Jones, Marlene Molly Miller, Michael Pace, Bruce L. Pearson, Terry J. Prewitt, James A. Rementer, and Darryl Stonefish.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Robert S. Grumet, anthropologist and retired National Park Service archeologist, is a Senior Research Associate with the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His numerous publications include The Lenapes and Historic Contact: Indian People and Colonists in Today's Northeastern United States in the Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Pronunciation Guide
Delaware Commentaries
Introduction: The Big House Described 3
Ch. 1 The Earliest Accounts, 1655-1780 23
Ch. 2 Beate and the White River Revival, 1805-1806 38
Ch. 3 Mid-Nineteenth-Century Accounts 49
Ch. 4 Richard C. Adams's Accounts, 1890 and 1904 55
Ch. 5 Eastern Oklahoma Delaware Big House Ceremonies, 1907-1910 61
Ch. 6 Canadian Munsee Big House Ceremonies, 1907-1910 79
Ch. 7 Charlie Elkhair's Text, 1912 87
Ch. 8 The Charlie Webber [Wi.tapano'xwe] Text of the Oklahoma Delaware Big House Ceremony, 1928 95
Ch. 9 Additional Notes to the Big House Ceremony, 1937 116
Ch. 10 The Nicodemus Peters [Nekatcit] Account, 1945 126
Ch. 11 Lula Mae Gibson Gilliland's Account, 1947 147
Ch. 12 Eastern Oklahoma Delaware Reminiscences, 1972-1994 151
Ch. 13 Nora Thompson Dean's Accounts of the Eastern Oklahoma Unami Delaware Big House, 1973-1984 180
App Delaware and English Names of People Referred to in the Texts 195
Glossary 197
Bibliography 201
Index 206
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