Camilla Townsend, a Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers, along with Nicky Kay Michael, the interim president of Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, recently published the book On the Turtle's Back: Stories the Lenape Told Their Grandchildren.
Professor Townsend began to work on this book when she was asked to participate in the Rutgers "Scarlet & Black" project in 2016. In researching the chapter on the Lenape, she found some fascinating papers in the archive of the National Museum of the American Indian: At the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s, the Lenape, who by then were called the "Delaware" and lived in Oklahoma, began to work with an East Coast anthropologist to write down many of their traditional stories. Prof. Townsend did research on who the narrators were. They had fascinating lives. One of them, Susan Half Moon Elkhair, had a father who came from Mexico. Perhaps that is why some of the tales bear some resemblance to Indigenous stories from that country. Prof. Townsend was fortunate enough to find a Delaware scholar, Nicky Kay Michael, who was interested in being a co-author. Prof. Michael was able to bring the book into the modern period, answering such questions as these: What happened to the storytellers later in life? How many of these stories did elders at the end of the twentieth century still remember? What are the Delaware doing today?
The book will be presented at the Zimmerli Museum at 6 P.M. on Thursday, October 19. Delaware co-author Nicky Michael will also be there!
To find more information on the book, Please click on the link below: