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http://examiner-enterprise.com/living/f … -preserver
(photos at the link)
Delaware set to honor language preserver
Jim Rementer will be honored Friday by the Delaware Tribe of Indians, during a testimonial dinner at the Delaware Tribe Community Center.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
The Delaware Tribe of Indians will be hosting a testimonial dinner Friday honoring the achievements of Jim Rementer on behalf of the tribe. Rementer is described as a “dedicated scholar of The Lenape” by tribal members.
According to Delaware Child Support Services Director Curtis Zunigha, the event is intended to “recognize his remarkable career of over 50 years.”
“He has amassed an amazing collection of Lenape or Delaware Indian history, culture and language,” he said. “We really want to do something on behalf of the Lenape people to thank him for helping in the preservation of our culture.”
The evening will include a traditional Indian meal, guest presenters and a multi-media presentation of Rementer’s work. All proceeds will go to the Lenape Language Fund of the Delaware Tribe of Indians.
Rementer, who is originally from southeastern Pennsylvania, first became interested in the Lenape when he attended a summer camp named Camp Lenape.
“They pronounced it wrong, but that’s where it started,” he said. The word, along with the Lenape names of several other towns and rivers in his area, captured Rementer’s imagination.
“I guess I was always interested in languages,” he said. “I was doing some research about the Lenape at one point at the American Philosophical Library and found some old letters and they were addressed from someone in Oklahoma.”
Rementer said that he took a chance and wrote to the address in 1961.
“The reply said ‘if you’re really interested, come on out here.’”
Shortly after the invitation and a three-day bus ride, Rementer was in Oklahoma.
“I was really excited … He, Freddie Washington, said that he lived north and east of Copan,” he said. “I got there and he welcomed me and we chatted for a while and pretty soon Frederick Fall-leaf drove up and said there was a stomp dance tonight. We went that night and stayed until about 2:30 in the morning.”
He said that the more he got to know the Delaware, the more he started to see that a lot of the Delaware elders were becoming very worried that their language was going to die out.
“So that winter I decided that I would try to help them and the following spring I went back to Oklahoma, and,” he joked, “they’ve never been able to get rid of me.”
He initially stayed with Charley and Nora Dean and Nora’s father Jim Thompson adopted him into the Thompson family. That was a great honor and was a custom of the Delaware people as well as other tribes, Rementer said.
Before long, Rementer was making recordings of stories in the Lenape language.
“Who would have guessed that there would be the Internet and the possibility of an online talking dictionary someday,” he said. Readers can access it by going to www.talk-lenape.org.
“I’ve kicked my self many times for not recording more words and conversations.”
He said that two of his primary teachers were Nora Thompson Dean and Lucy Parks Blalock. Other teachers were James Thompson, Leonard Thompson, Fred Fall-leaf, Reuben Wilson, Freddie Washington and Annie Parks.
Through the years, Rementer “did a couple of books” and edited of a number of books and articles. He eventually became a grant writer, securing around 15 grants that have “pretty much funded” the tribe’s language program.
“Jim has amassed an incredible collection of taped interviews, photographs and writings on the Delaware and their presence in North America,” Zunigha said. “He is literally one of the premier authorities in the entire world.”
Zunigha described Rementer as “a humble and modest man” and said that he is “held in very high regard by many tribal members, including myself and our chief.”
The event will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at the Delaware Tribe Community Center, 5100 Tuxedo Blvd. in Bartlesville. Tickets are $35 each and are available at the door or in advance at the Community Center.
Donations in honor of Rementer may also be made by mailing a check made out to the Lenape Native American Foundation and mailed to Delaware Tribe of Indians, Attn: Jean Lewis, CFO, 5100 Tuxedo Blvd. Bartlesville, OK 74006. Ticket purchase or donation is considered tax-deductible under IRS regulations.
This is good. Well deserved.
Quite right, Paul. And, what the article doesn't tell you is that the Delaware Tribal Council has passed a Resolution to adopt Jim as an honorary member of the Tribe, at this dinner. This is the highest honor they can bestow. Jim was adopted into the Thompson family by Nora Dean's father, years ago; but, now by the Tribe, itself. No one could deserve it more.
Yes! It's great to see him recognized for his dedication.
http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.c … ter-164948
(pictures at the link above)
Lenape Center Honors Linguist Jim Rementer
On Friday, June 17, the Lenape Center honored Jim Rementer in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, for his more than 50 years of dedication to the preservation of the language of the Lenape (luh-na’-pay) people. Now 75 years old, and looking somewhat timeless to those who know him, Rementer, began his relationship with the Lenape people when he traveled to Oklahoma at the age of 21. His deep interest in the Lenape language and culture was partly inspired by a summer camp he attended as a boy, “Camp Lenape” in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
In 1961 he got on a bus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the traditional Lenape homeland, and headed west to Oklahoma where two Lenape Bands (Delaware Indians) have resided since 1867, when it was still the Indian Territory. He was traveling to meet a Lenape man named Fred Washington with whom he had been corresponding. The first Delaware (Lenape) man he met was John Fugate of the Whiteturkey family, who assisted him as a new arrival.
Rementer was excited to be traveling to meet Lenape language speakers. He didn’t know they would turn out to be some of the last of the fluent Lenape language speakers who had been born into the language. Those Elders are all gone now, and Rementer fondly remembers the time he was able to spend with them. He misses the days when he was able to converse with them in Lenape, and learn from fluent Lenape speakers.
Friday’s honoring dinner, with some 50 people in attendance, was sponsored and organized by the Board of the Lenape Center. The audience included Diane Snake, a Delaware language speaker and teacher from Moraviantown, Ontario, where she heads a Delaware language program. She and her traveling companions—Angela Noah, Barb Bann, and Kaylean Noah—some of her Delaware students, flew down to Oklahoma to visit their Lenape relatives and recognize Rementer for his decades of work.
The evening meal included corn soup, steam fried beef and gravy, frybread, grape dumplings, and sassafras tea. The menu was printed in the Lenape language. Before the meal was served, Curtis Zunigha, former Chief of the Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma, and co-founder and co-director of the Lenape Center, delivered a prayer in the Lenape language. He said he was “truly grateful for the food and the water,” and gave “praise and honor” for Rementer’s commitment to the Lenape people.
Zunigha acknowledged Rementer giving a life of service “to our Lenape people and our culture.” “Hold us up well,” he prayed, “that we may continue these traditions.” Zunigha’s 10-year-old granddaughter, Cayla Magee, later delivered a statement in both Lenape and English to show her commitment to Lenape language preservation. Zunigha’s daughter Erica Magee coordinated the evening’s events.
Joe Baker, the Lenape Center’s Executive Director, board member who was born and raised in Dewey, Oklahoma, served as the Master of Ceremonies. Baker said of Rementer: “We are very grateful for his friendship, his knowledge, and for his good spirit,” saying that Rementer “has touched many lives.” He recognized Rementer as “the go-to guy for his knowledge and his expertise,” Baker continued. He called Rementer “A scholar, a linguistic, and a historian” with whom many language experts have conferred over the years.
Hadrien Coumans, an adopted member of the Whiteturkey family, and co-founder of the Lenape Center, explained to the audience that the Center is a New York City-based non-profit foundation, incorporated in the state of New York. The mission of the Lenape Center, said Coumans, is “promoting Lenape language, and the creation, development, distribution, and exhibition of Lenape arts and culture” in the traditional homeland of the Lenape nation and people.
“Our commitment and focus,” he continued, “has been to recognize the creatives, the arts, and the bearers of the culture.” He also listed some of the Lenape Center’s accomplishments to date, including a concert opera, “The Purchase of Manhattan,” retold from a Native American Viewpoint. It was written by Brent Michael Davids (Stockbridge Munsee, Mohigan), and received a write up in the New York Times. The Lenape Center has also worked on environmental issues, such as opposing the continuation of the Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River. They recently had a dinner with Nobel Peace Prize winner and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and his daughter Karenna Gore Schiff, to discuss environmental concerns.
At the end of the evening, Zunigha presented Rementer with a Pendleton Blanket and a plaque from the Lenape Center recognizing his many accomplishments. Chet Brooks, Chief of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, presented him with a Delaware Tribe of Indians resolution that recognizes him as “an honorary member” of the Tribe. Approximately $2,500 dollars in proceeds and fundraising for the event went to the Lenape Language Preservation Fund maintained by the Delaware Tribe in Bartlesville.
Rementer has served in a number of capacities for the Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma, including as the Director of the Lenape Language Project (1997 to the present); Interim Director of the Delaware Tribe NAGPRA Project (2000-2002), Acting Assistant Enrollment Director (2000-2001), Grant writer (1994 to present), Secretary of the Cultural Preservation Committee (1991 to present), and Coordinator of the Lenape Language Project (1992 to 1996).
Zunigha and the other board members of the Lenape Center decided it was important to recognize and honor Rementer for his monumental achievement recording and chronicling the Lenape language. Rementer has accumulated some 16,000 Lenape language sound files and developed the Lenape Talking Dictionary with grants from the National Science Foundation.
Not long after arriving in Dewey, Oklahoma in the early 1960s, Rementer was adopted by Nora Thompson Dean’s father, James H. Thompson (“Pop”), who was born in Kansas in 1867. When Rementer arrived “Pop” was in his early 90s, and he lived for another three years. Rementer went on to work with Nora for another 20 years before she passed. During that time he was given the Lenape name Mushhakwinunt—“He who appears like a clear sky.”
Rementer became so devoted to the Thompson Dean family that he eventually became a primary caretaker for Nora, her daughter Louise, and Nora’s husband Charlie, right up to the time that they each passed on. He dated Helen Fujiyoshi and they eventually married in 1999. They spent 16 wonderful years together until she passed on in 2006.
Rementer became selflessly dedicated to his adopted Lenape family and thereby added his name to the list of those non-Lenape men and women who, sometimes as a result of captivity during the wartime of colonial days, but as a result of Lenape adoption, refused to leave their Lenape families. Ironically, Rementer’s ancestor Nicholas Ramstein from Switzerland, came to North America with his family when he was still a boy. In 1776, when Nicholas was in his early 20s, he was taken captive by the Delaware. He was held for 15 months and then released, he most likely returned to the non-Lenape society as a result of a treaty agreement.
Rementer is a linguist who has mastered the intricate nuance and details of the Lenape language. Years ago he assisted Nora Thompson Dean to issue Lenape language tape cassettes, which are now available as CDs. Many years ago, Rementer also traveled to the Detroit Public Library to locate a Delaware (Lenape) language manuscript compiled in 1824 by Charles Trowbridge based on interviews he conducted with Delaware language speakers.
In 2011, Rementer published the 283-page Trowbridge manuscript as Delaware Indian Language of 1824 By C. C. Trowbridge (Merchantville, NJ: Evolution Publishing). Trowbridge’s work had been languishing all those years in a repository in Detroit. This example illustrates one thing: Rementer’s contribution to the Lenape nation and the Lenape people is immeasurable.
Through the years, Rementer has maintained a deep sense of humility and humanitarian spirit. He seems self-effacing and somewhat oblivious to the significance of his achievements. As he said in an email about the honoring: “I’m still trying to grasp all that was said about me. Makes me think I did do something right in life.”
Steven Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) is co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, and author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (Fulcrum, 2008). He is a producer of the documentary movie, “The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code,” directed and produced by Sheldon Wolfchild (Dakota), with narration by Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree). The movie can be ordered from 38Plus2Productions.com.
Last edited by sschkaak (Jul-01-2016 07:27:am)