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Lenape Animal Tales, by George Clever, is a new book (2014) of re-told stories culled from the works of Richard Adams, Tree Beard, Bill Thompson and others. I haven't got the time or mental stamina to go through this thing, line by line, right now. I'll review it, at some point, if I ever gain the will to read it, thoroughly. For now, I'll only say that most of these are NOT Lenape stories; and, those that did originate with the Lenape have been distorted in the re-telling. George Clever is a member of the Eastern Delaware Nations.
From the "Forward" (as he spells Foreword--a clever pun by Clever):
"There will be those who will question the authenticity of these Lenape stories. They will question the way the stories are told, the way words were used, the Lenape language, and even the writing of a book using content previous generations would have passed to the next by an oral tradition."
They will question ...the Lenape language.
Let's start with this and call it Part 1 of a critical review. The author alternates between Southern Unami and Northern Unami words, and copied some words off the internet which got screwed up in the OCR process. We really can't let egregious errors like this stand and get disseminated to people who don't know any better, and who, in turn, perpetuate the mistakes.
p.2 - Mochquioen ("plenty of bears") should be Machquigeu.
p.5 - Ahpikw Putalas ("flea bag") should be Ahpikwinutay.
p.6 - Manitowak ("a good spirit") should be Manitto.
p.11 - To-Ge-Sho ("Naked Bear") should be yakwahe or amangachktiat. (Heckewelder wrote Yagishu ("naked beast"), but To-Ge-Sho is an Adirondack legend and far from Lenape territory.)
p.11 - Yakwawiak ("naked bear") should be Yakwahe.
p.12 - Maxke Okwes ("Red Fox") should be Maxkwsit Okwes.
p.12 - Waclielachkey ("Fish Scales") should be Wachelachkeyall.
p.12 - Chan ("his brother") should be Chansall.
p.12 - Gawunsch ("Briars") should be Gawunschall.
p.13 - Metelensit ("One Who Despises Himself") means "One Who is Humble."
p.13 - Metirnmen ("Wolf") should be Metimmeu.
p.15 - Gawunschus's ("Briars'") This is a failed attempt to make an English possessive ("Briars' baby brother").
p.15 - Hoosink ("Kettle") means "in the kettle" or "place of the kettle."
p.15 - Mahicanni Siper ("Hudson River") should be Mahicanni Sipu ("River of the Mahicans").
p.17 - ochquen ("woman") should be "ochqueu."
p.17 - Mohoomus ("Grandfather") should be Mexumsa. (The character is addressing his grandfather.)
p.26 - Kunakwat, lawat, nuchi ("Long, long ago in the very beginning") should be "Lawat ninutschi."
p.26 - Huma ("Grandmother") should be Nuhema in the context in which it is used, here.
p.28 - Natami (name of the Corn Mother--sky wife of the Creator) Huh?
p.28 - Kisheleunkong ("the Creator by thoughts") should be Kishelemukonk (This is not always misspelled in the book.)
p.28 - Manito Dasen ("Spirit Daughter") should probably be Manittowit Wetansink. (There is no such Lenape word as Dasen.)
p.31 - Op Alanine ("eagle") should be opalanie ("bald eagle").
p.32 - Ulickwan ("The Flicker") should be Ulikwen.
p.32 - Titas ("The Downy Woodpecker") should be Tihtes.
p.32 - axsinaminshi ("sugar maple tree") should be achsinnaminschi--where ach- = ah-, not ax-.
p.45 - Tindeh ("Fire") should be Tindey.
p.62 - Woapalanne lenno ("Eagle man") should be Woapalannewilenno.
p.69 - Nushexam Grouse ("Mother Grouse") should be Gichgehelleu Pabhacku in Mission Delaware. (Nushexam cannot be used for a bird.)
p.70 - Nuxa Grouse ("Poppa Grouse") might be wetuxwit, in this context. It is definitely not "Nuxa."
p.78 - Uma ("his Grandmother") should be uhema.
p.84 - Mwekane Hnikiyon ("Dog Nose") should probably be Mwekanewchale.
p.84 - Seke Kisux ("Black Moon") should be Seksit Kishux.
From the "Forward" (as he spells Foreword--a clever pun by Clever):
"There will be those who will question the authenticity of these Lenape stories. They will question the way the stories are told, the way words were used, the Lenape language, and even the writing of a book using content previous genearations would have passed to the next by an oral tradition."
Looks like he was already anticipating your review.
I think that's a distinct possibility. More to come, if I can sort out all the strands. He gives some of his stories a different title than they have in the places from whence they originated, and tells them all in his own style; so, it might take a while.
You just gotta hand it to these folks. Clever dedicates this book "To our Delaware Grandma, Joanna J. Nichol ...and to our sister/cousin Karee Hada..." Now, the general reader is going to get the idea that Clever is somehow a blood relative of these two enrolled Lenape women; and, of course, he's NOT. Nor, does he explain that these are honorific titles he has bestowed on these ladies. He called Mrs. Nichol "Grandma Jo," elsewhere in the book, to bolster the idea that she is his grandmother. Wannabe subterfuge? It's difficult to believe this isn't done intentionally.
That's beyond ... I don't even have words for it.
Lenape Animal Tales, by George Clever - a review - part 2
"There will be those who will question the authenticity of these Lenape stories."
He wrote that he got his "genetic knowledge gift of Delaware storytelling" from his grandfather, George. (p.iii) There is no U.S. Census which shows any Clever family to be "Indian," except one single family of Alaskan Indians, who are usually listed as "Cleaver," and one person in Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. This guy's family is from Pennsylvania. (p.vii)
George Clever writes that the Lenape were "a powerful band of warriors called the Grandmothers..." (p.2) What? I've read of them being called "Grandfather" and "woman" (by the Five Nations), but never "Grandmothers"!
Also, he writes that the Delaware Indians would move their villages when they heard of an impending attack from war parties, leaving behind those too elderly, sick or feeble, "...like broken pots or discarded garden tools to be murdered by the invading warriors." (p.2) I never read anything like this, before!
He uses the term, "winter count" (p.2), which is a Lakota thing--not Lenape.
He writes that the Lenape did not feed their dogs. They threw "scraps of trash meat ...into the fire, so the dogs would not get a habit of being fed and cease hunting." (p.3) I think he's confusing the sanctified deer meat used in ceremony with everyday food scraps.
Cedar and "sage" were burned in ceremonies. (p.4) The Lenape did not use sage in ceremonies.
In his account of the Naked Bear legend, Clever has the Lenape using atlatl's (spear thrower's) (p.11)--a weapon that had been abandoned centuries prior to the time period in which the original story is set.
He has the Lenape hurling spears and rocks at the animal from atop the huge boulder on which they positioned themselves. (p.14) In fact, Heckewelder's Indian informants told him that only arrows were rained down on the bear--not spears and/or rocks. (APS Transactions, 1799, pp.260-2)
The author has a Lenape boy finishing off the Naked Bear by breaking his back with a blow from his war club. (p.15) In fact, it was the arrows which killed him, according to Heckewelder's informants. (APS Trans., ibid.)
Finally, Clever writes that it was this act of the Lenape boy which started "a war between forest bears and the Lenape continuing to this day." (p.15) This is diametrically opposed to one of Heckewelder's Lenape informants, who said that it was the bears who started this war--not the Lenape. (Indian Nations, p.255)
The author says his story, "Creation on the Back of a Turtle," was told to him by his grandfather (p.25), to whom it was told by his own grandfather (p.26). It begins with the words, "Kunakwat, lawat, nuchi (Long, long ago, in the very beginning)." (p.26) Interesting that his grandfather's grandfather used nearly the same words as did Tree Beard in his creation story: "Kunakwat, lowat, nuchink. Long, long ago, in the beginning..." Except that Clever changes the last two Lenape words, in accord with the corrections I suggested in my review of Tree Beard's book. I'm not sure why he kept "Kunakwat," which means "it is high" or "it is long," with reference to physical objects, not time.
He lists a number of creative "responsibilities" assigned to the Keepers of the Four Directions, none of which are found in traditional Lenape beliefs. He goes on from here to weave together themes from non-cosmological and/or non-Lenape sources, as part of his creation story: a "Corn Mother" or "Corn Woman" named Natami, "sky wife" of the Creator; her "Spirit Daughter," mother of "Nanapush" and Makimani." (p.28) These characters are not part of the Lenape pantheon.
(more to come ...maybe)