Nora taught Lenape language classes at Nowata, Oklahoma, in the years 1979-80. Mrs. Dean also developed several cassette learning tapes and booklets called the Lenape Language Lessons in 1980. Over the years she also worked extensively with a number of linguists and anthropologists to try to preserve the Lenape language and culture. We would like to acknowledge Carrie Briggs, a student in Bruce Pearson's linguistics course, for sharing recordings she made with Nora.
James H. Thompson
One elder who contributed to this dictionary is James H. Thompson, the father of Nora Thompson Dean and Leonard Thompson. James was born in Kansas near Kansas City, and as a baby moved with his family when the Delawares were forced to move to Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). He worked with several scholars such as Willard Rhodes and W. W Newcomb, Jr., to preserve some knowledge of his people's songs and customs. He worked with Jim Rementer on the language in the early 1960's.
Edward Leonard Thompson
1904 - 2002
Another elder who has contributed to this dictionary is Edward Leonard Thompson, the brother of Nora Thompson Dean. Leonard taught some language classes in 1985. He has also worked with a number of people on the language.
1867 - 1946
Willie worked with linguist Carl Voegelin in 1939 at the University of Michigan.
James C. Webber
1877 - 1950
James, more commonly known as Charlie, worked with anthropologist Frank Speck at the University of Pennsylvania in 1928.
1900 - 1971
Fred Fall-Leaf promoted efforts in the 1950s and 1960s to have events for the people who spoke the Lenape language to get together and have a chance to keep in practice with the language. Fred also worked with several linguists over the years. His father John Fall-Leaf also promoted the traditional ways by holding Stomp Dances.
Ollie Beaver Anderson
Ollie Beaver Anderson was a fluent speaker of Lenape, and was married to another Delaware named George ‘Tom’ Anderson. Ollie worked on the language during the 1960s mainly with linguist Ives Goddard, then a graduate student at Harvard. We would like to express our thanks to Dr. Goddard for sharing these recordings of the vocabulary work he made with Ollie.
1899 - 1970
Reuben worked with anthropologist Frank Speck, and with linguist Bruce Pearson and also Jim Rementer in his efforts to preserve information about traditional Lenape language, songs and dances, as well as handmade items. As far as we know Reuben was the only Lenape to have been on a radio show singing Lenape songs, although at the time he was extremely hard-of-hearing due to an auto accident. Reuben was also the last living Lenape to have sung his vision song in the traditional Big House Church.
1905 - 1976
Over the years Freddie worked with a number of linguists and anthropologists, including Frank Speck, in attempts to preserve the Lenape language and culture. Freddie worked on the language during the 1960s with linguists Ives Goddard and Bruce Pearson, then graduate students working on their dissertations.
Annie Brown Parks
1891 - 1980
Annie worked on the language during the 1960s with linguists Ives Goddard and Bruce Pearson, then graduate students working on their dissertations.
1900 - 1978
Martha worked on the language during the 1960s with linguist Ives Goddard, then a graduate student working on his dissertation. She later worked with linguist Ralph Cooley of the University of Oklahoma.
1896 - 1999
Bessie is shown here being interviewed by Ray Elkhair, Jr. in 1985. Bessie worked on language preservation during the 1960s with linguist Ives Goddard. She later worked with linguist Ralph Cooley of the University of Oklahoma. Also with linguist Bruce Pearson, and several other scholars on various topics.
1900 - 1989
Willie worked on language preservation with linguist Ralph Cooley of the University of Oklahoma. Also with linguist Bruce Pearson, and Duane Hale to help preserve the Lenape language.
1905 - 1988
Willard worked on language preservation with linguist Ralph Cooley of the University of Oklahoma. He also worked with Duane Hale to help preserve the Lenape language. In 1963 Willard represented his Delaware group as an invited guest to Sweden along with Jasper Hill and Cephas Snake of Moraviantown, Ontario.
Lillie Hoag Whitehorn
1902 - 1994
Lillie worked on language preservation with linguist Bruce Pearson, and also with Jim Rementer to help preserve the Lenape language and music. Lillie was half Caddo and was also fluent in the Caddo language.
Lenape Language Committee
Members of the Committee: Mike Pace, Jim Rementer, Mary Louise Watters, and Janifer Brown present a Lenape Language CD to former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating.
Project Personnel: The people working on the project are Jim Rementer, Dr. Bruce Pearson, Jan Brown, Dr. Nicky Kay Michael, April Daniels, and Ray Whritenour who has done extensive work with Lenape language as written by Moravian Missionaries. Dr. Ives Goddard of the Smithsonian Institution serves as a consultant to the project.
Jim Rementer, project director, began his study of the Lenape or Delaware language in the summer of 1961. He returned the following summer and resumed his study with James H. Thompson, one of the oldest tribal members. After Mr. Thompson’s death in 1964, Jim continued his study primarily with Nora Thompson Dean, daughter of James Thompson. Jim continued his studies with other speakers, and in 1997 the Delaware Tribe appointed him director of the Lenape Language Project. He recently discovered that his fifth great uncle, Nicholas Ramstein, was a captive of the Delaware Indians for fifteen months beginning in January 1756.
Note: In addition to the native speakers listed above, as project director I have added my pronunciation of words which lack sound files. I am doing so with the permission of the Delaware Tribe's Culture Preservation Committee. My pronunciation will be replaced if recordings of native speakers become available as we continue to work through our extensive recordings. - Jim Rementer.
Bruce L. Pearson, who had served as project co-director, began his work on Delaware with Nora Thompson Dean in 1968 while a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley. He taught linguistics and phonetics at the University of South Carolina from 1972 through 2003 while continuing to work with Mrs. Dean and others in the last generation of native Delaware speakers. Now professor emeritus he has contributed his notes and recordings to help to analyze language materials for this and related projects.
Grant Leneaux, emeritus professor of German at the University of Nevada, received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. He taught German, Classical Greek and Latin, and French for 25 years in the department, and despite his supposed retirement, he continues to teach courses in German and the Classics. Grant is from the Lenape family whose original spelling was Lenno. Grant serves as a consultant to the Lenape Talking Dictionary by commenting on the Moravian missionary materials written in Lenape and German.
Raymond Whritenour is a student of the closely related Northern Unami dialect of Lenape. For over 32 years he has worked with the materials written by the Moravian missionaries about the language and culture. He is the editor, translator, and publisher of over 25 books of Lenape language in that closely related dialect.
Nicky Kay Michael, Ph.D., a Delaware Tribal member, has her degree from the University of Oklahoma. Nicky edits the CDs for content, removal of extraneous noise, and removing unnecessary conversation. Nicky was able to use the Lenape language for her foreign language requirement when she was working on her Master’s Degree. When not working on the language project she trains for and has been in several triathlons. She also enjoys powwows and stomp dances.
Janifer Brown (1946 - 2015), a Delaware Tribal member, shown here with Lucy Blalock, worked on timing and listing content of the audiotapes, and editing the CDs for content. Jan prepared herself for this specialized work by taking a special workshop in linguistics conducted by Dr. Akira Yamamoto of the University of Kansas. Jan was also a member of the Lenape Language Committee and the Culture Preservation Committee, and was an active participant in the tribal social dances. Jan was also the senior author of the Conversational Lenape Mini-Dictionary, a pocket-size dictionary available through the tribal gift shop.
Oestreicher, Ph.D. worked on the Lenape language and culture beginning when
he was 17 years old. For seven years until her passing he worked
principally with Nora Thompson Dean, then with Lucy Blalock, and over the next
four decades with all of the remaining Lenape speakers in Oklahoma and
Canada. His notes and recordings are a major repository of the
language and culture. Over the years David has worked with the Lenape on
projects to help them preserve their heritage. In 2009 at the Ellis
Island Immigration Museum, with the help of the Lenape he curated Lenape:
Ellis Island’s First Inhabitants - the first major exhibition in New
York City to tell the story of the Lenape from earliest times until today.
David is happy to share his recordings with the Lenape Talking Dictionary
Project and to help the dream the Lenape elders had of keeping alive
their language and culture.
April R. (Vinyard) Daniels, a Delaware Tribal member, used her services and expertise to keep the tribal website up to date. April's great-great grandmother enrolled her family in the early 1900's. Her family, who live and work primarily in Vinita, have maintained close ties with their Delaware heritage, including maintaining their original land allotments in the Vinita area. April lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and son, but even though they are so far away from Bartlesville, April wants to maintain connection with her tribe.