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Cedar Mesa Project, Walum Olum
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The Walum Olum or Red Record
This is a translation of the text of the Walum Olum per the following
- Walum Olum; A Migration Legend of the Delaware Tribe
- By Webb, Eugene, 1938-
- University of Washington Press, c1981
- Library of Congress:
Book I, Genisis
- There at the edge of all the water where the land ends;
- The fog over the earth was plentiful, and this was where the Great Spirit
- It began to be invisible everywhere, even at the place where the Great
- He created much land here as well as land on the other side of the water.
- He created the sun and the stars of the night;
- And all these he created so they might move.
- Accompanying good deeds, the wind blew, the sky cleared, and the water
rippled in may places.
- It looked bright, for he made islands, and having done so, he remained.
- Then again, the one who is the Great Spirit, a manito, created manitos;
- And persons who die, and souls for all of them.
- Thereafter he was a manito to young men, full grown men, and their
- He gave the first mother, mother of persons.
- He gave fish, turtles, animals, birds.
- But another powerful manito created powerful men and those water monsters;
- He created the flies and the mosquitoes.
- Everybody behaved, seeing friends everywhere;
- And was happy, staying with the manitos.
- Those young men, the first men, went after their mothers, the first women;
- Who went to pick berries, the first food, while the young men followed
- Everyone was glad and pleased, everyone felt lively, everyone was happy.
- But the snake god, the guardian spirit, the worship snake did things
secretly on the continent;
- He did mean things, he did destructive things, and black deeds came there;
- Bad weather came, killing came, death came.
- Everybody from over there across the water stayed in the large villages of
the first land.
Book II, The Deluge
- Long ago there was a strong snake when men, the big men, stayed there.
- The strong snake, who was hated, and those young men stayed there; the
hated one tried to go about to forbidden places.
- Each of the two were destroying things, each of the two were in bad
circumstances; the two of them did not keep peace with each other.
- They were quarrelsome as they lived there; they were lazy and they were
- The strong snake quickly made up his mind about the men; he destroyed the
possessions of the people;
- He brought these things; he brought great quantities of water; he brought
- So that the water ran and ran, spreading in hollows and making hollows,
penetrating here and penetrating there, destroying something here and
destroying something there.
- Nenabush stayed on Turtle Island; he was a powerful rabbit, and the
grandfather of the people, the grandfather of men.
- The wind was blowing but he crept along and untied the turtle.
- The people and the men all kept going on; they crept along the river of
rapids there downstream to Turtle Island.
- The water monster ate some of them but there were many people.
- The daughter of the manito helped them with a canoe; and as she came from
the opposite direction, another helped them all;
- He who was Nenabush, Nenabush the grandfather of all, grandfather of
people, grandfather of the turtle.
- The Lanape people were there where the turtle was, where the turtle had a
tie-line about his waist;
- Where the turtle was they experienced fear, where the turtle was, they
prayed; that the other one cease doing what he was doing, that he repair what
he had done.
- As the water rippled on, long extended areas became dry even where there
were hollows and in caves; the powerful snake went some place else.
Book III, The Rescue
- After the flood, the Lanape turtle men were crowded together; they lived
well and stayed with the turtle.
- The water froze over where they stayed; snow came, the wind blew, and it
- There where the land slopes north and at the time when the wind was
blowing and the weather was getting cold, they secured many big deer and
pieces of buffalo meat.
- Those who were strong and those who had power came away, separating from
those who remained living there.
- The strongest, the gentlest, and the most religious did this; they were
- To the north, east, south, and west the hunters traveled.
- In the land of long ago, the north land, the turtle land, there the Turtle
Lanape were hunting.
- All the other hearths in the land were troubled; everyone said to the pipe
bearer, "Let us depart."
- And all these went in another direction to the Snakes in the east; they
were earnest and they were grieving;
- And they were weak and worried and trembling; tattered and torn, they went
off to Snake Island.
- There were still free people who were well cared for in the north; they
were the next to go away from the snow country.
- Where fish were in clear water in a hollow well by Snow Mountain, there
were the fathers of Bald Eagle and White Wolf.
- And while in a boat going upstream, our father dreamed of Snake Island to
- Head Beaver and Big Bird said to one another: "Let us all go to Snake
- All of them said they would go together to the land there, all who were
- The Northerners were of one mind and the Easterners were of one mind; it
would be good to live on the other side of the frozen water.
- Things turned out well for those that stayed at the shore of water frozen
hard as rocks, and for those at the great hollow well.
- 10,000 people went upstream, went right on upstream during a single day,
upstream to the eastern lands of the Snake Island; every man kept going along.
- The Northern Lanape, the East Lanape, the South Lanape; and the Eagle
Lanape, the Beaver Lanape, the Wolf Lanape; and the hunting men, the shamans,
the headmen; and Lanape women, Lanape daughters, Lanape dogs;
- All came from Snow Mountain and the forest country; the West Lanape came
out of humor for they preferred the old Turtle land.
Book IV, Leaders in the Forest
- Long ago the Lanape people were in a forest by a lake.
- Bald Eagle was the one traveling along a road, and all those others;
- Toward Snake Island, a vast country, a good land, where cold winds never
- The hunters who died went west to an island.
- All the others said to Fine Old Head, the chief who was about to leave;
- "When the Snakes come, you will kill them; then the Lanape people started
toward Snake Hollow.
- The Snakes became weak and hid in prairie hollows.
- After Find Old Head, White Owl was chief at the forest land.
- After him there was a handsome chief, Young Man Horned Owl.
- After him the handsome chief Bird, spoke in favor of the south;
- It would be good to instruct the western men to go over to the west;
- And for Bird to be a southern person, and for Beaver to be an eastern
- In the Snake Land, the southern land, the great land which extends along
- And in the Eastern Land, the fish land, beside a body of water far from
the buffalo country.
- After Bird, Fish was chief; all were killed;
- The Shamans, the Snakes, the Blacks, and the Stonies.
- After Fish, ten chiefs looked for evil events in the south.
- After him, Peaceful One was chief while the went to Snake Land.
- After him, there was a handsome chief, One Without Black Magic, who was an
- After him, there was a handsome chief, One Who Likes Virtue.
- The chief after him was One Who is Not Red, and the next chief was One Who
- The chief after him was One Who Lies Extended, and the next chief was Big
- The chief after him was Red Paint Person, the one who originated drawing.
- After him, the chief, One Who is Cold, went south to the berry country.
- The chief after him was Berry Man, who started the custom of gathering
- The chief after him was Made Thin by Heat, and the next chief was One Who
Sees Big Things.
- The chief after him was Sour Person, and the next chief was One Who is
- It was not raining, and there were no berries, so they went over to the
east where it was wet.
- By the good hills and along the plains, buffalo were beginning to graze.
- The next in order after One Who is Dry was One Who is Tired; after him
came handsome Inflexible Person.
- Next in order was handsome One Feather, engrossed in hate, who wanted to
- Because he was angry; he called for an emigration toward the east, but
some went off secretly.
- Those at Snow Mountain were happy and made One Who is Beloved chief.
- Once again they were in a settlement by the Yellow River, where berries
were abundant among the rocks and stones.
- When all were friends, Wolf Man was chief; and he was the first of these.
- The best person there was Wolf Man; he came as a friend to all the Lanape
- It was also good there during the time of the next chief, Strong Buffalo,
the one who went along the road.
- The Big Owl was chief, followed by White Bird.
- The next chief was Agreeable Man, a shaman who could hide himself in
places where water was shallow.
- Then Recurrent Fog was chief, followed by Red Paint.
- When White Fledgling was chief, blood flowed again in the north and in the
- When Clever One was chief, on the road toward Islands;
- He taught all to be destructive by killing Strong Stone.
- When Hands Over Everything was chief, he destroyed things belonging to the
- When Strength is Goodness was chief, he destroyed things belonging to
those who traveled in the north.
- When Lean One was chief, he destroyed things belonging to the Snake clan
of the Ottawa.
- When Opossum Face was chief, he worried about the destruction of things
belonging to others.
- Now when daylight came, he spoke three times: "Let those going east be
- They separated at Mississippi(?) River; and the ones who were lazy returned
to Snow Mountain.
- When Lean-to Man was chief, the Talligewi were in possession of the east.
- When Strong Man was chief, he wanted to go to the eastern country.
- When some infiltrated into the east where the Talligewi were, some were
- In-right minded indignation, all said: "Let us despoil! Let us destroy!"
- The Iroquois, their northern friends, then arrived; and all was explained
- It was while Long Bread was chief that they went along the road and on the
river to the other side of the river.
- That was good, for they killed many there in the Talega country.
- When One Who has a Resonant Voice was chief, they were exceedingly
powerful in the Talega country.
- When Little Basket was chief, they were given many dwelling places.
- When Go Between was chief, all the Talega habitations were in the south.
- When One Who Preserves What Is There was chief, all the men enjoyed
- The Snow Mountain men were now south of the lakes; and while their
Iroquois friends were north of the lakes;
- these were incapable of remaining friends, for they went about to
forbidden places when Snow Blizzard was chief.
- When Truth-Telling Man was chief, the Iroquois had already destroyed
- When Upright Nature was chief, the Iroquois trembled.
Book V, The Family Multiplies
- Long ago all kept peace with each other there in the Talega country.
- Road Man was chief there among the middle reaches of the White River.
- When White Wildcat was chief, there was much farming.
- When One Who Dreams of Good Things was chief, there were many people.
- When One Who Writes was chief, true records were kept.
- When Old Bird was chief, there were many berries.
- When One Who Remains was chief, there were many dwelling places.
- When One Who Paddles was chief, they traveled on may rivers.
- When Little Fog was chief, many of them went away;
- With the Nanticoke and Shawnee to the land to the south.
- When Big Beaver was chief among the middle reaches of the White River;
- He spoke for the future: "Oh stars, help us go west;"
- There to divorce ourselves from those who dwell together in another
direction to the south.
- Then One Who Experiences Supernatural Power was chief in the Talega
- When Scattering Man was chief, much was destroyed.
- Once again there were near the snake clans of the Ottawa, of the Stonies,
and of the Northerners.
- When Master of Boats was chief, they went after the Snakes in boats.
- When One Who Hunts While It Snows was chief, they returned from the north
to the south land.
- When One Who Looks On was chief, they went to the Talega Mountains.
- When One Who Dwells In Half Daylight was chief, they were already east of
the Talega land;
- In an extensive country; and there for a long time they were to remain in
this eastern stony land;
- Which did not belong to the Snakes; it was a good land and a rich land.
- When Trail Marker was chief, they came to dwell at places which were
nearer to the north.
- When they were along the Susquehanna, River-Bird was chief.
- When One Who Becomes Fat was chief, they were in the sassafras country.
- All the hunters were approaching the large body of water where the sun
rises from the water.
- When Red Arrow was chief, they were so far downstream that tides could be
- When Red-Paint Soul was chief, they were at the mighty water.
- When the Eastern men and the Wolf men faced both east and north;
- One Who Destroys things became chief, and went straight north.
- All the Seneca and Disgusting Wildcats trembled.
- When another Wolf man was made chief, all kept peace with each other;
- And all were friends; therefore, all were joined together near this chief.
- When Big Beaver was chief, they were in that sassafras region.
- When One Who Makes Himself White was chief, they were at the shore near
- When One Who Keeps Peace was chief, good things were plentiful.
- When One Who Takes Things By Accident was chief, there came from yonder;
- Persons floating in from the east; the Whites were coming.
- When Much In The Swamp was chief, they were happy.
- When One Who Buries the Dead was chief, they destroyed things to the
- Snakes were over there and Snakes were in the shady place where they were
destroying things anew.
- When White Otter was chief, they were friends of the Iroquois.
- When White Horn was chief, they were in the region of the Talega
- And there also were the Illinois, the Shawnee, and the Conoy.
- When Friend Who Comes was chief, they were at a land-locked lake;
- Where all their children and their friends visited them.
- When One Who Eats Cranberries was chief, they were friends of the Ottawa.
- When Walking In The North was chief, they were at the rushing waters.
- When One Who Lives Yonder was chief, they were at the shore near the
They wanted to divide into three divisions with each of the three to
follow its own customs, dating from the time each was created;
the Unami, the Munsee, and the Turkey divisions.
- When One Who Falls At Water's Edge was chief, they destroyed things
belonging to the Seneca.
- When Friendly One was chief, he played with the Seneca.
- When One Who Greets Others was chief, they went yonder;
- Over on the other side of the Scioto river among the ones whom they hated.
- When White Frog was chief, they were at the shore.
- When Hawk was chief, they were looking at an expanse of water;
- Where persons were floating in from the north and from the south; the
- Friendly people with great possessions; who are they?
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