"Archaeology and History of an
Unrecognized Indigenous Community in Central Delaware"
(aka the "Bloomsbury" report)
From Maureen http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NatNews/message/17962?viscount=100 Feb 4, 2002
Indian legacy argued in Delaware
By Randall Chase, Associated Press
DOVER - A federal review of an archaeological report suggesting there is more than one group of American Indians in Delaware is unlikely to resolve a war of words between members of the Lenape and Nanticoke populations.
A report that consultant Edward Heite submitted in 1998 to the Delaware Department of Transportation concluded that the original Indian inhabitants of the Cheswold area of Kent County adapted to European culture and that their descendants, known as the Lenape, remain in the area.
Mr. Heite was hired to examine a parcel of land called the Bloomsbury tract after it was selected as a site for an artificial wetland.
Among the evidence on which Mr. Heite based his findings were several pieces of bottle glass that he said were shaped into objects using traditional American Indian flaking techniques for stone tools.
The report, subtitled "Archaeology and History of an Unrecognized Indigenous Community in Central Delaware," was met with outrage by the chief of the Nanticoke Indian Association in Sussex County.
"I stepped into an Indian war," Mr. Heite said.
The Lenape say the report validates their Indian heritage, while the Nanticoke regard it as a threat and an insult.
"There's no other tribes in Delaware," said Nanticoke Chief Kenneth S. Clark. "We have an objection to people changing history."
Then-Secretary Anne Canby approved DelDOT's publication of the report in late 2000, after giving Chief Clark a chance to submit an addendum. But under pressure from Chief Clark, current DelDOT secretary Nathan Hayward III ordered the report withdrawn last year from publication and pulled from the agency's Web site.
Mr. Hayward and DelDOT archaeologist Kevin Cunningham did not return telephone messages last week.
DelDOT submitted Mr. Heite's report to the National Park Service for an independent technical review. That review should be finished this week and sent to state officials, said NPS chief archaeologist Frank McManamon.
Mr. McManamon said NPS cultural anthropologist Mark Schoepfle generally found Mr. Heite's research to be of high quality.
"It looks like it was a pretty good job," Mr. McManamon said. "You may see some of the conclusions that (Mr. Heite) draws may go a little further than the data warrant, but wait and see on that."
Chief Clark said Mr. Heite's report is rife with inaccuracies, but he would not provide specifics.
"I would rather not go into anything until we see what the (NPS) report says," Chief Clark said.
Mr. Heite said he was never told what Chief Clark's objections are.
"All we got was that Ken Clark didn't like the report, so we have nothing to refute," he said.
Dennis Coker, chief of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware Inc., is anxious to see both the NPS review and publication of Mr. Heite's report.
"What's at stake for us is recognition as a Native American group, an indigenous group native to Delaware," Chief Coker said. "We're proud of who we are. We would like to be recognized by the larger society as a distinct ethnic group."
While Delaware has no formal process for recognition of American Indians, the Nanticoke have received state grants, as well as federal job-training funds. Tribal members hold three seats on the human remains committee of the state Historic Preservation Office.
In 1994, the Lenape fought unsuccessfully for a Senate resolution recognizing them as an Indian community. The measure was tabled after lobbying by the Nanticoke Indian Association.
Chief Coker said the Lenape community numbers about 750 people and can document its population of the Cheswold area for at least 300 years. It has ties to other Lenape groups, including the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey, a tribe recognized by that state.
"We've intermarried with the Nanticokes for a couple of hundred years now," Chief Coker said. "Genealogically speaking, it's hard to tell one group from the other."
Such talk is anathema to Chief Clark, whose group numbers a little less than 1,000.
"People who are Nanticoke belong to this tribe; people who aren't Nanticoke don't," he said.
According to Mr. Heite, Algonquin-speaking Nanticokes concentrated on the southern Delmarva Peninsula and merged with the Assateague community. The Lenape, also Algonquin speakers, moved into Delaware from southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, he said.
Intermarriage was common in the Kent County area, a rough dividing line between the northern hunter-gatherers and the mostly agricultural southern tribes, including the Nanticoke, Assateague, Choptank and Chesapeake, Mr. Heite said.
"The Lenape community has maintained a separate identity, but the families in that community are related to the Nanticoke," he said.
According to Mr. Heite, the inhabitants of a tenant house at the Bloomsbury site that was occupied from about 1750 to 1814 included at least two Indians, John Sisco and Thomas Conselor.
Mr. Heite said glass tools similar to those at Bloomsbury have been found at other American Indian sites, but that evidence from such a relatively late period is rare.
"This is an archaeological demonstration of a connecting of the living community with the Native American traditions," he said.
Reprinted under the Fair Use http://nativenewsonline.org/fairuse.htm
4 Feb 2002, from Ned Heite --
Here is the text of a letter I delivered today to Delaware Department of Transportation. This morning's Associated Press article about the Bloomsbury dispute was the lead story in the Delaware State News. I apologize for the length. Quotes from the transcript are identified here by reference to a page number at the beginning. In the letter, these quotes were set off typographically.
The Bloomsbury report is still bottled up in the review process, but at least we now have a catalogue of the Clarks' objections, such as they are. The Department of Transportation has made the meeting transcripts available under the Freedom of Information (FOI), but the report has not yet been released.
Here is the text of my letter to Carolann Wicks:
Thanks to the Associated Press FOI request for their release, I have obtained a copy of the transcript of your October 26 meeting with the Clarks. It was a relief to finally see the charges that have been levelled against me, but a disappointment to see that your agency had accorded so much weight to such inaccurate comments and unfounded accusations in your decision-making.
I am shocked and appalled at the lies, misrepresentations, and outright slanders recorded in that transcript. I hope that the State of Delaware has the decency to dismiss these ad hominem attacks against me, my colleagues, and my professional record.
In this response, I restrict my comments primarily to the Clarks' remarks about the Bloomsbury report. Much of the session apparently was taken up with irrelevant personal attacks on me, my subsequent emails, and my work on behalf of the Native American people in this region.
The Clarks focus on the issue of official recognition for tribal corporate entities. While recognition is important to tribal leadership, it has no meaning whatever within the context of our study. We have been studying communities on a level of social history that transcends membership in any organized body. For this reason, I find much of the content of their presentation utterly irrelevant to the subject of our study.
If the Clarks' statements have influenced the consultant's report, I feel obliged to demand an opportunity to review the report and append comments before it is released to the public. I cannot take lightly the unsupportable charges levelled against me, and the harm the report's suppression has caused to me and to my firm, professionally and personally.
In our American system, we normally are accorded an opportunity to face our accusers and counter their arguments. Scholarly reports normally are allowed to be published and evaluated in the public marketplace of ideas. Prior censorship smacks of third-world dictatorships, where fresh ideas are feared.
Because inflammatory statements by the Clarks have been inserted into the public record unchallenged, I feel I must offer some corrections, citing pages in the transcript. The first example illustrates the scale of distortions that permeate the Clarks' statements (italicized):
Page 17: He gives the impression just in this one paragraph that Indians who chose to stay here gave up their identity, which isn't the truth at all.
Page 15: No, we are here because he says we renounced our heritage.
Page 50: Ned wants to say the real Nanticoke went north.
The paragraph on page 50 of our report, to which Clark refers, says nothing about renouncing identity or heritage. We stated that they "masked" their native culture, and that they were "indistinguishable on the record from their white neighbors." Indistinguishable on the record does not mean that they gave up their identity. Here is what we actually wrote:
Indians in the east are here because their ancestors consciously masked their native culture. During the removal period, Indians who chose to retain their traditional way of life were packed off to a sequence of distant reservations. Those who chose to stay in their home territories adopted European ways and acculturated as quickly as possible. Rather than live on tribal reservations, they acquired land in the European tenure system, and became landowners indistinguishable on the record from their white neighbors.
We wrote a whole journal article on the "invisibility" problem that bedevils researchers working on the history of postcontact Native populations in the eastern United States. Throughout the transcript, the Clarks have twisted our statements to make it seem that we have said the exact opposite of what is on paper in our report for all to see. In fact, our Bloomsbury research demonstrated the survival of certain Native crafts more than a century after acculturation began. So it's clear that the Native people didn't renounce their heritage.
Page 7: And you know, in 1881, there were laws passed that delineated who the Nanticoke Indian people were. To this day, all of the people in our tribe have to connect back to that list.
The 1881 law said nothing of the sort.
The law did not mention Indians.
It merely allowed a group of named individuals to set up a separate school district, and to tax themselves for its support, much like a modern charter school. The school law was an important step in the struggle for recognition, but it did not recognize an Indian tribe. Nor did it define who was a Nanticoke Indian; it merely lists people who signed a petition. Yet the Clarks insist that the list of names in the 1881 law constitutes a tribal roll. The exaggeration was extended:
Page 26: It's part of the Delaware law that you can't bring anyone in our tribe who doesn't connect to that tribal roll.
If there is such a law, we are unable to identify it. Kenneth Clark also compares the 1881 list to a federally-created tribal roll of Lenape people in Oklahoma:
Page 10: We know every tribe in this country has a tribal roll to go through. There is not one tribe in this country that exists without tribal rolls. The Lenape group, the recognized Lenape people in Oklahoma, their tribal rolls go back to 1906. Our tribal rolls go back to 1881. So our rolls are actually a quarter of a century older than Lenape in Oklahoma which is the only recognized group.
A simple incorporation law has been invested with a significance far beyond its actual place in history. Here is the text of the 1881 law. Judge for yourself:
An Act to exempt certain persons from the operation of Chapter 48 of Volume 15 of the Laws of Delaware, and to enable them to establish schools for their children in Sussex County
Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Represetnatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met (two-thirds of each branch of the legislature concurring), that Whittington Johnson, William A. Johnson, Samuel B. Norwood, George L. Norwood, Robert W. Norwood, Elisha Wright, Return Wright, Selema Wright, Nicholas Wright, James H. Kimmey, Robert Clark, Thomas H. Clark, Myers B. Clark, Isaac Harmon, John Harmon, James H. Clark, William R. Clark, Ann Johnson, Robert B. Johnson, John Thompson, Theodore Harmon, Stephen M. Norwood, John Harmon, Mitchell Harmon, Gardiner Draine, David P. Street, David R. Street, David Wright, George W. Clark, Elias C. Clark, William Clark, all of whom are residents of Indian River Hundred and Sussex County of this state are hereby and shall be hereafter exempted and relieved from the operation and burdens of Chapter 48 of Volume 15 of the Laws of Delaware, entitled, An Act to tax colored persons for the support of their own schools and the said Chapter 48 of Volume 15 of the Laws of Delaware shall in no manner apply to them.
Section 2. Be it further enacted, that the parties named in the first section and their successors are hereby incorporated in constituted a body politic under the name of "The Indian River School Districts for a certain class of colored persons," and in such name, may among other things, have a corporate seal, take and hold ground for two school houses, and the appurtenances and furniture, and for such purpose may take and hold by devise, bequest or donations, real and personal estate not exceeding in annual income five hundred dollars, for the use of the schools in said district, and may alein the same; may take bond from their collector; may prosecute actions upon it, and any action for injury done to any property of the district, in which they shall recover double damages and costs, and also any action for a forfeiture or penalty due to the district; any of the said actions may be brought before a justice of the peace, if the sums demanded do not exceed one hundred dollars and he shall proceed as in other demands of like amount. The said district shall not possess any powers or franchises other than those hereby expressly given it.
Section 3. Be it further enacted - that anyone may hereafater be made a member of this corporation by a two thirds vote of those present at any stated meeting thereof, upon his posting thirty days before said stated meeting written notice of his application for membership on the front door of each school house, provided that no one shall be a member of this corporation who does not belong to the class of colored persons to which those mentioned in section one belong; is not above the age of twenty one years, a citizen of this state and a resident of said Indian River Hundred.
Section 4. Be it further enacted that the said corporation shall be divided into two sub-districts called respectively "Warwick District" and "Hollyville District." The limits of said sub-districts shall be defined by five members of the corporation to be selected by ballot at the first meeting of the corporation. They shall make report of their proceedings to the corporation and the same shall be recorded in its records but said limits may in like manner be at any time changed, the five members only to be appointed at a stated annual meeting.
Section 5. Be it further enacted that the persons named in section one of this act shall meet on the first Saturday of April next at two o'clock in the afternoon at some place to be selected by a majority, and shall procede, after selecting a chairman and secretary to elect by ballot two school committees, one for each of said sub-districts. Such school committees shall consist of a clerk and two commissioners and shall be elected for the term of three years. They shall also resolve by a majority vote what sum shall be raised for the prupose of purchasing a lot of ground and erecting thereon a school house in each of said sub-districts provided said sum shall not excede the sum of four hundred dollars and shall also resolve by a like vote what sum shall be raised for the purpose of supporting the said two schools for the ensuing year, provided said sum shall not excede the sum of two hundred dollars.
Section 6. Be it further enacted that the members of said corporation shall have a stated meeting every year on the first Saturday of April at two o'clock in the afternoon. Such meeting shall be held at the Warwick School House and Hollyville School House in the alternate years, and shall be kept open at least one hour. Every member who has paid his school tax for the preceding year shall have a right to vote. One third of the members of the corporation shall constitute a quorum and may procede to business. They may appoint a Secretary and Chairman and shall resolve by a majority vote what ever shall be raised for the support of said two schools provided that said sum shall not excede in any one year the sum of two hundred dollars in the aggregate. They shall also elect a school committee as aforesaid for the term of three yeaars whenever the terms have expired and shall have the power to fill any vacancies by electing some one to serve for the residue of the term. They shall also at said stated meeting elect by ballot five members who shall then and there procede to apportion to each member of the corporation his or her share or portion of the sum to be raised during the ensuing year for school purposes as aforesaid and shall make report of the same to the said meeting. Any member of the corporation who is dissatisfied with the report may appeal to the meeting stating his grounds and the matter shall be there and then decided by a majority vote. When said report has been adopted by a majority vote it shall be fixed and conclusive upon all parties. They shall also at said meeting elect a collector, to whom they shall give a proper warrant to collect the sum aforesaid from the parties upon whom it is assessed and who shall give bond in the penal sum of four hundred dollars for the proper performance of his duties. His oath shall be proof of a demand, and if a member does not pay the amount apportioned to him for ten days after demand the collector may bring suit therefor before a justice of the peace. The collector for the past year shall at said stated meeting render an account thereto which shall be at once examined by a committee of three to be appointed by the chairman.
Section 7. Be it further enacted that the School Committee of each sub-district shall select the teachers for these respective schools but the stated annual meeting shall determine how many months the school shall be open and how much money shall be apportioned to each sub district from the aggregate sum to be raised for the year. Each school shall be open to all the children between the ages of seven and twenty one of those members who have duly paid to the collector of the preceding year the sums with which they were charged.
Section 8. Be it further enacted that any member who has paid all the sums with which he is charged as aforesaid may withdraw from membership in said corporation by giving notice at the annual stated meeting of his intention so to do, providing however that he shall immediately thereupon become again liable to the provisions of the said Chapter 48 of volume 15 of the Laws of Delaware.
Passed at Dover March 10, 1881
Speaker of the House of Representatives
The law created a school system for a "certain class of colored people," and listed the people who requested the proposed school. Yet the Nanticoke Indian Association insists upon telling us that this law is tribal recognition, and Kenneth Clark claims that the list of subscribers is a tribal roll.
Mr. Clark said, relative to this law (page 35), that "They recognized us as an indigenous group and gave us the - they stopped taxing us for schools." There is not a word about an "indigenous group" anywhere in the law (above). Credibility is being stretched to the breaking point here.
Page 20: A 1903 law that was passed specifically says you prove who you are to the satisfaction of the chief and the tribal council of the Nanticoke Indian Tribe. A certificate would be given to you.
The 1903 law says nothing of the sort.
It recognizes descendants of Nanticoke Indians, and makes no mention of a tribe or tribal council. Here is the text. See if you can find any reference to an organized Indian tribe. It mentions only "descendants" in all three counties:
Senate Bill 110
An Act to better establish the identity of a race of people known as the offspring of the Nanticoke Indians
Passed at Dover March 18, 1903
Be it enacted by the Senate ond House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:
Section 1. That the class of people, known as the descendants of the Nanticoke Indians, formerly of Sussex County but at present located in the several counties of the state, desiring to migrate may appear before any Justice of the Peace or Notary Public, of this State, and on the evidence and proof that he or she belongs to, or is a descendant of the Nanticoke Indians, may procure from such Justice of the Peace or Notary Public a certificate reciting such facts.
Section 2. That after the approval of this Act the descendants of the Nanticoke Indians named in Section 1 of this Act shall hereafter be recognized as such within the State of Delaware.
Section 3. This Act shall be deemed a public Act.
Approved this the 23rd day of March AD 1903
Philip L. Cannon
President of the Senate
While the 1903 law is important to the history of Native American identity in Delaware, it has nothing whatever to do with the Nanticoke Indian Association, which didn't exist for another 19 years. It doesn't even identify the people as Nanticokes, only as descendants of Nanticokes. Another state law, mentioned several times in the transcript, is the Delaware unmarked burials law, Senate Bill 12, 134th General Assembly, 1987. This, according to the Clarks, identifies the Nanticoke Indian Association as a recognized tribe. Here is the preamble:
WHEREAS, the Nanticoke tribe has inhabited the Delmarva Peninsula for hundreds upon hundreds of years; and
WHEREAS,the Nanticoke Indian tribe is proud of its heritage and maintains great reverence for the honor and dignity of its ancestors and other Indians who once inhabited the lands now comprising the State of Delaware and the Delmarva Peninsula, and
WHEREAS, the reverence and respect owed these ancestors of the Nanticoke tribe and other Indians who once inhabited the lands now comprising the State of Delaware and the Delmarva Peninsula has been greatly compromised by the excavations and display of the skeletal remains of these ancestors at such places as the Island Field Site near South Bowers; and
WHEREAS, these noble ancestors of the Nanticoke and other former native inhabitants should be allowed to rest in peace and dignity without having their remains exposed and placed on public display; and
WHEREAS, the Nanticoke Indian tribe is the sole remaining Indian tribe in the State of Delaware and thus the sole remaining representative of all of the tribes that once inhabited what is now Delaware.
This is only the preamble; the law itself, which is Code, makes no such declarations. A preamble is not law. Nor is a legislative declaration a statement of historical fact. Even though the preamble is factually incorrect, the Clarks keep bringing it up, as if the General Assembly were the final authority on historical fact.
When we discussed the obsolete term "tri-racial isolate," the Clarks accused us of applying the term to the Nanticoke. This is not true.
Page 20: So starts off his premise of tri-racialism and tri-racial isolate. All of a sudden we are lumped into that. He doesn't bother supporting. He doesn't bother saying why there's no reference to that. He just says it.
Actually there are seven bibliographical citations in that section on page 48 of the final draft that went to the printer. The term"tri-racial isolates" is distasteful today, but its existence is part of history that we must recognize. We discuss in some detail the historical issues, but in no way did we ever imply that the Clark family have black ancestry. In our summary of that section, we stated exactly the opposite:
"As details have fallen together, it has become apparent that the isolate groups are, in fact, remnant Native American communities that have remained outside the official system of recognized tribes."
One of their sticking points seems to be our statement that the Indian River, Cheswold, and Bridgeton populations are genealogically indistinguishable. In the transcript, the Nanticoke argue using statements that don't really relate to this issue. When we said they were genealogically indistinguishable, we meant that families in the three communities trace back to the same small group of eighteenth-century ancestors, and that the families subsequently intermarried. I verified this statement with several genealogists, members of all three communities, who agree that it is a true statement. This is not the place to go into detailed genealogies, but I can cite a few examples:
1. William Handsor lived in both Sussex and Kent counties during the eighteenth century and has descendants in both communities today. Virtually all the Native American families in all three communities are somehow descended from Handsor and his contemporaries.
2. One of our team of genealogists reports that she had three grandparents from Cheswold and one from Indian River, through whom she was admitted to the Nanticoke Indian Association.
3. Today most of my acquaintances in the three communities have close relatives by blood or marriage in one or both of the others. For example, Urie Ridgeway, an officer of the state-recognized New Jersey group, is the son of a Cheswold native and descends from one of the core families of the Indian River community.
4. Lenape chairman Dennis Coker, who is a third cousin of Charles Clark, is descended from one of the families that lived at Bloomsbury. His mother is from New Jersey and his father is from Cheswold.
Page 46: All of a sudden, page 57, he begins to get deeper into the Nanticoke, Sussex County Nanticoke. Indian awareness has a longer history among the closely related group. Automatically assuming that we are closely related to people in Cheswold. Why not support it? Why not show some support?
There simply is no basis for disputing our statement that the three communities are a single genealogical group. A "proof" of this statement would require reams of documentation, but Mr. and Mrs. Terry provided a sample when we met at the DelDOT headquarters. We are not talking about occasional intermarriage with other groups, as the Clarks suggest, but intertwined lines of descent from common ancestors back three centuries. The Clarks' remarks on the subject merely trivialize the historical facts regarding their own ancestry and display either ignorance of the facts or intentional falsification.
We stand by our statement on page 53:
"Delaware legally recognizes an organized Sussex County Nanticoke tribal group, which contains individuals with near relatives in Kent County and New Jersey communities that are not legally recognized by state or federal authorities. The three communities are genealogically indistinguishable."
One of the New Jersey groups, based in Bridgeton, is recognized by the State of New Jersey, and calls itself Nanticoke-Lenape because a significant number of its antecedents were from Indian River, as we describe in the report.
The Clarks have inserted totally unrelated matters in an attempt to divert attention from the report itself. For example, in response to the paragraph above, Mr. Charles Clark is quoted as saying, beginning with a misquote:
Page 42: So when he says we are historically and genealogically indistinguishable, he's wrong because history shows we couldn't walk down our community block and get a high school education. The folks in Cheswold could. You get a high school education if you were, quote, a Moor. You couldn't get one in Delaware if you were an Indian.
We never said they were historically indistinguishable. In fact, we made an effort to distinguish between the histories of the three closely-related communities.
Distortion occurs throughout the Clarks' presentation, but I have neither the time nor the energy to keep pointing it out. On the subject of high school educations, every "colored" pupil - black, Moor, or Indian - was entitled to attend the high school at Delaware State College or, later, the Jason or William Henry high schools. Both the Nanticokes and the Lenape people in Cheswold found other sources of education, which we mention in the report. Some people from both communities could have chosen to attend "colored" high schools.
We dealt with the incredibly complex issue of separate schools in one paragraph, which was all it deserved in the context of our report, on page 56:
"A few "moor or "Indian" schools eventually were established within the colored system, but only at the elementary level. Some went without education rather than attend segregated black school; others moved away to less segregated states, or sent their children to schools in unsegregated jurisdictions (Heite and Heite 1985)."
This paragraph describes the situation beginning in 1868 that lasted nearly a century. Among the events during that period was the 1881 school act the Clarks keep mentioning. There were other provisions for other "Moor" schools, but we had no room for them, either. We weren't writing about schools; we were writing a social history of a community, which is only peripherally involved with formal institutional history.
Page 53: I will tell you this. Based upon newspaper articles that I've read, there was an article in the News Journal a year or two ago where the people in Dover and Ned and them actually contacted a man in Idaho or Iowa, someplace out - like going out that part of the country, western part of the country, and called to [tel]l him that he was connected to this group out here. And the man was surprised where he says, I always thought I was white. I never knew I was - so you're asking the question that they didn't know they were Lenape.
The person in question is Charles Councellor from Indiana, who is descended from the Thomas Concellor who lived at Bloomsbury. Chuck got in touch with us, not the other way around. He was unaware that his ancestor was Indian, but did tell us that the son of Thomas was shunned because he was "dark," after he moved to Indiana. He is justly proud of his Indian ancestry and has taken an interest in the community from which his forefathers emigrated. A nationwide awareness of their Delaware heritage has arisen among descendants of the Cheswold Native American community, in no small part a result of the reports we have generated for DelDOT.
Last October, Lenape from all over the country met in Vineland, New Jersey, and I spoke on their heritage. This April, the Lenape will gather in the Cheswold area, and again I will be a speaker on their history.
Page 129: Another e-mail on November 5th, '98, the Indian community throughout Delaware is totally intermarried. He also talks about how he was descended from a Cheswold community ancestor, Owen Seeney, but that is another story. That was back in '98. Ned now claims to be a member of that group.
Rhetoric again muddies the waters. We never intended to provide criteria for identifying modern people as Indians. I happen to descend from one of the progenitors of the local Lenape population, but I have never claimed to be an Indian. Instead, I am proud to point out that the Lenape have made me an honorary member of their tribal group. To me, this banter is all irrelevant to the historical narrative.
Page 61: Judge George Purnell Fisher - judge. He says this as if he was the judge of the trial. Now, you expect a judge to be impartial and fair. That's why they are a judge.
George Purnell Fisher was the prosecutor in the case. He later became chief justice of the District of Columbia. We introduced him as "Judge George Purnell Fisher, who as a young man prosecuted Harman and Sockum ...". Where did we claim he was the judge in the trial? This kind of illogical statement is almost impossible to counter, especially when Charles Clark says:
Page 61: So he cites George Purnell Fisher's account in a newspaper in 1895 about the Lydia Clark trial. That's misleading. He wasn't a judge. He was the prosecuting attorney.
Yet again, Mr. Clark distorts our statements.
Judge Fisher's memoir is the only reliable source we have for the proceedings, and he was sympathetic to Sockum's cause and the other "Moor" people he evidently counted as his friends. Judge Fisher never put much credence in the Lydia Clark testimony, but as prosecutor he was obliged to use it. The other account is a mere docket entry, that tells almost nothing about what occurred. Some details, such as the allegation that Lydia Clark was "influenced" by threats from her white benefactor, came from Chief Russell Clark. All the to-do about the format of the court docket is sophistry, that has no bearing on what was said at the trial.
Page 84: This report throws all that stuff out the door. It makes it unimportant. It makes it - this report puts the folks in Cheswold at a parity with us, even though they don't have the history we have, even though they don't have the continuity of government, even though they don't have Delaware law behind them, even though they don't have historical fact behind them. He puts us on a parallel and says we are indistinguishable historically and genealogically.
Again, we never said they were historically indistinguishable.
They are the same genealogical entity, but of course they have different history. Since we are discussing the social history of a community, the history of the Nanticoke Indian Association is peripheral to our studies.
In other parts of the transcript, Charles and Kenneth Clark refer to the Mitsawokett online mailing list and the Mitsawokett web page as if they were my personal outlet. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The web page is administered by Betty and Ray Terry, whose track records as Native American genealogists is above reproach. The list is an open forum, to which anyone can contribute. I am one of three moderators, whose role is to post new members and to remove anyone who is unruly or abusive. Fortunately, we have never needed to dump anyone. None of the moderators has any control of what appears on the list.
I'm proud of my contributions to the Mitsawokett mailing list and web page. These media grew out of the outreach from our Bloomsbury work, and they have contributed vastly to the historical and genealogical body of knowledge. If Charles Clark is upset that his grandmother's published obituary was reproduced on the Mitsawokett page, that is his problem, not mine. Lots of obituaries are on the web page because they have considerable research value.
Archæology, news, and historical research are public activities; our fellow citizens have a legitimate interest in these subjects, which archaeologists, reporters, and historians are obliged to serve. In fact, my own ancestors have been the subject of two DelDOT reports, and a slide of my ancestor's bones has been shown at archæological meetings.
It is unfortunate that the state has chosen to act on the Clarks' complaints without bothering to verify their accusations, or to allow the authors to respond. I don't know the underlying motives, but I know that the net result of this affair has been to cast doubt on my personal credibility. Given the total lack of any supportable objections to its publication, I urge you to release the Bloomsbury report immediately and let the people of Delaware evaluate it themselves. From this transcript, it appears to me that the Clarks do not trust the public to make informed decisions. END
Responses are welcome.
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