History Matters: Delaware’s Forgotten Folks

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2015-12-19 23:07Z by Steven

History Matters: Delaware’s Forgotten Folks

Delaware Public Media: Delaware’s source for NPR News
WDDE 91.1, Dover
WMPH 91.7, Wilmington

Anne Hoffman, Youth Producer and General Assignment Reporter

History Matters examines the Levin Sockum case and its impact on the Nanticoke Tribe of Delaware

They’re called Delaware’s Forgotten Folks.

For the next two editions of History Matters – produced in conjunction with the Delaware Historical Society, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the Nanticoke Tribe. Part II is here.

They were one of the first tribes to meet Europeans back in 1608, and very soon after the tribe began to mix with Africans and whites.

Members of the Nanticoke tribe have fought a long battle to be fully recognized as Native Americans. They say that battle has been difficult.

Tribal members speak of what they call a paper genocide, pointing to early Census takers who were instructed to mark Nanticoke people as simply black or mixed race.

Perhaps the earliest instance of this paper genocide occurred during an 1855 court case that lives on in the memories of Nanticoke people today…

…And so what began as a simple case about selling gun shot became decisive in the destiny of the Nanticoke people.

“The question was, was he an Indian, or was he black? And the assessment was, if he were to be found that he were black or mulatto, then it would have been illegal for him to have made the sale. So it ended up being a racial trial,” says historian Gabrielle Tayac.

And here’s where things got a little crazy. The prosecution brought out an 87 year old woman named Lydia Clark. They argued that she was the last real Nanticoke, and that Levin Sockum could not be Nanticoke…

Read or listen to the story here. Download the story here.

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