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Delaware Tribe visits Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

By Alyssa Nenemay

Members of the Delaware tribe of Indians traveled from Oklahoma to gain insight on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal operations. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay) Members of the Delaware tribe of Indians traveled from Oklahoma to gain insight on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal operations. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)

PABLO – Council representatives for the “Lenape” Delaware Tribe of Indians traveled from Oklahoma to tour the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal operations. The group hoped to receive mentorship on how to successfully re-establish their own nation, which re-received federal recognition a short four years ago.

The Delaware, or as they were traditionally known “Lenape,” were among the first tribes to come in contact with Europeans in the 1600s. Forcefully relocated westward from their aboriginal territory along the Delaware River, the tribe’s historical relationship with the US Government is strained with war and resistance. The Delaware have received and lost federal recognition three times.

“We are survivors and adapters,” said Delaware representative Nate Young. “We’ve had a hard history but we’re trying to move forward. We’re looking for fresh ideas and that’s why we came here. We’re so impressed with everything the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes has been able to accomplish.”

Delaware Tribe's first female Chief Paula Pechonick was a retired judge and council trust board member when she was appointed. “It’s time for women to step forward and take the lead, especially in these times. I really think Creator had a hand in me becoming the first female chief,” she said. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay) Delaware Tribe's first female Chief Paula Pechonick was a retired judge and council trust board member when she was appointed. “It’s time for women to step forward and take the lead, especially in these times. I really think Creator had a hand in me becoming the first female chief,” she said. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)

With 10,500 members, the Delaware tribe is now based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Headed by its first female Chief Paula Pechonick, the tribe has established several programs for its members including historic preservation, environmental protection, language revitalization, and educational assistance.

“The Delaware are looking for support to reach a level that other tribes have reached,” said former Osage chief and the group’s consultant Jim Gray. “The example (CSKT) set with your self-governance is the direction they are trying to go. It’s no small fight–the city of Kansas hasn’t been open with the tribe’s development. Whatever advice or help you give won’t go unappreciated.”

During their two-day tour, the Delaware chief and tribal council members met with department heads to share ideas on how to expand on similar ventures, as well as learn how to establish and run new ones.

“Each tribe faces unique circumstance but we can all help each other to move forward,” said CSKT Chairman Joe Durglo. “I think we have some of the best staff in the country. They help us every day and I don’t know where we’d be without them.”

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