Delaware Tribe Gets Grant To Preserve Historical Artifacts

Monday, December 16th 2019, 8:40 pm
By: Amelia Mugavero

The Delaware Tribe is one of only 12 tribes in the country, and the only in Oklahoma to receive a special grant from the National Park Service.

"Our culture is the foundation of who we are as the Delaware Indians," said Curtis Zunigha. 

Curtis Zunigha is the director of the cultural resources department and said the Delaware Tribe was the only Oklahoma tribe to receive the Tribal Heritage Grant, which was given by the National Park Service to fund documenting items such as photographs, documents, artifacts, and recordings.

"It's all really meant for cultural revitalization and to teach our own people, to re-learn traditional knowledge," said Zunigha. 

Anitta Mathis is the archive director and said the grant will pay for an enhanced archive system.

"This is a gift of love. I've been at this for 10 years and it's amazing to be able to preserve our history and our culture," Mathis said. 

The grant will also fund language programs like a talking dictionary where you can type any English phrase, click the speaker, and you hear the Lenape translation.

Jim Rementer is the director of the language project and said the grant will improve their technology.

"The grant will help with archiving costs and perhaps pay for a computer programmer," said Rementer. 

Zunigha said the funds will allow them to do more training for traditional funerals, burials, and cemetery maintenance, which is something he said lays the foundation for a bright future.

"It's a validation from the federal government. It's a validation that we are not forgotten," Zunigha said.

The Tribal Heritage Grant will fund a two-year project with the Delaware Tribe and tribal leaders said they have plans to open a museum once the grant is complete.