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Henry Custer

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Saga of the Beads
By Henry Custer
Friday, August 16, 2002

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A true story that my wife and I both find amusing, in spite of the fact that she is very proud of her Indian heritage.

 Saga of the Beads
By Henry Custer

   I’m sure many of you have heard, or read, of the Indians who sold Manhatten to the United States Government for the sum total of $24 worth of beads. This is a fact in documented American history.

   My wife, Jody, is a member of the Delaware Indian tribe, also known as the ‘Lenape Tribe of Indians.’ Her Great-Grandfather was a brother of the last Chief of the Delaware tribe, Chief Charles Journeycake, before they were adopted into the Cherokee tribe. (Note: The Delaware Indians have since regained, through more litigation, their heritage as an independent Tribe of Indians, in the eyes of the US government.) (Jody says, YEAH!)

   As a young child, Jody’s Grandmother often regaled her about the pending litigation between their Tribe and the US government concerning this shameless land transaction. Someday, she assured Jody, they would come into a considerable amount of money as a result of this lawsuit that had been filed before Jody was born.

   Now, some fifty years later, Jody opened her mail one morning to find a check from the United States Treasury for her portion of the court settlement. Having kept up with the case history she was not too surprised to find the amount to be about $31.
   “May I ride into town with you this afternoon?” she asked as I prepared to make a service call to a customer in Tulsa.
   “Sure, but you may have to wait a while for me to make the call,” I replied.
   “No problem,” she explained, “I just want to stop by the bank and cash my check, then you can drop me off at Hobby Lobby while you make your call.”
   The check was duly cashed, I dropped her off at the store, made my service call and returned to pick her up. I noticed she had made a small purchase.
   “So,” I asked, “what did you find?”
   Opening the bag, she showed me. There were several small clear plastic bags of… BEADS!
   I should not have been surprised, she was heavily into bead work at the time. It was just the irony of it all that shocked me.

   After over half a century of expensive litigation the wrong had been set right. Now in less than one day, at least one Tribal member had chosen to convert her settlement back into… BEADS.

   I will leave it up to you, dear reader, to determine the moral of this absolutely true story.
 Copyright © 2002 by Henry Custer. All rights reserved.


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Reviewed by Jake George 2/5/2005

This story was indeed a turnaround. As a Lenape myself,I could see the humor in this.Your wife made a good choice on how to spend her money.
Reviewed by Jackie Brooks 5/26/2003
I hope Jody's beautiful bead work brought in at least ten times its original value. A very interesting story.

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