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March 10, 2009

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-T 14 TUESDAY, MARCH W - THtlRSDAY, MARCH ., 2009 Cape 00,Life Cape Gazette q. STEVEN BILLUPS PHOTOS MISS SOUTHERN DELAWARE HOLDS FUND00SER   Ashleigh Hudson of Lewes, held a fundraiser for the Children's Miracle Network Saturday, March 7, at Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats This was her last official event as Miss Southern Delaware, but Hudson has plans on making this an annual event. A raffle and a silent auction helped to raise $1,046 for the Children's Miracle Network. Other Delaware pageant winners joined Hudson at the fundraiser. Shown are (I-r) Miss Kent County, Julia Fuller; Miss Delaware USA Kate Banaszak; Hudson; and Mr. Delaware, Chris Saltalamacchio. Traveling ;11 the way from Nashville to support the cause was singer-songwriter Don Pedigo. Shown performing at the Children's Miracle Network fundraiser up- stairs at Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats are (I-r) bassist Tracy Mekee, Pedigo, drum- mer Zach Grindle and rhythm guitar player Tim Medlin. The Children's Miracle Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children's hospitals across North America. The Children's Miracle Network is the platform of the newly crowned Miss America Katie Stam, and many pageant winners are supporting her by raising funds and awareness about the program. Nanticoke woman shares reflections on her culture By Leah Hoenen It's one thing to learn history from an expert, but quite another thing, an increasingly rare thing, to learn it from one who has lived it. From Millsboro to Kansas and California and back again, Odette Wright has lived the contempo- rary history of the Nanticoke In- dianK She is called ,She Who Knows," and as curator of the Nanticoke Indian Museum, the doors of which she helped open in 1984, if it's about the Nanti- coke, she knows. Donated relics from the four corners of the country fill the modest museum. Wright knows the objects, and more important- ly, she knows the people whose culture they represent. One of five children, she grew up in segregated Millsboro. "Most of our people were farmers. They'd take their food to town to sell, but they couldn't go in the stores," said Wright, dressed in a bright blue ceremo- nial blouse. She speculates segregation was harder on her parents than on their children. It wasn't en- forced strictly throughout the re- gion, and she and her family would go to Lewes and Re- hoboth to shop and buy clothes, she said. The Seventh Day Adventists ran the fL,'St school she attended in the 1940s. Then, she went to a one-room Millsboro schoolhouse with oth- er Nanticoke children, all taught by one teacher. "We had to do a lot of helping, too, the older chil- LEAH HOENEN PHOTO  is curator of the Nanticoke Indian Museum. and tribal histori- an. dren," she said of the school that graduated its students in the eighth grade. Wright was one of five graduates. The Nanticoke children could- n't go to high school with white students, Wright said, but they had a turn of good fortune. In the 1950s, Sen. John Williams, af- ter whom Route 24 is named, arranged for them to attend an Indian school in Lawrence, Kan. Wright says her parents want- ed her and her siblings to go there, despite the distance, be- cause living with and learning beside other American Indian children would help them retain their cultural identi It was a boarding school and an eye-opening experience. The school accepted American Indi- an children from all over the country, about 1,000 in total. The students took trains and stayed at school, learning and working, from fall to the following sum- mer. "We were a lot better off than kids out West," said Wright. "We'd give them some of our clothes ... we were caretakers, because we had from our own people," she said. What they had were clothes, soaps and a little bit of money, all made possible because the Nanticoke tribe bought back land from white people after white settlers began to move inland, she said. Helping out their fellow stu- dents was no easy task. Students did not speak the same language. So, they developed a primitive sign language, explained Wright, who laughed as she pantomimed scrubbing clothes or shower wa- ter spraying down. "We were an inspiration to them. They had it bad," she said. "I'm glad we didn't live on a reservation. We owned our own land." For this reason and because segregation wasn't enforced wi an iron hand through the Cape Region, Wright says, "I wouldn't say we had it really, really bad." She went on day trips with fami- ly and friends to visit the beach area, riding east from Millsboro in the open bed of a pickup truck. She laughs and says back then, it wasn't like it is now, and people were free to do those sorts of things. What segregation existed was enough to discourage her from her dream of opening a restau- rant in MiUsboro. With the prej, udice, she says she wasn't sure what would happen. After she and her sister graduated from high school, the entire family packed up and moved to Califor- nia. There, Wright worked as a beautician and counseled Ameri- can Indian children. Wright would stay until 1976, when she returned East, living in the Arlington, Va. area with her sister, who had worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Once home in Millsboro, in 1979, Wright married and began working more closely with her own tribe. The Nanticoke tribe started work on its museum in 1983 and opened it to the public in 1984. For 16 years, Wright was cura- tor, and then she joined the Methodist missionary corps and traveled the world doing mis- sionary work "We try to go to Native Ameri- can places," she said. After see- hag Guatemala, South Korea and the American West, Wright re- turned once more to M illsboro and the Nanticoke Indian Muse- uln. She's been teaching classes, dancing, writing songs and singing while sharing her peo- ple's culture with others. Wright travels to Germany later this monthto teach German students about Delaware's Nanticoke peo- ple. Wright says it is important for people to know their cultures, so they can share them with others. But, that can be a difficult thing to teach youth assimilated in a melting-pot culture, she said. In the post-segregation world, while rights have expanded and living conditions improved, some people are losing their self- identity, said Wright. As a child, she said, "We could- n't do that. It made us stronger, because we were together a lot. We spent our time with friends and family." Knowing they had it better than many other people helped. "They live on reservations - the government owns you; it runs you. We're just like every- body else," she said. They also drew on their Chris- tian and Native American faith to help them through the tough times and held onto a strong sense of community, she ex- plains. "You should know who you are and what you are. Kids need to know who they are - be proud of who they are," she said.