Truman W. Daily (1898-1996)
IN MEMORIAM: TRUMAN W. DAILEY
Truman Washington Dailey, the last fluent speaker of the
Otoe-Missouria (Baxoje-Jiwere-Nyut'chi) language, passed away on the
16th of December,
1996, at the age of 98, after several years of failing health. His
Eagle Clan name was Mashi Manyi ("Soaring High"); he was also known by
name, Sunge Hka ("White Horse").
He was born on October 19, 1898 near Red Rock in Oklahoma
Territory, a mere 18 years after the tribe left its traditional
homelands in Nebraska,
and migrated to Oklahoma Territory in an effort to escape the
westward non-Indian settlement. His father was George Dailey (XraS'age
Missouria & Otoe; his mother was Katie Samuels, Ioway & Otoe. He
was also raised and influenced by his Ioway maternal grandmother, Rachel
McCrary (Ewo'jigreMi "Makes Tree Fall Woman" [Beaver Clan]). He
had several siblings, but only a sister, Lizzie Harper, lived past
recently passed away at the age of 103.
He married Lavina Koshiway on March 17, 1928, and together he
served as a Road Man (ceremonial leader) in the Native American Church.
were unable to have children.
His father belonged to a group (the "Coyote Band") that resisted
giving up traditional ways of life, and young Truman was well versed in
literature and history of his peoples. He genuinely lived this
tradition by regularly supporting the ceremonial life of the tribe, as
well as applying his
traditional teachings in all his dealings with the larger world.
He was the last elder to be able to explain the reasons and meanings
behind the rituals
during tribal gatherings and ceremonials of the tribe.
Truman began teaching the Otoe-Missouria language to tribal
classes during the 1970's cultural renaissance. A gifted storyteller,
his vivid memory, use
of comparisons, and cultivated command of both his native language
and of English allowed him to pass along much of the knowledge and
he acquired from his own elders. In 1988 he again volunteered to
serve as a language consultant for Louanna Furbee of University of
Missouri and her
dedicated students to record his language for posterity. It is
thought by some tribal members that certain differences between his
speech and the usual
Otoe were remnants of the Missouria dialect of his father.
In addition to their respect for tradition, his family recognized
the need for academic education and the ability to participate fully in
world, and Truman attended Oklahoma A&M in Stillwater. He was
awarded an honorary Doctor's degree in 1993 by the University of
Truman was himself the subject of a doctoral dissertation (Lori
Stanley, _The Indian Path of Life: A Life History of Truman Washington
Dailey of the
Otoe-Missouria Tribe_, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia, 1993). This
work, and the continuing use of his language, will be the ultimate
tribute to his efforts.
He was laid to rest in
the manner he lived with a ceremonial prayer and song service of the
Native American Church that celebrated his life, his language and his
traditional knowledge that he shared and mentored for so many of us.
Jimm G. GoodTracks
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