In Memoriam: Dee Ketchum (Delaware Tribe of Indians), 1938-2023
Dee Ketchum (Delaware Tribe of Indians) in performance in Anderson, Ind., in 2014
Photo by Don Knight, Anderson Herald Bulletin
Dee Ketchum and his wife Annette Ketchum have had a long connection and friendship with the Eiteljorg. During the museum’s early years, they were involved in planning exhibits and presenting public programs about their people, the Delaware tribe, also known as the Lenape.
A former chief of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, Dee Ketchum was a leader, culture bearer, coach and educator from Bartlesville, Oklahoma. He died March 26 at age 84.
Central Indiana residents might remember Dee and Annette Ketchum as cultural educators at annual events at the Eiteljorg and Conner Prairie and in Anderson, Indiana. What is now the city of Anderson is among the ancestral lands of the Lenape people before their 19th century removal by the U.S. government to Oklahoma. In educating audiences, Dee demonstrated a variety of dances and engaged visitors with songs and stories. In October 2009, the Ketchums had a major role in creating and presenting a Delaware Cultural Day at the Eiteljorg.
In Oklahoma, Dee Ketchum also is recalled as one of that state’s great athletes. Setting records in three sports in high school, he was recruited by the University of Kansas in 1957 on a full basketball scholarship. He was a starting player all four years on the KU basketball team and co-captain his senior year. After earning his bachelor’s degree in education and master’s in educational counseling and psychology at KU, Ketchum coached basketball at the college level for 12 years. He later worked as part owner of his family’s oil pipe supply business. For 20 years, Dee served in his tribal government, as an elected tribal council member and then as chief from 1998-2002. In 2014, he received the Jim Thorpe Sports Excellence Award from the Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission.
As part of their efforts to educate the public about Lenape culture and heritage, Dee and his family participated in a WFYI-produced TV documentary in 2003, Long Journey Home: The Delawares of Indiana. His oral history interview also appears in the 2008 book Long Journey Home, edited by James. W. Brown and Rita Kohn and published by Indiana University Press.
In 2018, Dee and Annette Ketchum gifted a Delaware men’s Straight Dance outfit – a ribbonwork shirt, leggings, apron and other items – to the Eiteljorg, which enhanced the Delaware portion of the museum’s permanent collection.
The Eiteljorg Museum is indebted to Dee Ketchum for all his efforts to uplift the Delaware people. The museum staff extends condolences to his family, including his wife Annette, their two daughters, five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and his many friends. A complete obituary is at this link.