November is National American Indian Heritage Month

How A Downers Grove Family Honored American Indians

Emery Timke was very active in Indian welfare for all Native American tribes and was a member of the American Indian Center in Chicago and of the Long House Indian Club at the Ishman YMCA in Chicago. Born in 1904, Emery was a third generation Downers Grove-ian. Around 1952, he and his wife, Evelyn, began a special interest in the culture and needs of the American Indians and began assembling Indian wares. They soon had a collection of pottery from the Pueblos of the Southwest, beadwork of the Plains Indians, drums, war clubs, ceremonial rattles and countless arrowheads. Every fall the Timkes would put these items on display in their home on Haddow and Francisco in Downers Grove for families and school children to visit. They invited American Indian families to bring and display crafts, wares, totem poles, tepees, buffalo robes and blankets. Chief Evergreen Tree, a Pueblo Indian, would come and give demonstrations in the skill of archery and bird calls for the visitors. No fee was charged to visit the museum, but they collected donations, including cartons of clothes and toys at Christmas time, to send to their adopted village, a pueblo of 100 families near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In recognition of his lifelong awareness and knowledge of Native American Indians, Emery Timke was made a blood brother to the Winnebago Tribe. When he died in 1960 Chief Walks-with-the-Wind from Starved Rock came to his funeral. The Chief placed an eagle’s feather in Emery’s hand, gave him the Indian name “Good White Warrior” and prayed Emery would continue his work for the Indian people in the Spirit World.  The Timke Museum continued for some time after Emery’s death. Evelyn Timke died in 1975.

Contributed by Lois Sterba

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