Article & photo By: Chris Flood – Cape Gazette March 28, 2023
Two brothers and local business owners have come together to replace the four-decade-old roof on the Nanticoke Indian Museum east of Millsboro.
Brothers James and Bob Grant, owners of Sun Building Group and Grant & Sons Roofing, learned of the need through Gil “Smiling Grey Wolf” Johnson, a Nanticoke Indian Association Tribal Council member.
Johnson said the roof hadn’t been replaced since the 1980s, and it had missing shingles and active leaks. He had mentioned the issue to James Grant recently and without skipping a beat, James volunteered to replace the roof on the museum and storage garage at no cost to the NIA.
James was on site the morning of the roof replacement, March 21. He said he didn’t give it much thought after finding out about the situation.
“It’s one tribe helping another,” said James, estimating the cost of the project to be roughly $25,000.
An eight-person crew wasn’t wasting any time getting the roof done. Before the frozen dew on the shingles thawed, the eastern portion of the roof was stripped down to plywood, and the crew was moving on to the other side of the single-story building.
The roof on the museum would take one day, while the roof on the storage garage will take another, said James.
The Nanticoke Indian Museum is the only Native American museum in Delaware and the nearby region, said Johnson. It has been a significant cultural staple in Delaware for many decades, and the stewardship of the facility and the artifacts contained within are one of the tribe’s top priorities, he said.
The tribe is thrilled and extremely grateful for the thoughtfulness, generosity, support and willingness to replace the museum’s roof, said Johnson. A leaky roof and moisture are the museum stewards’ worst nightmare, because they have the potential to damage or destroy irreplaceable cultural artifacts, documents, photos and Nanticoke Indian history, he said.
It’s not just the roof that needs replacement. The dehumidifier in the crawl space beneath the museum has stopped functioning and the museum doesn’t have the operational budget to cover replacing it, said Johnson.
“We are prayerful that another generous service provider and/or donor will step in to assist us with this unexpected cost,” said Johnson, estimating a new dehumidifier will cost roughly $5,000.