Richard Calmit Adams, a member of the Delaware Tribe, was born on August 23, 1864, in Wyandotte County, Kansas. His father, William Adams, served as a Baptist minister and as a clerk of the Delaware tribal council, and his two uncles were chiefs of the tribal nation. In 1867, the U. S. government demanded that Delaware Tribe members relocate from Kansas to lands in the Cherokee Nation. In 1869, Adams’s family moved to Russell Creek, located in the Cherokee Nation and in what would become Oklahoma. His mother, Kate, died there in 1870.
Adams attended school part-time in Alluwe, Oklahoma, until 1880. He worked a variety of jobs over the next several years, including herding cattle, running a store, and operating a timber business. In 1894, he published information about the Delaware Tribe in the U. S. Census Bureau’s Extra Census Bulletin, including a history of the tribe, a code of laws, and two Delaware legends.
He went on to publish five books about Delaware culture and history, including The adoption of Mew-seu-qua, Tecumseh’s Father (The Crane Printing Company, 1917) and A Delaware Indian Legend and the Story of Their Troubles (1899). Many of his books feature poems about his people’s legends and their political rights.
In 1896, Adams travelled to Washington, D.C., to investigate the land rights of the Delaware people in the Cherokee Nation. He began legally representing members of the Delaware Tribe the following year, and he continued to campaign for his people’s land and mineral rights until his death. He died in Washington, D.C., on October 4, 1921.