ground every where was packed and without vegetation so much so a dusty
place prevailed. Families walked across this hard surface and children
played on it. Off setting the starkness of this floor were the beautiful
old large trees covering the area. It was right they should be there because
at a very short distance a river ran through.
At this time during the early
afternoon the noisy play of children could be heard as they slipped in and
out of the water of the river as easily as young otters.
The two children who had
arrived upon this scene with their parents were in awe of this new
experience. There was no readily available place on the prairie for them to
swim from where they came. This seemed like such a wonderful place to live.
Mostly, there were army like
tents where people were living. However, in the background a few of the old
time tepees could be seen. Strands of ropes were stretched from the corners
of the tents and attached to the trunks of a tree. On some of these ropes
laundry was hung to dry.
Their mother led them to her
Uncle Alfred No Ear's tent. She was instructing them as to their behavior
all the while they were walking. “Do not ask rude questions.” “Speak
pleasantly when you are greeted.” “My Uncle is Alfred No Ear, his wife is
Nora Crazy Bear and his children are: Wilfred, Robert and Rosie No Ear.”
“Uncle Alfred is the son of my mother's sister, Creth Little Cook, No Ear.
Mrs Jack No Ear.” “Robert is your age.”
So began the children's
respect for knowing the family as well as their lineage.
Uncle Alfred was sitting in a
fold up chair in front of one of the tents. He had his legs crossed and he
leaned over, resting one elbow on one knee. In his hand he held the half
smoked cigarette he had not completely finished. On his face was a
pleasant expression and he was first interested in knowing the children. He
caught the attention of his youngest niece and was engaging her in
conversation by joking with her.
The young girl glanced toward
her mother and Mother nodded her head. “It is okay.” “It is our way, Uncle
will joke with his niece.” With her mother's approval the girl warmed up to
the jesting coming from this new Uncle. Native relationship is different.
Since he was the son of their Mother's aunt, forever after all the aunt's
descendants would also be an aunt or an uncle to the sister's line. This was
told to her after they left.
Robert took them under his
arm and with his generous hospitality they were able to dart in and about
the area. The tents were open at the front and Robert was taking them
through this one and that one of someone who was a friend of his. Some of
the floors of the tents were simply earthen. Others had wooden board floors
set into the bottom of the tent This along with a wood stove setting inside
gave the tents a very homey feeling. The beds were neat and tightly made.
Sometimes, there was only a bed setting in the middle of the tent. Other
times the beds were smaller and lined the two sides. It was all such a new
wonderland of a world. The simplicity of this life style was incredible and
the children were totally interested and overjoyed with the freedom of it.
Why they were given this
brief view of the life style of their mother's people was never known. She
may have been delivering a message for her own mother. The families owned
land together and too, because of their relationship other events in the
family had to be shared. At any rate, it was a wonderful memory and it gave
the children an opportunity to look beyond this place to a time before when
the ancestors of these people lived so very close to their mother, the
earth. That would have been a time when a travois could have easily moved
their belongings since they were so few.