The young women, Lizzie,
David, Henry and Sam all sat around the square shaped table while Esther
served their dishes. After they finished their meal the family lingered at
the table. The rain was keeping them inside..
"I have been meaning to
talk to you children and now is a good time for it." Sam wasn't relishing
the thought of what he had to say. You girls are almost grown women.
David and Lizzie you are still young. Our older girls know from the things
we've gone through that we do the things we have to do because it is a
necessity. Now, we have come to a time, again, when me must do a
Sam was preparing them for
a decision he had contemplated and prayed over for many months. "Lizzie,
you are still a child but you have shown that you are a capable person.
You have accepted the challenge of learning the white man's language.
Fannie, Creth and Annie have not been that interested in the books and I
understand why they would rather speak our language. I do not have to tell
you children how our lives have been.
We are all families. They
call us clans. White Eagle has his family. Red Leaf has his and so on.
When there were a lot of us we had leaders. If one of us or the other
fell, there were others for us. Today, this is not so. That terrible trek
from the Black Hills has taken away so many men. Those elders could
have been with you women to direct in case something happened to me. We
must be thinking of a plan.. David is still too young to lead. Henry's
poor health is a reality.
As we move into the white
man's world, there are many things required. How to keep the little land
we have and whether we are able to survive will be dependent on how well
we speak and read the English language.
Lizzie looked at her
father, and somehow she knew what he was going to say. It was as if she
had always known much would be expected of her. At the moments of
difficulty when she was unsure she was doing well, Sam had been beside
her, encouraging her, letting her know how important it was to master this
thing the whites called education. She felt no foreboding The girl did
not even think twice about it. Her father always knew best.
"You know what I'm going to
say, don't you Lizzie?" Sam questioned her directly.
"Yes, Father, I know."
Lizzie answered. There were those teachers at school who had seen her gift
with learning and had already suggested she might want to continue school
at Chilocco. It was a boarding school only twenty-six miles to the north,
close to the Kansas line.
"You are a good girl,
Lizzie. You can do it. From what I have seen of these people around us, I
believe the most dedicated to a good cause are those of the boarding
school, Chilocco. Some of these teachers have come from far off places.
They gave up their family and comfortable homes. They offered their own
lives to have our children educated in their Christian way. You must
follow their instructions carefully and completely. You must conduct
yourself as they want, being obedient in every part of your life. Things
will go well with you. I'm sure of it."
"For you, my older
daughters, there will be much required of you, also. As Lizzie obtains
this knowledge which will enable her to accomplish a good life, there may
be times, in fact, there will be many times you will need to rely on her.
I am leaving these instructions with you now, while I am clear thinking
and I will be reminding you as we go along.
paperwork, legal matters will be a part of this new life. Lizzie will
learn and will help you hold your land. Do not waste Lizzie's hard earned
knowledge. Use it, in every possible way, to help you in your lives.
Lizzie, since she is the youngest, will need to be always benevolent to
you, her older sisters and brothers--it will be something for which you
girls must work. Honor your younger sister even though she will achieve a
place in the white world. Unite with her in order to survive. This they
did and they all prospered. They had a close family. Their support of
each other lasted many years.