As for speaking of children and crafts these
comments are strictly about the memories involving my own family, and at
this point, not speaking for the tribe as a whole and how each family
deals with teaching their own child.
My father having a strong cultural background worked with our Mother in
seeing to our learning and working with crafts on a daily basis. Mother
and Daddy both were inventive and intuitive as to the point of being
possibly called opportunists. How? One might ask.
There was never a time we were denied the
use of tools available. Tools were collected and passed down from father
to a son and they became treasured and respected. If there was a leather
punch which had belonged to Dad's father, we were advised of the value of
the tool. Along with respect for the tool we were taught how to use it
properly. I sincerely believe this also is a cultural thing. From an early
age Native American children are given responsibility in this way. They
learn how to care for tools and it is rare to see a Native American person
who is not disciplined as to caring for his tools, in fact, I have never
For the next observation, there is the
matter of members in the family who have a gift or a talent. They, in our
case, were always there to pass on these skills.
Memories of family teachings:
Aunt: At the age of five teaching how to
cut a pattern for my doll and how to baste the cut out the dress.
Grandmother: Teaching crochet at the age of
six by using a large needle and Christmas string which had been used for
wrapping she saved for this purpose.
Grandmother: The hemming of tea towels
using a basting stitch.
Mother: Allowing me to use the only sewing
machine to stitch simple skirts and blouses when I was in junior high
Father: Use of the leather punch for repair
of belts, punching hole for lacing vests, making small tom-toms, and other
Uncle: Storing and care for tools in a
respectful habitual way.
Cousin: Social skills as to behavior
involving faithfulness and how to be a good friend or neighbor.
Cousin: Child care.
Cousin: Maintaining a functioning pleasant
Father, Mother, Uncle, Grandmother:
Religious instructions of a detailed instruction as to a memorizing and
learning history etc.
Grandmother: Oral traditions of the Ponca
Mother: Simply beadwork, daisy chains and
simple beaded belts with and without the use of looms.
Aunt: Cooking of traditional foods.
Aunt: Cooking of American foods.
Aunt: Collecting books, recipes, recording
and filing these in great numbers for a library of such.
Mother: Cooking and planning well-balanced
meal, nutritional and attractively served with an eye to variety. Teaching
the children to learn about foods from many different sources, such as the
sea, the tropics, or distant states. Variety in foods at one time was not
as plentiful in Oklahoma as they are now. Avocado from California,
Coconuts and fresh pineapple from Hawaii, Sea foods such as lobsters and
oysters were all foods our mother introduced and taught us to enjoy. Maybe
we did not have them in large quantities but we were given the opportunity
to sample them.
Grandfather: Management and care of tools.
Organization and saving of materials in order to have a variety with which
to work whether it was saved buttons, leather, bits of ribbon, safety
pins, or any other minuscule object or larger things he had found and
saved. Great numbers of paint cans with small amounts someone had tossed
he saved and there was always the color one happened to need.
Aunt: Practice of care giving in time of
family member severe illness.
Aunt: Teaching children to tell time at an
early age with her simple, easy to learn method.
Cousin: Teaching of driving a motor
Uncle: Teaching of driving, Buick,
Mother: Teaching of driving, Pick up truck,
Father: Teaching of driving Ford tractor.
Grandfather: Teaching of driving, motor
Of course, these are just a few things
recalled off the top of my head but, I think this serves to demonstrate
the unity of the family, Native American, in working to teach the
children. This also was another time. Today, these practices are not even
in our family. Grandmother worked in Public Relations and had little time
off when my children were growing up. Aunts were working as
Administrators, Uncles running their businesses with heavy
responsibilities there, Father was working in electronics in large
corporations and although Mother would never work out, there was just no
way all the slack can be taken up by one person. It isn't possible, or
practical. Extra learning has to be met in the way of paid lessons, etc.
with continuous driving, driving here and there, which only takes up more
time. Not to say that these things are not done and met successfully,
they, of course, are. However, then comes the place where stress enters
into the picture causing great illnesses as well, cancer included. This
does not make for the great memories I had as a child when the whole
family was working toward benefitting our growth.