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Paddle Your Own Canoe
Chapter 5


If anyone was to be blessed to enjoy a castle like a European vista it was Dee and her Mother.  Part of the very large double gate was open and they drove slowly through, past the watchtower looking stone gate house.  Setting all through the grounds of the recreation center were buildings built like small castles with the same tower looking stone work. These were to house the children who came  for camp time in the summers.  The lawn  was superbly kept and the drives were well marked.

A worker with large machines was at the side of one of the roads and they drove past him.  The road was now along the side of the ridge of the hill which dropped off into the strikingly beautiful azure blue waters of the Olympic size pool.  Stretching out past  the pool was a drop off in the terrain. From there one could see the boats cruising across the wide lake.

The oil millionaire had planned his donation to the city with such a careful grace it was almost unbelievable  people of this small community had enjoyed the Lew Wentz estates for many many years.  Dee remembered coming here when she was only a child.  Nights spent swimming in the beautifully lit pool with stars above was a memory never to be forgotten. If ever there was a Starwalker it was Lew Wentz.

This was the lovely introduction to the note taking ahead for Dee as she listened to three of the elders of the Native Americans, one of which was her mother while they  spoke to the youthful American Indian children at camp.

The elderly man who stood before the children opened his talk with the statement.  “I can't tell you kids anything.”  “You already know everything.”  “You might ask, why is this.”  “Well, I'll tell you.” “You have this wonderful machine called the computer.”  “All you have to do is type something in there and it will answer whatever you want to know.”

He continued and went on to tell them how he was trying to learn to use the machine.  “One time I typed something in there and it told me I made a mistake.  Listen to me, I told it. You are just a machine. Don't tell me I made a mistake.”

“You see I come from another time. When I was young we had to go to town in a horse and buggy. It took three hours from our home in the country to town. In the winter our folks could not leave the children at home so they put hay in the wagon and we got under that. This is how we kept warm.”

“There were only a few cars on the road. That was the time Ford Motor Company came out with the Model T. We had  a hi-way all right,  but no cars all day long. Once in a while a farmer would go by in his car. There was the Chandler, the Ford and the Hupmobile. Today,  many different models of cars, more than I can name, are on the roads.”

“What is the future going to be like for you children?”  “You have to wonder.  People today are more educated, things will have to be different.”

“In 1935 when I joined an Indian Church I was the most educated. The elders then prayed in our own language. I remember their prayers. They asked Wah Kohn Dah in this way:  “Aho Wah Kohn Dah (hello Great Spirit) Please allow our people to always go on, as long as the sun shines on Mother Earth?  Their prayers have been answered because here you are. Yes, then we spoke our language together. Today,  I have no one with whom to speak.  My brother in law used to visit with me in our own
language, but now, he has forgotten and we no long speak in Ponca.”

“You children come from many different tribes and there are many tribes.  I remember once when I was a young man I was working in a mechanic's shop.  There were some brown skinned men who came there. I asked them what tribe they were.”

“We are Spaniards.”  They told me.

“What!”  I didn't know Spaniard.  I said to them.  “I think you have to have a tribe.”  “One of the older men got really mad, because I said he had to have a tribe.”  “I guess it is a good thing I couldn't understand what he said.”

“What I am saying, whatever you are, be proud that you are Indian.”

“I teach my children about the country where we lived before we came here. We came from the North.  But, we had a name for all the tribes explaining about them. One tribe lived in the mountains and we called them, Man standing in the clouds. These were the mountain tribes.  All had names and meant something. Potowatami was Wah He Thah, One who breaks bones. We must have been afraid of them.”

“Children,  find out about your tribe,  your history and learn about it.”

“ I enjoyed talking to you.  God made White's, Black's, Asian's, Indians.  Do the best you can and be proud you are Indian.”


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