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Paddle Your Own Canoe
Chapter 6


The next lady was introduced but she asked to be excused while she gave up her place in line as a demonstration of respect because this was what the meeting was about. “I respect this next lady.  She is an elder, more so than I.”

Dee's mother stood.  “Thank you.”  She told the other woman.  “And thank you to my Grandson also.”  “I enjoyed your talk.”  “I've often said the government sends money out here for teaching and then they get the young people to teach.”  “This man is one of the few left who knows and has abundant knowledge about our Ponca tribe.”   “He and I were raised through famine, drought, hot sun, cockleburrs  and anything else you can think of that is unpleasant.”  “We stayed here.”  “Our parents had a great way of surviving.”

“We did not have electric lights.  Instead, we carried kerosene lanterns. There was a danger there too. If you dropped it, you could burn the whole house down.”

“We had to pump our water, but it was good pure water.  Now you have to buy your water.”

“I sure would hate to see another depression. I don't think folks could make it.   Our elders knew how to survive.  It was true as my Grandson here tells you. We had to walk a lot, in fact many miles.”

“This gentleman and I are the same age. He was born December 1912 and I was born January 1913.  So maybe you wonder why I call him Grandson. This is the way our respect for each other is brought forth. We always have a relationship and for this we use that.  This is respect.”

“There was a good relationship between our families.  If we needed something they, provided it.  If they needed something we provided. It is the way we did things. Too, then we had a good tribal government. Now, today, that is gone.”

“I do not believe in terrorism.  You can do things the right way. Learn to speak well so you can address people with your thoughts. Get that knowledge through study and going to school.  In this way influence others with what you wish to get across.”

“I thank our federal government for being able to get that knowledge when I went to Chilocco for eight years.  It was too bad they changed policies and started sending bad behaving kids to school there.  They messed it up, and it had to close in 1981.”

At Chilocco we had all modern living.  At home I had to live the old way but,  the government was right. It was time for change.  So I say to you, go to school.  Study and listen to the person talking to you. They have already been through it. They went to school and graduated. Now they are ready to teach you. So listen to what they say.”

“Remember.  Our ways are beautiful ways, our Indian ways.  We didn't have beer joints.  We didn't crash our cars. So many of the things written in the Bible are the ways our people practised.  Learn those way, and be proud you are Indian.”


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