Wednesday, April 15, 2009

He Quit Talking To You

This was written by David Macrae in 1870. (It Says 1870 not 1970)

What he talks about still holds true about us today. Some people have a hard time understanding why we do what we do. In this case we can say we learned it from our Great Grandfathers and Mothers. Because of what Mr. Macrae talks about we get labeled standoffish, uncaring, hard to deal with and other labels.

I posted this in response to a question that I received from someone about a Choctaw relative of mine who quit talking to them.

Americans at Home
By David Macrae

pp 185, 186

... if you helped an Indian in distress he would generally do as much or more for you in like circumstances.

The engineer of one of the lake steamers in Western Canada gave me the following pleasing fact from his own experience :

— " One day I met a wild Indian in the woods very downcast. The nipple of his fowling-piece had broken. He was far from his people, and, without his gun, he had no means of providing for himself. I screwed the nipple out of mine, found that it fitted exactly; and, as I had others aboard the steamer, I let him have it. He thanked me and went off into the woods. Next morning, before the steamer started, he came on board with some very fine game for me ; and he has never let a season pass since without paddling down in his canoe, sometime during our running season, with some little present of game or fish to show that he has not forgotten what I did for him."

Indians are said to remember injuries much longer than kindness, and have probably got more of them to remember. They are proud also and very easily offended. I remember, while lounging with a friend at the door of a hotel, an Indian woman made her appearance with a basket of native bead-work for sale. The gentleman beside me, without waiting to see what she had, waved her off. The woman stopped, and with a look of magnificent scorn turned away. I was sorry that she had been hurt, and called on her to come back and show us what she had, but she deigned no response.

An Indian cannot be bargained with like another man. If you want him to carry you across a river, he will shove off in his canoe till an arrangement is made that pleases him ; and if, in trying to make an arrangement, you offend him, he will paddle stoically away, and no entreaties or promises even of whiskey and tobacco (the two things that tempt an Indian most) will bring him back, or so much as make him seem to be any longer conscious of your presence. You can very rarely engage Indians for money to be guides or servants. They will go with you as companions, and will not refuse the money given them ; but if you do or say anything to offend their pride, and make them think they are regarded as menials, they will leave without a word, and without the slightest regard to the difficulties of your position. If you ask them to clean your boots, they will decline without any indication of being offended, but in the morning you find them gone.

Remember this was written in 1870 and uses the language from that time. Mr. Macrea also reflects the attitude toward our people in the 1870s. So no nasty emails. I didn't write it. I only say that our attitude has not changed. Offend us, look down on us and we are out of here.