Long ago, my grandfather told me a story. People of long ago used to get up early. They got up as the day came on –even before the sun came out. And one man or even two would run to a big hill. They wouldn’t walk upright but they would sneak up the hill to see if any of the enemy could be seen or go to see where the buffalo were.
Sometimes the man would see the enemy hiding behind some bushes. Although the enemy were hard to spot, they would make some mistakes and be seen. So the man on top of the hill would then creep down and tell the people. At times when there was no enemy to be seen the men would then chase the buffalo. That was why people of long ago woke up early and also the people of long ago had good eyes. He’d be able to spot something from quite a ways off. They were good runners and had a lot of wind. The people were strong simply because they didn’t eat just anything. They were particular about their food and they ate plenty of meat. They ate a lot of pemmican with wild berries. Today, my people, lots of time we don’t know what we’re eating. The white man makes recipes that make a person have an upset stomach or heartburn.
People of long ago had their own medicine and they still exist but we forgot and never tried to learn how to use them. These medicines were given to us by God, my people, and our forefathers used them.
These buffaloes I was talking about were swift and the people had to have fast horses. These horses that were used to chase buffalo were called the “chasing horses”. When the men would bring home the meat and the hide of the buffalo the women would take over, preparing the hides and drying the meat. The women were strong and good workers. They would get up early to work on the hides of the buffalo. They had God-given abilities to work wonders with the hides of all animals. Both the men and women had abilities given to them by God. While these women would be working on the meat and the hides, young boys of the camp would go over and take a piece of fat from the meat and dip it in the blood of the buffalo and eat it. It was considered a delicious snack. This story I am relating to my grandson was passed over to me by my grandfather and his name was (?)
These women that were tanning hides and drying meat said that drying meat was a difficult task to perform. The reason the women dried meat was that they kept it in store for the winter. “The thing that is real good”, my grandfather used to tell me, “was grass pemmican. It was delicious.” I ate grass pemmican too and it’s real tasty.
This is how the people of long ago used to live and in autumn they would go in search of a place where there would be shelter and plenty of wood for the winter.
Long ago, a girl or a boy had a lot of respect [for others]. A woman had so much respect for her father-in-law that she wouldn’t even talk to him. Some didn’t even know how to swear. People of long ago didn’t know how to swear, just the ones that used to tease each other. The men had so much respect for their sisters-in-law and mothers-in-law that they didn’t talk to them. It isn’t that they didn’t like them — it was due to the fact that they had so much respect for them.
Having respect for in-laws existed then but now there is no respect at all for in-laws. In-laws swear at in-laws nowadays and, my people, this is no good.
Long ago parents were strict with their young daughters. This was to prevent any embarrassment on the girl or her relatives if she ever had illegitimate children. These young Indian girls were literally bought by their suitors. The young man would bring gifts and horses to the father of the young lady and ask for her hand in marriage. The father would usually agree. They then would pitch a separate tent for the newlyweds where they could live as man and wife. Why did they do this? Today, my people, if we were to share or stay with our parents of our relatives, people would say, “He sure doesn’t have any pride. I wonder if he’ll ever have pride.” This is the reason the people of long ago pitched a separate tent for the newly weds, they didn’t want to share the same dwelling.
You’d never seen a man beating his wife up or mistreating her in any way at that time. Today, my people, many times we hear of a woman getting beaten up by her husband. At that time the men loved and respected their wives. Why was this so? My people, we all know the reason. If the woman wasn’t put into this world we wouldn’t exist either and we wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for the woman.
Old men used to lecture their sons and grandsons. Once I saw my grandfather sticking a knife in the ground between them before lecturing his son. “If I should get you angry with what I’m going to tell you, pick this knife up and you can stab me,” he told him. He did this because he knew what he was about to say was true. His name was “Skunk Leg”. My uncle, Edward McCarty joined the army in later years. Today, my people, if I was to do the same thing to my grandchild, he’d probably grab the knife and slice my stomach open.
Long ago the people of the village used to greet each other “good morning” — even people sharing the same dwelling. Many times I saw my grandfather kiss my grandmother good morning even though she was blind and old. This is what I call love. Today, we wouldn’t even look at an old lady, especially if she was blind.
These things were all told to me by my grandfathers. All the things I’ve said here are true, like I said before; I have no use for lies.