Raised Indian in a white mans world a day at age four

Those who were part of the Oklahoma land rush became neighbors with displaced Cherokee Indians.
Those who were part of the Oklahoma land rush became neighbors with displaced Cherokee Indians.

Raised American Indian

By 1956 when I was four most American Indian children had no idea what the old ways were. The Cherokee were the most Americanized even before they walked the trail of tears. My grandmother whose roots are part Cherokee learned what was left of their ways from visiting relatives as a child. She learned to speak the language which is what was used in her home.

My mother took it upon herself to have Cherokee as the family language so it is the first language her children learned. We never lived on a reservation yet lived similarly to how those on a reservation did. My grandmother owned a house which had no indoor plumbing. During the summer the only thing it was used for was a place to sleep.

Living as an American Indian of Cherokee decent

My day began when the first rays of light spread over the countryside. Even as a child of four sunrise was a special time. Holding grandmothers hand walking to the river to check the trap lines was an everyday occurrence. It was a safe and comfortable time, after learning the hard way holding hands was for my protection.

Listening to the frogs and insects filled my mind with wonder. Sound was constant, flowing water, insects, frogs, and autos driving in the distance filled my ears. When grandmother bent over to check the trap line there was no straying, it was enjoyable to watch her wrestle with a cat fish or watching the look on her face when there was not one. Today she is struggling harder than ever. She has a fish in her hands that is bigger than me. It’s so big we take off for the house at once.

When we get home mom is up and my brothers are dressed ready for the day. Mom and big brother go out to clean the fish for breakfast. My grandmother and me sift flour, the wood stove is already hot. Breakfast is hotcakes and strips of fried catfish.

Breakfast finished, its time to go to the garden. Sometimes my job is carrying the baskets she uses to put things in other times it looking for worms to put on the trap lines. Some days we work on our knees pulling up green things which grow between the rows of the other green things we will eat some day. Don’t pull that up, we need that to eat next week, or month is heard often. Sometimes my little feet step on something they are not supposed to and grandmothers feelings get hurt. She shakes her finger at me and says be careful.

When we are done in the garden its time to play. Old blue (the family dog) and me are spending a lot of time together when its play time. She is older than me, but she will still run and pick up sticks and bring them to me. Grandmother says don’t bring me sticks you have thrown to for the dog because they smell funny when they burn. My brothers and me spend a lot of time picking up sticks for the fire.

Mom had started the water fire right after breakfast. It is outside and mom says we have to wait until it cools before we get a drink. She says never drink the river water until its cooked, if you do it can give you owies in your belly. She’s right cause a few times when she wasn’t paying attention me and my brothers did and our belly’s hurt for a long times after. Grandmother made us feel better when she gave us some special stuff she made.

Today for lunch we get a special treat, on top of the green stuff there are little pieces of fish, frog legs and those red things (tomato’s) we all like. Some of the green things are hot and they taste real good (okra), the other green things are not as good, we always eat them anyways because grandmother says growing boys need them to get big and strong.

After lunch its nap time sometimes grandmother lays down with us and tells us stories. Today is one of them and we fall asleep listening to her voice. Sometimes she just sits close to us while telling her stories, other days mom is the one to tell us stories.

When we wake up its time to go to the river again, this time we are looking for frogs, and green things that we can eat. It’s hard to find what grandmother calls good green things now, most are too old to eat. My big brother and me love catching frogs, we try real hard to get as many as we can. We know the more we get the better we will eat tomorrow. The place we catch frogs is special, we can go in the water there as much as we want and we don‘t have to wear clothes. When we are finished catching frogs grandmother always gives us leaves which we rub all over our bodies that make us feel and smell good.

When we get home mom has cooked dinner. Tonight its fried chicken, potatoes which are just the right size to pop into our mouths and more green things (green beans). The green things slide right down our throats so are fun to eat. They are always better when mom cooks them in the chicken grease so they become part of the white stuff (gravy).

After supper mom takes the little ones to the frog catching place, grandmother, my brother and me go take care of the animals. Brother is better with buckets than me so he carries them. My job is to throw what‘s in the bucket to the animals. We like being with the goats and chickens but sometimes the rooster is mean. Grandmother gathers eggs then milks the goats.

When she is done we all get to get cool in that room she has under the ground. It’s dark and smells funny but we still like it there because it is the coldest place around. Sometimes when its real ucky outside we spend the night here.

When mom gets home we relax and get ready for bed. Sometimes mom tells stories and sometimes grandmother does. Tonight the sky is talking, sending shards of light everywhere and water is pouring from the sky. Grandmother is the story teller this night and she is explaining why we are hearing and seeing what we are. The world is refreshing so there will be more good things to eat tomorrow.

Grandmothers place was flooded out this is as close as I could get

A markermemoral drive Beatrice Nebraska -
Memorial Dr, Beatrice, NE 68310, USA
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Comments 11 comments

wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 4 years ago from Central United States Author

Brett.Tesol what you are referring to is called "voice". I wasn't aware I was doing it until it was brought to my attention. My childhood stories are a combination of memory and stories my mother and grandmother told me after my memory was lost.

There is another unpublished hub which goes into playing with rocks which might never be published. The six year old voice is harder. I don't have the time now that I did before either.

Running the business takes most of my day now. My current hubs are business related and part of a magnetic marketing campaign. I bring readers in from business platforms as a way to help and show them what is working today and why. Thanks for sharing.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

I liked this. It was interesting to read a day in your life, but I also like the way that you imagine/remember the way your viewed the world as a 4 year old ... like your use of "green things" and "it can give you owies in your belly" lol ... very good.

Thanks for SHARING, up and awesome.

P.S. I like catfish too, looking forward to Thailand and throwing some on the BBQ!


wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 5 years ago from Central United States Author

Ghost32, I wasn't sure I had it right. The children who lived here helped. At the time I wrote this we had a three year old and two, two year old children living here.

I lived for nine years with no memory of my childhood which in ways made remembering easier. I can no longer speak Spanish or Cherokee but my mind still thinks in those languages.

It is hard to explain how my mind works now. English is a backward language to me, but the only one I can now speak and write. I can read Spanish and Latin, not really each word but I can tell others in English what I read and get it right.

I was never taught to read Cherokee it was just our spoken language. At age 17 I was translating Spanish and English to Cherokee. My mother could read, write, and translate 37 Central and South American dialects of Spanish.

I guess it is just a gift we share. She spent 17 years teaching English as a second language for a major school district. Although I never learned German I did a good job of translating what my father and grandmother were saying when I was with them.

It seems the values and work ethic taught children years ago weren't that different no matter what you were being raised to be.


Ghost32 5 years ago

Fascinating. Not just the way your grew up, but your ability to write in your 4-year-old voice. I'm pretty sure I'd have a really, really hard time doing that--especially because I only remember a few things from that age. Fewer by far than you have on this one page.

Voted Up and More.


wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 5 years ago from Central United States Author

The idea just came to me with a little help from another hub I wrote. In that case the title tuner suggestion just didn't fit what was written so I wrote a new hub to match the tuner. The good thing is using this approach I now have material for a few more growing up hubs.


resspenser profile image

resspenser 5 years ago from South Carolina

I asked you to write another and I'm glad I did! I enjoyed this very much and it reminded me of some time I spent with my grandmother and grandfather on their farm. We did not have catfish but she made dried apple pies on a wood stove! Yum! And they had a "teepee" they used to store sweet potatoes and a hand pump for the water!

I'm older than I thought!


wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 5 years ago from Central United States Author

Thank you Peg No one is really gone as long as we remember them. Some days it really helps being able to put on paper my feelings about the ones I love.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

I loved your story about being small and helping your grandmother raise and gather food. Very descriptively written, you made it very real for the reader. Nicely done!


wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 5 years ago from Central United States Author

C Wanamaker catfish was a staple in our diet when I was at my grandmothers. The price was right and it kept people busy. LOL When we moved to California catfish were hard to come by.

Shyeanne Someone asked me about a month ago to write another hub about how I was raised. It took this long to figure out how. My first three hubs pretty much covered my childhood.


ShyeAnne profile image

ShyeAnne 5 years ago from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada

Thank you for sharing. Nice Hub!


CWanamaker profile image

CWanamaker 5 years ago from Arizona

You made me hungry. Hotcakes and catfish sounds awesome!

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