Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a Shoshone teenager teaches me about patience: The Legend of Jimmy Spoon [part two]

The Legend of Jimmy SpoonWhile researching The Legend of Jimmy Spoon, I volunteered as a tutor for the high school Indian Club. This was in Pocatello, Idaho, seven miles from the Shoshone-Bannock reservation. Basically I was a blond California girl who knew little about Native Americans, but wanted to learn. I was eager and cheerful. Also, I talked a lot.

Yackety-yack while helping students with English essays, blabbidybla while correcting math papers (which I knew even less about). One morning, a Shoshone boy named Kerwin Toane sat at the table across from me. He wore his hair in long braids and was quiet. I offered to help with his homework then chatted on and on about this-and-that. Finally I asked why he wasn't saying anything.

"I'm just waiting for you to finish," he answered.


Eagle Tip FeatherOver the next weeks, Kerwin and I developed a friendship. When I remembered to keep my mouth shut, he talked about his tribe and traditions. The more quiet I was, the more I learned. He recounted going into the mountains with his uncle, to capture a sacred eagle feather. I took detailed notes. He translated Shoshone vocabulary for me.

So in The Legend of Jimmy Spoon, Chapter 21 describes how Nampa and Ga-mu ride their horses into the foothills with Jimmy. They teach him how the Teton Sioux catch an eagle without harming the bird.

It's one of my favorite chapters.

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