Story Keeper#6–Earning Respect


A story passed down through the family . . . .

Splitting logs to make fencing consumed most of my great-great-grandfather’s time his first winter in Oregon. One afternoon he was swinging his axe when a panicked Indian came running across the field, shouting.

“Little White Brother! Come! You must come!”

Alarmed at the anxiety he saw in the young man’s face, my great-great-grandfather followed the runner, knowing that when a native became agitated and hurried, something terrible had happened.

He soon arrived at the encampment and came upon a horrific scene. An Indian the settlers called Old Fisherman, who had a reputation for being mean and surly, had grown unhappy with one of his several wives and had thrown her onto the fire. Since all his wives feared the old man, this woman stayed there, afraid to move, her flesh sizzling.

When my great-great-grandfather saw the squaw, he grabbed her and pulled her from the fire. Lifting her, he carried her badly burned form to his dwelling, applying the only medication he had—bear grease—to the wound. The burns did not respond to the treatment and within days, the woman died.

Furious, my great-great-grandfather confronted Old Fisherman, who merely smirked, and said in broken English, “She no good squaw. No get wood. She burn.”

My great-great-grandfather took a length of rope and dropped a noose over the old man’s neck, leading him to a nearby tree. Throwing the rope over a limb, he jerked the Indian up on his toes and kept him there until he promised to never do such a cruel thing again. Old Fisherman gathered his wives and left the camp, disappearing into the forest. Those natives who remained at the camp revered my great-great-grandfather’s leadership and treated him with great respect.

Old Fisherman would return at a later date to cause trouble again, but for now the Indians could live in harmony alongside, and with respect for, their little white brother.


All The Way West, Hallie H. Huntington, 1984

One Reply to “Story Keeper#6–Earning Respect”

  1. Great story! We have an Indian story in our family too. Craig’s great grandfather warned the Indians of some upset settlers who were going to harm them-probably saved their lives.

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