Have you ever listened as someone pronounced a big long quote from a long-gone person? That usually causes me to think, ‘mishéemi.’ I find it hard to believe people can really retrieve big long quotes verbatim. I think maybe they are putting words in the quotee’s mouth. How I wish I could remember the words of my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, because they did tell stories. They were always laughing, never cruelly, but they always had something to laugh about. They used the Indian language to obscure what they were talking about from us kids. They didn’t want us to know about gossip. And all the places I’ve been to, on the reservation and off, nameless places with many inscrutable trees and landmarks. I’ve been all over this reservation and beyond, and never knew where the heck I was. My mother would dump my dad and his gun off somewhere, then we’d drive to his destination and park there til he walked there. We did that a lot. Sometimes we sits and thinks, and sometimes we just sits, that was our family motto.
This is where a memoir would come in handy. If someone had written down all the places we went and something to remember them by, I’d be a geographer. I’d truly know where I been. How time is flying by faster and faster. I sometimes feel all the important events may have already happened.
That’s why life-writing could turn out to be important to your descendants. You may not think your story is interesting or important, but the children yet to come may be interested to know. So come to ‘Saving Our Stories’ Thursday, May 12, 6pm, here at Tamástslikt. It’s Pepsi Primetime @ the Museum, a free public program. Gayle Seely, a Portland author, will share essential tips on life-writing, to help you liberate your story.