ROUNDUP IS A MEMORY

Inez Spino, Eliza Bill, Carrie Sampson

This photo is from the East Oregonian booklet, Cowboys and Indians, A Pictorial Potpourri of the Pendleton Round-Up, undated.  There is ‘Twaway’ Inez Spino, Eliza Bill, and Carrie Sampson, looking so elegant.  My Round-Up memories don’t go back very far.

My grandmother’s tipi was “at the point” with the door opening on the center of the village.  Aunts and uncles’ camps surrounded us.  Inside her kitchen tipi was an icebox, wood stove, cupboards and a table with seating for 10 or 12.  Tipis were way big in those days.  Sometimes random people would just walk in and marvel how homey it looked.  We made a beeline there in the morning because the fire was already going.  The smell of coffee was one of my earliest memories.

In those days, the Round-Up Association would deliver hay for Indians to line their tipis, but that practice ended before long.  On certain days, they gave out boiling meat, watermelon, loaves of white bread as provisions for the Indian village.  When we’d dress up and go out in the arena, we each collected a genuine silver dollar for the day’s effort.  Those dollars were burning up in our pockets and had to be disposed of fast.   There used to be a swimming pool just outside the Indian village.  We could actually rent swimsuits there. 

Out in the arena in those days, the 1960s, females did not mix with the men dancers.  Women assembled in an outer circle.  During the war dance, girls would take turns dancing war dance-style for a dozen steps or so, unless of course they were frozen with timidity.  It was traumatic to be waist-high and thus eye-level with the bare flanks of the old male dancers who weren’t wearing union suits under their regalia.  Then too, some dancers had drunk some bravery and were extra fierce. 

How we suffered for their drinking as we broke camp Sunday.  Preachers would come on the extra-loud p.a. system and exhort us to reform and change our lives.  Women would get on the mic and give testimony about their fallen lives that were now picked up.  It was torture and torment, especially the singing.  How we wished they spoke Latin like at our church.

 

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