The Many Adventures of Little Idoewanna.
By Catherine Keena
Hi my name is Little Idoewanna. I am a Whippoorwill Indian. I was born to Caretaker and Chief Mustdo. I had two brothers Little Painnneck and Little Doihaveta. I am many moons old. My life has been full of many adventures, some of which my tribe feels are terrible. They say that an Indian princess, such as myself, should not be taking part in such ruthless adventures. I took part in these adventures with my two older brothers Little Painnneck and Little Doihaveta. I don't care what they say. I love hunting and acting like a little brave. I hated acting like a princess and every one knew it.
Before I was born the elders of my tribe came together in an ancient ritual to ask the Great Spirits what animal I would most be like. Using the smoke from the fire the Great Spirits produced two different animals. They made the symbol of both the wild boar and the mighty tiger. The people the tribe believed that because the Great Spirits made signs of two different animals that I would be a very special child. They believed this because the Great Spirits hardly ever gave two different signs for newborn children. Because the Great Spirits showed a wild boar and a tiger my people believed that this meant that I would be a very stubborn and disobedient child. My tribe also believed that the tiger stood for courageousness and good hunting skills. For this reason my tribe believed that I would be a very courageous child and a very skilled hunter. This belief, that I would be a very stubborn and disobedient child, turned out to be quite true. I was stubborn from the minute I was born. My mom had a really hard time delivering me. I just refused to come out. She was lucky that she did not see the Great Spirits that day.
When I was just eight suns old, I began to crawl. I wandered around for a long time before my mother Caretaker realized that I was missing. She ran around the camp looking for me. I was found playing outside the village walls with a rattlesnake. When she took me away from my new playmate I began to cry. When we got back to the village Caretaker told Chief Mustdo about the incident and said that my cries sounded like I was saying I don' t Wanna go, I don't Wanna. It was on that day that I received the name Little Idoewanna. When I was about six moons old, Caretaker told me about my little adventure. She said that I was lucky that she came when she did otherwise I would have been dead. I told her that I was just playing with my new friend and that he had promised not to harm me since I had saved his life from a mean bird. Caretaker told me that I should never believe what a snake says. " One moment he will say that he promises that he won't strike and the next minute he will strike without even thinking twice.
I tried to argue but it was no use her mind was made up and she told me that I was never to go near a snake again. However, as usual I lived up to my reputation of a disobedient child and did not obey this order to stay away from snakes. As far as I was concerned there was no danger in playing with my friends the snakes after all they did promise not to bite me.
When I was seven moons old, my tribe heard about some strange people who had entered our lands. The tribes that visited told us that they were white men. Some tribes called them white demons, others called them the pale ones, and still others called them friends. Some tribes believed that the white men who they called demons meant to destroy us. They bring things with them that destroy our ancient traditions and they upset the Great Spirits. They bring sickness that our medicine men cannot cure. Even the Great Spirits have trouble helping with these plagues. "The white demons bring death to us, do not trust them," said an old wise member of a friendly tribe that my father knew well.
Some reports about the white strangers were bad other reports were good. A member of a different tribe told us that the white men meant us no harm. They bring good things with them such as metal pots, strong unbreakable needles for sowing, tools, guns, and the greatest wonder of all, the mighty horse. The horse makes it easier to travel across the lands to hunt the mighty buffalo and the swift yet silent deer. "The Horse is a gift from the Great Spirits, it is a holy creature and these white men know how to tame it. If we give them no trouble we receive these magnificent holy creatures," exclaimed one of the tribe's chiefs. We were not sure whom to believe. After the visiting tribes had left Chief Mustdo called an emergency tribal meeting to discuss the different views about the white men and decide what we should do about them. I knew that this was going to be a very hard time for my father Chief Mustdo he might even loose his place as chief if he did not make the right decisions about these strangers. The tribal counselors could not decide which side to take so they decided that we would not judge the white men until we encountered them ourselves. What we did not realize was that we would encounter the White men sooner than we thought.
It was late at night when all of a sudden I smelled smoke. I looked around and realized that our hut was on fire. I heard load booms and when I looked out side saw many white men. I was afraid. I felt like a tiger being trapped by fire and hunters with no place to run. I tried to run and was captured by the white men. I could not understand what they were saying. It sounded like a bunch of gibberish. The next day the other captives and I were yelled at and beaten when we did not answer. I later found out that is what the white men called questions. I did not understand what they were saying so I was tortured. They cut off my nice long hair and burned me with fire. Finally the one in charge realized that we were not the right tribe. They seemed upset and yelled what I guess were curses.
They still would not release me but did not torture me as much as they did before. They decided that they could not let us go and they forced us to walk many miles. I still was not sure of what was going on so I asked a lot of questions. An elderly lady who had been a captive for a long time answered my questions. She told me that my captors called themselves the British. I told her that I hated the white men. She told me that the British had many enemies and not to judge all whites as evil. "Some of them are really nice, these British give whites a bad name. That night we were forced to sleep standing up and we were given nothing to keep us warm.
We were awakened early the next morning before sunrise and were forced to walk for miles with out food or water. Our captors told us that we were prisoners and that we could not make a peep. When someone complained our captors stopped us and demanded to know who was complaining. If we did not answer and tell them who it was we were all brutally beaten until someone gave way. Once our captors knew who had complained they took them from the line and brutally beat them. They told them that if they complained again they would be scalped, or killed. I did wind up seeing a brutal killing of innocent Indians. The white men killed the Indians by scalping them; stabbing them with knives and watching them die. They did this just for pleasure because they hated us. Our ruthless captors said this as they were killing them, "So it should be with all Indians." "Let this be an example for you." "If any of you want to complain you'd better think twice about it because you will be the next one to have this happen to you." I had wanted to look away while they were killing them because it was so horrible but I was forced to watch. They held my face toward the suffering people and told me that I had to watch because I was no different then anyone else. I was beginning to hate these white men and realized that it was true, these white men were demons. I began to wish that they were dead.
Over the next few suns we ran into other white men. Our British captors tried to sell us but most of the time they were refused because of our bad condition. Our captors were very upset and we were punished for looking so bad. I had been keeping track of how many suns I had been prisoner but I soon lost track. I asked the elderly lady how long I had been a prisoner of these horrible white men and she said that I had been with her and the other prisoners for about one moon. I then began to wonder if I would ever see my family or my tribe again. When I asked some said maybe while others said that I would never see my family again.
Suddenly, one of the men who had captured me was standing right in front of me. I looked up at him in fear as he told me to look my best or pay the consequences. I did as I was told and stood up straight and tried to do as he said and look my best. I figured that someone had stopped to look at us and I was right. A white male was standing at the end of the line looking at each one of us. I wondered what he would think of me. I hoped he would pass me by and not look twice at me. The man looked at me and then started to pass me by. I was extremely glad but my happiness soon disappeared because he came back my way. He looked at me again and then asked what I cost. Those who held me prisoner said that I cost fifty dollars. The man looked upset and said that this was robbery. He offered my captors twenty-five dollars. My captors said that was two low of a payment and that they would not take anything less than thirty-five dollars. The man agreed to pay thirty-five dollars for me and I was sold to him.
On the way to his house he told me not to be afraid of him or anyone in his family. We will treat you well if you obey orders and do not try to escape. I sat next to him in silence. I did not believe him for a minute. Treat me nice yah right! White men were all the same, they were all ruthless and they all hated my people. When we reached his house his family greeted us. "Honey, I'm so glad that you are home. I was worried sick with all those savages running around". I looked at the woman with hate in my eyes, savages what did she mean by that? "Daddy, Daddy what did you bring us" screamed some little children. Well guys I brought you a playmate. I was not sure what he meant by a playmate. I would never be their playmate or what ever he called me. I wanted nothing to do with them they were whites and as far as I was concerned they were evil. Luckily, my master's wife was not thrilled with the idea either. "I will not let my children be associated with a savage!" There was that word again, savage. Just what did she mean by that? I was not a savage I was a Whippoorwill Princess.
My master told his wife to bite her tongue and not to call me a savage again. "Why not? That is exactly what she is. She is a savage."" Angrily, He said, "I said hold your tongue woman!" I do not want our children growing up hating people just because they are different," exclaimed the master angrily. "From now on you will treat, ah, Catherine with respect do you understand me?" Cafavaieme? Who was the master referring to? Who was this Cafavaieme person? After the little mishap with the master's wife the master took me aside and told me not to worry. He told me I would be called Catherine from now on. Cafavaieme? What is a Cafavaieme? I asked.
Catherine it is your new name.
No! Me Little Idoewanna.
No, from now on it is Catherine. Can you say Catherine?
No no, Ca the rine.
Ca the rine?
Yes that's it! Now you've got it. Your name is Catherine. I still did not understand but obeyed the master when he called me Ca the rine. I did not want to be punished.
As the moons passed I learned that there were many different types of white men. Some called themselves the English, others the British, some the French, some the Spanish and still others were called Americans. I was taught how to read, how to speak what they called English and all about their invisible God that had many names but no physical form. I was told that I had to convert to Christianity or I would not be able to stay in the house with them and would be treated unkindly because I was a heathen. I asked the master if that meant that I was a savage and he said no.
When I was what the Americans called sixteen years old I found out that my family was dead. I was devastated and did not understand why they had been killed. I asked my master if I could return to my people. At first the answer was no but when my master had to go to war he agreed to give me my freedom. I went back to my tribe and told them of all that I had learned. They were astounded to find that there was more than one type of white man and wanted to know my view of the white men. I told them that I had encountered many of the white men and found that they were not all alike. Some of them were very mean like the British and the Spanish. However, the Americans and the French seemed to be very nice people. I talked to my tribe for a long time.
I was extremely upset to find out that they had elected a new chief soon after my family had died. I met with the new chief and he seemed very arrogant and I felt that he did not deserve to be the chief of the tribe. He told me that I was no longer a Princess of the tribe and that I should leave. I argued and told him that because my father and brothers were dead that I was the next in line to rule the tribe. However, he said that I was no longer welcome in the tribe because I had been gone for so long and that I was considered a traitor to the tribe because I stood up for those who had killed my father. I told him that he had no right to say that and that he should treat me better or he would be in serious trouble. He then had me put in isolation and called an emergency meeting of the tribal council. I was brought before them and I told them what I had told the so-called new chief. They admitted that I was right but because I had not come the day of my fathers going into the spirit world that I lost my right to rule the tribe. I was extremely upset by this but there was nothing I could do. I was given two choices either join the new chief and become one with him or leave the tribe forever.
I was not too thrilled with this idea and told the council that I needed time to think about it. They told me that I had until the mighty sunset behind the great mountains to decide. That did not give me very much time because it was already very late in the day. I went to a place that had always inspired me when I was a child. The place was in the forest where I could be close to nature. While I was there I ran into an old friend of mine.
Why hello Little Idoewanna, how are you?
Not very well Rattleman.
And why is that? My father is dead and the tribal council says that I have to marry the new arrogant Chief Big Painnneck. He really is a pain and I can't stand him, but I love my tribe and want to rule over them, as I should. I talked with Rattleman for a while and he told me that he thought it was best if I did marry Chief Big Painnneck. When I asked him why he said that if I really wanted to stay with the tribe that I had to marry Chief Big Painnneck. He also told me that he knew that I did not like Chief Big Painnneck and that the best way to deal with that is to do what the tribal council would not expect. Marry him and you will be winning the game. I knew that he was right. If I married Chief Painnneck than I would wind up ruling over the tribe and helping the Chief make the right decision. My time was almost up so I had to run. When I reached the tribal council the mighty sun had set. Your time is up you need to make your decision now! I swallowed hard and then agreed to marry him. During our wedding we were interrupted by white men. They killed my new husband and took me prisoner. The men told my tribe that if were not to be sold as slaves then we must forsake our heathen lifestyle and serve their God. We would no longer be called by our Whippoorwill names instead we must use the Christian names we were given. If we were caught using our Indian names or performing any Indian mumbo jumbo (as they called it) we would be killed. I knew in my heart that even if we agreed that we were still going to be slaves. The council members refused to obey our captors and many of them were killed. As a result of their disobedience we were all to be sold as salves. Just as the lead men were going to chain me with my fellow tribe a man came up and said that this was not fair. He insisted that before they enslave us they give our leader on chance to make peace. The men laughed and said their leader is dead. However, the man insisted saying that I was their leader. When asked how he could tell he stated that I was royalty by the way I was dressed. I was given a chance to speak and I told them that all though I would agree to their terms I would not force my people to do the same. I could not make them do what they had all ready decided was not an option. The men said I was impudent and was about to slap me when once again the strange white man interfered. He stated that they should not treat royalty that way and insisted that I was not to be harmed. When we were alone he asked me what my name was and I told him that my people called me Little Idoewanna but that I was known as Catherine by his customs. I asked him what his name was and he told me that it was Christian. Not too long later we were married and had many children. I am getting very old and now it is time for me to see the Great Spirit himself the Lord God Jehovah. I leave this diary to my children so that they and future generations will never forget the struggles our people have gone through. May they never forget that I was once and will all ways be a Whippoorwill Princess.