Out On The Mudline

Native Americans Emphatic About Their Heritage

By W. P. Sissell

That Ancestor

Several days ago Mrs. Uhl, Barbara, my computer expert, stopped by with a “passel” of  books.   She was donating the books to our library for the annual book sale. As I walked by the dining room table, where those books were piled, I noted that most of the books were children’s books.  One definitely was not.  Its title, emblazoned over the picture of a Native American, was “Through Indian Eyes.”

My mind thought, “That might be interesting.”  As I thought, I reached out and opened the book. There, in full color was a picture of a man (resembled George Washington) talking to a group of Indians.  When I finally found the caption for the picture it read “Benjamin Hawkins, Indian agent, (the first such official in the Southeast) talking to Creek Indians about raising white folks food crops.”

I immediately “possessed” that book and called Barbara to thank her for bringing it.  That Mr. Hawkins belongs to a number of us distant cousins in and around Water Valley.  He’s one of our great grand fathers several generations back.  The call number for the book is 970.004’97—dc20 (it is a 1995 Reader’s Digest book).    

Indians and Native Americans

Every time I wrote Indians above I was reminded of an emphatic statement by a Native American in Arkansas, several months back.  As we came into Clinton, Arkansas from the north, we passed a Rock Shop.  After we passed, Nannette said, “I would really like to stop at that Rock place back there” As soon as I found a place to turn around I did so and retraced our last several miles.  When we arrived we had some trouble finding anyone at home although there were several cars in the parking lot.  Finally, a bedraggled looking fellow appeared from the depth of the building that housed many kinds of “rocks.”  I found out that the fellow “imported” his wares from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at so much per pound (he weighed every sold item before telling you your cost).  In the conversation I asked him about his Indian tribal connection.  I was immediately and emphatically informed, “Indians live in India.”  I am a Native American.”  He might have read the book I mention above.  

I acceded to his statements and all our further conversation was amiable.  When we paid for our rocks I told him to keep the change from the several bills that I handed to him (his money holder was several, falling apart at the corners, cigar boxes).  He refused my offer but when I refused to take any change he immediately said, “Then I give your wife a gift,” as he pulled out several shallow drawers from the shelf behind him.  Nannette finally selected a cluster of “rock crystal quartz granules” and we now have a Native American friend over in Arkansas.  His happiness was very apparent, after we accepted his gift.  A great way to make a friend is to let him/her give you a gift.  As we left we commented about his red and yellow Cypress vine.  At this he asked us to wait while he got packages of seeds of both colors as more gifts. Another friend, John the Jeweler, made a beautiful necklace of that cluster of rocks and we have the Cypress vine plants growing for our Humming birds.        

My intent today was to tell you about a long ago Fourth of July.  I got sidetracked so I’ll put that off until another day. If the lady who called several days ago,(K. Rotenberry’s daughter), please call again.  

You can reach me most of the time at 24541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, 662-563-9879 or wsissell@bellsouth.net.  Do have a great week—we appreciate you.

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