There are several different kinds of “education”. Some, very formal, some you learn as you go, but the best kind is learning from reacting to a friend.
When we first met Percy and Sally, and his sister Audrey, we were non-indians but it wasn’t too long before we became one with them. They found that they could trust us, and that we weren’t there for what we could get out of them.
One time we were at their church bazaar, sitting with Audrey. Mickey was holding Elaine‘s (Percy’s daughter’s) new baby while she went around looking at what was there. A couple that Mickey had known years before came by and Mickey introduced Audrey as “my sister”. The couple looked a little confused. Then Audrey turned to Mickey and asked who they were, but not in English… in the Squamish language, and then started to laugh when she realized what she had done, quite naturally. We were that close!
We went to their night school class in leatherwork, and that’s where we made our vests. Well, we started to make our vests. If anyone wanted flowers drawn on their vests they came to me, and if they wanted birds or animals, they went to Mickey. We spent our class time drawing, and did the leatherwork at home. We made moccasins, and I made the gloves for Mickey.
Lilly Rivers (Audrey’s daughter), taught me how to do the Indian beadwork… I loved that. I made many different kinds of necklaces, and earrings. I also learned how to make belts on an Indian loom. And, of course, I beaded our vests. Audrey was making a vest for Frank JR, and asked me to bead it for her, as it had to be special!
Percy did beautiful carvings, but didn’t know how to get them out there to sell… so we taught him how to do that by going along on the shows with him, and showing him how to set up a good display.
We spent many precious hours with them… and I realize it now, more than ever.