One summer when I was 13 years old, I sat in the shade house at dusk with my older sister's little girls and her little boy. I was proud of the responsibility bestowed upon me. Everyone had gone to a squawdance for the next five days. We were told that my maternal grandfather was to stay at home with us; however, the very next day, he took off after a friend of his. We stayed by ourselves for the next three days. By that time, our food was running low. I schemed, but only in vain. I thought that I would possibly butcher a sheep or even a kid goat. Then, I thought to myself that my maternal grandmother would not approve of that. The next day, we ran out of food. The children started crying from hunger and kept asking, "Why don't you cook for us?" There is food at the trading post, but there was no money for it. The children at last went off to sleep after crying in vain. Then I started scheming again. I started thinking about the small rug that my mother was close to completing. I knew a little about weaving just from observing her and my grandmother. So I began weaving it and completed the rug very quickly, and I hurriedly touched it up for finishing. We all hitched a ride in a wagon going to the trading post. At the trading post, I sold the rug for $40.00. Henceforth, the children were able to pick whatever they wanted at the store. Thereafter, I bought some flour, potatoes, meat, and milk. We caught a ride back home. We were very happy, so I cooked lots of food, and we feasted. We went to sleep very filled and contented. The next day, there was still some food left when everyone returned from the squawdance.
No one could hardly believe the experience we had or what we did, or the fact that our maternal grandfather had gone off and left us by ourselves. They were all very grateful to me for handling the crisis very well by myself and the fact that I saved the children from starvation.
Betty John. "Hasda'jii'eezh" printed by permission of the author. Copyright ©1980 by Betty John.
As printed in Larry Evers, ed. The South Corner of Time. Tucson, Ariz.: The University of Arizona Press, ©1980, p. 89.