In the Land of the Grasshopper Song: Two Women in the Klamath River Indian Country in 1908-09

By Mary Ellicott Arnold; Mabel Reed | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
We Make the World Over and Leave Out Something

Ever since we came to the Rivers, the Kot-e-meen Indians have been talking about the Indian New Year's. They call their New Year's Day Pic-i-ow-ish, and every New Year's Day the world has to be made over. Charlie Offield tells us that Santa Claus will have to come past the peach tree just outside our gate. We can't make out whether the Indians really call him Santa Claus or whether it is an Indian word that sounds like Santa Claus. In any case, he will have to go up the mountain past our peach tree, and it seems the world would suffer if he went up another way.

It is very improper for anyone to see Santa Claus, so we hid behind the curtain in our living room and were careful that no one should see us. He proved to be an old Indian, naked to the waist, who carried a black basket in his hand. Charlie Offield told us that he had already been in the sweat house for twenty-four hours without anything to eat or drink, and that tomorrow, still with nothing to eat, he must climb the mountain on the other side of the river. At the top of each of the two mountains, in a particular place, he will find a twig, which he must bring back to the sweat house in his basket. Neither Charlie nor Essie seemed to know what he did when he got back to the sweat house, but it seems to be something very important.

While Santa Claus is climbing the two mountains, six of the younger Indian men must shoot with bows and arrows. Yesterday, the shooting was on the other side of the river but today it comes directly past our house. We hung over the fence with Essie and exchanged some lively com-

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