Left Handed, Son of Old Man Hat: A Navajo Autobiography

By Left Handed; Walter Dyk | Go to book overview

1. He is born before his time and is taken by his mother's older sister to live with Old Man Hat . . . Trials and tribulations . . . He has lots of fun playing with Paiute children . . . Jealousies and quarrels.

I WAS born when the cottonwood leaves were about the size of my thumb nail, but the date was not due yet for my birth. It should have been another month. Something had happened to my mother, she'd hurt herself, that was why I was born before my time. I was just a tiny little baby, and my feet and fingers weren't strong, they were like water. My mother thought I wasn't going to live.

She was very sick when I was born and had no milk, so her older sister picked me up and started to take care of me. She didn't have any milk either, but she went among the women who had babies and begged them for some. She had many necklaces of different-colored beads, and when she brought the women and their babies home with her she'd divide a necklace and give each one a string. Then she'd pick me up and hand me over to one of them. That's where I got my milk. After a while she didn't have to go around among the women anymore, because four of them lived right close by. All four had babies, and every day they came to our place. Whenever they wanted to nurse me one of them would come and give me my feed. They helped me out until I was able to eat. All four were still feeding me while we were moving back to the reservation from Fort Sumner, as far as Chinlee. There they quit, and I was able to eat anything from

-3-

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