"Tex" by Woody Ḵáawan Sangáa - P.O.W. Report

Sunday, September 1, 2019

"Tex" by Woody Ḵáawan Sangáa

Dr. Woody Morrison is one of my favorite people to follow and he made be found [here].

TEX by Woody Ḵáawan Sangáa

My mother’s father, my grandfather, James S. Cloud was the son of a Cherokee woman and a Scotsman. I had the absolute privilege of living with him and my grandmother, Winona Birdot Cloud while I attended the 9th grade -1955-56. My only year of attending Public School 9th Grade - Yucaipa Jr. High at Yucaipa, California.

The rest of my elementary school years were the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Day School in my home village, Hydaburg, Alaska.

That year (actually 10 months) I lived with my grandparents was one of my most important life-defining times. We lived at a place called Oak Glen, California... not even a town, in the San Gorgornio (spelling) Mountains a few miles from Palm Springs, Ca. Pop worked for Los Rios Rancho (a large apple growing company - orchards and a hundred cattle). He had a 1950 Willy’s Jeep and a Geiger Counter. On weekends we would go to Palm Springs, spend the night with my Grandmother’s brother and his wife at their trailer park and, early the next morning we headed out into the Mojave Desert.

He wanted to teach me about the desert, while we wandered around (like thousands of others) with that geiger counter, looking for uranium. We never did find any but in one of the canyons we went into were stacks of thousands of 105mm Howitzer (live) ammunition. Just sitting there cooking in the desert Sun. We also came upon thousands of rounds of .50 Cal. machine gun ammunition. They were in the metal clips used in guns mounted in aircraft.

Once in a while we went to the All-American Canal to fish for Bluegill and Catfish. The Canal was used to get water from the Colorado River in Arizona to Los Angeles, Cal. Pop didn’t talk very much, at first, but as time went by it seem as if he was talking more and more. Years later I realized Pop wasn’t doing more talking, I was doing more listening.

He told me stories of his year of living and working as a Cowboy... told me the stories he heard about the gunfighters. Said Wyatt Earp killed two men: shot both of them in the back. One of Pop’s relatives was a woman out-law named Belle Starr. He told me about one Outlaw, a man named Wes Harden that was so mean , that he shot and killed a man for snoring.

In June of 1956, a couple of weeks before I left to return home to Hydaburg, Alaska we were fishing at the All-America Canal and the temp. was around 100 deg. F. There was a tree nearby, called a Smoke Tree because from a distance it looked like smoke. I went over by the tree to sit in the shade.

There was an old Mexican man sitting there. His skin looked like tanned leather but he also had a very friendly, bright smile. I sat down beside him and commented on the heat... "Too hot for me." He asked where I was from and I told him, "Alaska". He just chuckled. He asked about my grandfather, "Indio... Indian?" I told him yes.

I saw something up in the sky, a bird very high in the sky making lazy circles. I asked if that was a Buzzard and he answered, "Si." I added, "I hear they eat anything." He answered, "Anything but Old Mexicans." I asked why and he said, "They don’t like Chili." We both laughed.

He then, indicating my grandfather said one word, "Cowboy?" I said, "Yeah, he was telling me stories about gunfighters..." The old man said, "I heard about one of them when I was in southern Arizona. They called him Tex. I asked a storekeeper who that man was and he said, "Tex."

I asked, "Why they call him Tex... cause he’s from Texas?" The man said, "No, he is from Louisiana." It didn’t make sense, "If he’s from Louisiana, how come they call him Tex?"

The man said, "Because he will shoot you if you call him Louise."

This is the end of my story (gyaahláang).

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