The Unplanned Interview, Part 1.

Disclaimer:  In this interview the colloquial speech of both interviewees was retained to give an authentic voice to some of the important people who reside in Southern Oregon.  Both interviewees agreed with the format and gave me permission to use the interview as recorded.  The names  referred to in the interview concern only those individuals mentioned and not by coincidence any others.  No attempt has been made to correct the grammar or to remove offensive material.  The main purpose was to gain a better understanding of two of Southern Oregon’s most prominent pioneers and to convey their points of view.  In no way do their points of view coincide with those of the interviewer.  This interview came about by accident and the curiosity of the interviewer.  The reader who proceeds does so after being warned of the nature of the interview–RMW

I had given over one hundred interviews, but none of my experience could have prepared me for what I was to encounter that day.  Life has a way of surprising us when we least expect it.

During the day in question I  brought my blue satchel, containing tape recorder, extra batteries, note pad, pen, and camera.  I always had miniature bottles of water with me and some precautionary antacids.  This was standard procedure for any of my proposed trips.

I couldn’t have asked for a nicer day;  temperature in the upper 70s, wisps of white clouds floating gently across a blue sky.  Mt. McLaughlin, Southern Oregon’s famous triangular peak that topped 9000 ft. seemed to exert a gravitational force, pulling my car further and further to the east of Hwy 62.  I seemed to have lost control as my brown 2004 Toyota Corolla moved obediently up the narrow highway towards the distant peak.  I thought of the Native Americans that had settled here long ago and of the Homestead Act that brought the encroaching settlers into their private land.

Suddenly, my car gave me a jolt as the road had quietly become a gravel road, loaded with stones.  It seemed that one of those stones was quite attracted to one of my tires–hence the jolt.  I decided to continue on this road, because I had never driven on it and it seemed intriguing.  As it became more pitted, I was glad to see a cross road which headed north towards a valley.  I wasted no time in turning onto what appeared to be a smooth dirt road.  But after the road made a few bends, some large granitic boulders sparkling with mica blocked any further travel.  I decided to park the car on an outcropping, and grabbed my blue satchel, stuck a small water bottle in my pocket, locked the car and began to walk along the road.

It seemed that someone had placed the boulders to prevent cars from continuing, because after I had been on the road for some minutes, it became smooth again and angled down towards the valley.  And from the distance I could make out the shape of what appeared to be some kind of dwelling.  When I drew closer, I saw the clear outline of a brown wooden home with shake roof and magnificent ponderosa pine towering above some scrub oak.  I could hear the gentle sound of water and felt myself absorbed by the beautiful landscape surrounding me.  I began to hear a rustling in the bushes and two figures looked out at me.  One was a tall, slender man with hair that had turned silver, while the other was a more rotund feminine figure also with graying hair.  Both of them looked me over with piercing and distrustful eyes.

–We see you was walking to our place so we come to look at ya.  We knows you was curious enough to hop over our obstacles, and when you kept a commin, we was plum interested in who you was”, said the tall man in a raspy voice.

–We don’t get many visitors, generally”, added the older woman.

–Which brings me to this:  What is your name and why are you here?”, asked the probing man.

–My name is Robert Weiss and I wanted to interview some of the prominent historical figures in Southern Oregon.  That’s why I brought my tape recorder, a notepad and a camera.

–My, don’t he talk English good”, said the older woman.

–Anyways,  ya kin just put that camera back.  We don’t allow no pictures.  Ya say you do interviews.  What does that mean?

–It means that I ask you questions regarding the things that have been important in your lives and how you might fit into the history of Southern Oregon.  And might I ask you your names?

–The name’s Eagle.  Eagle Point, the man drawled out.

–Matildy, I’m sure, said the round lady sticking out a pudgy hand for me to shake.

Note:  Eagle and Matildy Point agreed to let me record our conversation and below is what followed.

RW: Mr. Point, are you a Native American?

EP:  (slowly) No.

MP:  They is always asking him that.  This how it come about.  When Eagle was just a toddler, Josiah and Malvurney, his pa and ma, tried to keep some of their vittles away from him.  But it waren’t no good.  No matter how much they they tried, there was Eagle with some food in his mouth and smiling to beat the band.  Then they said that this kid had eyes like an Eagle and so it stuck.

Note:   At this time I was invited into the spacious home of the Points.  What we talked about will be the subject of Part 2.

 

 

A Native American Voice: George Fence Speaks, Part 2.

“You will find that if people want to ask a question, that waiting is a very important part of that asking.  What we are taught from an early age is that if we remain silent and observe, that sooner or later we will have this demonstrated to us.  So, there is a cautionary aspect to learning;  not to ask questions about specifics before we achieve the capacity to really understand and to practice what we have learned…

The importance of your relationship to place is the foundation upon which the individual cultures represented by the 400+ different tribes exist.  Native communities are represented by limited geographical regions and areas, although, they might extend to other areas for tribes that are more nomadic in nature.  However, even within the tribes that have migratory histories, there is still an incredible relevance to site, to feature and to landscape.  Relationships to place embody, virtually, volumes of books of learning.  And interestingly, the more you know and compare what you know against a symbol, the greater the amount of explanation of a symbol that comes to the individual.  Local examples are the Rogue River, salmon, Pilot Rock, Table Rocks, or Mt. Pitt, otherwise known as Mt. McLaughlin.  These physical places embody a tremendous amount of historical knowledge, of everything from mathematics to medicine to social discourse, to relationship and social involvement.  It takes a lifetime to learn the many volumes of information that are packed into these symbols…

The whole egalitarian perspective on economics not only assisted in the distribution of wealth or commodities, but it also played an important and figurative role in the social structure of our communities.  Those who were best possessed with the talents and capacities to accumulate were provided with the greatest opportunity to aid and assist and to provide service to others.  And thus they acquired the mantle of leadership and responsibility and were seen as providers and protectors for those around them.  So that merit was bestowed based on the actual process of support and assistance.  This egalitarian perspective on economies valued each and every contribution, and recognized that each was important in its own specific way, that without them, there would be a lack of balance in the communities.  So, rather than bestowing specific or greater honor to the person who brought back salmon than the person who brought back obsidian, the whole point was a sort of social or cultural leveling belief that all life forms were important to the balance and the harmony of the dance that this world engages in.  We are constantly reinforcing the idea and attitude that no matter how a person or other life form is represented, it has value and importance, and that even the most lowly can be counted upon to make the greatest contributions.

Wonderful Weather Results In Excellent Inner Tubing

Wonderful weather results in excellent inner tubing, and this week has been one of the best for both.  Lower flows make the ride more interesting and longer.  In some places near Upper TouVelle, you can simply drift slowly, or catch a lazy eddy.  The water is not that cold, but enough to refresh you during the ride.  Some of the blackberries are in season, and there is an abundance of them along the road to the old Medford Hole off Upper TouVelle Road.  Superb views of Mt. McLaughlin make bringing your camera a must.  Tou Velle remains one of Southern Oregon’s most beautiful parks.  Photo of Mt. McLaughlin.