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peter john from ‘‘Old Ways’’ Try to Make Things Another time, I wanted to go out. Out walking to hunt, but there was too much snow. I had no snowshoes. So I walked down the street and I saw snowshoes hanging on the wall of somebody’s house. I take those snowshoes , went out and got birch. Then I put the snowshoes back and make my own. I started out right there with new snowshoes. You got to try to make things. If you can’t do it on your own, you just have to see how the other people are doing it. By looking and listening. It’s the way we understand. It’s hard to learn. Sure it’s hard. Anything is hard. I couldn’t tell you how to sew with beads or porcupine quills. The only way you’re going to learn is by looking at other people. We all have a long way to go. I don’t care if you’re ninety years old, you’re still learning. Don’t think you know it all. Never. I made snowshoes, sled, poling boat, and canoe. But I’m not a carpenter. Some of these young people say they’re carpenters. Well, I don’t know. They have to be able to make everything. I hewed all the crosspieces for that canoe with an ax. I didn’t use a plane or saw or anything. I split all the boards out of a tree. Split them a quarter of an inch thick. It wouldn’t take me two hours to get enough for a whole canoe. You can’t do anything unless you’re willing to do it. If you’re not willing, then you might as well forget about the whole thing. If a person is ambitious to do things, he’s going to do it no matter how hard it is. If a fellow goes out hunting and breaks his paddle, he can just stop there and make paddle. There’s certain kind of trees you got to have. You got to understand how to get it. All the trees look the same but they are not. There’s hard wood in there. Sometimes you get birch for a sled and hard wood in there will make it twist up. You have to choose it right. You can’t tell just by looking at a birch if it’s good. Working on sleds is just like working on a car. You got to have parts for it. peter john: try to make things  One old man told me, ‘‘Don’t use a crippled sled. It’s no good. When you try to fix a sled, try to make a new sled altogether. A wounded sled is not good.’’ Same for canoe we have to use all the time. And snowshoes. You don’t have to buy snowshoes up there in Fairbanks sixty or one hundred dollars. If you know how you could just make one yourself. And it’ll be way better snowshoes than what they’re selling. Chief Charlie used to be chief right here in Minto. I seen him. My wife seen him. He was a person that understand. People have respect for him. He give me lot of advice. A lot of things I understand through these people . What to do in an emergency and hunting. All these things. And about other people. If you go down the street and somebody pat you on the back, you don’t say he’s a nice guy. You don’t say this person is okay. I don’t go along that line. I got to know the person. I got to understand them before I can say he is a nice guy. You can’t say everybody is okay. I can’t. That’s a mistake we make once in a while. We think we’ll get away with it, but we never do. These chiefs, these old people, really had something that we can’t put a finger on. They got a special gift to help other people. And that’s what they use. ...


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MARC Record
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