restricted access 8. Farewell, Angelina
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8 Farewell, Angelina The utmost goodfaith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be takenfrom them without their consent; and, in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless injust and lawful wars authorized by Congress. ... U.S. Government, Northwest Ordinance, 1787, Article 3 Before my brother and I started school, we lived for a while in a one-room cabin a hundred yards or so from Pa Graham's house. Because Daddy shipped out periodically with the ocean-going transport system called the merchant marines, it made sense for Mama and us kids to live next door to a family support system. At Pa Graham's, the only dependable water came from a cistern that caught rainfall runoff from the cypress-shingle roof. In wet years they got additional water from a well with a hand pump in the backyard. Doing laundry took a lot of water, so on clothes-washing days Nama and Mama usually carted the dirty overalls, dresses, and bed sheets a half mile down the hill to a place called Delaney Spring. While they washed,Jack and I played in the water ofa little rivulet that originated from the spring. Corbett showed Jack and me a special place nearby. A long-gone railroad he referred to as the Kirby Main Line had gouged a trench through the high ground near the stream. Rain had eroded the soil. Sometimes, ifyou looked long enough among the sandjack leaves and pine needles, you could find a railroad spike. But what we usually looked for when we went there were flint arrowheads. Soon we assembled a small collection of points. Most ranged from an inch to two inches long, and many of these were so misshapen we speculated kids had made them. But there also were the delicate "bird" points, and sometimes larger ones, that approached perfection. One of these showed to kids at school brought a great deal more prestige than an ''A:' on your report card. Marbles could not buy them. At first the points seemed little more than rippled stone with the arrowhead shape, detached from all meaning other than the value built by their scarcity and by commentary from adults. Then came the time when a particularly sharp-edged one grew an imaginary feathered shaft attached by sinew. Then a bow appeared, held by a make-believe human with Anglo features stained dark like the men in the Broken Arrow mOVIe. About this time, the name Indian Creek, an always clear and mossy stream that headed up a mile or so east of Pa Graham's, also took on new meaning. Open pinewoods plunged into sweet bay- cypress marsh at the edge ofIndian Creek bottom, and we swam in an ice-cold pool downstream where the creek crossed the farm-to-market road into town. But I never found any arrowheads anywhere along the creek; the ground was too thick with ferns and leaves. 65 "Did you ever see an Indian?" I asked Corbett one day when fur- Farewell, ther enlightenment had become stymied by lack ofinformation. Angelina "One came by once, a long time ago," he said. "Your Nama fixed him some food, and he traveled on." That got me to wondering what had happened to the Indians. It was many years and books later that I found out. ~On Friday,June 1, 1690, the de Leon and Massanet expedition, after having spent less than two weeks in the Angelina country, set out on their return to Mexico. They left behind the seeds ofthe first European colony to be planted among the Hasinai. They took with them four relatives ofthe chief; these, according to Massanet, were to "bring back numerous presents" from Mexico to the Hasinai. Either on this trip or another soon thereafter, a young Indian girl made the journey from the shady village of the Hasinai to the shimmering heat of Mexico. Exactly when she made the trip and how old she was remain hidden by the cloak oftime. Spanish chroniclers refer to her only later, after she had moved back to her people: "[She] had been baptized and reared in the mission ofSanJuan Batiste, on the Rio Grande, in Coahuila [and] ... having returned to her country, proved very useful to the Spaniards because ofher knowledge ofthe language and her good services in winning the goodwill of her people for the Spaniards." The Spanish people called her Angelina. This they also...


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Subject Headings

  • Truett, Joe C. (Joe Clyde), 1941- -- Childhood and youth.
  • Angelina River Valley (Tex.) -- Biography.
  • Ecologists -- United States -- Biography.
  • Natural history -- Texas -- Angelina River Valley.
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