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peter john from ‘‘Stand for What Is Right’’ I Learned the Indian Way The thing is this, I really don’t know when my mother was born. And I don’t even know when my father was born. Me and my sister are the only ones that are living. My mother died when I was about two years old. My father raised me. I don’t mind talking to the tape about the things that concern the young people. I give the young people lot of chance to learn what I know and yet nobody take it up. Free for the asking. Nobody wants it. So that’s the reason why I let everything drop. Everything is going to die with me when I die. All that I know is going to go with me because nobody don’t want to pick it up. Stories, all the old-time stories I know about war going on between different tribes. All that I know myself. Long time ago people live by these things because that’s the only way people can get along. By looking at the things the right way. We live close together . We think about what we say. I can’t go down the street and say, ‘‘You kill this person over here.’’ Accuse them. I can’t say that. The thing is this, we try to do what is right for one another. And we’re Indians, Athabaskan Indians . The way I was brought up has got nothing to do with no Whiteman way. Absolutely. What I learned is the Indian way. These old people that I seen never swear, nothing. Never steal from each other. And you see chiefs up there [Tanana Chiefs in ].1 They’re not voted in to be chief. They’re the kind of person that’s hard to get. Hard to find. These people you see up there, chief. They stand for what is right. They feel sorry for everybody. I don’t care who it is. That’s the kind of people they call chief. They got to understand. They got to know about people. Any poor people. Any sick person, they never let go. He’s going to help that person whether that person is rich or poor. Doesn’t make any difference. People used to move around. Go from place to place. Move. That way people never stayed in one place. But everything change. Whiteman way  Lower Tanana right now. Everything is changed. You got to stay put otherwise your kids don’t learn nothing. The old people used to just stay one place for one week, then move to another place for another week. They keep on doing that. They change the spruce boughs on their floor every time. They move. That way there was no germs. Nobody get sick. I see old people that live over one hundred years old. That’s the kind of people I see. Right now the Whiteman way you have to stay put. You see this house. We stay in here for pretty near four years. People come in, go out. Germs everywhere maybe. We don’t know. Maybe that’s how people get sick so much. We can’t compare ourselves to the people that lived long time ago. No way. These people were really husky, strong. They don’t get into nobody’s way. They don’t go over and pick a fight with anybody. They have respect for one another. That’s the kind of people I seen. You never find that kind of people no more. note . He is indicating by gesture or nod his print, displayed on wall or shelf, of a famous photograph of six chiefs of Athabaskan tribes of interior Alaska, together with their interpreter, taken in . Today the Tanana Chiefs Conference, headquartered in Fairbanks, provides medical, educational, employment, and other social services to members of these groups. – – Eds. ...


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