Each summer when my daughter goes to camp I write her a story and send it to her in parts, one each day while she’s gone. This time the story is kid Robin and the Robber Barron a sort of retelling of the Robin Hood stories.
As time passed, Robin got to know the entire Tribe. Between helping out the adults with their daily chores and learning new skills every day with the other children, more and more she was accepted as a member of the Tribe.
She still wore her own clothes which had been rescued from the wagon, but as time wore on those clothes began to wear out and she began to grow out of the. Sylerr did her best to keep them mended for her, but first one dress, and then another became unwearable. They offered them to the mothers of girls younger than Robin (there were no girls just her age), but she’d been so hard on them they weren’t fit for much this side of heavy work clothes.
As she grew older, she took an interest in the things, besides her dresses, which had been saved from the wagon. There were papers in a small brown box, but they were written in a script and language that Robin couldn’t understand. She asked Chief Owanutaye about them at their language lesson where the children learned English and the language of the Tribe.
Owanutaye said they would papers that the whites used to designate ownership of things, and that they had belonged to her Father. The papers were important and should be kept safe. He explained to her that, to the white people, even the land was something to be owned and manipulated, even ruined, at the whim of the owner. There were times where the white people and the tribe had come into conflict over the land and that the Tribe had been forced to move a great distance to avoid this conflict.
One day a man came to camp, a white man who came to trade some information. The man was tall, on a palamino horse. The saddle and his boots were like those worn by the soldiers at the Army barracks, but his other clothing was outdoorsy, with a buckskin shirt and jacket, and a pale well curled hat… not white but nearly so, and impeccably clean. His hair was curley, and a bit to the long side like a sheep needing shearing, and he had long mustaches from lip to cheek. Robin had seen men with mustaches, but it had been a long time. No one in the Tribe wore facial hair.
The man, like all white men she had seen, wore a gun at his side and also carried a rifle. Once he climbed down he held the rifle respectfully in the crook of his elbow, close by but unusable. On preparing to sit down he passed the rifle to Owanutaye to set it to the side, gently and with reverence.
Sylerr moved quickly to where Robin and Tintye were cleaning the horses, preparing them for a big ride out across the river where the hunting was particularly good. She took Robin’s hands and said, “You must hide, Robin. We do not wish this man to see you. We do not wish him and others to take you away. You are safe here, but I don’t know if you would be safe elsewhere. If you wish to be with us, here in the Tribe, then you must hide and not let him see you.”
Robin nodded, secured the horses and then ran to the path to the stream. When they got to the stream, well out of site, they sat on the rocks and talked of the visitor.
“Do you think he would take me away, Tintye?” asked Robin.
“I don’t know. Their ways are different than ours. He might think that somehow they owned you and want to take you back, sure.”
“No one owns me. Chief Owanutaye says that no one really owns anything, except ourselves, and since we already own ourselves, no one can own anyone else. We are already owned.,” She pulled her hair over her shoulder and began braiding it with fury. “I’d like to see them try to take me. You’d help me, wouldn’t you Tintye?’
Tintye nodded. “I think the whole Tribe would, Robin. You are one of us, now, for as long as you want to be.”
Robin’s hair flipped this way and that. “Then we’d take them instead, and we’d show them what it is like to be taken against their will.
“Tintye shook his head, “That is dangerous, Robin. If we took them then they would send others, and more others, and more and more.”
“But we would hide in the canyon. They would never find us.”
“Robin, they would send more men, men with guns, until the whole canyon was filled with men. There would be no more places to hide. You can not poke them and expect them not to bite back and bite back hard. The canyon hides us because we do not stick our hands out to poke him. It is better to leave them be and hide than risk our home.”
“One day, Tintye, I will show them. We do not have to let them own us. Guns or no guns, we do not have to bow to them.
Orren came through the woods just then, letting them know that the white man had gone. They trotted back to camp with Orren and found Owanutaye addressing the group. Tintye translated for Robin from the language of the Tribe. “The white man was a tracker of men. He came to us looking to see if we had seen or heard of another white man, one who had been a prisoner of crimes, a murderer. This man had escaped into the canyon and was hiding. They believe he had been shot, perhaps in the arm, but he was not sure. He wants us to keep sight out for this man, help the white men to capture him and take him back as a prisoner.
“This man is dangerous, and we should avoid all contact with him. If you see him you are to let me know at once. We do not intend to try and capture this man for the white men, but let him be on his own. Do not attempt to help or hinder him in any way. This is how it must be for the good of the Tribe.” Owanutaye finished and Tintye completed his translation.
Robin and Tintye moved off to continue working on the horses. Orren joined them. He said, “Did you hear about what the man said when he saw your dress, Robin?”
Robin looked down at her dress, “My dress, how could he have seen it, we were down by the stream?”
Orren shook his head, “No, the dress you had outgrown, the one given to my cousin, Jitalli. He saw her running about near the kitchen and stopped her and demanded to know where she had gotten it.”
“What did Owanutaye say?” Robin’s eyes had grown large and she stood straight and tall, but her lip quivered.
“He told the man that we had traded for it, simple as that, and the tribe we had traded with had gotten it in a similar trade with some white men before,” Orren looked down at Robin’s dress now. “The man said that his daughter had owned a matching dress, that his cousin, who had been killed in his wagon train, had a daughter who had that matching dress. They believe the daughter had been killed in that same attack, but she was never found. He wanted to know everything he could about the tribe who sold him the dress, and Owanutaye told him it was the tribe from Narrow Gorge, but that they’d be long out of the canyon area this time of year. Owanutaye said he’d be happy to talk to them when they met after the summer, and the man said “OK” and left. Owanutaye had Jitalli change out of the dress immediately once he’d gone.”
‘That was me he was talking about , his cousin’s girl. He must also be my cousin.” Robin flipped her braid around and began pulling a the end, tightening it.
“That is true, “ said Orren, “ and I have a feeling that we will be seeing him again.”