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PRETTY REDWING

One of the older boys, Mickel, had an Indian boy for a hunting and fishing pal and he spent much time in the Indian village on the lower Imnaha. He even learned much of the Nez Perce language. The Nez Perce boy had a sister who had alluring liquid brown eyes, lustrous raven hair, and a graceful curvaceous body. Mickel called her Redwing.

One day Mickel said to his pal, "Why don't me and that purty sister of yours git married?" (In later years when telling the story to his sons, he claimed that he was only joshing.) His friend didn't answer and Mickel had forgotten the incident in a few days. Not long afterwards, he was jolted by the sight of the whole Indian encampment filing up the Horse Creek trail on their best painted ponys, everyone dressed in his most colorful finery. White buckskin-fringed and beaded shirts and leggins, beaded moccasins and gauntlets, porcupine-quilled and beaded vests and feather head dresses. The women were in elktooth-studded shawls and fez-shaped woven hats.

"Holy smoke," thought Mickel, "It looks like they're dressed up fer a weddin'." And he soon found out that's just what they were dressed up for -- his wedding. Mickel was then only fourteen and he wasn't about to get married, especially not to an Indian girl, desirable though she was. In those bad old days, Indians were considered something less than human and if you married one you were a "squaw man." So Mickel panicked and went running to his paw, Billy, and told him his sorry tale. W.K., with considerable compassion showing on his face, said, "Wal, Ah'll do mah best, boy." Uncle Billy turned and went resolutely out to meet the Chief and convey the bad news that there would not be a wedding.

There was much indignance and resentment on the part of the Chief at this affront. There were furious gestures and angry chatter from the women. Many of the young braves fingered their knives with dangerous glints in their eyes.

W.K. had to use all the persuasion he could muster to mollify the Chief and his people, explaining that "white-eyes" boys just don't get married that young. It took an hour or so of parleying and gifts of plenty of watermelons and fruit to get Mickel out of his predicament. And he didn't tell the story to his sons until some fifty years later.

But what about little Redwing? How did she feel about being a pawn in this game? Could she have been in love with Mickel? Dad didn't tell me. I wish I had asked more questions when I could have.

William Stubblefield, Jr.