Whitehorse The Man

When Dad's parents passed away, he and his little brother were forced to leave the reservation. Fearful of dying from Yellow Fever themselves, the tribal leaders had to decide who would stay and who would have to leave the reservation. This action was to protect those families who were more fortunate and hadn't contracted this dreadful virus. These were trying times for two young boys who had just lost their whole world. Whitehorse knew it was up to him to care for his little brother if they were to survive the vast desert. Whitehorse's mother was a great woman. I wish I could have known her. She taught him how to hunt for food, protect himself from the changing weather and find water in the harsh yet beautiful land they called home.

On foot and with no real transportation, their journey was long and hard. Whitehorse and his brother finally took refuge in the Superstition Mountains. This territory was well known as the war grounds for the Apache and Comanche Indians. Many a man, even a few frontier women, made the journey in, but were never heard from or seen again. This vast mountain range would become their new home. Tracking during the night and hunting during the day would become a daily challenge. Whitehorse knew to stay out of sight for fear of being found. It would become more and more difficult to gather enough food for the both of them; staying alive was an instinct that kept him going. Whitehorse was eight years old when he was forced to grow up and be responsible for himself and his little brother. Their diet consisted of snake, quail, an occasional lizard, road runner, rabbit and of course, during the Spring, the desert fruit from the cactus. He collected this fruit, made candy from the pulp and was able to store it for weeks. Even with his skills as a hunter, food was scarce and they grew weaker as the months passed by. The following Winter took its toll when Whitehorse's little brother passed away. This was devastating to Whitehorse. He was unprepared for another horrible loss. His brother was all he had left in this cruel and unsympathetic world. While his brother lay dying, Whitehorse closed his eyes and struggled to remember all the good memories of his family. It all seemed to be passing before him as though he was in a dream, a distant dream. He remembered how loving his mother was. He thought about the few good times with his father, and how these people loved and cared for them. Now, it was all slipping away with the death of his brother. As sad as his experience of losing his brother was, he closed his eyes and remembered all the good times they had and knew one day he would be reunited with his family. They were simple people, but rich in their love for one another. One of his fondest memories was when his family traveled from Arizona to Oregon on a wagon train. Spring was just starting when the wagon train began its journey. The trip took a year to complete. Whitehorse knew the seasons well. He knew that when the wind, the sky and the land began to change, it was time to prepare for those seasons and for the path his people had traveled for hundreds of years.

Updated: Saturday, August 12, 2023

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