She is an adept with the rifle, is skilled in trapping, in tanning hides, and in killing big game for use on her own table. Her husband is immensely proud of her, as he may well be…
The Indian woman had no library and no store of medicines. She is a very robust woman with a fine figure, is sturdy and strong, and has a most pleasing face…
The husband having stepped out of the cabin for a few minutes I took the opportunity to compliment her upon her cooking; also upon the respectful and courteous behaviour of her children, and their very healthy and robust appearance. As in case of illness the nearest doctor would be nearly two hundred miles away, and to send out a messenger and bring the doctor back with him would take about eighteen days if the going was good, I asked the woman what she did when the children got sick.
“They never get sick,” she answered.
“What, were they never sick?”
“No, they have never been sick.”
“What about you yourself?”
“I have never been sick in my life.”
“But what do you do when the babies come?”
“I bring them myself.”
“Had you no woman to come in and help you?”
“No, I bring them myself, —all alone.”
The husband corroborated this statement, and he also said that he was away trapping when the last two children had been born, some three weeks having expired before he arrived home to welcome the baby. At that time the cold was intense, the thermometer registering nearly sixty degrees below zero when the child came into the world, so that his wife was compelled to keep the fire going in the stove so that the other children as well as the new-born one and herself would be saved from freezing.
The calm confidence that this woman possessed as to the future health of herself and her children was surely inspiring.
Excerpt by Thomas Martindale, Pub. 1913, from Hunting in the Upper Yukon
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