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A little perspective on what blowguns are all about, part 2


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#1 Fatman

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 12:10 PM

An old man sits in his cabin, relaxing in his favorite chair. His long hair is tied back and falls down to the center of his back. Its color is a mixture of silver and jet. He is dressed in a calico shirt, with woolen breeches, and soft moccasins. He absently puffs on a corncob pipe. Without thinking, he waves the curling smoke back over his face and hair in an ancient gesture from a time when pipe smoking was a sacrament. These days, he smokes from force of habit.

His plump pleasant wife brings his supper, prepared in a cast iron skillet. The skillet is her most prized possession. She is dressed in a floor-length calico dress and moccasins decorated with colored glass beads. Her hair is twisted up in a bun atop her head. It too shows streaks of silver. A tiny gold cross hangs from a delicate chain around her neck. She pats his hand as she turns back toward the fireplace.

A bright eyed boy perhaps six years of age bursts in, all energy, excitement, and motion. In his hands are a short blowgun and two darts. His uncle has made the Tugawesti and Gitsi for him, boring the cane joint sections out with a long steel drill to form a uniform tube. The process took perhaps half an hour, much less tedious than the old way.

The boy begs the old man to show him how to shoot the Tugawesti, and tell him the stories of long ago. Young as he is, he has heard them all a hundred times. They tell of how his grandpa was once the greatest blowgun master of all time. Everyone in the village knows them by heart.

Slowly the old man rises, and limps out into the yard. His wife follows, and watches from the doorway. A small squash about the size of an apple is hanging by a rawhide string from a tree limb a few yards away. The old man squints to see it clearly. Slowly he loads a dart into the blowgun. Immediately his aged body goes into the quieting ritual which is the secret of mastering the Tugawesti. He takes a deep painful breath, and the dart flies with surprising speed from the short slender blowgun. It strikes the squash just below the center, causing it to spin and sway on its string. For an instant, the old man is propelled back in time. He is in the woods near a clearing by a stream, and the squash becomes a flitting bird. He sends the second dart toward the swaying target, timing it perfectly. It strikes the squash less than half an inch away from the first. The old man is overcome by a fit of coughing. He hands the short Tugawesti back to his grandson, and waves him away. The boy races off to get a closer look at the skewered squash. He squeals in delight at the sheer improbability of the shots. When the old man recovers his breath, he looks toward the cabin, and sees his wife smiling at him from the doorway. It is the same smile she wore the day he brought the birds to her mother.
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#2 slingshot

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 02:33 PM

Beautiful story. I do have one thing in common- at 71 I sometimes have a coughing spell after much shooting! My great grandmother and grandfather were full blooded Chocotaw.
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#3 Fatman

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 02:48 PM

I believe the Choctaw used blowguns as well. Most nations did, except for the horse cultures of the plains. At any rate, blowguns are more American than apple pie! A lot of people don't realize that.
Thanks for the kind words. Hang on to your heritage, and pass it along if you can.
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#4 SurvivorJ

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 01:54 PM

Great story with nice narrative. It is like a fragment of American traditional stories?



#5 Fatman

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 06:00 PM

This was a little story i wrote to include in the instructions of a specialized blowgun i used to make and sell. My mother was Oklahoma Cherokee, and saw to it i was familiar with the culture and history from an early age. She married my father, and they moved back to his home in western North Carolina, about an hour from the Qualla Boundary, the home of the Eastern Band. I guess you could say she came home too.
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#6 SurvivorJ

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 07:01 AM

Great story with nice narrative. It is like a fragment of American traditional stories?






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