asking us silly questions and mispronouncing

“I was ten years back, on the north of Vancouver Island with my small son, not yet two years old; on the track of Franz Boas, I was, and one of his informants had just told me why they liked him—we liked Boas, she said—you know why? and told me something I could get from no book in the world. We liked him because he was on time for meals. I looked out to where my little son was sitting on a huge cedar log with two little Kwakiutl boys, twins, and my son was showing them his ‘old friend car’—a red metal car, the one toy he had brought. Perhaps it was battered and more silver than red, where the paint had worn; he had lost it that morning, and the twins had helped him find it in the long pale grass. The informant said to me, It is good that you brought your child with you; you know, none of these white scientists bring any family with them . . . no children, nothing; they just appear here, one white man, another white man, asking us silly questions and mispronouncing. You know what our chief amusement in the summer at Port Hardy is? Telling lies to white scientists.”

(Muriel Rukeyser, The Orgy, pp. 32–33.)

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