Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trading With the Caddoes

To say I was a little nervous about my trading visit with the Caddo tribe is understating it. I was a member of the Darbs, an imaginary tribe that had never met them before. But I had heard they were a peaceful people who traded extensively with other tribes. They were famous for their very artistic pottery.

And so it was that I was plying their river's waters in my canoe, loaded with goods. Soon I smelled the smoke of their fires and a little later saw two men on the river's bank as if they were waiting for me. Had they anticipated my arrival and even my peaceful purposes?

One of the men called out to me as I came to shore. I could not understand his words, so I immediately dialed my dream translator and we began to speak the same language. We pulled my heavily laden canoe onto the bank and exchanged greetings. These intuitive people knew my mission was all about trade, and soon a blanket was spread out on the ground to display my goods.

My first offer was a display of sewing needles, from giant darning needles to small ones for embroidery. A little girl ran to an old woman to show her a pack. The elderly lady, probably her grandmother, squinted at them, not seeing or comprehending.

Quickly I unveiled a card of reading glasses and selected a pair of 3x power with jeweled rims. I walked to the lady and gently slid them onto her face. I held up the needles and she bent to look. She stared in unbelief. Had she been bewitched ? She began to cry, moved by her restored vision.

Next I produced a hand axe with a nice curved grip. I demonstrated its use on a nearby log, then showed how to sharpen it with a double sided whet stone. More of the Caddoes pressed round the trading blanket as I brought out more objects. Fish hooks and line that became invisible under water. A large magnifying glass for close viewing and magically starting fires. A saw with replaceable blades.

And for the ladies, a set of artist paints and brushes. They were fascinated with the bright colors. Their favorite seemed to be fluorescent orange. Then of course, the manditory trading beads, in colors they had not seen before.

Last of all I presented the chief with a stainless steel knife featuring a grip cap set with a compass. The end cap unscrewed to reveal a hollow handle. He was fascinated by the machined threads. To his wife I gave a fluted clear glass vase. She turned it in her hands, entranced by the rainbow of colors the sunlight cast upon her blouse.

A silence came upon my little group. One of them asked, "What do we have that we can offer you in exchange for these wonderful things?" I explained I would be very happy with some of their seeds--bean seeds--that no one else had.

At first they were perplexed. Beans? I explained that everything I had brought them was man-made, but the seeds were made by God and were a great treasure. I was presented with a large, decorated bowl heaped with the precious beans.

My dream was running out. After tearful goodbyes, I paddled away from the Caddoes with my treasured seeds. The beautiful bowl would some day be displayed in a museum, but I would plant the seeds. After all the trading was over, I had gotten the better part of the deal. My gift was alive.

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