” ‘íswut and the Girl” is my grandmother’s reminiscence story and one of my childhood favorites. I consider it one of her best gifts to me. It is often a requested story when I do repeat visits to classrooms. I don’t say much to introduce the story and I don’t discuss the themes of the story. It isn’t necessary; the story speaks for itself and teaches the lessons it’s meant to teach. And, as I always say, each individual takes away the lesson that’s intended for him.
Although the story unfolds a bit differently with each telling and each audience, ” ‘íswut and the Girl” always provokes specific reactions from children. When the boys throw rocks at the girl and her dog, there are looks of concern on the children’s faces. Then, as ‘íswut runs out of the ocean on the girl’s command to chase the boys away from the food basket, the expressions immediately change. The girls begin to smile and continue to smile until the end of the story. Some of the boys in the audience, the ones I suspect have had problems with bullies, have satisfied grins on their faces. A few other boys, the ones who may have behaved badly a time or two, stare at me with mouths slightly open and eyes as big as saucers. It never fails, it has been the same for years with young audiences.
This memorable story carries a lot of information about the cultures, languages, and ways of life of people living in the early 1900s in northern San Diego County. It is another example of the power of stories in teaching native history. This story can easily be used as a foundation for teaching and reflecting on the past, present, and future of local native culture and traditions.
And so, my grandmother and ‘íswut live on in their story teaching us what life was like long ago, illustrating the importance of loyalty, and reminding us that there are consequences for our actions.