A baby goat. Photo: Robin Zebrowski

Tim Giago: I started my first business in fourth grade with a goat named Susie

I started my first business with a goat

Notes from Indian Country
By Tim Giago (Nanwici Kciji – Stands Up For Them)
Native Sun News Today Editor Emeritus

Old Joe Arguello had a predilection for goat’s milk. I didn’t know this until I traded two rabbits for a female goat I named Susie.

World War II was winding down. For reasons unknown to me, my father and mother took me and my little sister Shirley out of Holy Rosary Mission boarding school in 1945 and enrolled us at Roosevelt School in Rapid City. I was in the fourth grade.

Of course, I would return to Holy Rosary the next year, but that late winter and spring of 1945 turned out to be one of my happier times.

Across the street from Roosevelt School (the school has since been converted into a large, pawn shop) was a feed store. One could buy baby chicks for about 10 cents apiece. They also sold baby rabbits. I finagled enough money out of my dad to buy two rabbits and about 10 baby chicks. Like all fathers, he stressed how important it was for me to take care of them.

One chick was dyed green for Easter. Back then we never knew that this was such a horrible thing to do to those poor chicks. He turned out to be a rooster, the cock of the walk. He was white with a majestic comb, but for all of the time he was in my chicken coop, he never lost the green feathers on his chest. He would flap his white wings, puff out his green chest, and crow to beat the band. I called him Corky.

My two rabbits were named Mopsy and Flopsy. They both had a mean streak I couldn’t cure, so when I became friends with two kids from Roosevelt School who had several goats, my interest was piqued at the prospects of trading them off for a goat.

These kids were called “white trash” by some of the other kids at school because they were very poor. I knew they were poor, but so were we and although we were called “dumb Indians” at times, we were never called “poor Indian trash” or if we were I never heard it. These poor kids had moved to Rapid City from somewhere down south so they even talked different than us.

I knew how they felt because I had to bite my tongue a few times from speaking in the colloquialism of the Pine Ridge Reservation because whenever I said something like “ennit,” the white kids would laugh hysterically. Of course, “ennit” was just a reservation way of saying “Isn’t that so.”

Anyhow, I traded my two rabbits for the goat I named Susie. Susie was about three or four years old. She was black with white stockings and she had a little white and brown in her face. It wasn’t until her udder was filled with milk that I discovered she had to be milked every day.

Susie and I became friends. She seemed to know what time I got out of school and she would run to the end of the fence wait to for me. She would start to bleat the moment she saw me.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: I started my first business with a goat

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is the Editor Emeritus of Native Sun News Today. He is the author of Children Left Behind and Notes from Indian Country, Volumes I and II. He can be reached at najournalist1@gmail.com

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today