Courtesy Cherokee Nation/Youtube
Cherokee Elder Delois Nofire grew up one of four kids—she has a sister and two brothers. They grew up hunting and making their own creating toys.

Back Then: Cherokee Elder Talks Hunting Rabbits, 10 Cent Movies, and Making Toys


Cherokee Elder Delois Nofire grew up one of four kids—she has a sister and two brothers.

She and her siblings walked two miles on a trail through the woods to get to school, there was no school bus. “It didn’t matter if it was raining or snowing or whatever, we still had to go to school,” she says in the video.

Her family had no electricity or running water—their water came from a well, and was drawn into a bucket. To do laundry, they would heat water in tub until they did get a gas-powered washing machine when she got older.

But the machine had wringers on it, and that wasn’t always so fun when she and her sister helped their mother with laundry.

“Sometimes we’d get our hands stuck in that wringer, and it hurt so we had to hit the emergency bar to release it. That was some of the fun times that we had because my sister loved for me to get my hand in that wringer,” she laughs.

Delois didn’t just help her mom around the house, she also went hunting with her father. They would hunt rabbits and squirrels, bring them home, clean them and enjoy them for dinner that very night.

Her family only went to town to purchase staples like flour and salt, but as she and her siblings got older, they would go to the movies on Saturdays. For 25 cents they could see a movie, and purchase a pop and either candy or popcorn.

She and her siblings got pretty creative when it came to toys too.

“We didn’t really have toys like you go to town and buy, we had to make our own toys,” she says.

She and her sister would play in the woods, using rocks to make the outline of different rooms of their playhouse, and they would use stick dolls, and shards of broken glass for plates. Delois and her older brother would also make a paddling wheel out of a wagon wheel hub. Hear her describe how they made that in the video, as well as more about self-sufficient her family was.

“I don’t think kids today had chores like we did back then, but I’m really thankful that I had those chores because it taught me good work ethics and a lot of people today don’t have those, so I am very thankful for the way that I was raised,” she says.

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