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History event gives lessons handed down through the ages (video)

By ErinPradia
March 10, 2012 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated March 9, 2012 at 9:10 p.m.

Dee Wheeler and her grandson, Weston, 6, pet Ibrahim, the camel, at the Texas Our Texas celebration at the Mitchell Guidance Center. Doug Baum of the Texas Camel Corps brought four camels to the event Saturday to teach children about the history of camels in Texas, namely the Texas Camel Experiment of 1856.

Lifestyle values of 18th century Texans became practical again Saturday at the Texas Our Texas event at the Mitchell Guidance Center.

"Native Americans used everything from the animals they killed and didn't throw anything away," said Iva "Little Dove" Weiss, a presenter of Cherokee and Chiricahua Apache Native American descent.

"When we chopped down a tree, we used everything from the leaves to the roots - not wasting anything," Weiss said. "We are trying to keep the earth clean since we're going to be here for a long time, I hope."

Beverly Seals, den leader at Our Lady of Victory Cub Scout Troop 364, brought the scouts to the Texas Our Texas event to work toward their Texas history badge.

Cub Scouts Grayson Seals, 9, Hunter Aldridge, 9, and Cody Aldridge, 6, enjoyed learning about the weaponry from the 18th century.

"I like the guns and the other weapons. They showed us a lot of cool things," Hunter said.

Although the boys often hunt with their families, the guns early Texans and the weapons Native Americans used came alive when they heard the presenters talk about them.

"I had seen a flintlock before but not in person," Grayson said. "It was heavier than I expected. Much heavier."

Hunter, who has killed two deer while hunting with his father, said he was impressed with how resourceful the Native Americans were with the animals they killed for food.

"The Native Americans try to use all the parts of the animals," Hunter said.

The presenters demonstrated how even the bones of the animals were used to make utensils and jewelry.

Grayson said when he goes hunting with his grandmother, he will try to use more parts of the animals just like the Native Americans.

Cub Scout den leader Justin Aldridge helped the boys connect the dots between the history lessons and everyday life.

"What about at dinner time? You can save your leftovers rather than throwing them in the trash," Aldridge said.

Weiss said history has always had a special place in her heart.

"When children see Native Americans on television, they think 'savage, unclean, mean,'" Weiss said. "But there are so many things we have today thanks to the Native Americans that people don't even think about such as rubber, aspirin, avocados, cinnamon, pecans and tomatoes."

In spite of the cold and wet weather, more than 1,000 children were brought on field trips Thursday and Friday to the Texas Our Texas event sponsored by the Children's Discovery Museum and H-E-B.

"No schools canceled. I am happy people are here," said Paige Gedvillas, the interim director at the Children's Discovery Museum. "I love this event so much. I love how the teachers enjoy it as much as the kids."

Presenters, dressed in period clothing, demonstrated the types of food early Texans ate and how they prepared it.

Historically accurate living quarters were also on display. Weiss stayed overnight in her tent Wednesday, sleeping in a bed after setting up for the event.

In the 18th century, traveling salesmen often brought smaller models of things such as irons and sewing machines people could look at and order by mail, said Rodney Mangold, a presenter from Atascosa, and he had several of the miniature models on display.

A variety of musical instruments used for both education and entertainment were played by Dennis Riedesel, who has a doctorate in education and teaches at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Live animals used by Texans in the 18th century such as camels, horses and cows added an interactive element to the event.

Chap Traylor, a rancher from Sonora, talked about early Texas family life using cows and horses from his farm.

"Jobs like milking cows were seen as woman's work," Traylor said. "But that just meant that mom was in charge. The kids often milked the cows - and sometimes even the dad."

In addition to the stereotypical tasks of cooking and cleaning, 18th century women worked along side the men - wearing more cumbersome apparel.

"The horses were seen as a man's work, but the women also rode horses - even wearing skirts," Traylor said. "Everybody did a lot of the same tasks."

Traylor demonstrated how to milk a cow and allowed the children to pet the animals.

"I like getting out and working with the kids. A lot of kids don't get to pet a horse, feel the horns on a calf or know milk comes from a cow," Traylor said. "The history allows me to talk to the children about the animals."



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