Little Running Deer  sculpture by KSR

The little Navajo boy  seemed to be beside me wherever I moved.  He was about five years old with a crippled right leg which caused him to use a little crutch.  Rather like

Tiny Tim of Dickens’s Christmas Carol fame.  We were in Gallup, New Mexico for the annual Indian Market and I was sketching some of the colorful booths and people while Dr. Advice was conducting business elsewhere.

After about twenty minutes or so of the child’s following me, I leaned down and asked his name.  His large dark eyes looked straight into mine and, true to Navajo suspicion of strangers, he said nothing.  I asked him how old he was, and he held up five grubby fingers.  His parents didn’t seem to be around, but there was a small group of boys a little older who apparently were occupied in watching after him.  I motioned to them to ask if he belonged to them, but their reply was the same solemn stare.

Since most children like to draw, I asked him if he would like some pencils.  He briefly nodded, so I fished out a few colored pencils and offered them.  When he didn’t take the, I thought perhaps he had nothing on which to draw, so I found a small empty notebook and held it all out to him,  He looked over to the other boys as if for permission and then pocketed his loot before giving me a happy sparkling smile with two missing front teeth.

Continuing my sketching, I became aware of a young Navajo woman in a long flowered skirt watching us.  I asked if she were his mother, and she gave a slow nod.  She looked very poor but around her neck she wore a lovely turquoise squash blossom necklace.  I took a five dollar bill from my pocket and asked if I might photograph the her son.  She quickly took the money and nodded again.

It took a few minutes to have her move the little fellow to a different location for a better backdrop.  Of course when I took his photo, all the other boys came forward for their “turn” in front of ther camera!  Fortunately, there were only three of them by that time.!

I never knew his name, but knowing a bit about Navajo family clan names, I thought maybe he could be of the Deer clan, and I named him Little Running Deer in my heart.  I like to think that in his future he would be able to run and play with friends, an perhaps even be an artist who could put his tribal legends with paint onto canvas.


Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

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