Gold fever


Heyday is publishing a book in the fall called, Medicine Trails: A Life in Many Worlds, a memoir of a medicine woman in the Karuk tribe of California’s Humboldt County. Not only does it open your eyes to experiences that are completely unfamiliar to most Americans, it is also full of funny little anecdotes that only a woman who has had a life as full and rich as Mavis McCovey’s could have in her repertoire. Here’s a good one:

“It really got bad around here after the miners settled in, around 1852, and it stayed bad for a long time. There is a story on the river of a Karuk man who found a nugget that was about six inches long and shaped like one of those old-fashioned grandmother clocks. He thought it was pretty and cleaned it up and sat it on a shelf in his house so people could see it and admire how pretty it was. He was proud of it. Then his friend told him, “That’s the kind of rocks those white people are digging for.” He said, “That’s the kind they are all crazy about. You’d better not have that rock here, or they’ll come kill you for it.” He told him, “They’re crazy about little bitty ones and you got this great big one you can hardly lift. You better get rid of it.” Well, he thought about how much he liked that rock and hid it under his bedding for a while. Then pretty soon he took it back out, petted his yellow rock and took it out in the hills away from where he found it, dug a hole, and buried it so that he wouldn’t get killed over that rock.”