I went to help out some friends last week. On June 11 their house burned down destroying all of their worldly possessions. Fortunately none of their family was hurt. They didn’t have any fire insurance but were planning to rebuild. This is why I went there, to help out. I was only one of many responding to the needs of another member of the community. This “community” extends beyond the Cree world for me.
Chris and Bambi were such good people that I had no choice in this matter. When I first met them, they would take in people who needed it. Mostly abused and battered women. Not the richest of people materially, they had great spirits. It was this habit of continually giving to the community and people around them that made it hard for them to accept the help of others. But people would just tell them it’s finally your turn.
While I stayed at their place in a teepee, I got to meet a great many people who would check in on them. Sometimes it seemed to be about 50 people a day.
One story came out. Somebody donated two really small trailers for them to live in while they rebuilt. Two neighbours from down the street complained. It seems they were trying to sell their house and felt that the trailers lowered their property value.
A town meeting was held because of these two heartless people. I have better names for them but don’t wish to offend our readers. The town meeting was held because there was a town by-law that says you cannot camp more than 30 days in one town lot. Anyhow, at the meeting Chris and Bambi’s other neighbours expressed their outrage. The neighbours within 200 feet of the complainers said that they would each give Chris and Bambi 30 days on their lots. Other people said this wasn’t necessary and passed a resolution giving them until October to put something up they could live in. The resolution was passed almost unanimously except for two votes.
The two complainers are now shunned by everyone in this community, much like traditional Cree practices. There is a lesson to be learned here. I know most Crees and Canadians sometimes think of Americans as freeway drive-by shooting rednecks who care more about money than other people. This small community in New Hampshire, United States showed me that this is far from the truth. It also showed me that people are willing to band together to help one another. No one is alone in wanting to do the right thing; often they just have no idea how to express it. Maybe we could just do what Chris and Bambi did—help out others and allow others to help you out.
Ain’t no glory or shame in it; it’s just being part of a community.