Another Way knows life skills can be learned through frontier skills
With all the technological advances that have washed over the world during the past 50 years, it’s hard to imagine a life without computers, iPads, credit cards and Snapchat.
However, what happens when the electric juice runs out?
Another Way School answers that question with its Living History and Frontier Skills classes taught by Richard “Dick” James and Louis Anderson.
James is a charter member of the America Mountain Man Association, and Anderson is the adopted son of Edgar Red Cloud, a descendent of Chief Red Cloud of the Lakota Nation.
The two will be at Another Way School on Saturday, Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The public is invited to meet these men and learn what they have to offer.
Richard James goes from Mountain Man to teacher
James’ class is a problem-solving course, held once a week, that is based on the lifestyle of pre-colonial America.
“The class is built on the idea that there are so many problems that young people will have to solve someday, so we want to teach them how to solve those problems without credit cards, a trip to the mall and anything electronic,” James said. “So, when students come in, I tell them that they are in the year 1700 and they have just come across the ocean in a boat that had whatever they could bring with them.”
He tells the students that they have landed on the East Coast of what will eventually become the United States.
“Then I say, the Captain said he is going to catch the next tide and leave for the other side of the ocean,” James said. “However, he said he’ll be back in two or three years to bring you more stuff.”
That’s when the class really starts.
“We teach them how to make things that will help them live,” he said.
Those items include pottery, clothes, candles and tools. He also teaches them primitive camping, how to build shelters and sledges as well as tracking skills.
“We’re solving the problems, and that projects into life,” he said.
James always had an interest in history, especially when it came to the Native American culture.
“I thought I was going to be an Indian when I grew up, ” he said. “I thought if I studied really hard they would adopt me, but that didn’t happen.”
So, by way of a muzzleloader group, which learned and taught skills of early firearms, James found his way to becoming a Mountain Man.
“I heard that there was a group that liked to dress up in buckskins,” he said. “That was the next best thing to becoming an Indian, so, I joined up with the American Mountain Man
Association in the winter of 1973.”
Through that, James, got acquainted with Another Way School Founder and Director Diane Bode.
“She was into skis and my son was into skis,” James said. “My son liked wolves, and she liked wolves. And when my son had a litter of wolves, she got one, and we ended up all together over a period of time.”
Over time, James and Bode began developing ideas of how to preserve the pre-Colonial traditions.
“We got this idea to build an Indian village and make it as authentic as we could,” he said. “I knew many [Native American] elders and they were friends of mine. And we thought if we had this village and it was correctly constructed, maybe we could bring these elders through and it would help them recall things that they knew and we could record those things.”
That was the plan, but it never materialized.
Then Bode started Another Way School in 1978 and James moved onto another skilled group.
“I was too old to continue being a mountain man because mountain men weren’t fat and old,” James said with a smile. “So, I passed from the mountain men into a Colonial group. That way I could still do something historical and do something besides trap.”
James learned how to create everyday items from scratch — brooms, shoes and flint tools.
“It was comfortable for an old man to do these things,” he said.
So, he is passing on his knowledge to Another Way students as well as Another Way faculty.
Louis Anderson is taken under Red Cloud’s wing
Louis Anderson, who met James in the Mountain Man Association, is a storyteller, and teaches the legends, the old ways of Native American life, including Plains Indian sign language.
He knows it well, as he should — in 1975, Anderson became the adopted son of Edgar Red Cloud during an official sweat lodge ceremony, according to Bode.
“He speaks with his hands because the Old Ones he studied with still remembered how their elders used their hands to speak,” she said.
Anderson, who was a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army, met Red Cloud during a Native American dance festival.
“We had a long talk and he told me he was an Indian and I asked him what tribe he belonged to and he said, ‘I belong to Sioux,’” Anderson said while signing in Plains Indian sign language. “I asked him to teach me the Sioux language.”
Red Cloud told him that he had lived a hard life and didn’t like Caucasians because they fought all the time.
“But he told me I was smart,” Anderson said. “He said, ‘I will teach you. Come to my house.’”
The two men sat and talked for hours.
“My mind was slow and it was hard to learn,” Anderson said.
Anderson continued to learn, however, and eventually Red Cloud decided to adopt him.
“He invited me to see real medicine men and they taught me, and my Indian mother taught me much,” Anderson said. “They adopted me into the family like a new child with my father, my Indian father.”
In the sweat lodge, which represents a mother’s womb, the medicine man heated 12 rocks on a fire.
“The rocks symbolized the moon and the medicine man sat and put water on the rocks and the steam purified us,” Anderson said.
A few years ago, Bode, who met Anderson through James, asked him to teach her students the legends, stories and customs of the Plains Indians.
“This all will be lost if we don’t preserve it,” she said. “When they go, this will be gone and where will we be?”
Richard “Dick” James and Louis Anderson will teach Living History and Frontier Skills classes at Another Way School, 6587 Mountain View Dr., on Saturday, Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information, call 435-615-1429 or visit http://www.anotherwayschool.org.
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