By Margaret L. Press
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Additional resources for Chemehuevi: A Grammar and Lexicon
In “The Lost Children” an old woman’s pet dog is able to follow her instructions and bite through the ropes of two young victims in bondage, leading them to food and warning them not to enter their parents’ camp (Grinnell  1962, 50–60). Dogs are not always heroic, though. In the morbid story, “Why Dogs Do Not Talk,” a dog spies a medicine woman meeting her lover at night and tells the betrayed husband. In anger the woman makes the dog eat human excrement. After this, while dogs could “understand some words,” they could not talk (Wissler and Duvall  1995, 133).
Hugo, in his infinite wisdom and generosity, said, ‘Go ahead, write about the reservation, the landscape, the people’ ” (Introduction, Third Catalog of Native American Literature 1997, 2). Following Hugo’s advice and his own instincts, Welch began to focus on the people and objects in his immediate environment: bar scenes in Harlem and 26 James Welch Dixon, naming, drunks, porcupines, clouds, bones, horses, coyotes, tumbleweed, Indian women. As in all of his writing, animals play a prominent role in his poetry.
In anger the woman makes the dog eat human excrement. After this, while dogs could “understand some words,” they could not talk (Wissler and Duvall  1995, 133). Before the introduction of the horse, dogs were used to haul bundles and even infants on a large, attached cart called the travois (Grinnell  1962, 187). Dogs guarded the lodges and gave warning when an enemy approached. They were, then and now, a source of companionship, as witnessed in “The Lost Children” and other stories.