Saving a starfish

Baskets were sometimes the only thing of value the Natives had

Baskets were sometimes the only thing of value the Natives had

While walking along the ocean, a man saw thousands of starfish the tide had thrown onto the beach. Unable to return to the water during low tide, the starfish were dying. He observed a young man picking up the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the water.

After watching the seemingly futile effort, the observer said, “There must be thousands of starfish on this beach. You can’t possibly save enough to matter.”

The young man smiled as he continued to pick up another starfish and tossed it back into the ocean. “It matters to this one,” he replied.

                This story is used by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)   an organization near and dear to me that provides volunteer advocates for children in foster care.  I’ve included the little story because I  believe the same sentiment can be applied here.  

 In At the Banks of the Eel River, author  Denis P. Edeline includes the following story,

 “During some early Indian War Troubles in Humboldt County, Mrs. Barber, who with her husband and family, were early pioneers of Grizzly Bluff, aided the Indians.   An Indian family took refuge under a Pepperwood tree on Barber Creek.  They were never seen, but the Barbers knew they were there because of the behavior of the dogs and a few other clues.  So food was placed where they might find it every night.  It disappeared and an Indian basket was left in its place. But the family never went near them for fear of giving their presence away. They survived.  The basket is now in the Clarke Museum in Eureka”

There were heroes during the Indian Wars.  Quiet heroes who did what they could without attracting the attention of thugs,   but heroes none-the-less.  Heroes who helped the Natives in small but significant ways.


The Brown Grandparents were truly pioneers and took care of their Indian neighbors too.  During the Indian War on Dows Prairie, the renegade whites killed many.  One evening when Grandpa was returning from work along a trail from Fieldbrook, he found a native badly beaten.   He took him home, hid him and nursed him back to health.  It nearly caused the Browns a problem to be found caring for an Indian.  The Indian remained a close friend and taught Marvin how to whittle.

~ Dow’s North of Mad River, by Loberta Gwin



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