Learning to Share




Stephanie Butler


Lynn Schonchin [SHON-shin], a member of the Klamath tribe, grew up between the Sprague River and Chiloquin [CHI-lo-kwin] in Southern Oregon. In Native culture, the belief that working cooperatively will benefit all people is a key "lesson" taught to all children.

Practical and social skills are taught by elders about how to support one's family.

Lynn recalls, "You didn't hunt for sport, you hunted for food. We were taught from a real young age that you only hunt to eat. It taught you a respect for life. When you took a deer's life, you knew what taking [it] meant."

Lynn remembers the first deer he killed; his mother was with him at the time. "She taught me how to shoot a rifle. She told me I had to eat part of that raw liver; that first one that I killed. She said that it would make me a better hunter. The next step was I had to give that deer away. I couldn't eat any of the rest of it. I had to give it away to other people."

Lynn says he understood later in life what that lesson was all about: learning respect for his elders and the cultural trait of sharing. A lesson as important today as it was then.