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The Thunderbird Two-Step

A story told by Ray Bethell to Ray Oakhill at
the '96 International Swindon Kite Festival.


T-bird carving from Haida Indians While sitting with Ray Bethell having a beer waiting for the rain to stop at the Swindon International kite festival, I had the opportunity while sharing a couple of cold ones to talk with him. I asked Ray what was one of the funniest things that he can recall which always will bring a smile, he told me this story and I would like to share it with you as he told it to me...

"About 5 or 6 years ago I was asked to give a multiple kite demonstration to the BC Haida Indian tribe at an Indian Pow Wow in Squamish, about 60 miles from Vancouver. It was a great event with hundreds of Indians from young to the very old, all of them dressed in their traditional costumes, dancing to the pounding of drums, making of canoes, and the woman making clothes and moccasins from the hides of deer out side of their Teepee.

After a while I was asked by the Elders of the tribe to demonstrate multiple-kite flying. Most of them had never heard of a sport kite, never mind ever seeing one. There was a nice open area, which was not very large, but I could just about manage. I set up 3 Kestrels which the Indians called 'Thunder Birds'. The only problem was that the Indians were crowding me from behind. I asked them to please more back but as soon as I went to pick up the kites they were right on my heels, anyway, I took a step back and up went the 3 kites, then I heard one of the Elders shout. It sounded some thing like Na -Ka -Tai -Khe- Tha - A - Hi- Tatanka - Ta - Mai - Sapa -Wa-o-wa -Kia - Ta.

Right away I thought, Hey Wow! Man, look at that man fly, Wow Wee!! I was really on a high as I landed all 3 kites. Then with a big step back I had them in the air, and again this Elder shouts out Na- Ka - Tai - Khe - Tha - Hi - Tatanka - Ta - Mai - Sapa -Wa-o-wa - Kia - Ta. Again, I was thinking, Wow! This guy is unreal, man are we lucky to have him at our Pow Wow. I flew around for a few more minutes then landed, I then turned around to find every one was gone except one Indian around 40 years old. I said, could you tell what the old man was shouting when I launched the kites? what did he say?"

He looked me right in the eye and said "my? Grandfather? said, "The? Next Time? That White Bastard? steps on? my? foot? I Am? Going? To Kick The? Sh*t out of? HIM!

Ray Oakhill
Organizer of the Swindon
International Kite Festival


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