Telling Our Stories:
Story telling is the Shuswap
way of passing our history
to the next generations
Old Katleen Moiese and Gambling
Old Katleen (Kathleen) William was the wife of Old Moiese. Moiese, I think his last name was William, was the father of Ned Moiese. In the olden days, children usually took the first name of their father’s as their last name. For instance, Ned’s kids Ray and Stanley were called Ray Ned and Stanley Ned. Lawrence (Sonny) Gilbert, son of Alec Gilbert, was called Sonny Alec. I believe it was the Missionary priests and the residential schools that stopped that tradition.
Anyway, back to my story about Old Katleen. It was a rumor amongst all the older kids, that Katleen was an Indian doctor ( T’lkwilc). I never found out if that were true or not. About that time very few people were doing sweats anymore. I think it may have almost disappeared along with our culture as a result of the residential school. However, part of the rumor was that Old Katleen, as a part of her Indian doctor activities, would often have sweats at her sweat lodge down by the creek.
Every night on the reserve, there was a tradition of going to chief’s house to gamble/Lekaltem. It was more or less the only entertainment where everyone could gather together on a regular basis. It happened every night of the week and went from 7:00pm until 11:00pm. It could hardly be considered gambling because the pots hardly ever went over two dollars.
Old Katleen was there almost nightly. Even though her sight was not very good, I don’t think she ever wore glasses. She would have to hold her cards very close to her eyes to see them. As I mentioned earlier, some of the older guys believed that she was an Indian doctor and had powers. They talked about her having a medicine pouch pinned inside her blouse just above her heart. Maybe she did, I don’t think anyone knew for sure. Joe Bob was one who seemed to believed this because every time Katleen was dealt cards she would bring them up to that spot above her heart. Joe Bob, and at other times Jerome Bob, would go crazy. He would say in a loud whisper, "Look, look she’s trying to doctor her hand". He would look all around for anyone who might agree with him. It really was kind of funny, because I don’t remember Old Katleen ever winning any big amounts of money.
After Indian Affairs imposed their election system on our Band and James Louie was no longer the chief, there was no more gambling at his house. We often would see Old Katleen, who had by now lost her husband Moiese, meeting up with Old Wessy (Rosie Gilbert). Both of them
would then walk up to the highway, arguing all the way, to hitchhike into town.