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A woman remembers visiting her grandmother, a member of the Shoshone Nation in Utah


Time now for StoryCorps. Today, we have a conversation from Brigham City, Utah. Gwen Timbimboo Davis is Native American, a member of the Shoshone Nation. Growing up in the 1950s, her family moved from city to city, but most summers they'd visit the reservation.

GWEN TIMBIMBOO DAVIS: It was like a totally different world. I remember tiny kids riding bareback on horses lickety-split down the road, little boys with long braids and lots of dogs.


KHALID: Most of all, Davis remembers spending time with her grandma, Lillian. She talked about her at StoryCorps with her daughter, Heather.

DAVIS: She was this tiny little lady - I want to say she might have been like 4'11" - who wore this great big sun bonnet made out of straw, and she wrapped her hair up in a bandana. I'd never seen her without it. I really thought she was bald. And when she would look at you, she would have her little glasses perched at the end of her nose, and she would look over the top of them, and then she'd smile. Never once did I ever see her mad. She would tell us stories and sing to us. She would make simple things into things that were really fun.

JORGENSEN: She sounds fun.

DAVIS: Oh, she was. But her life was hard. She was 12 years old when she was married, and it wasn't uncommon at that time. She did a lot of scraping of hides and making gloves, trying to earn money that way, and going out into the fields, picking tomatoes and corn and peaches and cherries. And during the wintertime, she would sew gloves and beaded stuff and sell it, barely keeping her head above water. But she was very generous. She always gave, and she lived by that - that when you give, you give the best that you have, even though it might put her in a bad situation.

JORGENSEN: What'd she die of?

DAVIS: Oh, God, everything. I remember Grandma telling me that she may have only been, like, 58, but she looked like she was about 70. Life took its toll out on her. When I saw her at the viewing, she was so tiny. And that's when I remember I saw her hair. She had this gorgeous, gorgeous hair. And it was brown. She looked just like an angel. I just wish you could have seen her. And I wish she could have lived to see you.

KHALID: That was Gwen Timbimboo Davis with her daughter Heather. Lillian Pabawena Pubigee is buried in the tribal cemetery in Washakie, Utah. This interview is archived at the Library of Congress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jo Corona