This is a sponsored blog post. All opinions are 100% my own.
Growing up on a Native American reservation in Western Washington was a great experience for me. Not only did I live within a mile of a very large extended family, but I also got the experience of connecting with a larger community of other Native Americans who lived in our village.
We all knew each other. We said hello and waved at everyone who went by. Kids from all over the village came over to play on our swing set, fiberglass boat, or homemade slip-n-slide. My mom’s Aunt also lived with us and shared a bedroom with me.
I believe it’s a wonderful experience for children to be exposed to multigenerational living. According to the Pew Research Center, 49 million people live in multigenerational families in the U.S.
[Tweet “49M grow up in multigenerational families. I am thankful I did. #NativeAmerican”]
My grandparents lived three doors down on the same street, so I was in their home quite often. But living with my Aunt Marie, who was in her 50’s at that time, was amazing. She taught me to shuffle a deck of cards for the first time and we played Rummy and Solitaire for hours on end. I have great memories of us watching Murder She Wrote on this gigantic television set in our room, well past my set bedtime.
By living with my Aunt Marie, I was able to really bond with my aunt. It also gave me a better grasp, even now as an adult, for socializing with the elderly. I think it was important to her as well because it gave her a sense of purpose. Spending time with me and helping my parents care for my sister and I gave her an important role in our family’s daily life.
In the summer months, Aunt Marie and I walked down to our little store on the road below our home to get snacks. It was the only store on our reservation and she always liked to buy Pork Rinds while I would get a Tootsie Pop. If the wrapper had an Indian man shooting an arrow at a star, I could bring it back down to that little store and get a free Tootsie Pop. I still remember the anticipation of opening that Tootsie Pop up and hoping for that beloved Indian. Free candy!
My aunt is now 85 years old and still in great health. Those memories with her will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Our reservation now has its own Chevron gas station. My kids now like to go down the hill with my parents to get a treat from the little store. My children are now growing up a mile from my parents, who are three doors down from my grandfather, and my Aunt Marie lives in the apartment right above my parent’s house. My children are getting constant exposure to multi-generations and I am thankful they get a small window of insight into my childhood.
Like me, my seven year old likes to get Tootsie Pops. I told her about my experience with Aunt Marie and the Indian man shooting a star… and she says she is going to ask if she can get a free Tootsie Pop next time she goes in!
Like mother, like daughter….