Sam Fathers

Display Name: 
Sam Fathers
Sort Name: 
Fathers, Sam
AKA: 
Had-Two-Fathers
Race: 
MixedBlackIndian
Gender: 
Male
Class: 
Indian Chief
Rank: 
Major
Vitality: 
Alive
Occupation: 
Other
Specific Job: 
Blacksmith
Date of Birth: 
Wednesday, January 1, 1834
Biography: 

Sam Fathers is 70 years old in "The Old People" when he teaches the narrator to hunt deer (previously, Fathers had also taught the unnamed boy's father to hunt). His Chickasaw name, Had-Two-Fathers, reflects his mixed racial heritage and complex family history. He is the grandson of Ikkemotubbe, a chief, and an unnamed African American slave woman whom Ikkemotubbe purchased in New Orleans, impregnated, then married off to one of the tribe's black slaves and sold, along with the child, to the narrator's great-grandfather. Sam has an "Indian face" (205), but for most of his life lives as a black man in a cabin on the narrator's farm, where he works as a blacksmith. A few years before the story, however, Sam was given permission to live alone in the big woods. The last of his genealogical line, Fathers has no children, but in addition to teaching the narrator to hunt well, Sam also passed along to him traditions about "the old days and the People whom he had never known," and marks the white boy with "something he had had of his vanished and forgotten people," which gives him access to a mystical experience with a majestic buck (204, 209). Sam is distinguished by his sense of independence, which is particularly evident in his refusal to be servile to the narrator's father or Major de Spain.

Note: 
Mystical
Ethnicity: 
Black and Native American
Individual or Group: 
Individual
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Character