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Stick It To 'Em
Mr. Henry Parsmelian of Beagle Crossing, New Mexico apparently just pulled this item out of his drawers. We were quite impressed...none of our experts had seen a specimen that large in quite a while!
This was revealed to be a Native American Clue Stick. The elaborately decorated wooden cudgel would have been used in a very painful, yet educational, tribal ritual.
Transcript follows from the May, 2000 Tchotchke Peepshow episode with Expert Euphonia Sandshrew-Machop, in which this item made its debut:
Sandshrew-Machop: And what do we have here?
Guest: My dog brought it in one day...I think he found it out in the backyard. I've been keeping it in a drawer...it's kinda pretty, huh?
Sandshrew-Machop: Well, indeed, that it is. Your dog...he's a four year old border collie?
Guest: Yeah! H...h...how did you know that?
Sandshrew-Machop: The bite marks here and here...he's got undeveloped incisors. And a nasty bit of tartar buildup.
Sandshrew-Machop: Mr. Parsmelian, let me begin by telling you that what you have here is of immense historical interest.
Sandshrew-Machop: This item is actually a Native American Clue Stick.
Sandshrew-Machop: Now, I don't want to offend any Native Americans...heaven knows they've had enough trouble with all the high school mascots...and that Pocahontas movie. But this stick was used in a ritual by Indians in the Southwestern United States around the turn of the century. This was a ritual in which a, shall we say, problematic member of the tribe -- also known as an idiot -- would be taken outside the village and soundly beaten with a stick similar to this very one. Commonly made of a heavy oak or ash branch, the Clue Stick was often painted or carved and decorated with beads, feathers and shells.
Sandshrew-Machop: Yes, as a piece of historical reference it is still quite relevant today. In fact, I'd like to see this tradition make a comeback. Particularly for, say, those who make sudden lane changes without turn signals...and who let their small children run around unsupervised at WalMart.
Guest: Wow. Is it worth anything?
Sandshrew-Machop: Not unless you need to start a campfire.
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