They respected him

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Ga-Be-Nah-Gewn-Wonce, also known as John Smith, a Chippewa Indian reputed to be 137 years oldThere were many-a-times that John Smith had come to our place. He would stay with us three or four days. About a week is all he could stand. He said he had to keep a-moving, that he had to keep active. He said, “The time is getting short. So I gotta cover lot of country.”

He meant he’s getting old. Old John, he was always great!

Everybody knew him around there. I remember that a lot of White people respected him. He got on the first “passengers,” the first passenger trains, and he got on the steamboats, and automatically he had a passport. That was just the way he lived. He didn’t have to pay.

It didn’t cost him anything on the train. It didn’t cost him anything on boats. It didn’t cost him anything on wagons, trail wagons. It didn’t cost him anything.