Wilfred and Bessie Scott: I Am Special

Wilfred and Bessie Scott (Nez Perce) talk about the song I Am Special- iin wees hete’ew- that was created to help children’s self-esteem. 0:52.

Bios: Wilfred Scott (or Scotty) is a respected Nez Perce elder and veteran. Wilfred Scott became involved in the early days of Confluence Project. At that time he was on the Nez Perce Tribal Council (NPTC). Scotty grew up in Montana and was in the Navy between 1951-72. He is ½ Nez Perce on his father’s side. He became interested in Nez Perce culture as a young man and later became involved in tribal politics. He is still involved in fishing issues through CRITFC. Scotty was instrumental in initiating the Red Heart Band Memorial ceremony at Fort Vancouver, that honors and mourns the loss of the Nez Perce who were imprisoned there.

Bessie is his high school sweetheart and wife. She speaks Nez Perce and is part of the staff for the Nez Perce Language program keeping the language and culture alive.


Bessie: “And the one thing that I think has really helped a lot — of what our kids — is using the word iin wees hete’ew, and that is, ‘I am special.’ Ah, because of, one day, one of the grandmothers came to me and said that their granddaughter — this is a couple of grandmothers — their grandkids just didn’t have any self esteem, they just didn’t feel good about themselves because they felt they were dumb and stupid and everything — and then that’s probably what they were being called. But anyway, ah, I said, ‘Well, I’ll see what I can do,’ and at that time there was — one of our tribal members, ah, used to come into our program once a month and do a — she had a, some — I don’t know what kind of a lesson plan it was, but in that plan it had to do with, ah, avoiding alcohol and drugs. And ah, anyway, That song was in there, and it’s ‘I am special,’ ’iin wees hete’ew. ’iim ’ee wees hete’ew. You are special. So we started singing that, and that became a song we sang every day. And that’s what I would tell them, you know, if you’re feeling bad, you just sit down and you think, you say that word, I am special, iin wees hete’ew And at the end of the school year, they all wrote thank you cards, and this one little boy said, ‘Thank you for making me feel better about myself. I know I’m ok.’ And that was using that song. “

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