High class road kill by Dean Saxton


Today we’ll hear from my grandfather Dean Saxton II who, together with my grandmother, has been working on creating a written language for the Tohono O’odham for over sixty years. Living out on the reservation on a very tight budget with a growing family made them into creative eaters if nothing else. Here we hear one of many food stories showing their ingenuity.



First, you need something to cook. Let me illustrate.

We were living in a little village on the Indian reservation down along the Mexican border. A couple of ladies visited us from Gospel Recordings. When we were done recording native speakers in the O’odham Indian language, they knew we were out of meat, so they asked, “Where do you get your meat?”

We had a little trip planned, so we said, “We’ll pick it up on the way.”

Sure enough, we hit a big jackrabbit, and stopped to pick up our next days’ meals.

On our way back from the outing, we hit the jackpot, an even bigger bunny, meat for another day. “You did it, Dean, now we can stay for another day of recording.”

But as I dressed the meat out, their curiosity was aroused. “How do you make this unsavory looking wild meat into something we can even stand to look at?”

Lucille to the rescue! “We’re going to hasenpfeffer it!”

“Oh no! You’re going to hasen-what-ever it! We never even heard of that.”

“Hasenpfeffer. It says right here, ‘A stew of marinated rabbit meat garnished with sour cream,’ But nobody out here would garnish it with anything but red chilies. It gives the meat that southwest savor.”

So that’s how we provided meat for ourselves and learned what to do with road-kill rabbit you pick up along the way.

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