Here’s another article from 2009 that we should be sure to put up on the forum. It explains a lot -
Kim La Flamme
Camp Dogs Could Sing a Song - 2009
By STEPHEN J. BEECROFT
I had never heard of Indian camp dogs before I read about them in an article in the April-May, 2007, issue of The Beaver. In her article, writer Barbara Huck mentioned a unique breeder called Mr. Kim La Flamme. Thanks to him and his lifetime quest, there are now 800 of these American Indian dogs registered in his stud book. And if Kim hadn’t turned this into a lifetime quest – he has been breeding these dogs for the last 50years. interrupted only by service in what he calls "the Vietnam War mess" - there would be a serious danger of this breed becoming extinct.
I had to learn more. After some digging, I found Kim at his Song Dog Kennels in Selma, Oregon, located just off the old Oregon Trail. And when I found Kim I found a whole new world opening up.
Kim is Indian …… he makes no bones about using the name Indian. He told me that the name "Native American" might be "the politically correct thing here in the United States", but added "most of us older Indians like to call each other Indians" rather than Native Americans.
"As a matter of fact there was a poll taken," said Kim "And almost all of us Indian elders wanted our new Smithsonian Indian Museum to be called American Indian Museum rather than Native American Museum."
Some breeders have dogs that they refer to as Indian dogs, or NAID’s but these aren’t the real thing. And this irks Kim. He said there are over 200,000 wolf hybrids in U.S. animal shelters with a five year waiting list, and last year alone 1.2 million ended up being euthanized. People have bought them, believing them to be real American Indian dogs.
“Remember if you hear of a “supposed” Indian dog being over 70 lbs to 120 lbs or spotted with white markings; it is NOT an Indian dog … as in pre-Columbian times the Indian dogs were never over 65 lbs (and that was large) and never spotted with white. So do some research before you are fooled by unscrupulous marketers trying to fool the public with their wolf dogs” … Kim (the expert in his field) advises, “always check with us at the AI Dog registry before you purchase.”
Wolves or wolf dogs, he said, don’t belong in back yards on chains or in cages. Wolves should be "kept pure and alive in the wild as nature intended. Not cross bred with dogs to become an animal that is caught in the middle with no where to go.”
Kim said he has always been interested in Indian dogs.
"My great-grandmother was Blackfoot and Iroquois, and it’s said that when she married my great-grandfather, she brought with her several dogs as her dowry down from the La Flamme River area in Canada. These were probably the old Hare Indian Dogs or trap-line dogs, as they were from that area in Canada. These dogs are almost the same as the Village, Common, Tahltan / Pueblo or Plains types."
Nobody will ever know exactly what types of Indian dogs every nation or tribe had, unless they were there at the time, or talked with the Elders at the time, said Kim. In Western villages in the early days they had canines that became known as camp dogs or little buffalo dogs. You could find these medium sized working Indian dogs in all the nations "from northern Canada to the tip of south America", said Kim. They differed slightly, depending upon the area or what they used them for. The slightly larger dogs (60 lbs and under) were found in the far north and were mainly used for pulling loads, although they had a more collie-like personality, he explained.
These dogs weren’t a bit like the modern huskies, said Kim. In fact, their personalities were even different and they were much smaller, with larger ears, light eyes, curved tails (not curled), and were "finer built than the modern huskies". Their coats varied from black to fawn and cream and their eyes could be amber, gray or even blue.
In their day, these small dogs were crucial to life among our native peoples. They weren't pets, or just for pulling, but rather all around dogs, extremely valuable and remarkably adaptable work dogs. They guarded the villages, baby setting children, herding game, buffalo and even swam under water to drive the fish into nets.
When Kim was young, his grandfather still had a few of these dogs and "was fascinated by their versatility and loyalty". He also met lots of the Bask/Navaho sheep herders from the southwest that were still breeding and using these Indian dogs in these area’s.
"They were being used for hunting, guarding, tracking and herding." said Kim. "My grandfather used to say one good dog could do the work of a dozen men."
These canines were (and still are) intelligent, versatile and symbiotic with nature. Their barks were unusually high-pitched and, to some people, sounded almost as though they were singing. That’s why they were often known as Song Dogs. And there have even been tales of them being trained to climb trees.
"The old history books and stories from explorers aren’t accurate," said Kim. "They didn’t understand the complex breeding that Native Americans passed down in their culture. These explorers or researchers rarely sat down and actually talked with elders and studied the old ways. The elders knew all the oral traditions and the old breeding ways but they never got written down" or recorded by these early explorers.
That’s why so much information was lost with so few Elders left now and it’s difficult to find out exactly what the Indian dogs were like "before the white man's dogs began mixing blood with them".
Kim is happy that, even as a boy, he had talked to "literally thousands of elders" and conducted "years of research and study" until "all the pieces begin to fit together". We have found now that many of the “First Peoples” and their dogs were much more connected and related than first thought.
Now, looking back to a lifetime of gathering information, Kim admits to still being "amazed that the FirstAmerican Indians had such amazing natural genetic and selective breeding skills that would match or exceed the skill of any modern geneticist".
"This ancient knowledge has been kept pretty much underground," he said. "It was passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation, but it’s now disappearing fast, like a lot of our native culture."
Over the years he wrote to every reservation or First American’s organizations from Canada to Mexico. He gathered all the articles, books and information he could find and was always talking to the Elders and learning what the Indian dogs were like and looked like in there perspective areas. The only time he stopped was when he was drafted into the army for "the Vietnam War mess", loosing some during that time.
In pre-Columbian times the dogs were traded for such items as "other dogs, tools, salt, pipestone, blankets, knowledge, ceremonies, culture, pots, tools, people and later horses" and were bred in the “Old Ways”. Later as they were bred with European breeds and modern breeding methods the people began to forget what the genuine American Indian dog really looked like.
"Indians were very well versed in selective breeding, as can be seen by the way they bred and trained the horses, when they arrived with the Spanish," he said. "In just 50 years, from the time when horses first appeared on the North American continent, the Native Americans had become the best riders, trainers and breeders of horses in the world."
In his research, Kim discovered that Elders had claimed the largest population of Indian dogs were found in the Plains areas. One early explorer noted that there were over 300,000 of these dogs just amongst the Plains Indian groups….
Early accounts by these explorers said Indian dogs resembled a cross between a fox and a wolf. Kim ridiculed these accounts. He said these explorers "probably hadn’t ever seen a coyote or jackal, or I’m sure they would have thought that’s what the dogs looked like". They also claimed to have seen Indian dogs running wild in different areas, which Kim believes really were either coyotes, feral Indian dogs or both.
"Indian dogs are the more evolutionary, advanced survivors of the canine world. They have a much more primitive symbiotic relationship with man much easier than other animals who are further behind on the evolutionary scale."
These dogs have always been our saviors, teachers, and companions and they have something very important to teach each and every one of us, if we are willing to listen and learn, he said. American Indian Dog owners often kid about their dogs being the perfect dog or “ultimate mutt” of the canine world.
"They have been intertwined in our lives for thousands of years and we couldn’t have come this far in both our evolutions without each other. They’re the symbiotic connection with our past and they can help to teach us how to take care of nature and our planet. We’re losing that connection with the natural animal instincts within us all – and we’re losing it fast."
Kim supports the new studies which maintain that all dogs originally developed from either jackals and coyotes or the Ethiopian / Asian wolf, which, he said, is "more jackal than wolf". In fact, the red wolf in North America isn’t really a wolf at all but is more like a coyote.
Dogs were here before Columbus "discovered" America. The Vikings brought their working dogs for herding "about 3,000 to 2,000 years before the big European onslaught".
"These were ancestors of the Icelandic shepherds of today, which had been used as herders and the Inuit dogs which had been used to pull sleds. Some of the more northern lines of American Indian dogs developed from these."
As far as Kim is concerned, this is a lifetime quest on which he has embarked.
"We need to get back to a more natural balance “Old Ways” in breeding our domestic animals and save our wild animals and learn from our Elders", said Kim.
Kim may be reached at (541) 597-2871 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Web site,www.indiandogs.com or other owners at www.iidoba/forums.org