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Dylan Priest for Scholastic.

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R.1, R.2, R.4, R.5, R.7, W.2, SL.1, L.4, L.5 

Life Without Dad

Hamilton’s father taught him to be proud to be a Native American. When his dad died, Hamilton made a decision. He would help keep his tribe’s traditions alive through his father’s favorite sport. 

    Hamilton Seymour will never forget his first time in a canoe. He was 5 years old and tiny—too small to even hold the paddle.  

    His dad took him to a special spot on the water and showed him a picture carved on a rock. He told Hamilton it was put there by his ancestors hundreds of years ago. 

    “That’s the first time I remember my dad talking about our culture and what it means,” Hamilton says.

    Hamilton is Native American. And on that day, his dad wasn’t just teaching him to canoe. He was teaching Hamilton to be proud of who he is. His people—the Nooksack tribe—have lived in Washington State for more than a thousand years.

    It’s still one of Hamilton’s favorite memories of his father. He died when Hamilton was 12.

    Hamilton Seymour was 5. It was his first time in a canoe. He was tiny.   

    His dad took him to a special spot. There was a picture carved on a rock. The picture was very old. Hamilton’s dad said it was carved by their ancestors hundreds of years ago. 

    “That’s the first time I remember my dad talking about our culture and what it means,” Hamilton says.

    Hamilton is Native American. And that was a special day. His dad was teaching Hamilton to be proud of who he is. His people are the Nooksack tribe. They have lived in Washington State for more than a thousand years.

    That day is one of Hamilton’s best memories of his dad. He died when Hamilton was 12.

    Hamilton Seymour will never forget the first time he rode in a canoe. He was 5 years old and tiny—too small to even hold the paddle.   

    His dad paddled him out to a special spot on the water. He pointed out a picture carved on a rock and told Hamilton it had been put there by his ancestors centuries ago.

    “That’s the first time I remember my dad talking about our culture and what it means,” Hamilton says.

    Hamilton is Native American, and on that day, his dad wasn’t just teaching him to canoe—he was teaching Hamilton to be proud of his heritage. Hamilton’s people—the Nooksack tribe—have lived in Washington State for more than a thousand years.

    That day remains one of Hamilton’s favorite memories of his father. His father died when Hamilton was 12.

One Big Family

    In many ways, Hamilton, now 18, is like any other kid. He wears jeans and sneakers. He loves basketball and Star Wars movies.

    But Hamilton grew up as part of the Nooksack tribe. It has about 2,000 members, and Hamilton says they are like one big family. They fish together and gather for traditional celebrations.  

    The Nooksack are also known for the war canoes they carve out of wood. They often race them against other tribes. In fact, Hamilton’s father was a champion war canoe racer.

    It was just one of the many reasons Hamilton looked up to his dad. 

Hamilton is now 18. He is like any other kid. He wears jeans. He wears sneakers. He loves basketball. He enjoys Star Wars movies.

But Hamilton is also Nooksack. He grew up as part of the Nooksack tribe. It has about 2,000 members. Hamilton says they are like one big family. They fish together. They gather for celebrations.

The Nooksack also make war canoes. They carve them out of wood. They often race them. Hamilton’s father raced canoes. He was great at it. Hamilton looked up to his dad. 

    In many ways, Hamilton, now 18, is like any other teenager: He wears jeans and sneakers, and he loves basketball and Star Wars movies.

    But Hamilton grew up as part of the Nooksack tribe, which has about 2,000 members. The Nooksack are like one big family—they fish together and gather for traditional celebrations.  

    The Nooksack are also known for the war canoes they carve out of wood. They race the canoes against other tribes. In fact, Hamilton’s father was a champion war canoe racer, which was just one of the many reasons Hamilton looked up to his dad. 

Heartbroken

    Hamilton’s whole world changed the day his dad died. It happened suddenly—and Hamilton was heartbroken. He lost interest in school and his friends. 

    Hamilton wanted to stay connected to his dad. So he started paddling a war canoe. Being on the water helped him feel much better.

    Soon, Hamilton decided he wanted to race his canoe. But he also knew the sport was dying—fewer people were doing it. Hamilton was determined to keep his dad’s favorite sport alive. 

    So Hamilton gathered kids to create a youth team. The team practiced every day and competed in races.

    War canoeing helped Hamilton grow stronger. “Paddling gave me confidence,” he says.

    Hamilton’s whole world changed the day his dad died. It happened suddenly. Hamilton was heartbroken. He lost interest in school. He didn’t want to be with his friends.

    Hamilton missed his dad. He wanted to feel close to him. But how? He started canoeing. Being on the water helped.

    Hamilton wanted to race his canoe. But he knew the sport was dying. Fewer people were racing. Hamilton was determined to keep his dad’s favorite sport alive.

    Hamilton rounded up some kids. He created a youth team. The team practiced daily. They competed in races.

    War canoeing helped Hamilton. He grew stronger. “Paddling gave me confidence,” he says.

    Hamilton’s whole world changed the day his father died. It happened suddenly, and Hamilton was heartbroken. He lost interest in school and his friends. Hamilton wanted to stay connected to his dad, so he started paddling a war canoe. Being on the water helped him feel much better.

    Soon, Hamilton decided he wanted to race his canoe, but he also knew the sport was dying because fewer people were doing it. He was determined to keep his dad’s favorite sport alive. 

    So Hamilton gathered kids to create a youth team. The team practiced every day and competed in races.

    War canoeing helped Hamilton grow stronger. “Paddling gave me confidence,” he says.

A Huge Honor

    In 2015, Hamilton was invited to a big gathering of Native American kids at the White House. And the story of his canoe team won him a huge honor! He was asked to introduce First Lady Michelle Obama to the crowd.

    When the time came, Hamilton was shaking. But he somehow got the words out. Then Mrs. Obama came onstage and hugged him. 

    She called him “Hammy”—his nickname. “I will never forget that moment,” he says.

    In 2015, Hamilton was invited to a special event. Native American kids gathered at the White House. And Hamilton had a huge honor! He was asked to introduce First Lady Michelle Obama to the crowd.

    The moment came. Hamilton was shaking. But he got the words out. Then Mrs. Obama came onstage. She hugged him.

    She called him “Hammy”—his nickname. “I will never forget that moment,” he says.

    In 2015, Hamilton was invited to a large gathering of Native American kids at the White House. And the story of his canoe team won him a huge honor! He was asked to introduce First Lady Michelle Obama to the crowd.

    When the time came, Hamilton was shaking, but he somehow managed to get the words out. Then Mrs. Obama came onstage and hugged him. 

    She called him “Hammy”—his nickname. “I will never forget that moment,” he says.

Feeling Proud

    Hamilton still goes out in his canoe four days a week. Every once in a while, he goes to that same spot his dad showed him when he was 5.

    He makes sure to visit the picture carved on the rock. “I think my dad would be very proud to see me now,” Hamilton says.

    Hamilton still goes out in his canoe. He goes out four days a week. Sometimes he goes to that same spot his dad showed him.

    He visits the picture on the rock. “I think my dad would be very proud to see me now,” he says.

    Hamilton still goes out in his canoe four days a week. Every once in a while, he returns to that same spot his dad showed him when he was 5.

    He makes a point of visiting the picture carved on the rock. “I think my dad would be very proud to see me now,” Hamilton says.

Dylan Priest for Scholastic

Healing 
Hamilton started going out in a canoe after his dad died. It helped him feel less sad.

ACTIVITY

Cause and Effect

You’ve just read “Life Without Dad.” It’s time to try this activity!

What to do: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

You’ve just read “Life Without Dad.” It’s time to try this activity!

What to do: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

You’ve just read “Life Without Dad.” It’s time to try this activity!

What to do: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

Hamilton’s dad died when he was 12 years old. 

HINT: How did that make Hamilton feel?

Hamilton’s dad died when he was 12 years old. 

HINT: How did that make Hamilton feel?

Hamilton’s dad died when he was 12 years old. 

HINT: How did that make Hamilton feel?

HINT: What did Hamilton do to stay connected to his dad?

Hamilton started to feel much better.

HINT: What did Hamilton do to stay connected to his dad?

Hamilton started to feel much better.

HINT: What did Hamilton do to stay connected to his dad?

Hamilton started to feel much better.

Hamilton was determined to keep war canoe racing—his dad’s favorite sport—alive.

HINT: What did Hamilton create to keep the sport alive?

Hamilton was determined to keep war canoe racing—his dad’s favorite sport—alive.

HINT: What did Hamilton create to keep the sport alive?

Hamilton was determined to keep war canoe racing—his dad’s favorite sport—alive.

HINT: What did Hamilton create to keep the sport alive?

HINT: Where did Hamilton go in 2015?

Hamilton got to meet First Lady Michelle Obama.

HINT: Where did Hamilton go in 2015?

Hamilton got to meet First Lady Michelle Obama.

HINT: Where did Hamilton go in 2015?

Hamilton got to meet First Lady Michelle Obama.

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