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Hill House Race


Though this tradition started in Dereko and was celebrated in the winter to commemorate an event that took place around 60 years prior. To pay off some debts, an elderly man called Claye gave the deed to his home to a wealthy man by the name of Keyon Attwood to settle his debt, on the condition that he and his wife live in the home until their deaths. Keyon shook on the deal, but when the man died, Keyon demanded that Clay's widow vacate the house immediately.   The authorities looked over the deed and, since Claye had not given any evidence in writing regarding their deal, gave Widow Claye only one day to pack her few belongings and leave the home her husband had built for them. Outraged that they would throw a newly-widowed old woman into the cold, many people in the village offered to let Widow Claye stay on their property, but no one could replace the home her husband had built for her. One wise man asked to see the deed, which read "The House atop Claye Hill". He gathered every able-bodied person in the village and they all agreed to meet at sunset at the house on Claye Hill. By lantern-light, they disassembled the entire house and dragged it board by board to the top of the hill directly east.   At sunrise, when Keyon Attwood arrived with the authorities to claim the house, he found only a dog's house in its place. Furious, he saw Widow Claye and her house safely moved out of his reach toward the sunrise. There she lived out the rest of her days in the house her husband and the rest of the village had built for her.


In Nephemir, each participant chooses their strongest and fastest beast of burden and hitches them to a heavy load of wood and other building supplies. At sundown, each beast is run down a hill and up another. This race is not about speed, but about strength, and often a slower, stronger beast wins over a fast but weak one. There, the participants construct as quickly a simple dog's house as quickly as they can.   Though this is usually done in the winter in Dereko, but in the summer in Nephemir. This is because hills are few and far between in Nephemir, so the races often end up quite a bit longer.

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Cover image: Brown Eyed Susans in the Tallgrass Prairie by NPS Photo


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