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  • Indian

    The sound of the song was one I knew, the Duke of Earl, an oldie. I could hear it playing as I walked through the thicket of Russian Olive trees to the campsite.

    August the end of summer, hot days and cool nights, an open plain where tall grass danced against a clear summer sky. Hanging on a pole of a wall tent was tape player and you could hear that song playing.

    It was the first night before Sun Dance was to begin, there had been one earlier out here as you could see the tall forked tree from the earlier July Sundance sitting like a skeleton where the corral had been for the dancers in the distance. The campsites up here on the high plain were scattered far apart so no one could smell the smoke of a cooking fire or hear the noise of the camp at the Sundance corral. It was sacred ground.

    This camp was almost a mile away and if you listened carefully one could hear the drums of the singers as they sang the sundance songs in their corral.

    Hawk was his name and he was 8, an indian boy with bushy hair who ran up to me with curious eyes and led me a cooler to sit down where the family had set up their camp for Sundance, a tent, shade house and coolers with a camp stove were there with a small table top and some folding chairs. He had chubby cheeks and played in the background as the family gathered for the feast before the Sundance where they feed the men going in, for this family it was Hawk’s mothers boyfriend who was going to dance.

    The Sundancers relations were there, an older indian woman grandmother to the dancer and hiis mother and her sisters with their children. There was fry bread, boiling meat with soup, corn, potato salad and jello for everyone. There was Hawks' mother who cooked the meal over the portable cook stove, a small green Coleman her hands still had bits of dried dough from the fry bread. She looked worn and tired and served everyone up who came, each party arriving with some offering of food.

    Hawk and his little sister played in the tall grass, a game of hide and seek in a pile of wood of trimmed tree limbs and old shade from previous camps. The food was fresh and Ilistened to the family as they talked about things families do at times like this.

    A sister from Wyoming spoke about having to return to work after being off for a while because she had broken her foot and she was caring for a little girl, three years old whose mother was in jail for drugs.

    Another talked about how she forgot her main squeeze at home when she went to go back and get the red jello and he was going to have find another way to get there because she wasn’t driving back the 15 miles to go get him. He got there later with some other folks who gave him a ride. Another uncle talked about working in Cedar City at a warehouse job and he was going to have take off soon to get to work the next morning, he would be driving all night.

    It was toward sunset when they started and late when the Sundancer finished eating and started to get ready for the dance. Hawk watched him as he put on a skirt handmade with indian designs sown on it, and his sisters gave him some moccasins made with elk hide. His uncles gave him an old fashioned suitcase, the kind with bumpy metal corners and from this they produced an eagle bone whistle. It made a shrill crying sound when he blew into it and then they all left the camp and went to the west side of the corral to gather with the other Sundancers who were preparing to go in.

    Hawks mother asked me to take him up so he could see the dancers go in as she stayed behind and cleaned up everything. His little sister stayed there too and went to bed as she fell asleep in a camp chair and she was carried to the tent and put on a sleeping bag.

    I went and watched the dancers gather at the appointed spot and watched as they put white sheets around their shoulders and made a line and slowly as the singers sang a song they walked east to the Sundance corral. Hawk watched them intently, his large brown eyes were big even in the dark of night you could see them looking curiously at the dancers. He asked me what they were going to dance for. I told him it was for themselves, some had a dream, a vision or thought to dance, others were there for their families or another person and were going to test themselves for three days having no food or water. He already knew these things as he had seen the earlier Sundance in July, but he was still interested in them. He said to me, I hope someone will dance for me he said.

    I looked at him and thought that is interesting to hear from a small boy. I stood behind him and his bushy hair was ouitlined by the fire in the Sundance corral as they went in. I took him back to the camp after a few songs where the dancers began to dance from their spot against the corral to the center pole. This boy had learned the song and sang it and he surprised me with his knowledge at such a young age. After awhile we made our way back to the camp and he was so tired, I carried him the last part of the way and he had fallen asleep in my arms and his mother told me to put him in the wall tent.

    I could see she had come prepared to camp as there were bags of clothes in the tent to cover them in case the weather changed and extra blankets. She had boiled water and had washed up the dishes and put the food that left away in a cooler and was getting ready to sleep. The rest of the family had all gone to their own places and were home, none of them had returned to the camp. It was late when I finally got home.

    Over the three days I would see Hawk running around the Sundance grounds with the other kids off in the distance.Just beofre sunrise you there early morning to watch Sundancers get up early to greet the sunrise and came out of corral for few minutes to wipe their faces with a nearly dry damp cloth and to brush sagebrush against their skin, or to use large cottonwood tree leaves to refresh themselves.

    Hawk would be there to watch them running out to touch each one of them, somehow he figured they would bring him good luck if he did this and each morning he would do this. His hair was really getting bushy, it made him look like a porcupine in the early morning sun.

    His mother had made sure that he was there for sundance both times this summer camping out to give him the experience and to myself it was a matter of tradition with her. She is not very old maybe 28 or 30, something like that. Anyway it surprised me to see her their with her two kids.

    School is starting next week and seeing kids getting theiri school things I thought of Hawk and the interesting things he would bring to school with him from what he had seen at Sundance, but then again he was a quiet boy and maybe he wouldn’t say anything. He is one of those kind of kids you see that you know from they way they are they are quiet, but have large eyes and study everything, gathering in all they see and storing it away. He had a knowingness about him that exceeded his 8 years and you could see it in his eyes.

    At tribal court this morning they had review hearings on civil cases and i as I am a tribal court advocate I went. It brought out many people and as they do they visit with one another. I saw and old friend and we talked a few minutes about how indian people don’t go by their right names. She said there is one right there, he is a Fast Horse, but everyone knows him as Curly Toes. I asked her how he got that name, she told me at the old boarding school they used to take showers on tile floors and they would get slippery so he would scrunch up his toes to try to grip the floor so he wouldn’t slip so he got the name Curly toes. Another, that one she pointed to an old woman, her name is Bullethead, but when she was young her husband used to beat her and one day she got tired of it and hauled off and hit him knocking him down, now everyone calls her Knuckles.

    Then she pointed to a young boy running around outside in the parking lot and said his name is Hawk, but the people from here call him Indian. I asked her how come they call him Indian. She said because his mother and her 2 kids live like old Indians….outside. What to do you mean outside? She looked at me and said you don’t know. I said no. She told me they call him Indian because he has seen everything through old eyes, they have no home, they don’t have a place. they stay at the Sun Dance grounds, that is where they live…that is their home…they are homeless.

    I looked at him and he was playing the boy with the bushy head, the one the people call him Indian and he is homeless on the rez…. [email protected]

  • #2
    Goot one!!
    I'm innocent I tell ya!!!


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