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Toe Jams

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  • Toe Jams

    Toe Jams and Dust In Her Johnny Rustywire
    It was Saturday night at the pow wow grounds, the day had been hot and the night was just a little bit cooler. It was near the arbor, the shade covering around the pow wow dance arena. It was crowded, people from all over, Indians dressed in their buckskins feathers, children running around, some folks sitting in their folding chairs.

    She was standing there, her long braided black hair perfectly split and she wore white buckskin with cut glass beads in the style of the Southern Cheyenne traditional dancers. She held a fan of eagle feathers; she was tall and maybe 18 or so. In the glow of the night-lights she looked gold colored, a soft haze covered her. There were three of them women traditional dancers standing there waiting to hear the call for the young women's traditional dance.

    A drum group, the Prairie Island Pontiacs were taking a break. The group came from the Windy City, that place on the eastern plains, of tall towers and cold winds. One of them wore shades, wearing a shirt that said Chicago Cubs, he was carrying his drumstick, long it was, all puffy and round at the top. He was swinging it around his finger as he was talking to his friend. He swung it and it hit this girl from behind and she turned around.

    "Oh," he said, "I'm sorry"

    She pulled at her buckskin looking to see if it had any marks from the stick. She looked at it and then at him in an instant.

    She always had in her mind the kind of Indian guy she would like to meet. She had thought on him from time to time. He would be tall with braids, maybe with broad shoulders and a square jaw with high cheekbones and a certain kind of look around the eyes, sort of hard but not really that way. He would have an easy smile and be narrow at the hips, swift legs and all of sudden he the one she had seen in her dreams was standing there.

    He looked at her and his said, "I'm sorry I didn't see you"

    Her friends said, "You should look at where you are going, Bro!"

    He turned away and then she said, "It's o.k. my buckskin isn't messed up," He turned to walk away and then she thought, what am I going to say to him. What is his name?

    He stepped away twoard the food stand and she grabbed his drumstick and held onto it. It was still on his finger and she caught him off guard and it pulled him back. It stopped him dead in his tracks. He stopped and stood perfectly still then turned around.

    She laughed at him and said; "Now we are even!"

    He laughed a small laugh and liked her smile, but his friend said, "We have to go!" His friends continued to walk away to the stew stands, to drink some cold drinks, something to clear the throat and maybe grab a burger if there was time.

    The world stopped for those two there in Fort Duchesne. Just under the shade arbor near the pow wow grounds. The look in their eyes said it all, it was Saturday night, July 5th the last night of the Fort Duchesne Powwow. After this night nothing would ever be the same for them again. She heard them call out over the speaker, "Young Women’s Traditional Dancers we need you now in the arena!"

    She heard it and looked at him and said, "What's your name?"

    His friends called out to him, "Hurry Up!" He looked at her and was going to say something when they called out to him, "Come on Toe Jams!"

    The speaker called out, "Young Women hurry up!" She turned away, he didn't say a thing and she laughed to hear his name.

    She looked at him and said, "Toe Jams?"

    He smiled and said, "Yeah, that's what they call me." She turned to go the arena and the girls all were laughing and she left him standing there. Turning she waved at him and said softly, "Toe Jams."

    He left to get a drink and watched her make her way to the arena. He could see her dance, straight and tall; elegant in the way of the Southern Plains Indians, nice and slow in the way she moved.

    She was a good one. She was out there and after she finished she made her way to the edge of the dance circle to let the judges see her number. He stood there waiting to see her under the lights of the arena.

    Toe Jams stood and watched this Southern Plains Traditional Dancer walk toward him. She moved like s soft wind, like a gentle fawn. Her buckskin was white with blue and white cut glass beads, they glistened under the lights, her eagle feather fan was swinging at her side, and she carried a shawl on her other arm. The fringes on her buckskin were long; they nearly dragged on the ground but hung just above it. A small breeze came up whipping up the dust and it swirled around creating a dust cloud and it looked like she was walking on air.

    She came to the arbor and saw him standing there, this Singer with the Prairie Island Pontiacs. She stepped over to him and said. “I was out there thinking on how to dance good, but kept thinking “how come they call him Toe Jams”, so tell me how you got that name?”

    He said to her, first tell me your name “Dust in Her Hair?”

    She laughed when he called her that and said, Winona Not Afraid, but they call me “Winny”

    Toe Jams said, ”We all went to Chilocco Boarding School", motioning to the drum group, "Way down in your country, Oklahoma, and we got these donated PF Flyer tennis shoes from some church people. I used to wear them around and when I walked around the boarding school they made this “Squish” “Squish” sound like you know, they sounded like your feet are all wet, but they weren’t. You could hear me walking down the hall. One of the dorm aides said, "You better do something about those toe jams, after he said that the name stuck and that is how I am called now by everybody. How about you, "Dust in Her Hair, "Where are you from?”

    Just then she heard her mother calling her, “Winny!”

    They could see her standing by the judges stand, her mother said,”They want you to dance again, you and “Bones”. She looked at her best friend “Bones Small Eagle” who was stanidn near her. They looked at each other and turned to go back out into the dance arena. Winny turned to wave at him, but he had disappeared into the crowd.

    The announcer said, “We have a tie in the young women’s traditional, Southern Plains style, so we have number 341 and 430 that are gong to dance off!” the announcer continued and said, “O.K. Prairie Island Pontiacs from the Windy City, Give Us A Good Contest Song!”

    There was a wail! It was loud and it carried far, and in a flash the drumsticks all came up over their heads and banged down on the drum. They sang a song, an old contest song from years ago. Winny stood there and remembered her father used to sing that song, years ago with his drum group the Southern Cross, she knew it well.

    She turned to start step into the song slowly making her moves slow and graceful, putting the eagle fan to her forehead and moving it to the night sky fanning away and remembering the way her father used to sing.

    The crowd in honor of the young women dancing traditional stood up and took off their hats as the two made their way around the arena, slowly, dancing softly on the hard ground. Their buckskins with long fringes swaying with the steady beat. She could hear him, Toe Jams, his high-pitched voice. “He can sing like the old timers.” She had heard his voice and knew it’s sound.

    She concentrated on the dance, moving in the steps of her mother and grandmother. It was a contest song, but also a dance of unity, of remembrance, hope and of honor; tying in the old and the new, from across the plains they had come and she was ready. She looked to the right and saw her friend “Bones” next to her.

    They had practiced together when they were small growing up side by side. Both of them had lost their fathers as children. These two girls had danced together all these years practicing day in and day out over the long fall and winter. Bones came along side her and the two of them danced side by side.

    Winny looked at her and they were shoulder to shoulder. Bones smiled and they danced step for step, together in perfect harmony. It was like watching twins moving as one. Bones had decided there would be no clear-cut winner and Winny knew it too.

    Johnny Rustywire [email protected]
    <a href="">Navajo Spaceships</a>

  • #2
    Hey Johnny...

    This is a GOOT story!

    Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?

    "When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

    Mr. Rossie Freeman


    • #3
      WHO WON???.....

      we want more! we want more! we want more!

      i agree w/Joe's Dad...good story
      *BE EASY*


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