Volume 7, Issue 6, page 3

It Was Bad Enough Giving Up Her Freedom,
But When They Dunked Her in That Cold Tub.... !
TRANGE things were not "strange" EDITOR'S NOTE -- This may seem an odd
until our Tribe became religionized, ó
I use the word " religionized " rather REE, but we don't mind doing odd things.
Anyhow, it fits in with our belief that
than "civilized" because civilization means the "betterment of a peo ple" and I honestly can't say that his beliefs, his ways of living, his
direction life was bettered. On the contrary.
It's true that most of our Tribe that others will be drawn to them by de
lived in tepees, or a Sears-Roebuck asirtire,cle for a magazine such as The ABER rather than force and legislation.
tent. But we lived, and not merely existed .

We lived the life that many persons pay to prison. In this hole scooped out of the sand,
"suffer" while on vacation. I now you've we would lie on our blankets with our heads
d people say they'd like to have a together in a tight little circle, and talk as
long as we wished. We would try to read the
six-month vacation twice a year. Well, we stars as we were taught. Looking for the
had it. And as a "savage'', I was happy "Great Spirit's Rocking Chair" was one of our
while I made the most miserable "Christian" . main delights.
Some of the older ones, such as my grand- Oh, sure, it took God's rocking chair a
father, Big Thunder, had homes and land that hundred summers to rock forward and a hundred
was "homesteaded". Many of the townspeople winters to rock backward, but what are a hunswear that Gramps "got religion" just so he dred years to God or a child? He was up there
could homestead a piece of property, since watching us and that was all we cared. During
that was the only way an Indian could get it. the day, He wore the sun on His forehead as a
He never said, one way or the other. woman wears a jewel, but at night He would sit
My father, Little Cloud, loved the life of in His chair singing songs to us little ones.
his Spirit-fathers more than he liked the civ- The wind was His voice while He sang loud or
ilized ways of his white brothers. But he was soft. Sometimes there was laughter in His
torn between two "teachings ". Those of his songs, and sometimes sadness, but always it
people made him want to sleep in a tepee with was His voice.
the soft springy moss for a pillow, while the When the dews became heavy our eyes were
church he had joined when in the Army cried usually heavier, and a grown-up hand spreading
"Savage". pine straw over the blankets was hardly noLittle Cloud finally gave up the fight and ticed. Sometimes I'd snuggle an armload of
decided to live the life of the "Christians" straw up to my face. So crisp and spicy. Such
when I was going-on-five years old. The next a clear, clean smell -- like the breath of anfew months were short, fast, and hectic for me. gels -- and I'd whisper, "Good night, Great
I realize that words have a way of giving Spirit".
many meanings, but I'd like to picture our Daylight woke us with the tangy aroma of
life as it really was before the change. rabbit and fish roasting over an open fire,
Strangeness was unknown. Phenomena was un- potatoes ready to pop their mud jackets, the
heard of. Shame was something a young man felt sun screening down thru the trees, and a brook
when he missed his shot or lost his head in swishing nearby.
the tribal games. Modesty was not in our vo- Off would come the blanket in a shower of
cabulary, and neither was promiscuity. pine needles. Off would come whatever clothing
We gave this up to be "housed " in a squalid we had left on the night before. "Last one in
little shell of filth. I hated it from the be- is a million-year-old mud turtle!" But no one
ginning. Needless to say, I also was belliger- ever was last that I can remember.
ent about the whole thing. Shivering and trembling, we went back to
I, who had been used to a canopy of stars the fires for a rubdown by one of the adults.
for a roof to my bedroom, found myself stifled There was nothing wrong with our appetites
away in a partitioned corner of the "living either. We would eat until the last sweet morroom", which also served as the family bedroom sel had vanished. After that, we were ready
during the night. for whatever the day would bring.
My nose that had breathed the sweetness For an inquisitive going-on-five, each day
from the breast of Old Mother Earth became was rich and filled with the excitements of
clogged with odors of too-close bodies; stale new treasures and new discoveries.
wood scents from the dingy walls; the musty Our "chores " were first. One of the first
smell of blankets that were never washed quite things we learned was the difference between
often enough. must-do's and want-to's. All the must-do's
We youngsters used to dig a hole and crawl were finished quickly so we would be free for
into it before we started living in a wooden our "education", which was next. Each adult