A Wandering American Indian Traveler

Native American cultural interpreter traveling, wandering, observing, wondering.

Monday, January 31, 2005

UW pow wow, jan 29,05

I got word about the pow wow last minute.
I'm limping, not walking well this past week.
So, I missed both grand entries.
I was able to stay for several hours and immerse myself in
the wonderful experience.
The HUB ballroom , second floor, made for a close, intimate
There were ten drums, at least.
First thing I did was buy an Indian taco from the
First Nations booth.
Then I strolled around looking at the vendors.
I liked the emcee. But, when they do well, they add good
stuff to the experience.
One of the vendors, I'd seen at the Chief Leschi pow wow a few weeks ago.
She sold flashing toys, and those bounce back gooey, plastic
balls. And other stuff , too.
T-shirt vendors, jewelry, leather goods, music, carvings, real things.
The exhibition dances went well.
Grass dancers, traditional men and women's.
When the jingle dress dancers went on, I watched their feet.
For me, movement of the feet reveal the dancer.
Oh, the drumming, the singing, the colors, the movements.
Then my pain got to be too much and I had to leave.
Took my over half an hour to hobble home,
usually only takes ten or fifteen minutes.
The spring UW pow wow is April 15,16,17 this year.
I hope I'm still in town for it.
Safe journeys,,,

Friday, January 07, 2005

Wow! Internet Native music.

I just discovered the Gathering of Nations Internet Radio website.
Wow. Ms. Sunrise is enjoyable to listen to, she's a dj.
And the wide variety of music. Wow.
And agaim, wow.
I'm hearing music I've never heard before.
I'm learning more.
Safe journeys,,,

Monday, January 03, 2005

Living in a men's boarding house

I 've lived in bunkhouses with the forest service and national park service.
There's a courtesy you extend for your housemates.
You try to keep out of each other's way.
I do that here in the place I'm staying.
I got a really good deal off craigslist.
It's a basement room, share bath and kitchen.
I am warm and dry, and that is important.
A few minutes ago, one of the housemates came home.
Lots of door slamming, banging things, slamming fridge door, cabinet doors.
To me, indications of anger.
I ask, you all right.
No verbal reply, just an expression.
I didn't understand.
Anger scares me.
Safe journeys,,,

Banging on the wall,,,

One, two, three.
What's up?
His door is closed.
As soon as my laundry is dry,
out the door I go.I'll stay away for a while,
maybe he'll calm down.
Safe journeys,,,

Family memories

My dad was driving, my brothers and I were in the back, being boys.
We didn't pay attention to where we were going.
We pulled into a "ranch".
We boys got out to explore.
We found a corral, and a windmill, the metal version, rusty,
not spinning, 'cause there wasn't a wind.
I remember climbing on the corral and imagining it
full of horses.
We ran back to the "house".
We went inside and -"Mom, why is the floor made of dirt?"

I told the full story to a small circle of friends.
A buddy told me that he read the story as my dad had abandoned us there.

Many years later I learned that my aunt who just died, was the one
who walked miles and miles, to phone family and friends to rescue us.

Safe journeys,,,

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Arlee, Montana, pow wow, years ago

I drove all night, it felt like it anyway.
I had to stop several times to rinse the sleep out of my eyes.
To be able to continue driving.
Went over Lolo Pass, drove into Montana.
Arrived at the pow wow grounds in the darkness.
Clear night, stars so bright.
Tipis, tents, cars, vans, trucks, rvs, in the night.
Quiet, everyone sleeping.
In the mrrning the wake up crew came by.
In the bright day,
I could see we were in the middle of a huge field,
I could see porta potties scattered throughout the area.
Oh, the Grand Entry, the druming, the dancers,
oh the singing, the out of doors wonder.
Fry bread, Indian tacos, venison stew,
popcorn, soda pop, hot coffee, good food,
good friends, some from the past,
some yet to meet.
Oh, that wonderful feeling,
oh the heart swelling, at the Grand Entry.
safe journeys,,,

Death in the family

I just gor word that one of my aunts died, oh, half an hour ago.
I have mixed feelings.
She was the aunt I had the most difficulty being around.
She was a drinker, mean, envious, jealous of my mother.
When I grew up, when I could decide for myself, I stayed away from her.
I had as little contact with her as possible.
But she is part of my childhood.
I remember that she helped raise me and my siblings.
My momn had to work, and my aunt was our bably sitter.
Years, and years of family.
I've heard of horrific abuse of my uncles, just hints.
And when I consider my aunt, her life, her behavior, her
drinking, reflect abuse.
When I first got the news, I decided not to go to the funeral.
But, she is family, she is my aunt.
If I think back, if I remember stories, she helped my mother.
She helped my mother cope with, deal with, a hard life.
My aunt helped me and my siblings to survive our childhoods.
Mixed feelings, for sure.
Safe journeys,,,

Again, tribal memories

I had a co-worker last summer who explained that she could understand our
tribal language. But she couldn't speak it.
This is what she explained.
She and her brother were sent to a native school.
Indians were prohibited, by law, from attending public school, back then.
When she spoke her tribal language to help her younger brother,she was beaten.
Out tribal language was their first language, their mother language, spoken at home, spoken in the village.
She told me, today, now, in the present, when she tries to speak our
tribal language, she can still feel the ruler hitting her in the mouth.
Again. Again. And Again.
And she cannot speak.
She's been "civilized".
Safe journeys,,,

Saturday, January 01, 2005

More tribal memories

One summer we were driving east on I-90 headed for a
Native gathering at Mobridge.
We stopped in the moountains at a sign that marked the
continental divide.
While we were there a fancy, expensive car pulled up.
Two youngsters climbed out, looked like brother and sister.
I said something about the spectacular view, and the guy
mumbled something.
I didn't catch what he said, but I did catch how high
his nose was.
He was funny, standing there and looking down his nose
at this Indian guy, this Indian guy who was talking to him.
Safe journeys,,,

Friday, December 31, 2004


Yesterday I went to visit family.
I spent time with my sister who I'd lost for seven years.
As I've written elsewhere, I stayed with her and her daughters years ago
when I traveled throught our childhood territory.
Then she was gone.
Family members told me she was in some small town, nobody knew exactly where.
This went on for seven years. Then hooray. Back together again.
I enjoy our visits.
Since our renewed contact she has had mdeical emergencies.
But she told me that the last year has been the best for her in
seven years.
She has her own place, she is taking care of herself, taking her meds.
We'll go to a pow wow soon.
So she can reconnect with our people.
Safe journeys,,,

Sun dance, 30 years ago.

Many years ago, I was living in another state.
I was active with different American Indian groups.
(This was before the change to "Native American")
I was invited to participate in a Sun Dance.
I considered it, and told them no.
It wasn't until much later that I realized the honor of being
asked to participate.
And it wasn't until much later that I realized that I
hadn't been ready to participate in the Sun Dance.
I was much too young and didn't realize the significance, and the
Safe journeys,,,,

Tribal memories

Many years ago I visited a tribe.
After some time passed, members would share a little bit with me.
An anthro had come to study the tribe, and wanted to know where the
sacred spots where, where people had gone for what some would call
vision quests.
Those who knew refused to tell.
Then the last person who knew the locations died.
The knowledge of those sacred spots died with that person.
I have no problem with this.
Mostly because it is not my business.
I repeat, it is none of my business.
It is tribal business, and I wasn't a member of that tribe.
Safe journeys,,,

Sunday, December 26, 2004


Ooh, that familiar pain.
I went treasure hunting at a thrift store this morning.
Returned home,aches and pains.
I thought I could just wait it out.
Then I remembered how pain can really fatigue me.
If I'm not careful, if I don't take care of myself,
I'll let the pain ride, and it'll just drain me.
Little by little.
I'll sleep poorly, wake up tired, and recycle the fatigue.
So, I took some pain meds, napped for thirty minutes,
took another thirty minutes to fully get moving.
Went for a long walk, for me, that's half an hour or so.
Stopped at a gyro place, then on to a used bookstore.
Good stuff.
Safe journeys,,,

Again, small world, Seattle

I just rode in on a series 70 bus from downtown, to the U dist.
Listening, taking pictures of the Space Needle(I'm working on a "slide" show
titled "Viewing the Space Needle from Public Transit")
My version of "Views of Mt. Fuji.", which may already have been done,
doesn't matter.
This is mine.
Sitting just forward of the accordion fold, I heard tow people talking.
A family from Anchorage, a man who lived in Fairbanks some time ago, and me,
the listener, from Juneau.
Probably happens a lot here .
One of my buddies, went into the outback of Belze and met a coouple from
Safe journeys,,,,