Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy NDN New Year...

There are a LOT of things going on in this world right now...but for a moment on Monday, those of us in our little longhouse in Eastern Oregon paused to give thanks for the pray for the new foods and a new cycle of life coming was joyous and rich.

These are two of the young women you can always find at the longhouse - those are such beautiful smiles!

As other groups and cultures celebrate the Solstices, we celebrate the New is the renewal, the time of new foods and turning our backs on the old year and the old issues.

We gathered first for a meal - for it seems we Indians eat together often - but this meal felt warm and inviting. When I got to the kitchen, there was Grandma Lonnie in her beautiful dress cooking the roots and I was so happy to see her! Leigh was also there, she's a quiet but deep woman and Trish who is somehow my new always and forever - I love her more than I can say and for reasons I can't enumerate...she's the ultimate mama and always has everyone dressed perfectly and her energy is limitless - I'm blessed to have her in the kitchen because sometimes I just really can't do it...

Grandma Lonnie made the pies beforehand

After the meal it's time for service - the singing of our beautiful songs and the longhouse dance in which we symbolize "making a path for our way" during this part we're given the opportunity to speak from our heart and this is when anything we say is SAFE.

When it's over we all shake hands and laugh raucously, hugging and smiling all around -

The next morning just felt SO NEW

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

just sayin'

learning things is sometimes just the dang pits...
while I was on my LEARNING trip to Vegas (and believe me, although bright lights and glittery shiny was on display in ABUNDANCE it was in every way a LEARNING trip) I was reminded by my instructor that we are mirrors....when we are annoyed, irritated, disgusted sometimes flat pissed off at someone, often it's only that they're reflecting a facet of OUR personality we're not too keen on....

It's true. I didn't want to admit it, I just wanted to say "well what if they're just someone I don't LIKE or something" and other equally as childish responses but it's true...

Flip side - and get this one DEEPLY if you can - those you love are equally as reflective - do you love their depth? That's you love their humor? YOU AGAIN...and so on.

That's all I have today - just remembering it all day has been EXHAUSTING.

:-) I think I'm just gonna go gamble for a little bit now - k?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Creator is BIG...I am small...

On my flight home recently, I took these pictures...they made me feel both small and safe

it's a wonderful world.

Friday, December 3, 2010

discretion IS the better part of valor

It's been a week from hell - I won't lie to you. Crushing disappointments, moments of forgotten grief from multiple losses (the month of November), regular daily stress, continued frustration with "the wheel" and the rest of the sad stories...

One of the days this week, I had one of those flashes of anger - you know the ones, so white hot there's nothing in you but wilted exhaustion when its done? I almost threw in the towel - said "I'm done, you take it from here" and walked away from my job...I almost said things to people that should never be said, and I almost did many things this week all because of this stupid emotional turmoil churning away...

I didn't do those things. I bit my lip and put down my head...I walked away and went to the copier instead of speaking...I listened to someone else's story and to my surprise found myself crying on HER behalf...

Today I got some good news. News that actually brought home that saying "discretion is the better part of valor" THANK YOU for not letting me say those words...for not throwing in the towel and walking off this job...THANK YOU FOR THIS JOB and thank you for not letting me LOOSE!

I am grateful:-) IT'S A BRAND NEW DAY

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dear President Obama: November has come and gone...where is the fanfare of "Native American Month?"

I was just told a story by one of my coworkers...she'll remain unnamed at this point because I didn't ask her first but the story she told me shook me to the core AND reminded me of what we're really doing "here." My rendition of this story is sketchy because I heard it for the first time just minutes ago. Something we hear often from our longhouse is "if you don't tell the story you've heard you'll lose it" and I don't ever want to lose this.

My friends' grandma was a little girl...they were riding on horseback from one place to another and would encounter clans from time to time on their journey. They were arriving to one of these clans and as they came around the corner, they saw piles of what they realized were dogs. They kept riding and as they came across the homes, they found everyone there was dead but what was strange to them was that there were no children.

In a hopeful way, I imagine, they all thought that the children were out hiding, as my friends' grandma had been told to hide on occasion. Not true. They rounded the corner and to her grandma's horror (remember the grandma was a small girl at the time) they came across all the children - hanging dead from trees by their ankles.

I tell you this story not to horrify you, rather as a reminder for myself. This battle we fight is not against this entity or that is against the blind ignorance which rolled across our nations killing and robbing in blank's against the concept of blank rage and its to strengthen our tribes through honesty and education to wage war for generations to come against such indignities and horrific violence.

In this day and age we don't encounter young Indian children hanging from trees but we DO encounter the concept of our people as "expendable resources." We see our children exploited in much more modern and yet just as not say this would be folly indeed. We encounter our elders being abused by their own children...having their medications stolen so they have to lie in bed awake and in pain night after night...our children and grandchildren face a bleak future if we don't continue this fight...

Kind of makes my bad day seem so trite...I apologize to my elders.

Monday, November 22, 2010

tell the truth deanie!

When I was growing up (in Brookings Oregon) we went to spend a week or so each summer with our family friends in Silverton, Oregon. There were two kids my age and younger, Nedra and Deanie....his name is now Dean and I believe he's the principal at a school in Southern Oregon...ANYWAY, Nedra and I would concoct the imaginative and ingenius (in our minds anyway) escapades paralleled only in adventure movies and these would sometimes go awry...Deanie would follow along because we were older and he just wanted to be part of it. One such time we knocked over a flower pot which broke and left a poor defenseless fern lying on the ground. Their mom came out and immediately asked what happened. Nedra, being a quick thinker, said "Deanie did it" Deanie tried to protest but Nedra looked at him in all earnestness and said "now tell the TRUTH Deanie..."

I share this anecdote as a preface for this: I have a good friend, a spiritual leader who it seems has untold stores of strength in his being...he leads us through funerals and death bed singing and he never wavers from his strength and always has good words of encouragement to share...he stands besides dearly loved relatives and without tears talks about how they lived their life. He talked just last week at the side of my uncle...also his uncle and he said "I start thinking about how hard things are sometimes but I remember my aunt's words, she said no matter how hard it is for you someone else is having a harder time" and he also said "I'm trying not to be  selfish..."

So the truth is, I'm not that strong...I don't have his strength and I don't have his ability to stand in the face of all challenges...I want to. But I don't.

So the truth is: I'm feeling wimpy today and I just wish I could go home. I miss my cousin who would have words of wisdom for me...I miss my friend who would have made me laugh...I just want to go home.

I won't though...and I will learn from this day...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Native American Heritage Month...

I don't want to beat a dead horse but it seems somehow trite to me that this nation has to even HAVE a "Native American Heritage" day...but that's just my opinion

In the spirit of sharing though I want to share about two brave American Indian women from our history...these women touched my heart in the deepest of ways...I hope to one day meet them:

This excerpt is from the book "Yellow Wolf, His Own Story" and is where Yellow Wolf talks about his mother (Yiyik Wasumwah )

My mother could use the gun against soldiers if they

bothered her. She could ride any wild horse and shoot

straight. She could shoot the buffalo and was not afraid

of the grizzly bear.

Also in this same book is another brave woman:


More fortunate, perhaps, than the Nemesis-pursued White Feather

was Halpawinmi (Dawn) . Eighteen or twenty years of age, strong

and handsome in form and physique, and endowed with a beautiful

personality, she was the recognized belle and favorite of her tribe.

Though her brother was killed in her presence, she did not give way

to unavailing grief and lamentation. Disdaining to flee the awful

holocaust about her, she fell while ministering to the wounded and

dying about her.

This is a picture I found of Yellow Wolf's mother...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

pervasive sadness

Two weeks ago my mother passed. this was a sad and intense time for my siblings and I, six brothers and one sister as well as our children extended family. Although it was a sad time, we were also quite thankful for the end of our mother's suffering, she'd fought valiantly against cancer for many, many years. I'm the oldest now...which in so many ways just seems WRONG - wait! I need someone to tell ME what to do too!!!!

I'm sure many are familiar with the pangs that accompany the loss of a great influence in our lives...our mothers, fathers, older siblings, aunties, uncles...but I guess the older I get and the more acquainted I become with the stark reality of the afterlife, I find myself sometimes longing for a glimpse from their side of the my culture we dress our beloved in pure white buckskin clothing so that on that final day as the sun rises, we all will rise with the sun dressed in our finest. We have women who dress the women and men who dress the men and a song is sung throughout this ceremony. As I ran my hand across my mother's final garment I couldn't help but celebrate the fresh whiteness of this dress and I pictured her rising in the sun as a young vibrant woman running to greet the love of her life, my "dad" Wes who passed over a year ago. I picked up her little moccasins for her feet were much like mine...round and short...I had to smile at imagining her dancing with my dad.

So although there is a pervasive sadness in the loss, I feel a great joy on her behalf as well as an excitement to the core of my being for MY day to take that journey although I do intend to hang around here for quite some time first.

My little brother (little brother being almost 40)called me this morning and when I answered the phone all I could hear was him trying not to cry...I thought for a second "how am I going to do this...I don't have this kind of  I wish I would have told him about these moments I had considered about our mother, I believe I will...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


dang! it was BUSY!!!!
but very promising:-)


riotous celebration of color - Warm Springs, Oregon

Showing off for company - Hood River, Oregon

One aspect of home...

I do love to see a storm cleanses the spiritual palate

I'm sure you know I can't get enough of sunsets

with the changing weather comes cozy fires

driving home on a cloudy day...the colors just called to me

again the sunset lights the skies from my home

a blurry colorful shot on a sunday drive

my "auntie" Umatilla River with the blues in the background

silvery amazingness

Friday, November 12, 2010

Homeless for the Holidays...

The other day my brother and I were driving down the road, I was talking about getting some things together for the homeless shelters I know of in that city we go to so often...I like to put little packages together and not bring them to the shelter, that seems so sterile and not in the true spirit of giving, I like to bring the gifts down to the streets inhabited by these wandering souls...

Another one of my brilliant career choices included during my late teen years about three years of homelessness. This was brought on by some faulty choices and failed attempts at "living free." Homelessness didn't make me sad, but during the holidays, I would see people's lights going up on their homes and in some neighborhoods as I walked through I could smell the scent of cookies being baked as it wafted through the comfy looking homes out into the street. I lived in an area (in the city) near a bakery, my dwelling was next to a bridge piling and was constructed from boxes and a big rain poncho I found somewhere. The smell of bread baking each Wednesday night comforted me and I would sleep well knowing that SOMEWHERE someone was getting freshly baked bread. My homey little soul would pick up small holiday decorations dropped and left by others in sundry places and I would put these around my "home." I would be cheered (the human spirit is RESILIENT) by some semis as they roared down the freeway with brightly light trailers. I knew I was homeless, I knew it was the "holidays" and I felt a sense of longing like no other when I could see the merriment on faces walking by in utter disregard of my plight.

All of this came back to me when I had mentioned to my brother what I wanted to do with my Christmas money and he responded "oh they don't know what season it is out there, they chose to live in that life and they don't care about the holidays..." so I shared with him about my different holidays in the streets and he was very thoughtful about that and he commented afterwards "well you'd never know that they might feel like that unless you heard if from someone who had been there!"

Not everyone you see in the streets chose to be there...they can't all "just go and get a job" and they often are ashamed of their plight rather than reveling in their "freedom," I'm so thankful for what I have today...I'm thankful for my family and friends...I'm thankful to be able to sit and write this small token of recognition for the forgotten world out there and I hope that as they say by writing it, I'll remember it more closely.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

it's NOT all about me!

I was pouting this morning. Yes, and had a very negative outlook on the world. I looked at a picture of my granddaughter, and as I was walking by the front office I saw a picture of a young boy who'd gone missing in Portland this last week.

I hope this young boy is returned unharmed to his the core of my being I hope this...and I am grateful to know that each of my granddaughters are safe today...

Nothing to pout about HERE!!!!!


My good friend said this: "We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world" I didn't realize hed' gotten that from this page:

I love that he said that. Compassion is a difficult task for the sun-baked hedonistic society most of us dwell in. We look with distaste at the woman forlornly pushing her shopping cart up the street, turning up our nose at her wildly mussed hair and untied shoes...we think nothing of driving by the vacuous blue eyed girl standing in the street with her cardboard sign saying "god bless" if you give her a quarter. I myself have felt the heated burn of anger that someone young enough to STAND in that place for eight hours certainly must be able to find work...for truly, I couldn't stand there for ONE hour let alone eight...

Having said that, I will work harder on THAT part of me:-)

It's a busy day and I need to accomplish some I will leave you with this:

A pancake, two eggs and a sausage walk into a bar.

The bartender says, Sorry. We do not serve breakfast.'

Thursday, October 7, 2010

oh frabjous day!

Well I had a lot to say today but I'm in a meeting right now and it's making me want to grind my teeth...I guess the upside to that is that in between being very busy and important I can write this fun stuff...

'Course that was yesterday and now again...busy.


It's a good day and here's why:

  • Friends and Family are rich and in abundance, they're wise, funny, loving, truthful and raucous.
  • The sun rose from the east - this is always a good thing
  • My kitty continues to accomplish that for which we acquired him...depleting the mouse population in my world - for that, my kitty deserves high praises and happy dances
  • Purple items are in abundance in my world...
  • I think I'm growing a little each least that's my goal
Life is good...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

ever the adventurers

The week's half over and I really wanted to share our last adventure...

I was invited to attend an event in Portland (although our dogs had glamorized the big city with gloriously exaggerated names, those dogs have left -Paw Lee and Princess Phat- and we now have two borrowed dogs named Lop Ears and Shy Girl. Lop and Shy don't glamorize anything, in fact, they actually think of Portland as the Stink and Noise place. So off we went, my brother and I, to Stink and Noise...

We were going to an event called "Dancing in the Square" and it was hosted in honor of American Indian Day...did you know there WAS such a day? Side comment - I love watching these older gentlemen play chess at the square, they're very intent on their game and it's like the hustle and bustle of harried shoppers and joyous buskers aren't a part of their world. Such focus.

The Dancing the in Square was an interesting visit for me, I used to live in this city, I used to love the noise and the hurry and the clackers (you know, the sound of stilettos on the bricks of the square), I used to perm my hair and {shudder} even had my bi-weekly NAIL appointments. I chuckle at that now, I don't have time, couldn't do what I do and don't even CARE about these things the huckleberries care if my nails are groomed? Do the songs ring out stronger if my hair is kinky? No...HOWEVER I do love the

Ahhhhh, but again, I digress...   At the gathering there were many groups of drummers, the one in this picture particularly caught our ears, they were melodious and STRONG. We listened to a few others but really, these were our favorites for the day...

In the picture here is the whip man, who runs the dance arena. This wasn't the traditional role of a whipman and I actually think that whole idea should be left for another time...

Non-Indians were welcomed to the floor to share THEIR versions of our dances, it was fun and made for a lot of laughter and comraderie.


AFTER the big event, off to revelries and frivolities...beverages flowing cooly through minty straws and this strange looking creature caught my know the drill, I had to take the picture! It was kind of eery and odd in a comfy do the math:-)

Visiting with the kids commenced and that's yet another long story...we'll save it.

Saturday, while driving around Miss Nellie, we took a jaunt up the hill to see the Pittock was a nice little detour

Of course, during said visit, grand-daughter number four found time to play footsie with my brother:

It was amazing. We drove out of the humid noise and bustle of Portland up to the cool mountainy air of Mt Hood. At one of our rest stops I walked around a little bit...these purple flowers were literally BEGGING me to take their picture. I obliged of course because I too appreciated their vigorously purple air of strength and wild.

I love wild horses - these were showing off along the way

You can smell juniper as soon as you get to this part of the state...I LOVE this smell!!!


I found some kind of flora to brother patiently waited for me and sneakily took my picture
I just love the artistry in our surroundings...

We were greeted affectionately by Sir Chitten Chat upon our safe arrival home

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lettin' 'Er Buck!!!!!

Pendleton Round Up...

Just the phrase alone has myriads of meanings to each individual...the week was frought with many feelings of impending disaster, for truly, last year's event was tragic and left a lot of Indians feeling sad and at a loss. At last year's Round-Up a stabbing occurred, gang related and involving a lot of our tribal youth. This year many measures were taken to ensure safety, these were of course met with stone-cold faces for as much as we like our independence, we don't like to "be told what to do and when to do it."

On to the you'll note from my pictures, the certain parts of the event are more dear to my heart than others:-)

Historically, the Pendleton Round Up started in 1910. This was the 100th year and as such was slated as the event of a lifetime. Indians had a history of participating since it's inception...please look that up for there are many more interesting pictures than I can provide here:-)

I wanted to share about the beauty pageant and I as I was reading other reviews I came across these words WHICH ARE NOT MINE - THEY ARE EXCERPTED FROM AN EAST OREGONIAN NEWSPAPER ARTICLE:
By ERIN MILLS East Oregonian

Like an enchanted maze, the Indian Village on the morning of the Junior American Indian Beauty Pageant revealed a gem around every corner.

Standing near her family’s teepee, each contestant soaked up the diligent attention of her female relatives. Braided, furred, dressed, belted, beaded and moccasined, she bloomed into a classic Indian maiden of the Columbia Plateau.

Their dresses were handed down from their grandmothers, their belts carefully beaded by moms and aunties. They were drenched in history. But for most of them, the beauty pageant was all about feeling pretty.

“It’s fun because I don’t get to dress up like this a lot,” said L’Rissa Sohappy as her mother, LeAnn Alexander, tucked and polished her regalia.

“I can see all the regalia and see other people’s regalia — it’s so pretty,” said Julia Ikeandrews, 8, a Yakama Nation member from White Swan, Wash.

Julia wore a beaded belt, cuffs and leggings handed down from her great-grandmother and her grandmother’s breastplate. Her mother, Raye Ikeandrews, said Julia is excited to dress up every year. They always travel to Pendleton for the Round-Up, she said.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she said.

Many families still reunite at the Indian Village every year from all over southeastern Washington, northeastern Oregon and Idaho. Traditionally, a family camps in one section of the village year after year.

Teepees are not a traditional dwelling of Plateau Indians, but sleeping under a circle of poles, surrounded by family, still feels like a return to traditional times.

“You get up in the morning, look around and it’s kind of like you’re stepping back in time,” said Wilson Totus, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

The morning of the beauty pageant, Totus was busy looking after his young grandchildren, a few of whom were getting ready for the event. He no longer rides in the relay races or performs in Happy Canyon, he said, but the Indian Village is important — it’s all about family.

Other key parts of the Round Up included the Dancing in the Park:

For all the dancers there has to be drummers, some of THESE are my brothers!

Below is my good friend Tut who although pretty young carries with her the wisdom of ages and the grace of a woman who knows her world and freely walks it. She didn't win but she should have...
Round up was full of fun and excitement - I had the honor or driving around the golf carts so some of the Elders didn't have to walk very far. It was an amazing task because some of these elders had the most astounding and fun stories to tell! The flip side was that of course I had to hear about all the complaints they had as well...I'm perfectly happy to take the good along with the bad!

The carnival was part of the festivities and here's a quick fact: the carnival that comes to this event is the same one I used to work for in the 70's.

I would be remiss in not sharing the visits I had with the many horses in attendance at the Round Up...

My favorite horse as it turns out, was ridden by CTUIR General Council Chairman AH. The horse's name is Bart although upon our first meeting I asked him (the horse) about several other names. Bart missed me when I didn't come by to kiss his velvety nose, and would talk to the other horses about me "you know that one girl? the one who calls us by other names but gives us kisses?" "No, you're crazy, I only know MY girl who tried to talk to me (using clucks and clicks) but I don't quite get her..." We went to feed Bart one night and grabbed some hay from the stack at the end of the line where the Percherons stayed and one of the big golden giants whuffled at us "excuse me, that's OURS, would you please put it BACK?" so I handed him a handful and he JERKED it out of my hand...."THANK YOU that's GOOD but please put the other BACK"

I could actually go on and on about the horses and their conversations but Round Up was a week ago and I already have a NEW story to shared...
Hope you had a good weekend!