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News to me II

September 20, 2008

There will be two funerals and three weddings in Lame Deer tomorrow.  There will also be a benefit rodeo to raise money for two youth who’ve made it into the Indian Nationals, which will be held in Las Vegas next month.  Next Friday, there will be a parade in each of the three reservation communities (Ashland, Lame Deer, and Busby) to celebrate Native American Week.  Throughout the week and the month, there will be campaign forums and dinners in Busby and Lame Deer to help voters choose the best candidates for tribal council in the upcoming tribal elections. 

This is news to me. 

This evening, I helped Don (from the Housing Authority) and his nephew to round up and corral a pair of his horses, which he will be giving away tomorrow to honor the death of a 54-year-old woman, Joann, who passed away this week.  After securing the pair and setting our own mounts out to pasture, we headed into town to attend Joann’s wake.  Cars lined both sides of Cheyenne Avenue from Rt. 212 to First Interstate, an indicator of the large number of people who cared for this woman. 

After leaving the wake, we stopped at the Cheyenne Depot, where we ran into a friend of Don who was in need of a ride home (many people on the reservation don’t have cars and rely on hitchhiking).  Rather than take him all the way to Ashland, we dropped him off back at the wake, where he was likely to find a ride home with another attendee. 

Prior to this sobering evening, I spent the morning and afternoon home-schooling Lia in math and enjoying a three-hour trail ride with Zane, Lia, and Richard through the Spangs’ gorgeous land.  I experience so many exhilarating highs here, yet they are always checked by the saddening reality of life on the reservation.  These beautiful people of whom I am now a colleague, teacher, and friend may have this beautiful land to call their own, but they don’t have much more.  The world should not be this way, and for as long as it is, I will continue to lend my strength and energy to easing pain and fostering peace.

P.S.  Mom, don’t worry, I don’t pick up hitchhikers when I’m on my own.

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