Lebanon Reporter

Columns

May 21, 2014

What's your tribe?

We were looking through pictures taken at a writer’s conference I recently attended.“She has really nice hair,” hubby remarked about my friend Jill.“Isn’t it gorgeous?” I responded. “It’s like pure, black silk. She said her mom is Native American.”“What tribe?” he asked.I gave him my best “are you serious” look. Only a boy who has grown up on a reservation would even think to ask that question.

As a small Quaker child, hubby lived in Wyoming, where his parents were missionaries to the Shoshone tribe. He doesn’t have many memories of that time, but he wears them like badges of honor — lying in bed, covers pulled tightly to his chin, listening to the not-so-distant beating of ceremonial drums, fearing the howling wolves that moved closer throughout the night, and, in my opinion, the most difficult part … no indoor plumbing for nighttime trips to the potty.

He has fun stories too. Like the time he was nearly trampled to death by a herd of wild horses.

Okay, that’s not so fun. Let’s try again.

He readily recalls bathing in the river made frigid from melting mountain snow, the chill of icy cold water washing over his tiny body.

We are supposed to be talking about pleasant memories, aren’t we? Give me a second here …Oh! I know!When the Sacajawea dollar coins were first introduced, he casually mentioned to a group of friends that she was buried in his back yard. They thought he was joking. Not every boy can say he woke up each morning and looked out on the tombstone of Sacajawea. And not every boy can say her family adopted his.

It’s quite remarkable really. There is an entire tribe of Native Americans who consider him family, even though the blood in his veins flows directly from the thrones of Europe.

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