Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Drunk, Tap Dancing Indian Girl (Ch. 35)

Being a brown noser didn't fair well with my cousins and I spent most of my time in the garage practicing my tap dancing.  The garage was used to make deer jerky and drums.  Lines were stretched from wall to wall where salted meat was hung to dry and hides were laid flat everywhere with dried blood and stray pieces of fur still attached.  I would practice for hours, getting my moves just right, occasionally getting slapped in the face with a piece of carnage.  My cousins teased me.  I guess they never heard of a tap dancing Indian girl before.  "Where are your tappy shoes at?  You won't show us how you tappy dance! Hahaha" 


My cousins offered to "smoke me up" several times and I wanted NOTHING to do with it.  I didn't want to do drugs like my mother.  What I wanted to do was drink.  We had a lot of celebrations on the reservation, dances, feasts and ceremonies.  Each occasion was a reason for everyone to get drunk  The term "Fire Water" is no joke. There is no such thing as alcoholism on a reservation.  There are no police to pull you over and give you a DUI.  It's not abnormal to see Uncle Pato driving down the road going 3 miles an hour, missing the turn and heading off into the never ending desert.


We handle things our own way when we need to though.  Sometimes it means running after Uncle Pato's car and turning the engine off and sometimes it means more than that.  We don't have jails or legal consequences like you do in the cities, (although in some cases we will call them in) we handle things in our own way.   Our way seems to work, we have no crime. We just have a bunch of wild kids who party too much and get away with too much. 


I drank every opportunity I got.  I didn't drink the same way the other kids did though.  They would all drink together, share and hang out around the fire pit or something.  I would sneak and hoard any alcohol I got my hands on and then after I got good and drunk I'd go and play with my tappy shoes.  I loved alcohol.  All those spaces I made to hide my ugly memories inside of me felt filled up.  I drowned my memories in a sea of Budweiser, moonshine and vodka.  Life was much improved.


I loved all the celebrations on the reservation and not just because I could get drunk.  The celebrations all seemed to be about dancing and food.  We had dances for everything; dances for corn, buffalo, rain and even saints.  After each dance a huge feast would be prepared.  The entire tribe pulled together and we all went eating from house to house and then taking our own turn to feed others. 

It gave you an incredible sense of belonging.  I belonged here.  I made bread for others, and I ate bread that others made for me.  I felt it in my blood.  I am Cucuyatramatz.  This is my home.  Nothing felt foreign to me.  Some of the ceremonies were a bit frightening and involved the cleansing of "bad spirits" or "river men" that had sharp pointy teeth.  I was afraid, but also very comforted.  There is something very comforting about knowing exactly where you came from and having your beliefs boldly exemplified before your eyes.  My father was from here, I was born here, and this is where I'm supposed to be.    I am a 13 year old Indian girl.... a drunk, tap dancing Indian girl.

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