“Joy was probably way down toward the bottom of the list of words Ma might have used to describe her feeling about the situation she found herself in at my birth. My first breath came with a flash of lightening and the high pitched wailing of an old Indian woman; crazed with hatred of white people and everything they represented and in her mind the latest representation was me. She was pacing back and forth around the lean-to, trying to get up the nerve to do what she had promised the other women of the tribe she would do. The leading women of the tribe were standing in a semicircle in front of the lean-to, waiting for the woman to make her promise good. The wailing stopped when the trunk of a tree ended its plunge down the mountainside and pulled down part of the earthworks and lean-to that Ma had built to shelter herself while she was giving me life. Ma’s strength was about at an end and after she determined that the damage was slight she leaned back to rest, after placing me, still attached to her by the cord, across her hips.
“The woman screeched and jumped at me and Ma, then she and the knife she held up over her head took a hard turn to the south as Ma’s brother, Iron-hand clobbered her in the side of her head and jerked the knife from her hand, then let her fall onto the hard packed floor.
“As I was saying, Ma’s strength was about gone. She told Iron-hand that she could not do anything more. He threw back the ragged blanket that covered the opening into the lean-to, “Women, come inside and witness my sister’s son. Carry the whiskey I brought and make his coming a celebration. Cover your hands with the whiskey to kill the white mans disease and keep Teneska from harm. Her life and her sons life is in your hands, as each one of yours is in mine. Know this and live; forget and you will die. Not one. All. Come.”
“Ma’s life growing up was never easy because she had to deal with the tribe she was born into. Slavery was a Sunday stroll beside a lazy river compared to the life of a girl growing up in Ma’s tribe and then Pa sauntered into her life and truly complicated her existence. Pa’s Ma was Flathead and his Pa was Irish crossed with Iroquois. Pa looked and thought Indian; but tried to live in the white world. He said the Indian way of life would come to conflict with the white-mans and the whites would eventually push the Indian out of the land the Indians called home. He said history had witnessed it happening many times and in many lands all over the world and it would come to this land as it had those many lands across the oceans. Pa was a very wise man. Fortunate for me he made me study and learn. I wanted the fast things in life but he showed me that the things I wanted had a price I could not pay as a young boy and even as a young man. I found I did not want to pay the price for most of those things after I was able and understanding began to form other thoughts in my mind.
“Pa saved Iron-hand’s skin when he killed a white man who was set on shooting Iron-hand in the back. Pa could do no wrong after that and Iron-hand became Pa’s protector. Ma’s people hated Pa, but they feared Iron-hand even more. He was fierce and gave no thought to killing; in fact his way to solve just about any problem was to just kill it. His gratitude to Pa was shown by giving Ma to be Pa’s wife and killing the man who Ma had been promised to. Nobody mentioned the five horses that had been given by the man before he became dead, as the price for Ma. Nobody ever mentioned anything to Iron-hand. Ma called him Chollo and I did at times, but mostly I kept still and listened to everything he had to say and when he was finished I mostly just said “Yes; Sir. I will remember”. His first lesson was always easy and anything I had to be told the second or third time was always done in a manner that made me want to remember. I did not always remember, but I always wanted to. I never wanted to experience those hard lessons. Those lessons stayed with me a long time and the repercussions of those lessons did too.”
“When I was still small, around eight years, Pa and Ma both took sick and a white family cared for them, until they were well. It was a bad time for me with them and the children being mean to me. One day Chollo came to the trees and called me to him with a bird sound. He told me he had been watching what they had been doing and told me to hide and wait for my time and when I caught one of them out where I could teach him a lesson, to hit him where it would be out of sight. They all left me alone after I hit the first one because I had the piece of metal that Chollo used when he stopped the men who had been hurting him. Those children thought my hand was that hard, just like the Indian men thought Chollo’s hand was. I believe it scared them to a point that they thought I would really do them harm and then they avoided me like I had the Black Death.
Coming soon as editing is Completed