Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Xmas 2011

I know this isn’t good to talk about, but all the political news coming out of D.C. is sickening to hear and read about. One side hates the other and vice-versa and it doesn’t look like there are any viable political solutions in sight or at least any time soon. On January 1 many people will wake up with a hum-dinger of a hangover, but also 160,000 million hard-working Americans will see payroll taxes go up, and another two million will lose unemployment benefits because those jokers in D.C . have to indulge in a political pissing contest. It's bad enough, that they already see their taxes thrown down into a bottom-less pit with no results.

It’s the same old tired thing, the Congressman who is already comes from a rich family, has a truly nice salary, great benefits and one sterling retirement package will tell his adoring constituency what they want to hear and they will bring back the pork to their districts and everybody is happy. Of course, he has his fingers crossed behind his back when he is saying all these political things to his voters. When it’s all said and done, the payroll tax will go up, the esteemed congressmen will go on break and go home and tell their people that it’s the other side holding up progress in the country, Obama will fly to Hawaii to play a little golf and lounge on the beaches which is good for them, but not for America. Of course, we gullible folks will vote them right back into office. Damn, and people condemn Indian politics. Oh, well it best not to pay attention to politics anyway so you won’t be disappointed. Nonetheless, politicians will ruin everything we have in this great country if they continue to have free political rein.

We had some bad weather here in Kansas, but the main storm missed us. It will happen soon enough though. Christmas looms on the horizon and I need to do something about this shopping thing. Maybe it’s time to stop writing and do my best Tim Tebow imitation and offer a personal confession: I haven’t done any shopping for gifts and probably won’t. Wouldn’t it be pathetic to see me down at the mall at this stage of the game trying to figure out what to buy? The truth of the matter is that my wife does the shopping and doesn’t really want me along since I must give the impression that I would rather be somewhere else. She wraps the gifts up and the girls and grandchildren open up their gifts and say “thank you Misho and Grandma.” And then I say, “ok, what did I get you.” That too is pathetic, but what can I do?

Also during these festive times, I sometime get scared and fearful when I get behind the wheel of my vehicle. I can just hope those beastie deer don’t decide to cross my path because they can do some real damage to your car and to you. They are heated up like a politician in a D.C. hotel room, so its not all their faults.  I did see a beautiful wild-life scene the other day on my way to Dancing Ground: A fairly good sized bobcat ran in front of me, it was right pretty and could cover some ground. The bobcat is a graceful animal. It's been awhile since I've seen one here! When I was younger than I am now, I used to own coon-hounds. I did a lot of hunting with my neighbor and one time our dogs treed a bobcat. I had it stuffed and still have it today.

Oh, on the morning news they said the dead North Korean leader has a warm corner in hell waiting for him, so much for good feelings at Xmas time! But don’t let all these dark writings hold you back from having a great Christmas. From me to you and your family: Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Diggin up pictures!

This the last picture we took as three brothers.  Larry, on the far right, died later that year in 2007.  We were at a Potawatomi Gathering and for the hell of it, we took this picture by the buffalo head.  It was crazy because a slug of people took our picture too for some reason.  I wanted to share this picture so I won't forget either.  We really had a good time that summer day!

This is my nephew, Steven Mitchell, he dropped by from some tiny place near Phoenix, AZ. Steven wanted to visit his Potawatomi relatives for a few days.  I'm glad I was at the Craft Sale when he pulled in.  His journey was well over 20 hours on the train. My grandson Pat ko shuk wanted to know about him.  I told him he is the son of my brother Bubs and  he would be closer to an Uncle to him than a cousin, in our way.  I missed seeing him grow up, along with other nephews and nieces and I'm so glad to see them when they do come here to visit. It's hard for an old cold hearted guy like me to develop tears but I did today when my nephew hugged me, but don't tell anybody.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Songs, movies, book-writers and college professors!

As I get older and try to write on occasion, I look back on possible influences. As a teenager which was a blue moon ago, my brothers and I would listen to Bob Dylan and Creedance Clearwater Revival in the 60s, but I don’t remember any good music happening in the following decades. I think Dylan and John Fogerty of the CC Revival were excellent writers and their work will stand out for a long time. They could put the words together in a beautiful fashion and tell a story of a torn generation, where revolution was the catch-word. People were against this and that, kinda like today.  For example, in the song “Fortunate Son” Fogerty sang:

“It aint’ me. I ain’t no Senators son. I’m no fortunate son. I ain’t no millionaires son. It ain’t me.”

He referred to how the rich folk didn’t go to war (Vietnam at the time), but all the poor people did – kinda like a bunch of young Potawatomi’s did back then. And Dylan had a message in all his songs. I always thought, damn these guys had such a gift of telling a story.  Can you imagine writing one hit song and living off the royalties?

I’m not much of a movie buff, but I couldn’t help admire the writing in the movie Forrest Gump. It was funny at times, serious at times and showed how Gump fell into the accidental fame category. One day, he was showing Elvis how he would dance to a song and pretty soon Elvis was on tv doing Forrest Gump’s dance. He was always in the background of some event such as the day they let blacks attend white schools. And since he could run so fast, “run Forrest run,” he parlayed that into a football scholarship at Alabama playing for the Bear. From there he went to Vietnam to become a war hero, a champion ping-pong player, a lucky fisherman and savvy investor to become a rich guy. His memorable quote on this:

"Lieutenant Dan got invested in some kind of fruit company.  So then I get a call from him, saying we don't have to worry about money no more.  And I said, that's good!  One less thing."

During the whole process, he was to meet several Presidents. “I’m going to meet the President, again,” in a voice only Forrest Gump could say – the emphasis was on “again.” But the point was that each story-line was so imaginative and believable and I was so amazed somebody could think of putting all these stories together in one movie. Never in another hundred years, in my opinion, will somebody come up with a movie like that again. In fact, somebody said recently all the good stories have already been told. It would be nice to be surprised though!

I thought Hunter Thompson could tell a story well and I read most of his books. They were descriptive pieces of work and I liked the way he told the story. Recently, I read a Simon Winchester book about China and he did a great job of educating the reader about this country and at the same time to tell a story, also very descriptive. A singer named Steve Earle wrote a novel called “I won’t be leaving this world alive,” and I don’t know that I’m going to read the book anytime soon. I might if I saw it on the bargain book rack, but I liked the title and who would have ever thought of a naming it that?

I covered possible influences in song-writing, movies and book-writers, but I can’t leave out college professors. I graduated from Washburn University in Topeka. I think they got tired of seeing an old Indian guy walking around their campus. The higher-ups got together on a cold winter night in the administrative offices and said "give that Indian his degree and get him out of here", so I moved on in the Spring of 1993.

Before I took that step into college life, I had worked construction and in packing houses, but a knee injury made me think about changing course. I had some help before I went to college. I always read during those early years, the early wild years but my time wasn't always an alcohol-fogged life. I read many books, newspapers and as many magazines as I could get my hands on especially those from the local laundry mat. So that made my classes fairly easy and the reading wasn't a problem for me, but I did struggle with the writing, at least in the beginning.  I worked hard at it, though. I went out and bought several books on the subject and read them extensively. I never developed into a professional, but learned enough to tell a story or something close to that.

I majored in Political Science and I took a large number of history classes (I lacked 6 hours from having a double major). Political Science was a hard subject but it was a helluva lot easier than the history classes I took at Washburn. Both subjects had some excellent teachers like Cecil-Fronsman, Freeman, and Wagner, to name a few. They made me work on the writing and of course the subject itself. It seemed like the 15 page papers never stopped but that helped me later when I wrote about our tribe and other stories.

All of this intangibles of life combined may help explain some influences that made my writing a bit easier. That's all I got to say about that!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fences, windows, bad backs and graffiti!

I had some busy weekends in November. I replaced part of my fence in the backyard. I put up the old fence back in the 1980s and the main reason was that I wanted to put in some trees and plants, but also to have some privacy. Before I did that, the local dogs would dig up the new plants, so I had to take drastic measures. The fence over the years started to sag, which was the result of not doing it right the first time. When I put in the posts in concrete, I didn’t let it set for four or five days, so it sagged. This time I did it right! Putting in the fence and a new flower bed took me and Mike, a guy who lives south of me, a couple of weekends to get done. I wanted to cut my big garden down, so I hauled the dirt from my garden in a bobcat and put it over the top of the fence and after that we wheel-barreled it into the flower bed. I had to put a small fence in to keep my dog Koda out of the bed. Moving dirt put the hurt on these old bones, but now it’s ready for Spring planting. I intend to plant some of my garden stuff closer to my house and water. It will be easier for me to maintain a few garden areas instead of one huge one. A big garden is very time-consuming and between that and mowing my big yard left me little free time to do other things. Now with this plan in hand, maybe I will end my strike against the Royals. I’ve went to one game since the 1994 baseball strike. I’m a little more interested since they have a solid bunch of young players, so I may go watch one game anyway.

I’m a garage sale freak. I sometimes go and look and never buy anything. My daughter tells me why don’t you buy something? I respond that it’s the hunt that counts and in that context I have made some good buys. One time I bought a door with three windows in it, an old-time design, for $5.00 and I replaced the front door of my work-shop with it, put some paint on it and it looks like it belongs. A few weeks back I bought a 36x66 window for $10.00 at another garage sale. It was cold outside which made it difficult to do my outside work, so I decided to put in the window in the back of my work-shop, but I had to replace some 2x6s and built up the area for my new used window. It took me a few hours but I did get the window in and the trim work done and new paneling. (I used paneling to hang my pictures on because when I get older, I will sit in my daughters discarded barber chair and look at my pictures and souvenirs from my travel on my walls and remember what once was). I finished it up with some high dollar paint I bought for $5.00 at another garage sale. Damn, see how far an old Indian guy will go to justify a garage sale purchase. I enjoy that kind of work, but I ain’t no carpenter either. I do it for the fun of it and my back is telling me to slow down on projects for a while.

On another note, my nephew said: “Can't help but feel sad for our reservation. It has so much potential to look and feel great but it's antagonized by hooligans and citizens who just dont care anymore. When i drive around i see graffiti on bridges, playgrounds, and signs. That is if the signs still there and not filled with bullets. Feels bad man...” Yup, nephew this place has changed a bunch over the recent years. It’s an indictment on all of us who live here for not taking care of what we are lucky to have. I paid for my home and took care of my place for all these years and when you have a stake in something you take care of it, but everybody don’t feel that way, but there is no personal satisfaction either.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Birds, Jayhawks, censorship and shoppers

So many countless birds died so we could fill our bellies on turkey-day yesterday but that's the way it's suppose to be, I suppose. My family and I went to the big city, ate at this place that was open, it was good. We ate and left. No dishes, no ritual with all-night cooking and no worn out grandma. Once done there, we were able to retire to the easy chair and nap, dreaming good dreams when we owned all of this country, hunted and fished where we wanted. Back then we didn’t have to have a permit to do those things, of course. The only worry we had was finding food to live on and to fight off those other tribes trying to infringe on our territory. Then somebody fed a group of Pilgrims some turkey and our lives changed forever. But once the dream was over, we have to move on from that nightmare, kinda like our other birds in Kansas.

The Jayhawks are in rebuilding mode and trying to find where they stand in the big picture called the NCAA . The other night they gave those preppies from Duke all they wanted and if it wasn’t for that scrub off the bench who despite having his eyes shut made a three pointer to seal KU’s loss in the Maui Invitational. KU lacks bench strength, which will hurt them, but the big-time is right around the corner with a top-of-the line 2012 recruits coming in and the depth problem will go way. T-Rod might stick around for another year since prospects don’t look good in the strike-infested NBA. Those twins should have stayed for another year, now they got to play on the Philly play-grounds or in Barcelona, Spain. To be blunt, there are high expectations from the KU Jayhawks, this isn’t politics where it’s just the opposite.

Speaking of politics, I must mention that political expression could be extinct in Kansas soon. Ol’ Richard Nixon would have been proud of what happened here last week. Staff members of our Governor, not having anything better to do monitor social media for postings containing his name. They discovered some remarks about the Governor from an 18-year old high school girl visiting Topeka from Kansas City on her tweeter account. The staff members notified the school she came from immediately. Her school principal scolded the poor girl for an hour in his office. He told her to apologize to the Governor and even told her the points she needed to hit upon in her letter. The girl’s family was rightfully shocked over this whole incident. Yet, the Phelps gang can squat on 10th and Gage every week and put up their hateful signs and picket military funerals. Oh yeah, those people are a bunch of lawyers and know how to exploit the legal system to get their message out, but this poor girl can’t tweet tweet. I bet she won’t be visiting Topeka anytime soon. So much for free expression in Kansas and we know that couldn’t happen on our Indian reservations.

Also I’m glad I didn’t go to Los Angeles to do any Black Friday shopping at Walmart. There was a woman using pepper spray to keep the rest of the customers away from some electronic stuff she wanted to buy. Wow, that puts a whole new perspective on shopping. I hope she wasn't a tribal member!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Invocations, boys and medals!

I went to a meeting in Oklahoma the other day and once it was over, I  blazed it back to see my grandson Pat ko shuk give his first public invocation at an event in Fort Leavenworth. He is 11 years old and said the prayer in our language. His prayer is something we have worked on for a good while now and he says it every day.  I taught him some pretty tough words and it must be true that young people pick up the words better because he did.  He said these are hard words but we hung in there and he picked them up.  Using Indian words daily seems to be part of the answer.  They asked me to go to the podium to translate what he said, but I first had to tell how each of us Indians have a role to play, some sing, some dance and some do the praying so it is a matter of working together.  Rest assured, one person can't do all of that. 

The officer in charge gave him three medals for doing the invocation. My wife was worried that he would get stage-fright, but I knew he could do it.  It really is unheard of to have a young man of his age give an invocation.  When the program was completed, the officer called him up there and gave him the medals.  I was so surprised because in this neck of the woods being recognized for using the language is kinda rare and I felt emotion inside.  I hope he sticks with it and learns more.  My Mother would have been proud!  I learned from her and now my grandson is using the words she taught me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Keo komo Kweh

This is a picture I had to post.  Her name is Rose Ann Potts or Keo Komo Kweh.  She is Grandma to my wife Voncile.  By all accounts, she was a hard working woman.  I believe she is drying pumpkin or getting ready to cook up some squirrel in this picture, a picture I haven't seen before. I got the picture from Sharon Walder.  She had a huge garden and can you imagine the time involved to dry corn and pumpkin?  Back then there were no refrigerators so this method had to be used.

I'm cutting back my garden next year because of the time involved and of course I can go to the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, but this lady, along with countless other Indians, never had that option.  They had to put in the work if they wanted food that up-coming winter.  We would do the same thing if we had to now, but it isn't that hard now, we can always burn it to the grocery store on the corner.  She spoke our language, attended our religious ways and was an inspiration to many.  We have a much easier life today than these old folks so it makes you feel guilty to a certain extent. This picture was taken during the Great Depression, so it was doubly important to make the gardens produce and do the work necessary to put up the food for later.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The story of a cradle-board!

This is our baby Ju Ju, our great-granddaughter.  She will capture the moment for all of us now and into the future.  I'm amazed to see her and hold here.  It's been 11 years since we had a baby in our neck of the woods.  I think it will be great to watch her grow up.  I think I'm at an age to fully appreciate this.  I will get a kick out of watching her Great-Grandma buy her things, probably dresses to dress her up like a little doll.  In some ways, she reminds me of Tara and there is no particular reason I feel that way.  I held her one day and promised to spoil her and to haul her to games when she starts playing, but maybe by then, I will have to depend on Pat ko shuk to do the driving and the old folks will have to ride in the back.

This baby cradle came from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  We went there one cold winter to visit my brother Larry and during this particular visit we went to check out an Indian store on Franklin Street.  This is where we found the cradle-board.  This was about 20 years ago.  We bought it for Ju Ju's daddy, Nyeh waskeh. They said long time ago the Indian woman would be picking berries in the fields and these cradle-boards would be propped up, leaning on a tree, so the baby could watch the woman work.  On occasion, they would fall and the way it was made broke the fall and nobody got hurt.  Also the way the baby was bound in the board gave them a sense of security.

Jodie Little Axe put the bead-work on the cradle-board and Tara said she was going to add more.  Over the years Nyeh, Hooty, Kek, and Pat ko shuk posed for shots in the cradle-board. It hung on our wall for years and one day we came home from work and Voncile noticed right off the bat it was gone and I figured it was Ju Ju's grandma Juana who had done the dirty deed and sure enough I checked the modern day bible: Facebook and there was Ju Ju in a picture in the cradle-board.  She can use it as long as she fits in there, then I imagine it will go back on the wall for the next great-granchild.

Jim Jenkins

The guy in the picture next to me is Jim Jenkins from Missouri. Jim was there when my friend Martin Jim died in Vietnam in 1971. The picture was taken at Metwe-Shobney Cemetery in the middle of our reservation at a place called "No Man's Land."

While here he, and his wife Cindy, had breakfast with the Hale family at our casino buffet.  After that our Indian guide, Roy Hale took him to the memorial wall in our park.  The wall has all Potawatomi veterans on it, Jim was fairly impressed with the wall. After that, Roy took him to the Veteran's office to see all the pictures of veterans over the years.

Jim was last here 12 years ago and hasn't changed much at all, but I imagine we looked aged to him.  He answered many questions for us. He is a good man and respectful of our people and we enjoy being around him. I'm glad to have met him again and hear of his experiences!

His visit was short, but again memorable to us since we had a common friend and it doesn't hurt to remember.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Who has the answer?

It’s awful to read about all the shootings taking place!  The most recent happened in California where this guy killed 8 people at a beauty salon and it seems no place is immune. It’s easy to say that it can’t happen here, but just a few miles south of where we live, a guy killed his wife, two daughters and his mother-in-law.  We can’t say it won’t happen on Indian reservations because less than four years ago, on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, a young boy killed several people and then himself.  It can’t be insanity because these people plan the whole crazy thing, arm themselves with heavy artillery and carry out this hideous offense. It’s a serious pathological disorder emerging.  A disorder that people in our society are using to carry out crimes, but if it isn’t insanity, its damn close.  The victims have no time to react.  The people in California were just getting their hair done, in Kansas they were in the kitchen making a meal and the kids on the Red Lake Reservation were trying to get in a school day, just normal stuff and not expecting it to be their last day on earth.  It’s an indictment on our society.  It’s human nature running rampant with other people’s lives. I don't know what the answer is, do you?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


On October 8th at 2:10 in the afternoon, my grandson Nyeh Was Keh and his mate, Hattie Fyre had a 7 lb, 6 oz girl. They named her Julisa Marie. For the record, this is my first great-granddaughter. She is a joy to behold. Her great-grandmother shares the same sentiment. I promise to spoil her in the coming years. My grandson Pat ko shuk gave me permission to hold her, but not anybody else. He was the long-time baby in our family, but not now.

It is a beautiful Fall season that she was born in – the leaves are falling and turning colors and it’s turned a lot cooler then the hot season we just came through. We recently completed our Fall Ceremonies here and it was a grand occasion. We have four days or prayer and believe me we need every prayer we can get.

In the coming years Julisa will get her Indian name there and hopefully become a regular member of our religion. She is almost a full-blooded Indian girl but maybe not enough Potawatomi blood to meet our ¼ degree requirement, we will have to wait for the judgement call on that.  A few years back, somebody decided to cut my Indian blood in half.  I grew up 7/8 and worked in border towns and had to fight because they cussed me for being Indian and all of a sudden one day I woke up a half-breed.  Why?  I don't know.  I protested this action because our law says we go by the 1940 roll and my parents were both 7/8 and they restored my original blood degree.  My brother Larry died a half-breed because somebody didn't like our family and wanted to cut our blood.  Oh, well that's on them, not us. One can only hope that conduct doesn't carry on to my grandchildren.

If for some reason, she doesn't get our percap, we will share with her as the years go by! She is born into a large family, a bunch from Oklahoma and a bunch from Kansas, so she won’t be hurting for a baby-sitter. I swore up and down that my days of baby-sitting were over but I probably will end up doing some time doing that. It will give us a chance to take her into the city and get her some city clothes and it will give us a chance to dress her up like a little doll that she is. The other day, I bought her a new dress, probably the first of many.

I hold her and can’t believe the years have flown by like this. How does time slip away like that? It wasn’t that long ago that we were holding her daddy and it wasn’t that long ago we were holding her grandmother and auntie. Geez, if I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself. Oh, well, I thank the Creator for giving Voncile and I this miracle!  Oh, did I fail to mention, we love her a bunch!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


We are going through a cooling spell here and this is after going through a period of intense heat during July and some of August.  The economy is getting scary, the East Coast went through a huge storm, the South is also getting over a huge rain-fall and on the local front, my Grandson, Patkoshuk, is experiencing his11th birthday today.  We had a party for him last night in our yard.  I made sure it was all mowed, while my wife and girls fixed up a meal.  We had fried-bread, soup and of course ice cream and cake.  I was surpised by the large turnout.  I guess I better work on some more benches for the yard. He was happy and that is the most important thing. He is my partner and hopefully he will take care of me when I get older.

I was surprised by fried-bread being on the menu, since my girl had a stand at the Allied Tribes Pow-Wow over the weekend.  We helped out as much as we could.  Those stands are a lot of work.  She was raising money for a youth group called Gen X.  Juana, as I call her, is very much underappreciated in what she does for the kids, but that is to be expected in this area.  When I was young we had no resources like that, so any activities is good for kids.  Too bad all of our communities don't have more resources like her!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

All is not fun and games!

I watched the sad events of the Cody Baker funeral unfold last week from a distance. He was killed August 3 in Warduk province in east central Afghanistan. I didn’t know the young man and he didn’t know me, but I felt the grief his family was experiencing, and all of it brought back a flood of memories for me. There was a young man, almost the same age as Cody Baker, named Martin Jim, Jr. who died in Vietnam in 1971 and by anybody’s calculations that was a long time ago.

They both were young, both died from explosives, one in Vietnam and the other in Afghanistan, thousands of miles from the streets of Holton, Kansas and the reservation of the Potawatomis. I don’t remember anybody else dying from war during this span of 1971 to the present time. I could be wrong though. Hopefully, it will be another 40 years before it happens again.

Allow me to tell you about my time with Martin Jim. Martin grew up on the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Reservation. We knew each other as we grew up, but for the most part we attended different schools until high school where we became the best of friends. He was like a brother to me. Later I named my daughter after him. After school and before, some of the guys from the reservation joined the service and usually ended up in Vietnam. It was called a conflict. In our circle of friends, my brother Larry joined the Army, Vernon Yazzie joined the Marines and Martin Jim joined the Army. They spent their senior trips in Vietnam. All of these guys, along with several other veterans from that conflict, are gone now.

It wasn’t a good story to tell: After eight days in Vietnam, Martin Jim was killed by a booby trap. Many years later, a man from Missouri came to the reservation and told of the circumstances of Martin Jim's death. Jim Jenkins, who lives in Missouri now, served in the same unit. He said Martin was sent out on point, and Jenkins said this usually didn't happen with new soldiers. And there were booby traps set by the Americans, and Martin walked into one of these. Jim Jenkins was walking three men back, and the bomb killed Martin Jim and badly wounded the man in front of him. These same circumstances happened to another unit close by. It was a deadly accident of war, but that was little consolation to his friends and family.

In 2009, a man named Don Lowell told about his experience with Martin Jim. He said: “Martin was truly an Airborne Infantry Soldier! I knew that Martin was a special warrior when I first met him. Martin had no fear. Martin was willing to do what he believed was right and honorable, with no concern or respect for his own well being. Vietnam was a tough place. Those of us that survived were very fortunate and we never forgot and never will forget those who willingly paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy in this Nation. There is a quote that I once heard. I don't know the author. However, it says "For those who have fought for it, Freedom has a taste the protected will never know".”

Life does have some strange twists as evidenced by Jim Jenkins and Don Lovell walking into the lives of the Potawatomi many years after the death of Martin Jim and telling some of the story.

Cody Baker died the same way, but the bombs were set by the enemy. I imagine Cody Baker was much the same as these guys. They wanted to get out and see the world and for a short time they did get to experience a different life, but in the case of Cody Baker and Martin Jim they will never get to experience the trial and tribulations or joy of children, and grandchildren or grow old, but if it’s any consolation, they also won’t have to live and relive the war experience over and over, as many combat veterans have done. Sadly, war does have consequences and after-affects.

I’m sure the funeral, the grief and all the events were just a blur for the family because that’s the way it was when Martin Jim died. It made me feel good to see the recognition Cody Baker received from the community and all the good words from his friends and family - all of that is well deserved. An anonymous author once wrote that people will always live if you remember them.

As I said the family didn’t know me. I wanted to go to the funeral home and sign the book, but sometimes it’s better for guys like me to remain in the background, because we know that words in times like this will never suffice!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Burning hot July and a mild August on the Rez!

Around here August turned mild and it rained, which didn't draw any complaints, in light of the record-breaking heat wave of July. This is rare, usually it's burning hot in August, not July.  Global warming, I guess.

Besides the change in the weather, the economic picture changed for some.  Yes we do have Wall Street watchers here and it's interesting to see the reactions when the market goes for a roller-coaster ride. I personally don't pay attention to any of it.  I use the head-in-the sand approach, you know kinda like our esteemed Washington D.C. politicians do!  In the past Indians only survived and when they got old, they could only rely on a small social security check and/or a rental check from their land.  It wasn't an easy life! Today, there are jobs, 401 Ks, per-caps and an occasional jackpot to get Indians by. This isn't true for all tribal members, but it is so for those who work for the tribe. In that regard, the casino has changed the economic landscape of our tribe. That is a positive!

We missed the Potawatomi Gathering in Michigan this year.  I wasn't up to the 800 mile drive, it is a little too much anymore.  Like I always say, I'm not the star of the show, so I'm sure it went on without me just fine. I try to limit my excursions off the rez and do venture off once in awhile to see how the world has changed and to read a different newspaper. I did get a lot of things done around here though. 

During past Gathering trips, my corn would have time to get hard in the field, but I was able to get a decent amount this year and that's because I stayed. Speaking of back then, those old Indians too depended heavily on their gardens.  They dried corn and that is no easy task, along with pumpkin.  If they didn't Winter would be hard. There was no time to be lazy if you wanted to eat. Today we have gardens, but not to the extent they had back a few short years ago.  As I said, we don't depend on it like they did because the proverbial store is right on the corner.  I couldn't imagine having to dry all that corn they did or pumpkins, beans or put up bushels of potatoes and put them away into make-shift cellars.  People helped each other then, so it might not have been as hard but it would still be time consuming. 

At this point in the Summer, most of the crops are in for small-time gardeners such as myself, but I'm fairly satisfied with the production cycle this year.  I thought the heat would burn it up and it did on some of it but overall I did alright. Another good thing with staying home was I didn't have to come home to an overgrown yard and speaking of the yard - mine stayed green all summer despite the heat spell we endured.  I mow my own yard and will as long as I'm able!

Every year we have a prayer service for our kids going back to school so they will have a good  productive time learning and a safe journey on that yellow bus, but we are in a dilemma now.  With the a/c thiefs having their way, they put up a gate with a lock at the entrance of our prayer house and we don't have a key to get in now.  We will just have to wait, I guess!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Grandma Susie

Allow me to jog down memory lane for a brief moment. I wanted to write a few words about an older woman that once was in our lives many years ago when we were much younger. Her name was Susie Masquat, but we called her Grandma Susie. She lived about a mile from our home. My Mother would take us along and we would walk over to her house (now we act like a mile-walk is torture) and they would visit in the Potawatomi language they knew and it sounded so easy for them. My Mother said Grandma Susie would tell her about old Potawatomi stories in the Potawatomi language.  Later when my Mother was older, I asked what stories did you talk about, but she had forgotten. I should have asked a whole lot sooner than that!  Wouldn't that been something to preserve?

Grandma Susie would walk back to our house with us. I can still see her and my Mother walking down that dusty road and can you imagine the whole slug of kids walking along side them. Oh, there was no black-top roads back then. She would stay with us for a night or two. One time she cooked up some “pugna,” a fried corn cake we have in our tribe when the corn is ready. When she made it the first time, we didn’t really like it since we were accustomed to boarding school food or whatever, but we were raised not to say we didn’t like any food. Poor people eat what is front of them and not complain, so we told her we liked it and she made us another batch. That was then, now we can eat it till the belly can’t take anymore.

She would go with us when we went swimming in the creek south of our house and would swim too. She was old then but she could walk a bunch and swim and cook.  She also was also an accomplished dancer at local pow-wows and she wasn't a bit shy! We thought so much of her and really did look forward to seeing her. Our times together were memorable. I can still hear my brothers and sisters holloring "Grandma Susie is here, Grandma Susie is here."

Now the old house Grandma Susie lived in is gone,engulfed by weeds and undergrowth.  She too is gone and only then did we find out she wasn’t really our grandmother and there was some disillusionment, but that fact never took away the good times of being around her.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Somebody is watching over my brother!

A friend sent me this picture that appeared in the Minneapolis newspaper awhile back. It was taken by an amateur photographer Frank Glick at 6:00 am on June 25, 2011. The Eagle landed on the headstone of a World War II veteran at Fort Snelling Military Cemetery.  There was an article written by the Star Tribune mentioning this veteran and his accomplishments and said the Eagle in some cultures is considered a symbol of good luck.  I don't know which culture they were talking about, but the Eagle is considered the King of the birds in ours and has a powerful presence no matter where it goes and is a majestic bird. 

It made me feel good and  and sad to see this perfect picture. I thought: a kno (eagle) is watching over my brother Larry's final resting place and that is good. He died in 2007 of health complications, gone but never forgotten. He too, is buried in Fort Snelling Military Cemetery, by his choice not mine. In fact, I miss him every day, I miss his phone calls, emails, his commentaries, and watching him get frustrated over his golf game when we played in our annual golf outings. But I was lucky too, I got to be with him for a good number of years through thick and thin and nothing ever will take away the memories, except when I go join him.

The Effects of Heat!

Okay, it’s summer time and the weather in Kansas does historically get a bit hot, but this reservation and the State of Kansas have endured a heat wave of epic proportions. Two days in a row, it hit 106 degrees – the hottest days on record since 1906. For the last 10 days it got over 100 degrees and we might get a break of a couple of days in the mid-90s then it suppose to get back to 100-104 degree area again. I guess it could be worse, we could be living in Texas or Oklahoma.

It’s so hot that the grass has lost it ambition to grow, gardens are burning up, the pools are getting a work-out, the a/c units are working over-time, some people find it too hot to go to work , and people are dying from heat exhaustion, which may explain why we have a gang of air-conditioning unit thieves hitting reservation churches, sometimes twice – the heat made them do it. They are a brave bunch to steal these big units, load them on trucks and drive away on our reservation roads. Brave or stupid! The people here are insulted over these blatant acts. It’s like they are saying “we’re going to come to your house and take what we want and you can’t do anything about it.”

It’s hard to say why this is happening. This gang may need to subsidize a drug, booze and/or a prescription drug habit. Originally, we thought they were after the copper in the units, but after looking at the insides of a unit there isn’t much there, so the resale value has to come into play. Thievin is one thing, but buying stolen goods is wrong too. Maybe it’s somebody who has a grudge against the Tribe! Maybe at some point they were fired or denied a service, it could be something like that because those a/c units have been here for years and nobody has bothered our churches at all before this outbreak.  But surely they can’t have a grudge against the institution of a prayer house, after all atonement does come for all. Stealing from the churches is not good for their ultimate judgement day in another life or the well-being of church members in this life. The Tribe has offered a $5,000 reward for these yahoos and there is no honor among thieves so the snitching will happen soon enough.

Who really knows what motivates a spree like this? Maybe they just want a fine air-conditioning unit to keep their impressionable kids and knowing wife cool during these hot summer months. Maybe they will catch them, maybe not, but this has to go down as hard times for the reservation churches. They have a right to feel wronged – after all they’ve been here for years and prayed for all and, and never figuring they would be targets for lowly people like this bunch.  Damn, hopefully they don't live amongst us!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Basketball

It was 106 degrees on Saturday and 102 on Sunday and working outside was a limited endeavor, so we went to watch my grandson Hooty play in the Sunflower Games in Topeka.  They won a few games and ended up taking third place in the games.  I like watching basketball, although that wasn't always true.  I was always a die-hard KU basketball fan, but that was on the tube, and start watching them when Ted Owens coached there and that was years ago.  I start watching local basketball when my granddaughter Tara played in high school and junior college. We went overboard and made almost every game.  Hooty likes the game and now plays on a summer-league team coached by Charles Nez.  The team likes to run, run and run some more.  There is so much potential in these Indian boys.  They have some long-distance games scheduled and a tournament in Texas that I will try to go to, if my schedule allows.  I'm proud of Hooty and want to see him happy playing sports!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Garden Update

A facebook friend asked me to print some pictures of my garden, so I will oblige.  This is a picture of my corn that I took from the road.  In the background is my barn, where I have my workshop and the upper part serves as storage and believe me my daughters have stored their stuff in there for years.  I might have to charge storage fees to supplement old-age funds, but we all know that won't happen. I had a weather vane on top of the barn but the big birds attacked it and destroyed it.  I may replace it in time!

Also in the background is my daughters trailer and my Purple-Martin birdhouses.  My corn did come up spotty but what did come up looks fairly decent in my opinion.  I suppose I could say "in retrospect, I should have been a poet or a farmer."  This is the best corn I've had in years.  We are having a heat spell, but corn does well in this kind of weather.  When the rest of us are crying around for water and air-conditioning, corn goes on and on.  My cucumbers, tomatoes, and tators have done well also.  I have no complaints and I'm satisfied with whatever I get out of my humble garden.  We've lived in our house for 34 years and part of my contract with my wife is that I take care of the yard. In fact, here is a picture  with a view of my yard and garden in the distance. I enjoy planting, growing and seeing if I can improve my yard every year.  When I get abit older, maybe I can watch my grandchildren do all the work I do now and I can sit under a shade tree and tell lies to some innocent visitor!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Time away from the Reservation!

I took off a few days of vacation time last week and made my way into the Canadian wilderness to visit my sister-in-law, Doris Zyganiak and her husband Alex. She has laid a guilt trip on us to come visit her and she’s right since the last time we were there, eight years have passed and she has made numerous trips here. But first of all, I went into fear mode, and then I had nightmares, waking up in a cold sweat dreaming that my garden/flowers would be overrun with weeds and my yard would look like a jungle upon my return. It took me three days just to get over those thoughts and nightmares, to say nothing about the guilt of not doing my daily work routine, but that lazy inner self emerged and I was alright for the remaining days.

We arrived in Buffalo, New York where my sister-in-law picked us up and we made a stop for food at a little dive. I read a local paper that said Creedance Clearwater Revival was playing a free concert in a local park on the following Tuesday. Damn life got harder for CC Revival after the break-up with John Fogerty. Some divorces are gruesome. After this, we crossed the border. I fully expected to get shook down and be treated badly. I fully expected to get our bags to be checked out good, after all we are Indians and they might think we were smuggling contraband cigarettes into the country, but we were waved on through. Damn, I was surprised because when I fly I get semi-fondled every time because I had a knee replacement that sets off all the bells and whistles and a guy in a cheap blue suit is thinking "terrorist" and sees me as a chance for some kind of fame.  But, the simple gesture of being waved through the check-point made me feel better about mankind.

We did the tourist thing and looked at the Falls and took pictures. Many of the houses had clothes lines, whereas in the USA that is kinda rare. Later in Toronto, we did the bus tour thing and it was interesting to see the people, hear the commentary about different areas of the city and its landmarks. The bus took us by the Indian Center there and a couple of effeminate types waved at us in a dainty kind of way and although the song “I’m in love” by Wilson Pickett played in the background, I remained focused and acted like they weren’t there - what could I do? We later took a boat ride and seen the Toronto skyline in the distance and oh, we didn’t get sea-sick. If the opportunity ever presents itself again, I will take the bus tour of a city to learn more about its origins. You never know it might be an educational experience.

I played a round of golf the next day on a local course, a beautiful course with a lot of water and trees lining the fairways – a tough, tough course. I had bad shots at times, a rusty guy since I hadn’t played in 15 months but excuses come dime a dozen. My irons were fair and my short game was horrible, which is usually the case in long lay-offs from golf. I hit the sand pile twice and got out both times in one shot. I practiced that at my home 20, so it paid off on this day. Let me tell you, no matter how bad my game was, I enjoyed the day. After it was all said and done, I was tired from playing and after filling my belly, I went to bed fairly early, but now I’m ready to play our course.

On most “vacations” the days go by fast, but I don’t think it was that way this time. I enjoyed seeing the area, playing golf, played the slots to no avail and got to hear my grandson talk about the fish he caught on a boat trip on Three Mile Island. I have the pictures of him holding a 5 pound bass hanging in my workshop - a place where I ponder the mysteries of life and do occasional woodworking.  Seeing him happy like that is what they mean by the term “priceless.” I enjoyed staying at my sister-in-laws house by the water, getting up early and watching the morning sun hit the bay, eating the fine meals provided and the time off. And God was willing and the da creek didn’t rise, so we made it home. It was a helluva ride!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2011 Prairie Band Potawatomi Pow-Wow Pictures!

 The 2011 Pow-Wow is over for this year and goes down in the books as another successful event.  I don't know how many dancers and drum groups there was, but it was a bunch.  They come to our reservation from all over the United States.  I don't know if its cause we are so friendly on this reservation or its our top-of-the-line park.  It could be that, but I suspect it's the prize money that draws them.  What does it matter though and I have a good time going there to watch. 
 I like watching the dancers -mainly because I can appreciate good dancing since I can't at all, I especially like watching the fancy dancers.  Those guys have to be in shape and are probably ex-jocks since it takes a lot to do that dance.  I also like sitting around visiting with people and occasionally I take a picture of people walking by.  I did get a copy of a couple of these pictures from others. We don't make many pow-wows.  My grandson Pat ko Shuk likes to dance.  He enjoys pow-wows especially since he can work his Misho for cash for this and that. Another great aspect of pow-wows is testing the food and the fried bread, which is bad for us Indians, has to be eaten.  We never want to insult our cooks.  Also we have to buy a t-shirt to prove we was there.  Most people don't give a damn if we're there or not, but the t-shirt validiates our presence. 

Pat Ko Shuk
Wallace Coffey.  He's an battle tested politician and now does the pow-wow circuit and tells jokes as the MC.  Indians like to steal other jokes when we can and pass them off as our own.

Fancy Dancers

Derek Otero in some type of Indian pose

Martie Ann Mitchell in full pow-wow pose

Tug Wamego and Gubba Hale
My brother Eddie Joe and some young Potawatomi girl named Cham

Friday, June 3, 2011

A basketball story for the ages!

Let me swerve off into the sports world for a moment. The National Basketball Association looks like they will have a labor dispute that could affect the 2011-12 season. The industry is making $4 billion a year and the player average salary is $5 million a year. When is enough enough??? They can join the ranks of greedy football and baseball players, but it isn’t limited to the pros. Some say some college players take a pay-cut when they turn pro, could that be true? Let’s look around:

 Ohio State could be looking at a death sentence (remember SMU)in football for player trades. They traded OSU championship memorabilia for free tattoos, drinks and heaven knows what else. The coach, loved by everybody in Ohio, became a sacrificial lamb was fired and the university is praying that is good enough to escape SMU treatment. He claimed no knowledge of all this stuff going on under his watch, but we know winning comes first and he looked the other way. Oh, those football players pocketed very little from these transactions, whereas the beloved coach received $3.5 million a year.  Most of these guys who go to schools like Ohio State have to be damn good football players and it is an unacceptable standard to be less. Most are coming from poverty-stricken backgrounds and all of a sudden they are wearing fine threads, sporting expensive jewelry, drive fine vehicles and have apartments off campus. Rest assured their mamas who might work at McDonalds, don’t send that kind of cash to them. One national writer commented on this affair: “players skirt the rules, coaches skirt the truth, and the NCAA tries to put out a forest fire with a squirt gun. It’s not pretty.” Another said the Ohio State coach cut corners and gamed the system when nobody was looking. “Either a rule is a rule, or it’s not,” said the writer.

But don’t think for a New York second that it’s limited to Ohio State. I read an article about Alabama football players driving SUVs, but Alabama said their rivals were jealous of the team and was making trouble for them. Cam Newton’s daddy was trying to get a six-figure payment from Mississippi State, but he went to Auburn instead. Maybe Auburn paid more, but don’t think for that new jersey second, that his daddy invented an idea like that. It just might go with the territory. Southern Cal had Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo and their stories are similar and it goes on and on….

Locally, a KU basketball player got in the news with some irregularities, but we know that was a lie. Kansas State provided new threads to the players and we know that’s true. Those farmers are the same as Ohio State, but I imagine the clothing line is a little more stylish in Columbus than the lil apple.

Stuff like that happens, my friend! These universities make a bundle of money off these jocks and maybe they ought give them a little more than the normal stipend, but that will never be enough because they got it into their heads they are going to turn pro any second and make millions, which would get their mamas out of McDonalds, so they don’t really give a damn what happens to the U. The coaches have to win or it’s hit the road Jack. The alumni expect a winning program or they won’t donate their extra cash they got laying around. Maybe the answer is blowin in the wind, but don’t expect to catch it anytime soon.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Meeks Jackson

In the early morning hours of May 29, 2011, most people were asleep and outside it was pouring rain and the thunder roared like an oncoming train, but inside a Topeka hospital the circumstances were much different. The life of Meeks Jackson slowly slipped away but she was surrounded by the people she had influenced in her life and that had to mean something to her, some way, somehow! She was 88 years old.

I suppose in the grand scheme of life and history, her role will be minimized, but a closer examination has to be done before a conclusion like that is reached. I imagine we make suppositions like that all the time and it is a fact that it’s the same everywhere - some people make a difference, most don’t or some choose indifference and then life is soon over, no matter what. For me, you have to really understand the dynamics of a reservation to fully understand the loss of a tribal member of her magnitude.

In my day, I was heavily influenced by three people: Meeks, Maynard Potts and my Mother. All three are gone now. Again just as when we lost Maynard and Mom, the death of Meeks has to go down as a tremendous loss. All three of these old folks could have kept their knowledge of our ways to themselves but they didn’t. They shared their stories and it was up to us to listen. I have talked and written about Maynard and my Mother’s contributions and now I will relay some of Meeks work:

Meeks meant many things to many people and here is some commentary:

Venita Chenault said "she was indeed one of our most valued elders and both generous and patient with those who were learning.....

My Texas cousin Dianna Payne said “I will always remember Meeks and her kindness and patience. She never made me feel dumb or ashamed for not knowing traditions and was always willing to answer questions and share. She taught me to make traditional clothes so a part of her teaching will continue thru me in that way, and for that I am very thankful.

Robert Lara said “She was a treasure to us all and loved by us all. I remember her and my Grandmother talking Potawatomi and sewing all the time when I was little. I always felt safe and at home at Koya's house. She treated me so good my whole life and told me to do good for myself. I am trying my best. And I have her and all our other elders to thank. Megwetch!”

Ruta Mendez also commented on her time with Meeks “ She always reminded me of my Grandma Blanche and I know they were family also. So soft spoken and caring. My son, Gabes, worked at the Language Dept for 2 summers on youth program. Gabes really enjoyed working with Meeks and he learned a lot from her

And for some it was lighter moments with Meeks that they remembered as noted by Nathan Hale when he said “I think what I will remember the most is her humor....I loved joking around with her."

Joan Rebar told of some of her early life: “Meeks, Marjorie Wapp, Alberta Marshno used to all ride a horse to Sonny Brook (an old one-room school house) and they would sleigh ride together and do everything together because they were all within months of being the same age and live close. Mother is the oldest and Alberta was the youngest. We both have good memories of Meeks.”

Meeks believed in Potawatomi language and the value it has. I sat there with her and my mother for hours at a time listening to them talk the Indian language with each other.  I thought "they make it sound so easy." Eventually  I learned some of their words. I’m no fluent speaker, but if those two, along with Maynard, didn’t feel like telling me some of their beautiful language the loss would have been mine. My brother Eddie and I chose to learn prayer words from them, knowing we didn’t have time to learn more. We kept the scope narrow. We teach our kids and grandkids the words we learned from them. Maybe the language will be chumped off and go by the wayside, but why? Those old people believed in what they were doing and it's our faults for not learning sooner, now the opportunities are fast slipping by. Nowadays, some people value language and others couldn’t care less, but that is modern day life.

Nonetheless, Meeks wanted the language to continue. Now it's up to all her pupils to carry some of it on. If they do, it only cements her legacy. Will they? Only time will tell. If it doesn’t work out like that, we will still remember her for all the positive she brought to this patch of earth called the Potawatomi Reservation.

Monday, May 23, 2011

One Indian's Weekend!

Boy, was this a busy weekend for me. On Saturday, I went to the Farmers Market early and loaded up on supplies for the week, hit some garage sales and went home to do some work. In this order, I did the following chores:

I have some building project orders to fill, but first of all, I have to find my tools. I try and I try but I can’t seem to get my work-shop area cleaned up and it doesn’t help when my two daughters throw stuff in there. I need to build a shed just for that valuable item that needs storage for years at a time. Well I tried to get some of that in order and made some progress. I mowed a bit. I had to trade in my mower because the other was a lemon from the start, but this mower does well. Pushing a mower is fine and good but my yard is way too big for that and besides I have other things to do beside mowing for hours at a time.

I also did my best imitation of a being a plumber! I have a sink in my back bathroom that decided to start leaking water all over. To be truthful, I start shaking when I know plumbing work has to be done. It took me awhile but I did get the water stopped, I replaced some of the pipes and (crossing my fingers) and it hasn’t leaked yet. It took me a lifetime, but I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none. I went to Horton on Saturday night and talked for a supper. Sometimes people ask me to help in that area, but most of the time my services are no longer needed.

While there, we had a storm hit our reservation. With hail the size of golf balls breaking windows and skylights, I fully expected to see my garden flattened out but for some strange reason, it was spared and I'm sure thankful for that. My corn also started to come up the next day! I remember a good number of years ago, my garden was coming up great and the hail hit and tore up my garden. I felt bad about this, but replanted and I’m glad I didn’t have to do that this year.

On Sunday, I did more work on my work area and the sun came out and heated up good to the point where I was able to finish my mowing. At one break my daughter gave me a hair-cut. You have to look right mowing your yard, right? Once I finished my mowing-work, I drove over to my sister’s house and help put up a purple-martin house I build for her last winter. It took about 25 minutes for me and my nephews to get it set in the ground. I wanted to get it up because when I was mowing I noticed the Purple Martins came back on Saturday. Seeing those pretty birds makes me want to build more bird houses in my back yard. Another reason I wanted to get my sisters bird house up is once these birds come to that house, they will return every year. The Purple Martin can eat 2,000 mosquitoes a day.

By that time I was pretty worn out. That’s how one Indian spends his weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tara and Graduation!

Our granddaughter Tara graduated with a AA degree from Haskell the 13th of May. It has been a long journey for her or so it seems to me. She started out at KCK, a junior college on a basketball scholarship, but things never worked out there for her and she transferred to Haskell and the environment seems to suit her better. I wanted her to stay in Kansas City but sometimes a controlling grandparent needs to step aside and I did.
 As we normally do, we had a large group of family and friends at the ceremony. We sat and listened to the speeches and the whole thing took about an hour. I shed no tears but it came close when they announced Tara’s name and she walked across the stage. I thought about when she was a baby, I took a picture with her and she had a hat on with the words “Grandpa’s pride and joy.” (My daughter called her PJ for pride and joy). She was the first grandchild to come through our home doors and to say we spoiled her would be an understatement. My sister, Sandy, later told me “everything was Tara this and Tara that” and how she had to look at every picture and to hear every baby move. I suppose it was out of hand. I guess I was guilty of that. We took her everywhere and boy was she a headstrong kid. I think she was not only spoiled but stubborn.

Over the years we had more grandchildren come along and some visited our house and never moved out, kinda like Tara did, but that was alright too. I suppose it caused some hard feelings because we showed her that favoritism, but we spread out the necessary cash to sooth those feelings and today it’s not too bad. I suppose those tears will always almost fall down over that high cheekbones of mine when my other grandchildren graduate because I will remember all those special times I shared with them over the years. I did love them equally. And I’m damn glad I lived to see these occasions.

Sometimes you have to reprint something for others to know!

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained,
"We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right, that generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.
So they really were recycled.

But they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have the throw-away kind.

They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -

wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right, they didn't have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV in every room.

And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you.

When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power.

They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right, they didn't have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time

they had a drink of water.

They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen,

and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But they didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked

instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.

They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.

And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back then?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recollections of a baseball star!

Harmon Killebrew died today at age 74. If you hadn’t heard of him, he was a basher of the baseball in the late 50s and 60s, way before the steroid era. He knocked out 573 home runs in his 22 year career, and some went record distances. In fact, he had 8 seasons of hitting out 40 or more home-runs, second only to the bambino: Babe Ruth. He played alongside Tony Olivia, Zoila Versailles, Bobby Allison and Mudcat Grant.

Killebrew did it right, he didn’t cheat like the steroid abusers. The cheaters might have all the home-run records, but I doubt if any will ever make the Hall of Fame. Those guys have screwed up baseball for a long time.

Killebrew was a class act both on the field and off. How would I know? You might be wondering that about now! Well when we were kids during those years when Killebrew was in his hey -day, along with Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron, to name a few. We read about them in newspapers and magazines, listen to them on the radio (one year I listened to over 100 baseball games), but we never went to any games – too damn poor for that.  In fact, we rarely left the reservation. We collected the baseball cards and it was too bad we didn’t have enough foresight to save them in some shoe box in our attic. Hell, we woulda had some walking around change in retirement.

My dearly departed brother Larry lived in the Twin Cities and he went to a baseball card show there one time and got two signed baseballs from Harmon Killebrew, one for him and one for me. Larry said he was a class act. I still have that baseball. I regret that I didn’t get to shake hands with him too. Oh, well thanks for the memories Larry and Harmon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sunday Golf!

On Sunday, our golf course had its grand opening and the feature event was a “skins game” between the teams of former KU basketball coach Roy Williams and Randy Towner and current KU coach Bill Self and Notah Begay, the course designer. I wanted to go and I didn’t. In a way, I was still mad KU didn't get into the final four this year and Roy left town on the red eye out of Lawrence eight years back, but I decided to forget the past mostly because my grandson wanted me to watch him dance with the Royal Valley Singers and Dancers.

With those intentions in mind, I went to watch and right off I was verbally assualted by a couple of tribal members. They didn’t ask how I was or to go to hell but they asked why I was there. I guess they must perceive themselves as the new Potawatomi elites.   I always went to our functions here on the reservation and never had to explain why I was there, but it is stupid stuff I have to deal with at times. With not much choice, I shook those words off and concentrated on better things like watching my grandson dance and listen to the speeches. And I visited with other tribal members who weren’t like those two and started to enjoy the day again.

At first I was only going to watch them tee off on the first tee and go home and do some yard-work, but my grandson wanted to watch the match so I decided to do the walk. I did my best Forrest Gump imitation standing there watching them t-off and Channel 27 had a shot of Roy Williams teeing-off, the camera panned the crowd and that folks is how I got on the evening news and where else but on an Indian reservation could that have happened?

I normally get a cart when I get on the course and kinda wondered if I could walk the nine since it is about three miles or so, but I did. I enjoyed watching Self and Williams along with Notah Begay and Randy Towner. Let me tell you, they are excellent golfers. I'm glad I went. My grandson Pat ko shuk and some other kids got a free shirt from Notah Begay. The shirts were provided by his sponsor. The kids were also interviewed by some television station but I haven’t seen the clip yet. The kids, of course, didn’t know which station it was.

Now remember now I said I forgot the past, so I shook hands with Roy Williams as he walked by and he said “I saw you on tv in my room at the casino.’ They have a short piece about the tribe on the television there and in that film clip I talked a little about the history of our tribe. I thought damn he picked me out of this crowd. That exchange told me he was a people person who can remember names, faces and events and bring them up in a later conversation, which also indicates to me he has a top-of-the line personality. He’s probably an asset to North Carolina in fund-raising too because of this trait.

Plus after the match he took pictures with my grandson and his friends. So did Bill Self. That is great public relations and for the people who watched this event will have some memories to last for a little while.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Strange stories, Oprah and Gardens.

As sordid stories go: There was this woman in Florida who caused a 2-vehicle wreck because she was shaving her bikini area while driving. She was on her way to a date and wanted to be ready for the visit. The reporter said while performing this extremely personal grooming ritual, she asked her ex-husband to steer the wheel. I’m sorry I had to report on this, but it shows how crazy some people are in this great land. Apparently there are things besides drinking that don't mix with driving.

A worst story was this 17 year old kid in Pittsburgh who came across a 58 year man, who just had a heart-attack and was slumped over his steering wheel. He was returning home after a late baseball game. The kid took his billfold and rolled him out of the car and stole it. The fan later died. I guess the moral of the story is there was no compassion in Pennsylvania on that particular night.

I get off work at 4:30 and I try and watch the end of Oprah, mostly because my wife likes to watch the show. Well anyway, Oprah has these big giveaways on occasion and the people jump up and down and cry and carry on, which is good for them. But this one show they had all these black people who participated in the Freedom Riders movement – a fight for the rights of blacks in the early 1960s. It was not an easy time for black people, many died and others were the victims of senseless violence because they stood up for equality. It was a good show to highlight some of these folks contributions, but it was strange too. Oprah didn’t have any gifts for these old civil rights veterans. Damn, I thought these are the ones who deserve a little bit, but they didnt' make the give-away happiness.

With the help of my two grandsons, Patkoshuk and Nyeh Was sheh and Nicki, I planted 17 rows of corn, 6 tomatoes; 2 peppers and 14 hills of cucumber, plus I have 2 1/2 rows of tators coming up along with onions and guess what? The rains came the very next morning. Boy it sure makes it easier on me when my grandsons step up to the plate and help – but I hope this isn’t construed as breaking child labor laws. I have a few more things to plant, but I’m getting close to being set for this year’s garden. Am I hoping for a good crop? In a word, yes!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The start of a new season

I’m finally getting back to some normalcy. After my surgery, it seemed like I couldn’t get with it and some of my yard work and gardening suffered. Maybe as you get older, it takes longer to bounce back, but I feel I’m 90% better now and I truly appreciate all the concern. I don’t like that kind of attention so I will try to stay healthy as possible and if that means not ever going to the doctor then so be it.

I was able to do some yard work this weekend such as mowing and some clearing and I tilled my garden yesterday. My tators (I abbreviate this cause I’m afraid I might not spell it right like Dan Quale) are growing good, along with my onions. This week I will plant my corn. This old Indian lady told me once to plant corn on May 10th, but my trusty farmer’s almanac says May 3 and 4th is a good time, so I will try that, plus you have to plant when it is dry and the most important thing is to get it into the ground before the rains come.  I will also plant some more stuff the next couple of days, green beans, squash and the Metwe favorite: watermelon. I almost cut back on my garden, but now I’m glad I didn’t. I was pretty tired after this yard-work, but damn I’m glad I don’t have to depend on others to do my work for me. I hope I don’t reach that stage.

Speaking of yard work, gasoline will be pricey this summer! Can you imagine what it will cost people who make a living mowing? It, again, will be the consumer who will absorb the cost of this national nightmare.

My grandson Pat ko shuk is playing soccer with a team in Holton and I try and catch most of the games, but sometimes I have other obligations. He likes to play and wants to get into tackle football. My wife is adamant about not letting him play but he keeps at her so it will be worth watching to see who wins out. She saw me suffer for years with knee problems and go through three knee operations , which is the main reason she don’t want the boy to play the game. I would let him play, but I’m leery too. He will play though because I see some determination and desire and that oughta count for something.

Pow-Wow season is upon us with ours coming up in June. I will be there provided my yard is mowed first. I go and look at the stands, but hardly buy anything except food. Also in the summer, the Farmers Market opens in Topeka and we make a point to go buy this and that and this works for us until our crops come in. The Gathering is in Michigan this year, but I don’t think we will go – the drive is much too long. A few years ago, it was no big deal, not now though. I went to the Senior Site today for lunch and this guy said he was looking for somebody to help drive to Portland, Oregon. I told him “going to Shawnee County is too much for me anymore.”

Friday, April 29, 2011

Oil prices, oil companies and tornadoes!

While the average person is paying a big chunk of take-home pay for gas, the big companies like Exxon Mobile are raking in a first quarter profit of $10.7 billion (yes that is billion not million). Big business has the consumer bent so far over that oil barrel that it’s best just to whimper and take it. It doesn’t seem worthwhile to complain to the local congressman or the President. The first bunch have their heads buried so deep in the sand fighting inner demons.  And the Prez is mired in some more sand trying to prove his citizenship to “carnival barkers,” so it’s pointless to say anything to them and when was the last time they did anything worthwhile? This mass rape will continue until the big executives get enough to live on, but that day of satisfaction may never come, so pay at the pumps and take it, but it is all a crying shame for what is happening to the American people.

And there are still some companies who let you pump the gas first and then pay for it, but that will soon end because of so many drive-offs.  Here at our local station, we've had to pay first for a long time, so we must be a progressive lot. Also you better get some surveillance gear because people are getting brave and stealing gas by siphoning it out of their neighbors cars and trucks.  If nothing else get a locking gas cap.  It used to be copper, now its gas thievery by the big companies or your neighbors.

But yet while the economy is in shambles and congress in a tizzy over spending money, the disaster of 174 tornadoes touching down in the Deep South, killing over 280 people, has occurred. That will be a big price-tag for the federal government, who have little choice but to fund it because they can’t turn its back on its own people. It seem like Mother Nature is telling us to rebuild our homelands and maybe be an isolationist for a little while anyway. That notion says rebuild our infrastructure, and in the process why not create some decent paying jobs.  We shouldn't have some local congress-person jumping up and down because McDonalds had a job fair, because those people slinging those hamburgers don't get the same pay as that congress-person. Also, maybe we should stop sending so much foreign aid for their disasters and save some for the home front.

 This also brings to light that natural disasters have happened regularly going back to Katrina to the oil spill and a whole bunch of other disasters that it seems better to factor in these cost for the yearly budget. Because it sure don’t seem like they are going to end anytime soon. If there was one consolation in the South, one huge tornado missed Alabama’s football stadium by only a half-mile, so I guess ol Bear Bryant was doing some intervention work to save it, but it's too bad we don't have more help in that area.