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!