Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “Indians”

I Wasn’t Always Like This

A group of people, a family I supposed, emerged from the restaurant next door to where I was sitting outside the art gallery wherein my wife was hosting an exhibit of western art.  She had recruited some excellent artwork by local artists.  I was outside the gallery as a decoration in my cowboy hat.  I was playing a character — me.  As people passed by me on the sidewalk, I would invite them in to see the western art exhibit.  I solicited the group mentioned above.

A young man, college age, was pushing an older gentleman in a wheelchair.  There was a middle-aged couple, an older lady, and a younger woman.  The man in the wheelchair stared blankly ahead and did not participate in the conversations of his companions.

I smiled my award-winning smile and initiated eye contact with some of them.  The man in the wheel chair did not smile back.  Nevertheless, the group went inside the gallery.  Sugar took over the public relations.  I went in too, to see her in action.

The young man pushing the wheelchair kindly placed it in front of one of the walls adorned with paintings of Old West scenes, such as Remington or Russell created, scenes with cowboys, buffalo, cattle, Indians, locomotives, mountain scenes, running horses.  He waited patiently for the man in the wheelchair to take it in before moving to another wall.  The man in the wheelchair was not staring blankly.  He was intent, studying the images.

As I watched him, a lady came up behind me and explained that she and the man in the wheelchair had been professors at the university.  She added that he, Dr. _____, used to teach a course on The Philosophy of Art.  No wonder he seemed to be enjoying the art exhibit.

I introduced the doctor to Sugar.  She had a table of treats and beverages.  She asked whether he would like lemonade, coffee or wine.  He spoke.  He told Sugar he would prefer wine, using one word — “Wine.”  So Sugar brought the professor a little bit.  The young man, who we learned was his caregiver, pointed out to his charge, “This is not juice like you drink at home.”  The young man seemed surprised that the professor was partying at the gallery.  The professor smiled at Sugar and indicated that he would like more wine.  She gave him a little bit more.  He smiled again.  He was enjoying the gallery scene.

I am glad that the professor visited us.  I watched him studying the art and saw him in a new light.  At first, I just saw him as a person who seemed very limited in his abilities.  Now I saw him in the light of his history and accomplishments.  I could imagine him back when he was teaching college students.  He must have been knowledgeable and  bright to engage them.  He must have been respected.

He was not always like this.  And his present condition was not exactly as it appeared.  He still could enjoy a night out on the town.  He still could enjoy art.  And he still could choose whether to have lemonade, coffee, or wine.

And he can still be respected, and loved.  And he is.

Pre-Campaign Identity Strategy

The response across the nation to my pre-announcement of my candidacy for the U.S. Senate has been even more greatly underwhelming than anticipated.   Apparently, the Senate has plenty of white males already.  It might be advisable to emphasize diversity within my gene pool.

One of my grandfathers used to say that he was “mixed as the dogs in the streets.”  With fewer dogs in the streets due to leash laws, as well as the greater use of spay and neuter clinics, that saying probably lost some of its impact. Shucks, that was gonna bring me some street cred.

I do have two grandparents born to Swedish immigrants, so I could emphasize a strong Viking heritage.  The new TV series called The Vikings might have  helped in popularizing Vikings, yet I am not certain that will translate into electability.  I need more of an American identity.

Colorado is a western state.  We elected a former Senator named Ben Nighthorse Campbell.  I like Senator Campbell and even met him at a cafe when he was on his way to a meeting and asked me for directions after I introduced myself.

Former University of Colorado  Professor Ward Churchill did not run for office as far as I know, but he knew how to get attention.  Professor Churchill not only offended lots of folks by his comments about 911 being the fault of Americans rather than terrorists, but he also turned out to be a poser about being Native American.  I might have more Indian blood than him.  My gramma, who lived in Chickasha, Oklahoma, claimed to be part-Indian before it was so popular that Professor Churchill wanted to join the Native American club.  I don’t think Gramma knew about the scholarships or she might have gone further than the eighth grade.

On the subject of Native American vs. Indian, isn’t it telling that the American Indian Movement (AIM) organization named itself what it did?  Also, the proud Oglala Sioux at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have not changed their sign.

Pine-Ridge-Indian-Reservation-image

Will Rogers is one of my heroes.  I wish he was still around to be my campaign chairman.

Back to the drawing board……….  I am working on “branding” my campaign identity.  How does the electorate feel about cowboys?

As I do this strategic planning, based on Will Rogers and Gramma, I have decided to open up my campaign staff to Okies, despite my Texan wife’s prejudices.

Okie dokey!

Pow Wow

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXPqmxVonjs

My Grampa Carlson was a rural mailcarrier in Burt County, Nebraska.  His route included part of a reservation shared by the Omaha and Winnebago tribes.  Macy, Nebraska is a town on the reservation.  I had fun when Grampa took me to the Macy PowWow. 

The dancing and music was supposed to be the draw.  For me, however, I played with other little boys I met under the bleachers.  They were not old enough to be part of the show, I guess, but they were friendly Indians and invited me to play in the woods, away from the event.  There we had our own powwow, called making friends. 

I was envious of their situation because I came from a much more under-privileged background.  The particular privilege of which I was deprived was that my mother did not allow me to throw knives.  Can you believe that?  As a cowboy nearing kindergarten age, I deeply resented my mother’s unreasonable interference with my chosen lifestyle, which obviously required practicing skills with weapons.  So, in the woods, I was delighted that my new friends shared their knives with me and we took turns throwing them into trees. 

What happens in the woods, stays in the woods.   What Mom did not know did not hurt her.

Sweat Lodges

 

My friend Rodney, who claims to be part Injun, knows how to build a sweat lodge. This particular blog is mainly about sweat lodges, but first I want to tell you that Rodney, who wears cowboy attire whenever I see him, also dressed like an Indian as a movie extra when they filmed the TV mini-series, Centennial, out here on Roberts Ranch. It was a good choice to film it here because, as those of you who watched the movie or read Michener’s book, on which it was based, know, Michener wrote about this very area of Northern Colorado.

Despite Rodney’s identity crisis concerning whether he is a Cowboy or Indian, I like him anyways. He also knows how to build teepees and make leather stuff, like knife sheaths, but, like I already said, this is about sweat lodges.

Miss Sugar, my trophy wife from Texas, wanted a sauna here at Cross Creek Ranch. As you know if you have read my blogs about all the stuff I done for her, like killin’ snakes and, especially, the post called My Station in Life, I try to let her know that I’m crazy about her. I married above my station in life, which is naturally humbling, so if Sugar has a hankering for somethin’ it tickles me plumb to death to get it for her.

So I got her a sweat lodge. I should have just asked Rodney to build one, but instead I got a store-bought one, made in Finland, although I would have preferred a Swedish model. Which got me to thinking. At the same time as my Viking ancestors invented saunas, Indians in North America were doing about the same thing, independently. Apparently, for centuries, people in different parts of the world have been doing similar things in order to sweat. There are probably similar things in Asia and Africa, but I ain’t done the research. I’m just saying it dawned on me that Rodney and I have in common Indian sweat lodges and Viking saunas.  Plus, we both turned into cowboys.

Where the Buffalo(es) Roam

For those of you who did not read my blog yesterday, Bison Bob, please do so as a prerequisite for reading this.  I’d hate to have anyone fall behind the rest of the class.

First, the well-known song, Home, Home on the Range, includes the phrase “where the buffalo roam.”  I need some help here.  Is the plural of buffalo buffaloes?  Or is it plain old buffalo?  Maybe we should use bison because I believe the answer to that is bison, not bisons.  Nevertheless, since whoever, I mean whomever wrote the song said “where the buffalo roam” in the plural sense, I should shut up, as was frequently suggested to me by my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Platz, who assigned me a special desk in the hall.  (I like to think that I was allowed the privilege of leaving the classroom to sit in my special desk in the hall so the other children would not bother me as I diligently prepared my schoolwork.)  It was Mrs. Platz who pointed out to me with exquisite sensitivity that I don’t know much about proper grammar or many other things.   So I’m probably wrong about saying buffaloes, but I don’t plan to change.

It was Mrs. Platz who picked my career for me.  I felt compelled to stick up for the downtrodden.  When she was picking on one of my classmates, which was often, I would advocate for the student.  For example, if she said, “Gary, didn’t I tell you to stay in your seat?”  I might chime in, “Mrs. Platz, you didn’t say we couldn’t sharpen our pencils and Gary here was fixin to sharpen his so he could do his work better and you could read it more easily.”  Then she would say, “Look you little smart aleck, go out in the hall to your desk and stay out of this classroom.”  In that way, Gary was off the hook and grateful to me.  So when it came time to elect president of the class, yours truly was picked for the job by those indebted to me for protecting them from old Fat Platz.  Well, like I said, Mrs. P picked my career.  Actually, she just predicted it.  I went to her retirement reception at Minne Lusa Elementary School and she politely feigned interest in what I was doing at that point.  I told her that I was in law school.  She was not surprised.  “I figgered you for a lawyer,” she said.  She said it in a way that I didn’t feel proud.  It was an accusation.  Still, she seemed real sincere.  She said she knew that would happen and she was right.

So let’s get back to buffalo(es).   Where my trophy wife, Miss Sugar, and I live, the pasture is full of Buffalo Grass.  I believe it has been there since God put it there.  We don’t have buffalo(es), but other livestock eats it too.  However, this is an area where buffalo(es) used to roam and Indians, now known as Native Americans, used to hunt them.  There are teepee rings about two miles from our place because, back in them days, Indians set up their summer encampment right in our neighborhood.  The teepee rings are rocks arranged in a circle to hold down the bottom edges of the teepees.  Some folks spell it tipi, but I doubt them buffalo hunting Indians spelled it at all.  

There are other signs left from those encampments.  There are old fire pits ringed with rocks.  Fortunately, here in the Rocky Mountains there are plenty of rocks readily available for such purposes.

Back to buffalo(es), I can tell you another interesting historical fact about them.  There is a “buffalo jump” on the Roberts Ranch.  The buffalo jump is a cliff over which the Indians stampeded a herd.  Don’t tell PETA or the Humane Society, but the buffalo(es) were killed in that manner.  There are old bones at the bottom of the cliff.  Mr. Roberts gives a good tour for the school kids at Livermore Elementary School. 

The buffalo do not roam freely anymore, but at Park Creek Ranch, they have those heifers fenced in.  I like looking at them.  Still, I hesitate to herd them and I sure would not want to run them off a cliff.

That’s about all I’m gonna write today.  Tomorrow I plan to write about “Where the Deer and the Antelope Play.”

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