Something I forgot to mention: LaNada told me that the Shoshones have a matriarchal society, because women had to run the roost when men were out hunting or fighting. Or worse, if the men were killed in battle, the women had to keep the tribe functioning. In battles, she said, men were the first line of defense, followed by women, followed by the children.

Sunday, my last day started out very mellow. The kids didn't wake up until 3 p.m. or so. Emma told me she would make salmon and fry bread for lunch. Leela's grandmother came over and showed me how she was stretching a hide to make into moccasins or clothes. I played Scrabble with Rozina's 8-year-old daughter Zahnive, whose name means "beautiful." When Lacy came over, she joined in the game. It was nice and relaxing; and I was starting to get use to country life.

But the peace was disrupted, unfortunately. )

We were supposed to go to The Crater and the Moon to see the lava flows and visit a hot springs, or maybe go swimming at Bottoms. Unfortunately, the bad news put a halt to all that. They keep asking me when I come back. I have to go to Fort Hall Festival, and meet Leela parents, and see the things I didn't see. Now I have a whole other family to visit!

Willow and Naki are currently in stable condition.
Sundance "telephone poles to God"

Sacred sites and silly people )

I thought this guy was really cute with his little dog and his hazel eyes. Bad me, I don't remember his name! I met him at the tribal BBQ. He's wearing warrior paint to help him with the battles he's struggling with his life.

So I asked Leela about the "she thought we lived in tepees" bit in the Pocatello State News Blackfoot Morning News. Leela automatically said, "Oh you didn't say that to me. They got it wrong." Since the reporter seemed to get that I understood the discrimination Indians were facing, I'm going to assume she wasn't being malicious and misheard Leela and wrote the opposite.

EDIT: Correction. I was wrong to smear the name of the Pocatelo State Journal. It was the Blackfoot Morning News who put the bigoted words in my mouth, and they didn't talk to me.

Kids and adults )

Leela took me to the sundance grounds near buffalo lodge. They put sand down sand around two tall trees that serve as "telephone polls to God," and during the hottest part of the year, the men come here to dance, fast – no food, no drink -- and pray for several days. They have two other sundance sites on the rez where the women are allowed to participate, and being two of the few co-ed sundances in the country, Indians from all over make the pilgrimage here. LaNada and Emma both explained that the fast purifies the toxins out of your body, but also out of your mind and heart, allowing you to let go of old resentments and grudges. It's a way of recharging your batteries. It also creates a positive force that goes out to the Creator/God/Jesus, which is brought back to the earth from the sun. Leela hasn't done it yet, but she plans to on her 18th birthday.

Leela says there's also a hole to hell that's opened up on the reservation. It made me think of the Hellmouth in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Leela describes it as more like the The Exorcist, with evil spirits plaguing people and increasing the death rate on the rez through murders and suicides. The sundances, she says, are effectively shrinking the hole.

The mythology is strong on the reservation, and I find it fascinating. For example, Emma's house has been visited by Big Foot or Sasquatch. The way Emma talks Big Foot is a real, living breathing animal from the mountains, a humanoid animal like perhaps giants. She says it has a weird womanly scream, and it imitates the dogs barking. She found a giant-size body print in the grass once, pee and berry-filled poo at about six feet high on her house and a piece of her roof torn off. She sent the poo to a Big Foot researcher, but he said it wasn't enough.

Leela, however, talks about Big Foot in the same breath as the "Little People" and I think the Little People are supposed to be spirits, not animals. She says there are four kinds of Little People, those that look like ankle-high people, those that look like little blue aliens (not Smurfs), those that look like sticks (yikes Blair Witch Project!), and those that look like shadows. Little People, I guess, don't bother you if you don't bother them, but Leela seemed scared of them, telling me never to stop on this one corner.

Leela told me about all sort of scary creatures:

Shapeshifters, who can take the form of people, dogs, birds, etc.

The Deer Woman, who just likes to mess with horny men, mostly (she has two legs, not four, so she can hide her deerness with skirts).

The Old Woman Without a Face, who haunts this particular stretch of road.

Skin Walkers, shape-shifters who come from rapists, murderers and practitioners of black magic, who can be identified by their black coats. They are said to kill people and eat them.

Water Babies who came from the days when white settlers forced Indian families off cliffs, to die in the water below. Water Babies look a little like Casper in the water, but you don't want to see them, because that means you're going to die.

And my favorite, Clowns, which are spirits, sort of like It, that have white-and-black stripes on their bodies and red around their eyes and lips. They basically are like poltergeist. They grab you and tickle you and scare the crap out of you.

When we were playing hide-n-seek, Leela said to me, "They say you should never play hide-n-seek at night, because the spirits hide with you." I couldn't figure out why we were doing it, then. I guess for the same reason kids play with Ouija boards and do Bloody Mary. Leela says most tribe members won't talk about the bad spirits, because it supposedly calls them. But she loves to tell ghost stories. She said, "If you want to see a spirit, you won't see one. But if you don't want to see a spirit (and I guess if you talk about it), you will."

I asked about Coyote a.k.a. the Trickster, but Leela dismissed him as an old legend, an ancient story that is fodder for children's stories. You know, a myth.
Leela and her godmother LaNada WarJack, found me at baggage claim at the SLC airport, and greeted me with big, warm hugs, which diffused a good deal of my nervousness. SLC had a downpour right before I arrived, so the landscape on the way to Idaho was particularly breath-taking, with dark rain clouds clinging to the tops of endless mountains as the sun slowly made its way down.

My education, part 1 )
I'm going to Idaho the second weekend of June. I'll be visiting Leela Abrahamson, the Lemhi Shoshone girl I interviewed for the August issue of Teen Vogue, at the Fort Hall Reservation. She'll be taking me to all their sacred places and showing me around.

What's funny is that being photographed for T-V has made her a mini-celeb in the area. I was interviewed for the Pocatello State Journal while I was on Haight street showing my hippie cousin Autumn around. I was felt very awkward answering questions about racism and marginalization while buses were charging past.

Leela says they screwed a lot of things up, starting with her name:

Pocatello State Journal

Here's another story I was not interviewed for:

Blackfoot Morning News

She's been on local TV, too. I can't find the videos anymore, but apparently she was on NBC News 6.

The photographer was Lisa Hicks from "Teen Vogue". Leela Abrahamson: "And she was like, 'I'm from California and I didn't even know Indians were still alive ...

OK, that's funny! Of course, I knew Indians were still alive because I went to Red Earth.

Things that are amusing to me about these stories:

- I am not a photographer. I had a point-and-shoot digital camera with me when I met Leela.

- I love how they makes me sound like a creepy child-pornographer type who said, "Can I take your picture?" I actually talked to all the girls a long time about the magazine article before I asked if I could take their pictures.

- The articles keep quoting Leela as saying I didn't know anything about Indian culture, but I did. I'm pretty sure she knows I wasn't totally ignorant, but I was surprised to learn how rampant the racism is. I think I talked to her a couple times about the Indians I knew in Oklahoma and my Native American History class in college. What I didn't know was what life was like on her reservation in Idaho, as I've never been to Idaho.

It's all good. Leela and I are pals. She loves me and squeals every time I call. The tribal leaders are eager to meet me and offered to pay for me to come out.

EDIT: I would have never said in a million years, "I thought you lived in tepees." I am totally teasing her about that when I see her.
firebreath613: (realshirley)
I have a chance to go to Fort Hall, Idaho, described to me as "a desert next to a potato field" to hang out with the Lemhi-Shoshone tribe. I would go soon. Should I take it?

Friday, I'm off to the "Suede Room" at the SF Rod and Custom Show, to hang out with rockabilly grrls who work on cars. Anyone want to go with?

I've been blogged - more than once! Talk about exciting!

I actually met Lisa Hix through a friend in New York. We grazed near the bar at a Trackademicks/Roxy Cottontail shin-diggity-dig. We didn't get a chance to hold a big ol' conversation about politics, cutting edge gadgetry, gals with lumpy breast, or Oakland's Neo-Hipster Nation, but she did scribble her web address on a napkin.

I kepted that whiskey stained napkin and was able to check out her site I'm working on reading all of the work she has listed, but I'm a slow reader (thank you Oakland Unified). Thus far, I've read she's the Managing Editor of FlavorPill SF and a Freelance writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. This gal stays up on everything that is everything. Hopefully we'll meet again! Please visit her site and enjoy her work!

And this one:

Lisa Hix wrote a nice rant about having an A cup for the SF Chronicle in response to hearing a show where a plastic surgeon waxed enthusiastically about implants. She points out that there are in fact health risks (including possibilities of hematoma, infection, deformity, toxic shock syndrome, plus the usual risks of anesthesia, the chance of losing sensation, decreasing the likeliness of breast cancer detection or the inability to nurse) but moreso points out that having an A cup is having a breast, and tires of the kind of talk that somehow equates A cups with not having breasts at all.

As a former A cup, I can tesitfy that you do in fact have breasts when you have A cups. I really enjoyed having A cups. I miss them.

I’ve found my recent re-sizing something to think about. For starters, I’ve been finding it harder to find nice bras now that i’m a D cup, much as I had a hard time finding ones when I was an A cup. The difference is that with a D, you absolutely do not want to compromise on support - in fact, you can’t. But I also had a moment of revelation while reading the beginning of Gerrie Lim’s book about the porn industry, which had more than one reference to pendulous D cups within 10 pages, and so caused me to think, “Huh, who knew? I’ve got pornstar-sized breasts now,” but the idea didn’t thrill me; I took it more like I would someone telling me I had the perfect size foot for shoe fetishists. Basically, I don’t care, because they don’t do me any good. It might have mattered some when I was 25 and single, but I’m not sure I would have cared then, either. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them; I do. But I’d enjoy them more if I could take them off when I want to go to the hardware store or the grocery or to do other errands, all those times when I don’t want to be looked at. Not wanting your breasts stared at by every guy on the streets is exactly why you can’t sacrifice support at this size: if you do, they bounce more, which is not really what you want unless - ba rum bump! - you’re a porn star.

I find myself wearing a sports bra most days now, actually. Mostly I’ve realized that I’m glad I don’t get to choose, since both sizes have pros and cons, and the only real advantage resides in being one of those grow-up dolls that enabled me to change sizes with a quick, full rotation of one arm.
firebreath613: (blossom)
Yesterday, I got sucked into the History Channel's The Ku Klux Klan: A Secret History. It totally creeped me out.

Here's the thing. When you think of the Klan, you think of burning crosses and lynchings - horrific acts that any sane, moral person would object to. What got to me about the documentary: In the 1920s, the Klan grew have MILLIONS of members across the United States. And most of them DIDN'T get into it to hang blacks or burn down buildings. They weren't necessarily in favor of terrorism or murder; they saw those acts as the extremist, or perhaps necessary evils.

No, it was much more insidious. It was about exclusion. Excluding blacks, Jews, Catholics, union members. They spoke of lofty ideals about purity, patriotism, chastity, Christianity, conformity. They had members who were highly educated from Ivy League schools. They had members in all ranks of government and authority - judges, police, senators, etc (kind of like "Fight Club"). They marched in Fourth of July parades. Basically, it was our version of Nazism, and it included about 15 percent of the nation's population.

The Klan, of course, had its ups and downs and got more extreme in the '60s. And Klansmen who killed blacks or white civil-rights activists usually got off scott-free on their trials because of sympathizers in the juries. They HATED MLK with a passion. Even as late as 1979 the Klan had the manpower to bring terror upon an anti-Klan protest.

I'll be nice )



August 2010

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