Left In The Hands Of Poverty And Isolation

my grandmother was full blooded Ioway. i have never met her, or even gazed upon a photo of her, but my father told me stories of growing up on the White Cloud reservation. he told me of the shaman healing gangreen on his father's leg in a matter of hours with a blessed herb paste. he told me of the elders reading messages in the giant fires. he told me of the way of life, the horses he kept as a child, and the way in which the pine trees were planted to communicate with spirits. a quieter, simpler life. then he told me of growing older and the pressures to become the Chief of a waning, impoverished small community. he told me of his decision to refuse his heritage for his dreams and move to Kansas City.

i have visited this reservation. i feel at peace there. i go to our tribal powwows and i feel alone with my pale, pale skin. i sit and watch the children dance alone, because now my father is dead, and all i have left are fragments of a culture that is only 1/4 of my genes, but all of who i am. as a child i would pretend to be indian girl, as if it were not true, and blush when i mentioned my tribe's name that no one has ever heard. when i go back to the reservation these days, i see trailers with junk yards and a dead community. the last elder died years ago, taking with them all the knowledge of the tribe and the tongue. there is only a small amount of people who studied the language enough to carry it on.

i have healed people. shamanism runs in the family. i have done and seen things i would never even try to convince others of. i have relationships with all elements of nature, wind and water being my closest friends. animals are constantly in my dreams and in my life. i am the daughter of a man who was nearly the Bear Clan Chief, and yet by looking at me you would never guess. my full-blooded grandmother is the only person in my entire family i resemble- i do not resemble my own mother at all, except for her pale skin and hair and blue eyes.

once my father took my hands in shock without warning, and looked at me with tears in his eyes, and saw the exact form of his late mother's hands in mine. i sit on the sidelines, an outsider of my own tribe, with only pieces of memories to connect with my precious heritage.

and though i am an unknown member and a shadow of a lineage, the medicine of my nature is enough to be content. i do not need to be accepted to find, hear, and feel the wisdom of the Elders.

oreides oreides
18-21, F
3 Responses Mar 6, 2010

This is truly beautiful. I would love to hear more about the stories and your culture.


Your story sounds a lot like mine. I believe I am keeping my culture alive. I blush when I tell people I am native, because I know they will judge. My dreams come to me as visions. I look like my full blooded native grandfather, but with my mothers pale skin. We have long lost our history and our language, but I am doing everything I can to make sure we do not lose the remainder of our culture.


embrace your heritage,its a proud one.