Murdo Girl…Lav and Yram..Help Wanted

When I first heard Lav and Yram were going to take a road trip, I was firm in my resolve not to document it. I thought like most of their ideas, this too would blow over. I should have listened to my Psyche. Unfortunately, my Psyche isn’t any smarter than my Psycho. So here is the beginning of what could be a very long summer. 

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Lav: on the phone with Yram: Guess what Yram..I just talked to Ruben at the Pioneer Auto Museum and he said we could come and pick up the red convertible tomorrow. We get to take it on our road trip.

Yram: Get outta here! Who is Ruben?

Lav: You know Ruben, he’s the guy who answers the phone at the museum. He said he’d have the car all ready for us about 12ish.

Yram: You mean as in noonish?

Lav: No as in midnightish. He said something about under cover of darkness. If there’s a full moon then we have to wait a few days. Like I always say, “never look a horse-powered gift in the mouth.”

Yram: I’m in..I’ll meet you there at 11:45ish.

Lav: 10-4..and Yram..Wear black.

I guess it’s true what they say, “The Lord looks after small children and the clueless.” Yram and Lav managed to get the red convertible out of the museum and on the road. Well…sort of.

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Yram: So I guess Ruben didn’t mention that we had to take the parts and pieces of the red convertible to some unnamed place to get it fixed before we could drive it. Did he give us the wheels? I didn’t see any wheels.

Lav: Well, he was right about one thing. He said the convertible would get good gas mileage. I don’t know about this old Ford truck though. He said it would go through gas like a physic. What is a physic Yram?

Yram: I’ll look it up…physic is an over-the-counter medication for constipation….It’s going to need a lot of gas Lav. I guess we better start looking for small jobs we can pick up along the way. Hey Look! There’s a help wanted sign. Pull over Lav.

Lav: But we’re not even out of Murdo yet Yram. I’m bummed. What kind of job is it?

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Yram: Looks like a pizza place. P-R-A-I-R-I-E Pizza. Yup anybody can make pizza. I’ll make it and you can deliver it.

The next day…

Lav: I don’t get why we got fired. Do you Yram?

Yram: No Lav…They ordered one pepperoni pizza and that’s what we delivered.

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Lav: How much was the final paycheck? We’re almost out of gas.

Yram: We each got $7.00 and the one pepperoni pizza…we better start looking for bottles and cans along the road. $14.00 won’t even get us to Kadoka. Maybe we can get jobs there that better meet our qualifications. I’m a crack-up reporter you know. 

Lav: I have lots of work experience.

Yram: Really Lav? How much do tumbleweeds “rake” in these days?

Lav: Probably about as much as you made wearing bunny ears to read at story hour.

I have never been fired from a babysitting job..know any kids?

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Babysitting?

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Let me think about it..NO!
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Hi..I’m Yram, and I’m a crack-up reporter. Mind if I ask you an open-ended question? What’s your name?
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It’s me Charles. Mother will make me king.

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Is it all clear Yram? Yup Lav, put the pedal to the metal..If they see us getting smaller it’s cause we’re leavin…

Kadoka..Here we come!!

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I shoulda seen them coming

 

 

Murdo Girl…Dakota’s story..Things are not always as they seem

Mahkah didn’t answer me at first.

“Why would you say such a thing Dakota?” I believe everyone is afraid of fire.”

“The third picture looks like it is the remains of a cabin that has burned to the ground. All that is left standing is the rock fireplace. Read the line in the poem Mahkah. The one that says, What one loves, the other fears. I am terrified of fire, therefore, you must be the one who loves it. Did you do it Mahkah? Did you set fire to the cabin? What has happened to everyone? They were all here just moments ago. They were planning a feast. We were all gathered together for a celebration.”

“Please sit down Dakota. You are right. We were all here for a celebration, but it was a long time ago. It was our Grandfather’s birthday, and it was the first time we had seen him or our father in months. The Indian wars were over, and now came the task of helping those who were moved to the Reservations adjust to a new way of life. It wasn’t the desired outcome, but our Father and our Grandfather, Chief Blue Water, knew there was nothing they could do to change what had already taken place.”

I don’t know what is happening to me Mahkah.” I started to remember bits and pieces. “We were going to eat the wonderful meal Kunci and Ina were preparing and then go fishing, and find the songbird. We were outside playing when four men came through the trees. Three were white men and one was Indian. That’s all I remember Mahkah. We must have talked to them and then they would have left and we would have continued to laugh and play……But that’s not what happened is it Mahkah?

“I was only three years old as well, though I have heard the accounting of the day many times. Did Kunci not tell you the truth of what happened? Do you remember anything more about that day?”

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“No…my next memory is that of being the youngest and loneliest child in the boarding school. Did the men do it Mahkah? Did they burn down the cabin and did our father die too? Where is Ina? Has something happened to her?”

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“No Dakota. You can see the cabin still stands. The only person to die that day was our Grandfather. I have no idea what that picture alludes to. There was no feast of course, and the partings were brief. I went with Ina to the cabin on the other side of the lake. The cabin where you and Soo’-TAH found Ina hiding below the floor. You left here that day with our Father and Kunci. Once he had made the arrangements at the boarding school, he joined us at the cabin. 

“My sister…I know I have not gained your trust, and I don’t know why. I have been truthful in all ways. My world has been very small and I have been so lonely. I knew I had a sister, maybe that makes the difference. I have loved you all these years and could not wait to see you and know you. I didn’t imagine you would not feel the same.”

“I don’t know what to say dear brother. I was not prepared for this…I can’t understand why these things happened, or why we have had to live like fugitives all of these years. Please Mahkah, tell me all that you know or remember.”

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“We all left this place, but we buried Chief Blue Water first where no one would find him and harm his remains. Kunci must have cut a lock of his hair for the Soul Bundle or someone must have come back later to take care of Chief Blue Water’s remains properly. They probably wrapped him in buffalo hides and put his body high up on a scaffold.

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All of us, but you were witnesses to the murder. No harm came to us that day, but when it became known that Chief Blue Water had been killed, it was likely witnesses would not survive.”

“Soo’-TAH brought us the Soul Bundle Mahkah. Where did you get this fierce protector?” He was still sitting in the same spot. “Where did you find Chief Blue Water’s Soul Bundle?”

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Soo’-TAH looked at me as if he was thinking about my question, then he moved slightly and made a whining sound. I remembered what I had been about to do before I became distracted by Mahkah

Life is only smoke and mirrors. 

I got up from the table and went to the fireplace. The mirror was hanging slightly crooked, but I didn’t bother to straighten it, because I knew the safe was behind it.

“Bring the combination to me Mahkah.”

One see’s the other hears. “I will find the numbers and you can listen for the clicks.”

Two right, then left, it clicks then clears… It opened for us on the first try.

Where had Soo’-TAH found the Soul Bundle, and who was the Keeper of the soul for a man who died 14 years before.

Murdo Girl…Dakota’s story..The keeper of the soul

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Soo’-TAH, come to me. What are you holding in your mouth?”

Soo’-TAH seemed timid all of a sudden. He wasn’t his normal “tough acting” self. Mahkah and I stood there watching him as he slowly walked a few steps closer. When he was within about four feet of us, he sat down, and dropped the buckskin pouch he had been carrying.

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I started to walk over to him, intending to reach down and get the pouch he had dropped in front of him. I assumed he had brought it to us, because he wanted to give it to Mahkah or me. When I was close enough to pick it up, Soo’-TAH quickly snatched it. He wasn’t being aggressive, but he wasn’t playing with me either.

“He can’t decide,” Mahkah said. “He’s not sure we can be trusted with his treasure. Leave him be for a minute. The pouch is obviously very important to him and he thinks he wants us to have it, but he’s not ready to give it up yet.”

“How do you know so much brother?” I asked. “Do you know what’s inside?”

“Most likely….I do…Soo’-TAH is the Keeper of the soul. I just don’t know who’s soul he is keeping.”

“I don’t understand Mahkah. What is a Keeper of the soul?

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“The Lakota believe that humans are a part of nature just like animals, plants and even rocks and mountains. Until the last few years, before they were forced onto reservations, Lakota Indians were not buried in graves. They were dressed in their best clothes and wrapped in hides and placed on a scaffold. The scaffold might be in a tree or, out on the plains, made of lodge poles. Special possessions of the deceased, such as a pipe or weapon, were also wrapped and placed on the scaffold with him. The scaffold prevented animals from reaching the body, so it was allowed to decay naturally. In this way the body is given back to the elements from which it came, winds, rains, the birds and the Earth itself all gain from absorbing the body.

The Keeping of the Soul is one of the seven sacred rites or ceremonies passed to the Lakota by White Buffalo Calf Woman. A Soul Bundle is created by putting a lock of the deceased’s hair that has been purified by the smoke of burning sweetgrass, in a sacred buckskin pouch.”

Soo’-TAH was now laying down beside the pouch. He was listening carefully to Mahkah as if he wanted to make sure we understood the importance of his gesture. We patiently waited for him to make the first move.

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He soon got up from his resting place, and once again picked up the pouch, holding it securely with his teeth. Then, he turned and began to walk back on the road we had just traveled. It took less than an hour to get back to the cabin. This time Soo’-TAH allowed us to go inside. The moment I entered, I knew I had been there before. It had been a place where I had felt happiness.

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Everyone was there. Kunci, Ina, Ate, Mahkah and me. The table was set for a celebration. Someone had placed beautiful flowers on the mantle, and I became aware of the scent of sweetness and spice from something good cooking. Kunci and Ina were preparing a feast.

I looked at my brother. He was smiling too. Soo’-TAH was right behind him followed by a man I thought I recognized. Whoever he was, he reached down and took the leather pouch from Soo’-TAH and handed it to me.

“Open the pouch Dakota,” he said. “There is something inside for you and Mahkah.”

I walked to the table and sat down in one of the chairs. I opened the pouch and removed it’s contents, studying each item before handing it to my brother. The first thing I came to was a lock of hair presumably purified by the smoke of burning sweet grass. Next was a small sealed envelope. Inside were three pictures. The first was of Ina. She was standing in front of a fireplace. She was so beautiful. The second was a picture of my father with Soo’-TAH at his side. I was handing the first two pictures to Mahkah, when a slip of paper fell out. On it was written…

Look inside til it appears, then look behind.. it turns and clears

What one loves, the other fears. Life is only smoke and mirrors.

 Mahkah was standing beside me smiling down at Soo’-TAH who was very pleased with himself. He had delivered the pouch his master had trusted him with.

I looked at the fireplace. It was where Ina had been standing in the photograph. She was facing it and her hand was resting on the mantle. I could see her reflection as she looked into the mirror above the mantle. It seemed as though her eyes were trying to tell me something.

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I turned to once again look at my twin brother Mahkah. He was standing near the door. Now his expression was one of sadness. I wanted to tell him not to be sad, we had found our family and we would solve the riddle soon, but the words would not come.

“They’re no longer here my sweet sister…But we are, and so is Soo’-TAH. 

I was listening, but I was not hearing him. I faced the mirror above the mantle.

Look inside til it appears, then look behind.. it turns and clears

“Do you still have the series of numbers burned into the leather square?” I asked.

“Yes,” Mahkah answered.

“I’m terrified of fire,” I said, “But you love it don’t you?”

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Murdo Girl…Dakota’s story..One sees the other hears

“Why doesn’t Soo’-TAH want us to go inside? We should be with our family Mahkah.”

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Mahkah looked at me, then looked in the direction of the cabin before he spoke. “We will be Dakota. There are things we must do first. We cannot allow ourselves to become distracted from what we came here to do. We must solve the riddle within the poem you found in your Indian Princess Doll. You said you had a picture of Sylvan Lake when you were in the boarding school. I think we should start there.”

I recalled the poem and Mahkah was right. We had to solve the riddle, before we could move on to the rest of our lives.

I looked back at my Soo’-TAH. He stayed behind to guard the cabin. He would keep our loved ones safe.

“We’ll be back soon Soo’-TAH,” I said. “We only have a short distance to go, then we’ll come back for you.”

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She struck a chord, a babe she rears. The key is safe through all the years.

We had found the poem woven into the doll called Macha... Inside Mahkah’s amulet, which would traditionally hold the umbilical cord from his birth, we found a piece of leather that had a series of numbers burned into it. They appeared to be a combination to a safe, or padlock.

A winding road, a trail of tears, a songbird comes to calm my fears

We were on the winding road that leads to Sylvan Lake when we found the cabin. We first heard Kunci’s voice, then we saw our Mother and Father go inside.

I heard a songbird.

One can see, the other hears, one laughs and the other cheers

Could this line have something to do with Mahkah and me?

Right twice, then left, it clicks then clears. 

These are the sounds a lock makes when you are using a combination to open it.

Life is only smoke and mirrors.

Is it just an illusion? A trick played on all of us?

“The lake is only a short distance from here,” I heard Mahkah say.

I could feel my heart beating in my chest. Will I remember anything? I could not have been more than three years old when I was last here. I wasn’t totally certain I had ever been here at all.

Mahkah and I were quiet as we approached the Lake. We followed the winding road as far as we could go, then we tied our horses to a tree and walked the remainder of the way. When we came out of the forest and saw Sylvan Lake, neither of us could speak. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

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I closed my eyes and willed myself to remember what had happened here. Why had the picture I carried with me for all those years reassured me in times of fear and confusion. Before I learned my Grandmother had been at the boarding school all along, the picture was all I had of a life outside of the school. A life I had never gotten to experience. Until I was 13 years old, I didn’t know I had a twin brother or who my mother and father were.

All those years, I thought I was a Lakota Indian girl, when in truth my father was a white man…a cavalryman and my mother, the daughter of a Lakota Indian Chief. My father wanted me to be a friend to both the white man and the Indian. That is why he named me Dakota, which means a friend.

My thoughts were interrupted by the faraway sound of a bird singing. A songbird comes to calm my fears.  

I kept my eyes closed while I listened to the bird’s song, and I began to remember something. I was running along a path. I was trying to find the songbird. Then I heard Kunci’s voice. She was calling after me.

A voice penetrated my thoughts. It was Mahkah speaking.

“We were all here together,” he said. “Our Mother and Father, Kunci, and our Grandfather. The scene has been like a fog in my memory, but it is becoming clear to me now.”

“What do you mean Mahkah?”

“He was killed here..tracked down and murdered by one of his own. Some warrior who felt Blue Water had become Chief, not by the will of the tribe, but by the guns of the white soldiers. I saw it all happen, and when it was over, and the day was finished, I never saw Kunci again. I thought I would never see you again. Not in this life. Our Ina took me and Kunci took you,…but first we buried our Grandfather. I saw it all,” Mahkaha said. “You were spared witnessing the killing, because you ran to find the songbird.”

One can see, the other hearsa murder and a songbird.

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I heard something behind us and as I looked back, I saw a movement in the trees. “Soo’-TAH,” I said. “Why are you here? You have to guard the cabin. All those Mahkah and I have ever loved are there.”

Soo’-TAH continued to walk toward Mahkah and me. “What is that you are carrying in your mouth Soo’-TAH? Bring it to us.”

Murdo Girl…The Whiteboard house..Good old golden rule days

It’s Tuesday morning at the Whiteboard House, which used to be the grade school. The self- help teachers are hard at work…or they will be as soon as they finish their milk and cookies. Right now they are gathering in the first grade room to discuss the class schedules. Almost everyone has come up with an idea for a help yourself self-help class. Some are better than others, but that’s okay. The best will rise to the top, and the worst will crater.

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MG: It’s time for us to prepare for the day. Everyone please form a line behind the trash can. Line up boy, girl, boy, girl, and so on, and so forth. No pushing or shoving please. When you have thrown your little milk cartons away, please return to your little seats.

What is it Jerry?

Jerry: These desks are for first graders. I’m a big boy now.

MG: Young man, is that any way for a help yourself self-help teacher to talk? Every problem has a solution. Let me demonstrate… Most people don’t grow that much after the eighth grade. Maybe we could switch out the chairs. I won’t be able to self -help of course because my arthritis is bad today and the stairs hurt my knees. You’re in charge Jerry.

Jerry: Cool Beans!

Lav: Can Queen E. and I co-teach? It just makes sense since we’re both special.

 

MG: I’ll consider your request. Did you bring your syllabus?

Lav: No, but can’t we just use the silly Jeep?

A I: I sort of feel like DM and Pico are stepping on my toes. Pico is going to teach how to help yourself Private Investigate COdependents, and DM is teaching how to be your own Detective Man. In my last job, I was an Aggressive Informant. Heck, I don’t even know my real name anymore. I have way more sleuthing experience, plus I have a silly airplane.

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Sherri: Maybe you should find yourself A I before you help yourself or others. I’m sure someone around here knows what your name is.

I’m teaching my students how to draw their own photographs. I think I’ll start out with stick men, and maybe a tree. Of course I’ll have the yellow sun in the upper right corner of the paper. I can build on that theme later with blue sky and billowy white clouds, and maybe put some apples in the tree.

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MG: So what demographic are you targeting Sherri?

Sherri: Photographic drawing graphics will be in a more advanced class.

MG:.. TC..you’re no longer a Town Crier, you don’t have to wear the cheese-head and carry a scroll anymore. What are you going to teach people how to self -help themselves with?

TC: I’m going to teach people how to name their emotions so they can better self -help themselves to a healthier self awareness. This isn’t a scroll, it’s my syllabus. Do you want to see it?

MG: Of course…help yourself up to my desk and let me help myself to a look at it.

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MG: I don’t know what to say TC…This just brings up all kinds of emotions for me. The one sticking his tongue out reminds me of something I have buried for years.

TC: Really MG? Is it buried around here anywhere? Do you want me to self-help yourself find it?

MG: No TC, it represents how I felt when my brother used to stick his tongue out at me. Of course I always told on him. That helped me some.

Pat: Hi everybody, my name is Pat and I’m new in town. I’ve always considered myself to be an emoji queen. I think I should teach the help yourself to – emoji class. I’m little too so I fit into this desk..See? I also know the pledge of allegiance by heart and I drive a silly Lincoln. How many students do we have signed up?

EVERYONE:… STUDENTS?? 

The tension is so thick, you can cut it yourself with a knife. People are looking sideways at this Pat person. It appears that everyone’s self wants to be a detective or an emoji queen.. That just won’t do…nope..guess we’ll have a help yourself to self-help contest…and we have to find some students… But, first things first..Everybody get your mats out…It’s nap time!!

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Murdo Girl…Dakota’s story..Looking through the window.

I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of my decision to leave the farmhouse, but I was consumed by the need to find the winding road on the far side of Sylvan Lake. I felt strongly that the Lake had something to do with the mystery we were  trying to unravel. The clues were vague and the direction they took us could be interpreted many ways.

The picture of the lake I had as a child was a vivid recollection. Something of significance had happened there or on the winding road that led to it. I had no reason to believe Ina was anywhere near the lake, yet I believed she was, and so did Soo’-TAH. My brother Mahkah had no reason not to pursue my theory.

It was early fall now, and the nights were growing colder. Mahkah and I had our horses, but we led them much of the way because of the narrow paths we had to follow. We spent two days and nights continuing in the direction Soo’-TAH was leading us. On the third day, we found it. We found the winding road.

A winding road, a trail of tears, a songbird comes to calm my fears.

I wished I could remember. I had no idea who had given me the photograph of Sylvan Lake, or where I had heard the songbird. I could only hope that when I saw the lake, it would trigger a memory.

“Look sister!” Mahkah was walking his horse a short distance in front of me, when I saw him pointing to something he wanted me to see.

“What is it brother?” I asked. “What do you see?”

“There is a house or a cabin up ahead, and there is smoke coming from the chimney. Should we see who is there?” By this time, I had caught up with him and saw the little cabin sitting alongside the trail.

“I don’t know Mahkah. Don’t you think we should watch it a while first? We could be putting ourselves in danger.”

Mahkah was about to speak his opinion when the door to the cabin opened. I looked toward Soo’-TAH hoping he wouldn’t bark, but I should have known he wouldn’t. He knew his purpose and he did his job well. Instead, he dropped down onto his stomach with his feet and legs outstretched and slowly crawled toward the side of the cabin. He only moved a foot or so at a time, but his actions were deliberate. He had total command of his senses. I watched in awe.

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When he reached the side of the cabin, he creeped up to the corner near the door and waited. Mahkah and I waited too. Was Ina inside? If she was, she wasn’t alone or Soo’-TAH would have surely gone to the door and greeted her.  

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The day grew shorter and the breeze was cold. Mahkah and I had agreed to wait. An hour passed and the door to the cabin was still open, yet we had seen no one come or go. We had taken the horses and tied them deeper into the woods, so no one would see them if they were on the path we were following. Soo’-TAH remained in his spot…patiently waiting. Mahkah and I sat on either side of a huge rock. We kept reminding each other not to go to sleep, but there was little danger that would happen.

If there was someone inside the cabin, they didn’t light a lamp or candle, but the smoke coming from the chimney continued. Just a few minutes later, we saw a woman walking from the other side toward the cabin. Soo’-TAH still did not move, which was strange, because the woman was Ina. I was about to jump up and run to catch up with her when I heard a voice coming from inside the cabin. It was weak, but I knew that voice. Hearing it now brought back a feeling of warmth. I had learned to trust from my Grandmother. The voice I heard belonged to Kunci.

I could wait no longer. I got up and started for the door, then I saw Soo’-TAH turn to look at me. His eyes gave me a warning. He wanted me to stay hidden.

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I took my place behind the rock before looking over at my brother who was staring in the direction of the cabin. I opened my mouth to say something, but he shook his head. I turned around in time to see a man walking down the path from the same direction Ina had come from. It was getting too dark to see who the man was until he went inside and someone lit a lamp. I still did not recognize him.

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“Can you see Mahkah? I whispered. “Is he one of the men looking for Ina and our father?”

Mahkah was staring at the window. We could see the profile of the man with each flicker of the lantern. Whoever he was, he had Mahkah’s full attention. Soo’-TAH still did not move.

Inside the cabin, were Ina and the man I could not see well enough to identify. I knew Kunci, who had been so feeble the last time I saw her, was there as well. I had not seen her, but her voice was unmistakable. I had heard her say, “Thank you Makawee..thank you for bringing me here.” The words were in the Lakota language, but I understood her. I knew my Ina’s name was Makawee, which means earth maiden.

Mahkah spoke softly when he said, “The man you saw was our father.”

I was stunned. It simply did not make sense to me.

“Why then is Soo’-TAH still hiding in the grass? Isn’t our father the one who trained him? The people together in the cabin are all that is left of our family Mahkah. Everyone is there but you and I…and Soo’-TAH...Please tell me why we shouldn’t all be together.”

My brother stood beside me and took my hand in one of his. He steadied me by putting his other arm around my shoulder.

“Because this is the trail of tears,” he said…Yours and mine.”

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Murdo Girl…FANtastic FANdangle

Once upon a time, long ago, (yesterday), legend has it that three chiefs and three beautiful princesses, packed up their mobile teepees and caravanned across dangerous lands to a place called Albany, Texas, to see a thing called FANdangle. (The emphasis is on Fan.)

Before I tell you about the awesomeness and the pageantry of Fandangle, I’ll give you a little folklore, which means background info, on the three adventuresome trail blazing couples.

First, we have Chief Rain in the Face, who arrived at camp Ft. Griffin obviously hot under his headdress. It seems he washed his many horse-powered transportation right before beginning his journey, only to come upon a couple of miles of dirt road due to trail construction. If that wasn’t bad enough, he got behind a water-spraying covered wagon…hence the name, Rain in the Face, which  sounds more dignified than, Water and Dirt on the Horses.

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The chief brought, She Who Must be Obeyed with him, mainly because she knows her way around a teepee and makes great seafood dishes. She is a retired code talker, which is code talk for teacher.

Chief Runs a Muck brought Princess Pass the Piece-pipe. Say that three times really fast. Her main job is to clean up the teepee after Chief Runs a Muck makes his favorite strawberry ice cream. She also helps with Buddy the canine who spends his days guarding the campsite and his nights tolerating Punkin and I can’t remember the other cat’s name, but it also starts with a P.

Last, we have Chief Eats a Lot with Princess Doesn’t have a Clue. Seriously, she doesn’t know the difference between a teepee and a wigwam. She spends her days scrounging around for food because Chief Eats a Lot...eats a lot.

Back to the Fandangle.

The three aforementioned couples had a fabulous time. We toured Ft. Griffin with Eric, who shared a wealth of information with us. The RV Park in Griffin State Park was great… (See the sunset below.)

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We saw the Fandangle parade where we listened to the calliope, and watched as beautiful horses passed by. Some were pulling wagons or proudly carrying riders holding flags. Others were ridden by women wearing costumes of the times.

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The Jailhouse Museum and the Courthouse are really something to see, and the shops downtown are fun to explore. The pharmacy complete with a full service soda fountain is an experience you won’t want to miss.

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We attended Church services where we were treated to the sounds of a beautiful pipe organ, not to mention a thought provoking sermon. I could go on and on about the town of Albany and it’s family oriented community.

The Fandangle is an experience like none other. Give yourself the gift of seeing the magic of the performances of a few hundred Albany residents. The ages of the talented participants range from three months to ninety-eight.

(These beautiful Longhorns are featured in the show.)

The story the narrators and the music tells is steeped in history and laced with pride and love. Fandangle is always the last two week-ends in June so there are shows next Friday and Saturday evening. The outdoor setting is beautiful and the music is incredible. The many prop changes are totally seamless.

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Thank you Pat and Jerry Davis for suggesting this might be a fun outing for our little group of RVers, and many thanks to Jeff and Gaye Davis. They made our trip even more special by giving us the rundown on all there was to do. I don’t think we missed much. Their family, including Nolan and Lori, has been a part of Fandangle for over a dozen years. We were all invited to their beautiful home for lunch. Chief Eats a Lot loved it!

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I think it goes without saying the three chiefs and three princesses, along with thousands of others, are big fans of Fandangle.

Murdo Girl…Dakota’s story..A key is safe through all the years.

(Sorry, very few pictures today. We’re camping in the boonies and I can’t load them.)

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Mahkah and I were both confused and exhausted, but we were making headway. It was just the two of us and Soo’-TAH at the farmhouse now. Ina had ridden off on the dead man’s horse without saying a word to me or my brother. Mahkah said she often did this, and when she returned she always said she had gone to be with our father, William Miles. The father I didn’t remember because I was only three years old when I was taken to the Indian boarding school.

Mahkah was standing by the window. The one I had looked through from the outside the day I got to the farmhouse. Kunci sent me here when I finished my schooling. I thought I was coming to this place to find my family, and myself, but there was work to be done before I could really know any of us. 

Mahkah, what do you think is in your amulet if not the umbilical cord? Anything else would not be in keeping with the Lakota tradition”

A chord is struck, a child she rears. A key is safe throughout the years.

I listened to my brother recite the words from the poem that was supposed to give us the key to our future. 

“Do you think the amulet has kept a key safe throughout the years?”

He looked agitated as he left the window to sit back down at the table. He pulled the beaded rope that held the amulet over his head and laid it on the table.

“There is only one way to find out,” he said. “Would you please bring me a sharp knife from the drawer Dakota? 

Part of me felt it was wrong to destroy what should be held sacred, but Mahkah was right. It was very probable the amulet held something else…I brought him the knife, then watched in silence as he cut through the beautiful beadwork until what was inside was exposed.

“What is it?” I asked. “What has the amulet been keeping safe?”
 Mahkah opened the small pouch and reached inside and pulled out a piece of leather.

“It’s not a key or a cord,” he said. It is a series of numbers. It looks like a combination…maybe to a safe, I don’t know. What else could it be?”

“I think you are very clever,”I said. Two right one left it clicks then clears.” I was repeating the words from the poem.

Mahkah added another thought. “One holds the key, the other the combination.”

I can’t stay here another minute and try to decifer what these words mean,”I told him.

“Mahkah…go get the horses ready and I will pack some supplies.

Soo’-TAH come to me my loyal protector? Take us to Ina. You can find her, I know you can.”

“This is crazy Dakota. We don’t know what were looking for.” Mahkah was frustrated too.

“We haven’t learned everything the poem is telling us yet, but we’re going to the winding trail of tears on the other side of the beautiful Sylvan Lake. I know Ina is there, and Soo’-TAH will find her for us. We will locate the safe this combination will open, and inside, we will find the key to our future.”

I looked at our fierce and tough protector. His eyes were shining with excitement, and I could tell he knew exactly what we were asking of him. He was in his element, and he would not disappoint the family he loved, and protected so faithfully.

One sees the other hears. One laughs the other cheers.

Murdo Girl…Dakota’s story..Ina’s secrets

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Mahkah, there is something I don’t understand.”

“What don’t you understand?” Mahkah asked. ‘I don’t understand any of this. From the first line of the poem we may have come up with a possible location, but location of what?”

“No, there is something else…when Ina and I were at the cabin those few days, she told me that Atéwaye, as you call our father, had found ways to communicate with the two of you, but neither of you had seen him in two years. Now you tell me that she goes off to see him quite often.”

Mahkah looked puzzled, as he thought about what I had just told him. “I have not seen him for two years,” he said. “But there have been times when Ina has disappeared and when she returns she tells me she has spent time with our father. There is something you need to understand about our Ina and Atéwaye, Dakota. They are so close to each other, there is very little room for anyone else…including their offspring. Now, can we get back to the task at hand?”

Yes of course,” I said. “The next line is, The dawn has passed, and darkness nears. I’ll live on…so it appears.

“I have no idea what this could mean, sister. Go on to the next.”

She struck a chord, a babe she rears. The key is safe through all the years.

Mahkah stood and walked to the open window of the kitchen. “The rain has stopped, he said. “I will go let Soo’-TAH inside. I’m sure he is hungry for his breakfast.”

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“Be careful Mahkah!” I hollered after him. Sometimes he brings his own breakfast…and sometimes he hasn’t bothered to kill the fruits of his hunt.”

“He is inside,” Mahkah said when he returned. “He had no food with him and he didn’t follow me into the kitchen, so I guess he’s not hungry. He went to lay by the door. He is upset because Ina left. He doesn’t like for one of his protected ones to be where he is not.”

As he talked, I noticed Mahkah toying with the strange looking thing he wore around his neck. “What is that you wear so faithfully my brother?”

He came back to the table and sat down. “It’s the gift Ina gave to me when I was born.”

“In the Lakota tradition … Indian mothers take special care of their newborn baby’s umbilical cord. When the cord falls off, the mother sews it into a small buckskin bag, often shaped like a lizard or turtle, but sometimes it’s plain. I’m surprised our grandmother, Kunci didn’t tell you of the custom. She made this one for Ina to give to me.

The bag is attached to the baby’s cradle as its first toy, later, it is worn around the child’s neck or tied to his clothing. It is kept for a lifetime as a charm to ensure long life, because the cord represents a link between the child’s existence before birth and his life after birth.”

“It’s my piece of the puzzle Dakota. You received an Indian Princess Doll from our Atéwaye, and I received this amulet from Ina. Do you think my umbilical cord is inside? I don’t.”

She struck a chord, a babe she rears. The key is safe through all the years.

To Be Continued