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By Donna Flood

We Were Indians

No amount of fixin’ could make the little house fancy at this time during the year of 1945. Once a shack, always a shack, seemed to be the statement it made. The prairie winds were having their way with the country ranch place while they temporarily slipped into this town house free of muddy roads and which was only blocks from the three story rock school house at the end of the street. Their dad’s days were divided between the two ranch spreads of his own and the brother’s, some five miles out of the little town of Foraker. While he was gone their mother was left with the schedule of her children’s activities in connection with the school.

“What are you makin’ with that crepe paper?” Mary asked her mother who was seriously involved with the bright colored material while she was turning the scissors this way and that, cutting patterns as she went.

“I’m making a costume for you and your brother for the neighbors party this evening.”

Mary was a child with no ability to reason things out, still somewhere, in her mind she knew this wasn’t just quite as it should have been. All the craftiness the night was bringing upon the scene was a bit of like sampling forbidden sweets for the child although she was a willing accomplice in her mother’s rule breaking.

Her Dad was working late at the ranch so the three of them had a free rein with their evening. Their mother wove the cheap crape paper around and about them and it felt just like so much of a bothersome extra frivolity they had to endure.

“The wind will just rip this stuff off,” was Mary’s observation. “I don’t think Dad would like for us to wear this.”

“It will last until you get there,” Mother was sure of her craftiness. “You will be back before your Dad knows you were gone!”

Mary, though a child, knew her father was disapproving of their being involved, especially with what he called “That Dark Religion.” At the moment, though, her mother was in control so they went along with her instructions. The field to be crossed was as black as any prairie night because the little town had no street lights. While they stood on the tall porch waiting to be let into the house the wind was pulling and jerking at their flimsy costume.

“Oh look at you! Indians! You are Indians?” The lady of the house was ushering them into her living room where they stood for a while drinking hot steaming chocolate from cups she handed them.

For the life of her, Mary couldn’t see how these bits and strips of crepe paper made them Indians but who could understand the world of these adults. Some wanted to be Indians, some were Indians but didn’t dress up. Others didn’t want to be involved in something they called, “dark.”

As the two children raced across the stretch of a field toward the lights of their own house Mary was thankful the wind was tearing the last bits of Crepe Paper from off her clothing. If her Dad was home she didn’t want to stand beneath his disapproving glance. She was young but he had already sealed his values into her heart and mind and the little girl loved him too much to be disobedient no matter how much her mother seemed to enjoy what she was doing. Dad was outnumbered for the moment but time would be a gift when the Celts religion was studied under a new light from text books pulled off shelves at the university.

“Fascinating!” The grown-up Mary commented while the Celt’s rich culture even rivaled her mother’s Native American ways. And to think Dad knew all this all along.” Mary thought about those days when she was a child as she enjoyed a warm memory of her father’s love for truth.

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