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Donna's Journal
Country Mouse Goes to the City

Life doesn't get any better than when we are gifted with an opportunity to visit the city. The country mouse is a happy mouse, you know. However, once in a blue moon she loves to run off to the city while using care not to get trapped there.

Moving down interstate along with traffic is a bit like ice skating. All is smooth, swift and easy, that is, if you don't make a wrong move. My daughter's little red car was loaded to the car windows with art work, books to sign, and a home prepared lunch my friend brought for us. Our chatter was keeping me alert and away from any urge I might have to get sleepy while driving. That could have been a possibility since my day had started at 3 a.m.

Without too much confusion we were able to locate The Forum where a conference was being held to share the knowledge of successful people from other states in the realm of Native American education. I had made up my mind that I would divide my time between signing books and listening to the lectures of these brilliant people who were warriors with strengths and skills beyond the common place. The first day was slower with fewer people and that was okay. We were given this time to learn to maneuver through the building that was an unaccustomed circle or octagon. One woman commented, “Now you know why Rome fell. They couldn't find their way around The Forum.”

On the second day more people came and the pace with my book signing picked up. It was a real choice I had to make but some how I was able to get the lion's share of both activities. A sumptuous working lunch was served at the top of the stairs in the conference room. The room built to the standards of the Greeks for their plays with steps coming up from a central stage made for good acoustics but a microphone was also placed above the podium. An added convenience was the table built all around in front of the guest's chairs. This was wonderful for someone like me who is always scribbling notes.

“Did you get to say your piece?” My cousin smilingly asked me. She is well acquainted with me and my convictions regarding art. “As a matter of fact, I did.” When someone used the term “artsy, craftsy,” it riled me to a slow burn.

When given the invitation, I arose and spoke, “Not too long ago I had the opportunity to teach Native American children, art. We started with the Pythagorean principles so that I could tie art in with geometry. As the children learned to draw a circle with pencil and string, they were at first amazed at this “trick.” When we went on to cut through the circle to its center and then fold it into a cone to create a tee-pee they were even more than impressed.

“Neat-o! Wow! Hey guys, look at this,' were some of their comments.”

“On our last day I bought a book of Remington and Russell's art work from my own money. At first, the children groaned at the fact that I was going to read to them. Nevertheless, it wasn't long until they were totally captivated by the illustrations of their ancestors.”

“I have taught elderly women who admitted to me they had lived their own whole life and only just now learned to “see.” I wasn't through as I continued. “So it is, as the Bible says, 'They have eyes, but they cannot see.” That was the end of my comments.

“You know it all went over their head,” my friend told me.

“I know that, from the comment the lady made.” She remarked, “Oh yes, I've bought supplies out of my own pocket,” totally missing the point

“There will be someone who will pick up on what I told. Maybe they won't be quite so ready to snub the teachings of art by calling it artsy, craftsy.”

Again, I became the country mouse returning home. Only once did I make a wrong turn.

“It's okay,” my friend said, “we will get to see the new statue on top of the capital-building.”

And so we did. The tall figure of an Indian holding a spear stood in defense of the dome. It was a thrilling site especially if our blood is all tied up with the Native American. It inspires me. Here is the “savage” who was beaten and humiliated standing in symbolic artwork defending his conquerors. For whatever reason used, it made a statement, too.

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