When my mom was a teenager, she wasn’t the most popular at the St. Francis Mission boarding school. Being the youngest and having had four sisters go through the school before her, she kept to herself to distinguish her own identity. In a word, she was a wallflower.
But at the first dance she was forced to go to, she didn’t know how to be social. At that point, her cousin waved her over to his table and introduced her to his friends. He acknowledged her as a relative and made her feel welcome in a hard world. Over the years they grew closer, like siblings.
Tonight, we are said our goodbyes to her cousin, my uncle, Albert White Hat. For those in Indian Country who know him by his reputation, they won’t ever forget what a great historian and leader he was.
For me, he will always be the uncle who did what was right and good for the woman who taught me to do what is right and good.
In the past, whenever I had to leave somewhere it took a day and I was pretty cavalier about it, just a quick, “I’m headed out now, bye.”
Three years ago in Reno and then on the campaign trail, I did swan songs. I’d stretch it out over a two or three days.
Now, I have two weeks of goodbyes and comforting others, dealing with the long sighs and declarations of, “I can’t believe you’re leaving!” Now, it’s not about what I’m leaving behind, but who I’m leaving behind. Two weeks is a good period, I think.
Every now and then, I’ll receive a media inquiry for the tribe. Most of the time, they’re specific enough. Sometimes they’re governmental, legal or cultural.
Today though, some hitch hiking travelers called about rites of passage. I went through the traditional laundry list. They wanted sun dance and ceremony. I told them filming and reenacting were forbidden.
Then, I thought about contemporary rites and flashed back to my first paycheck and using it to support my mom, nephews and niece.
Sometimes, some rites aren’t dressed up in ceremony. Sometimes, they’re as simple as being an adult.
So here’s the situation.
I started this Tumblr during the long and boring days of unemployment on the rez. Oddly enough, it took me thinking, “by God, I should get a personal Tumblr now,” to realize I had already set one up.
I spent 8 months working for my tribe as an underling in the Communications project; then quickly took over for 20 months as the overling/managing editor of our tribal newspaper. And if that doesn’t explain half the journey, you really need to experience the world.
Now, I’m moving on to being the managing editor of a very decent publication in Minneapolis. (Once we get the Web site up and going again, I’ll inundate you with pointless, but proud posts.) God willing, I won’t screw it up.
Transitions are scary. Transitions are hard.
But in the end, we become better people for having made the leap.