Thursday, December 27, 2007

Light Blogging Ahead

Tomorrow morning we go back to the rez. It's almost like a journey back in time in many ways. Mostly it's because when I go there I have a specific, ceremonial purpose, like this time. We are going to be bringing my new niece into the clan and the people.

She's been asking me all kinds of questions about what is going to happen. As the maternal uncle and her "Stands Beside" I have been filling her in on what to expect.

The main thing I told her to expect is that there will be a lot of people who will take one look at her and be in a place of total, unconditional love right off the bat. Despite our reputation for savage fighting we Apaches tend to be total mushballs. Especially when it comes to children.

The first thing that will happen is that we've invited the Súl (flute clan) to come to my cousin's house for a feast to meet our new addition. People will be walking up and introducing themselves by the very intricate levels of inter-relation that define clan and family. There will be singing and dancing (both traditional and stuff from the DJ, and I know that I won't be able to escape without performing a set).

After the party some of us will be leaving for the night. We will go to a kiva (a semi-subterranian ceremonial structure) and we will be searching for dreams and visions that will tell us what her medicine name will be. The medicine name is the name that is used in ceremony and council. One of the things that we will be looking for is to see if there are any of our ancestors who make it known that they have claimed her. I'm told this is something that happens very often with adoptions. My son was claimed at the age of eight in his naming by one of the very famous Apache Scouts named Nahdiil ii'yah (Dead Shot). I have never been claimed, they have only made excuses for me so far.

Once the elders have decided upon a name she will be introduced to the clan, along with representatives from other clans at yet another big ass feast and party. In theory folks who are not involved in the seeking of a name will spend that time in meditation and their own time of prayer and seeking. In practice, the party simply doesn't ever stop. It only ramps up higher when we return and the other clans make their appearance.

Which will pretty much make her officially one of us. According to the old ways at least. Since the Indian Affairs asswipes were mostly from the south during the 19th century our "who is Indian" laws have a decidedly racist tilt to them. It hasn't gotten much better. It used to be that 1/8th of your ancestry being native american was enough for the folks in washington to decide that you were Indian enough to have your land stolen, your children kicked out of school, and be pretty much considered not good enough for white society. Amounts of ancestry were never much an issue with us. There were full blood Apaches who started their lives in other nations and races. We valued clan affiliations and family ties (and those ties by marriage can be stronger than those of blood) far more than silly things like ancestry. Now is what mattered to the old ones, it's still pretty much what matters to us.

Now, though, things for the "white fathers" dealing with us have just gotten more and more complicated for them. See, there's money now. It started with gambling money, but that income has been parlayed, by some brilliant moves by men like my cousin, into things like a co-operative cattle venture, a ski resort, a lumber co-op and sawmill. So, since there's money at stake we have all of a sudden become of interest to the folks in both Phoenix and Washington. They really want to know who is who and how much of what everybody is. If they had asked our medicine singers they would have been told that they really need to go into ceremony and heal their sick fucking hearts and souls.

My new niece, with her new name will be Apache. Case. Closed. I am assured with knowing that this is by far the biggest gift we will be giving this little girl. She has been cut adrift and handled roughly by life so far. We, as her new family, her new clan, and her people will be telling her that this will stop. Now she belongs. She is cherished and of value.

There are times where I am just prouder than shit of being a savage from primitive culture.

Yexaiidela, go, deya tc'iindi

(having been prepared, he walks they say)



Blogger Sherry said...

this has touched me more than i thought possible. for many, many reasons.

what a blessing.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous tata said...

I am overjoyed for you who embrace and she who is embraced. I'll be thinking of you.

12:32 PM  
Blogger konagod said...

Brilliant as usual. Love your stories!

12:49 PM  
Blogger Krista said...

I have longed for a community like that, and when my children are older, plan to foster and provide connection for those who have none. Thank you for sharing. It reminds me of the starfish story. We may not be able to save them all, but it matters to the ones we can.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Maggie Rosethorn said...

This is awesome. Your niece is the luckiest girl in the world to have all the love the clan will give her.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Very moving. I wouldn't mind someone sponsoring me, and being inducted into such a family. She is a very lucky girl.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous oddjob said...

Now is what mattered to the old ones

Of course. Now is really all that we ever have.

This is very, very good thing you are doing! :-)

3:49 PM  
Blogger PortlyDyke said...

Made me cry (again).

May your eyes be clear and your ears open while you seek her name.

Tribe is everything.

6:25 PM  
Blogger seventh sister said...

I ams sure that once she is a little older and realizes what is being done, she will also realize how fortunate she is to have such a loving clan and be a part of such beautiful traditions.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous tw said...

Bravo !

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But isn't this how everyone should be treated.
Thanks for one more child being thought of.

9:07 PM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

What a lovely experience she is about to experience. She will have these memories forever.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous constant comment said...

She is so lucky to be a part of your clan. Blessings to her and her new extended family in the new year.

8:30 AM  

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