Friday, December 28, 2007

Tents are all Folded,

The ponies are packed,
I'm leavin' this morning
Might never come back. . .

(from Goodbye, Old Paint)

No, don't fret none. I will be back. My early morning departure has been stymied by the delicate co-ordination of three households, with teenagers, and the byzantine negotiations over who sits where, in what car, and, with the teenagers especially, who is driving. I got no problem with teenagers driving my stuff. So one learner's permit is behind the wheel with me.

I foxed them bigtime though. Told them all we should be on the road by seven a.m. I told the folks on the rez that we would be leaving around nine. It's around nine right now and we're almost hitting the trail.

I am in full trailboss mode. See you after the first.

Happy new year and all that stuff.


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)


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

St. Stephen's Day

In Ireland, on St. Stephen's day, young boys, especially those in the more rural western counties get dressed up in wild colors, wearing outlandish assortments of rags and bits of colored paper left over from Christmas, they find and kill a wren or other small bird and go from house to house collecting money, food, and drink for the "wake."

It's a fairly gruesome tradition, but it does have its own discrete, cheeky, charm.

Here's the tune.

I learned this one from the Clancy's and Tommy Makem.

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen's day was caught in the firs,
Although he was little his honor was great
Jump up, me lads, and give him a treat.

Up with the kettle and down with the pan
And give us a penny to bury the wren.

As I was gone to Killenaule
I met a wren upon a wall,
Up with me wattle and knocked him down
And brought him into Carrick town.


Droolin, droolin, where's your nest?
'Tis in the bush that I love best
In the tree, the holly tree
Where all the boys do follow me.


We followed the wren three miles or more
Three miles or more, three miles or more,
Followed the wren three miles or more
At six o'clock in the morning.


We have a little box under me arm,
Under me arm, under me arm,
We have a little box under me arm,
A penny a tuppence will do it no harm.


Missus Clancy's a very good woman
A very good woman, a very good woman
Missus Clancy's a very good woman
She gave us a penny to bury the wren.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Comfort Ye, My People


Comfort ye,
comfort ye My people,
saith your God;
speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem;
and cry unto her,
that her warfare is accomplished,
that her iniquity is pardoned.

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness:
-Prepare ye the way of the Lord:
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted,
and every mountain and hill made low,
the crooked straight and the rough places plain.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light;
and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death,
upon them hath the light shined.

For unto us a Child is born,
unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon His shoulder;
and His name shall be called
The Mighty God,
The Everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.

All my best wishes of the season go to you and all you whom you love.