Friday, August 14, 2009

Pow-wows, Everyday Life, and Twilight Dreams

Returning home is always a blessing. Last weekend I went home to the Omaha Tribe's Harvest Celebration Pow-wow in Macy, NE. This years pow-wow was rumored to have been canceled due to funding issues, however what I seen upon arrival was a full celebration going strong.

Found my mother, Alice Saunsoci, who was sitting behind my brothers' drum group, Rock Bottom. She looked beautiful and relaxed in her light colored regalia and she was extremely happy to see me and the kids. She gave me a hug and kiss and told me to set my chair next to hers.

I sat in my star spangled pow-wow chair for a time mesmerized by the dancing and singing. Kids took off right away to see whatever there was to see. I had told them, as we were traveling back to Macy, about my escapades when I was little. I used to run all over the pow-wow grounds with my cousins chasing the Moore Boys from Pawnee, Oklahoma. So I knew the entire place like my own palm. Lots of good memories there. Heh-heh.

After a time, I became thirsty and got up to go in search for something to drink. I stopped suddenly when I heard someone call me name. My cousin/sister Mary waved me over to where she was sitting. She stood up and gave me a hug as soon as I walked up to her.

"What? No famous writers with you this time?" she asked playfully.

"Nope. No writers, actors, or producers came along with me this time around!" I responded with a smile, "Just me!"

I let my eyes roam the crowd as we stood and talked. Everywhere I looked were familiar faces of my Omaha relatives, with a few unknown ones scattered here and there.

The atmosphere was so very warm and carnival like. It felt good to be amongst my tribe once again.

Mary's question, though said in jest, sent me into a contemplative state. As I walked the midway, continuing my search for some thirst quenching concoction, I realized that the last time I'd been to our pow-wow was in 2007. And, yes, I was accompanied by Christopher Cartmill, the writer/playwright, Mary was referring to. Chris and I had forged an unbreakable bond of friendship and understanding that year. He became my brother.

2007 was about change. Then 2008 was a blur. And 2009?

Contemplation #1: This year has been about rebuilding a life...

We've been in Lincoln for little over a year now and have a comfortable little home in a quiet neighborhood surrounded by good people. It's exactly what I had hoped for.

I heard the M.C., Chiefy, (everyone knows Chiefy!) announce that there was going to be two intertribals before the next special. I hurried back to my mom and we went out to dance in the arena. One of the intertribal songs was sung by my brothers, Omaha Lodge. As they sang, I felt my spirit fill with happiness so I started dancing with a lot of energy. I even felt some tears slip down my face at some point. This was exactly where I needed to be in that moment.

When the song was over and we found our seats again, my kids came bounding over to me smiling like big puppies. They all had snow cones that their Aunty Alison had bought for them. They each said that they were having a good time, then they bounded off once again to who knows where.

Contemplation #2: My kids' happiness is the mainstay of my life...

I have been totally focused on helping my kids adjust to all the changes in their lives. I have been relentless about building resiliency in them and within myself. Standing strong no matter what. A description of resiliency goes like this:

"Resilience is a term used to describe a set of qualities that foster a process of successful adaptation and transformation despite risk and adversity (Benard, 1995). Persons who are resilient have the capacity to withstand, overcome, or recover from serious threat (Masten, 2001). Simply put, resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity."

My kids and I have been through some extreme test of adversity in the past year.

A year ago, we stood in a place where we had no home. We faced a situation that held a great threat to our well-being. And we survived it.

Contemplation #3: Our family resiliency is based on our spirituality...

As the pow-wow wound up for the year, the endnote was on a happy one. Everyone was happy! Seeing my kids happy and having fun at our pow-wow brought me great joy, which I am very thankful for! Spending time with my mom also brought us happiness.

This year has been all about building our resiliency through our spirituality. I have been dedicated to going to sweats and sundance, and to learning the Lakota ceremony songs and then singing them to my kids. They are Lakota. They frequently attend sweats and ceremonies with me. They know what I pray for...just as they know what I work on everyday.

In everyday life, I strive to exemplify those virtues that Native people hold dear: Humility, compassion, respect, and fortitude. There are others, of course, but I just wanted to mention those ones right now.

I dream at times when I am still awake. Twilight dreams between the night and day. Glimpses of the strands of time, if there are such things, though I've heard that they are called "strings."

We drove home the next day after pow-wow. Refreshed and ready to began anew. Our little home was waiting for us just as we had left it the day before.