Today the sun is shining
Oki! Once the school year began, my mood began to rise and I started to feel like I was home. Yes, I still missed my family, but things seemed brighter. Of course, it was helpful that my aunt was flying out to see me at the end of the month.
A lot of things happened in September. Our air quality was low because wildfires were at their peak. However, the snow quickly fixed that at the end of the month. It was also the month that I moved from an apartment into a house. My pup, Faith, was too loud during the day for us to remain in the apartment.
October was a normal month, so Faith and I settled into a routine. I did learn, a day late, that keeping your porch light off on Halloween in Montana does not mean the Trick-or-Treaters will leave you alone, as it would in Pennsylvania. It seems that a sign should be placed on the door instead to state that you don’t celebrate the holiday. I will have to remember that for the future.
When November hit, I found I was truly missing my family again. Especially near the end of the month. Everyone kept asking if I was going home for Thanksgiving. I wasn’t. I had decided that the break was not long enough to entice me to get on a plane and fly across the country. It looked like I would be spending the day at home, with my pup for company. The thought had me in yet another low mood.
Cut Bank has a community Thanksgiving Day meal at lunchtime, free and open to all in the town. Even on Thanksgiving, I was not sure if I would go to the meal, but I did. I parked in the parking lot, and even then thought of returning to my house. I knew that it would be nice to get out and meet people in town, but being in a room full of talking strangers is more than I can bear at times.
There is nothing more lonely to me than being surrounded by people and not having one person to speak to. But when I went in to where the meal was being served, I saw a person I knew to sit with, which was nice. That Thanksgiving was the first holiday I was away from my family and that made it hard. I have learned that I need to focus on the positives in life to get out of the bad/low moods. For example, today the sun is shining as I write, I have people that care about me, and I have friends.
But there was a time in August when I was walking my pup I realized that if anything happened to me, no one would know or possibly even care. Of course my family would care, but what if they didn’t know that something had happened>
As I said before, my routine was shop once a week, walk my pup, and stay inside. I was not working yet, and church is only once a week. If something had happened to me on a Monday, who would have known? It truly was a startling thought.
I am pleased to say now, that if anything happened to me, people would know, and they do care. If I didn’t show up at work one day, I am sure I would be contacted to make sure I was OK.
In the last article I spoke of the tipis. So to get back to niitóyis, the lodges, I want to talk a little about the design we often see painted on the side of the tipi. The right to paint an animal on the middle of the lodge was and is given to only a few elders of the tribe. The animal that is painted comes to the person in a dream. They don’t just say “I like bears, I want a bear on my niitóyis.”
The designs, if they are painted, share information from the past or are there to help the tribe. For instance, on the flaps at the top of the lodge are circles. The circles are symbols to represent the stars, which represent the legends that talk about lost or neglected children who ended up in the stars. This is a reminder to a family to watch and take care of their children.
There is also a legend in which two men, Weasel Heart and Fisher, were preparing arrow shafts while sitting by the water. When they looked into the water, each spotted a niitóyis. One had a black buffalo, the other was a yellow painted buffalo. One at a time, they dove into the water, spoke to the man and woman in the lodge they entered, and were told to create a lodge like the one they were in. They obeyed and had the powers of the men within the underwater lodges.
According to the legend, they were able to create a shallow passage across the river to allow their people safe passage across the river, and that passage exists today.
The area I am living in is full of legends and history. I have heard that early explorers found an abandoned village, and I wondered how they knew it was once a village. What kept the tipis from blowing away in the wind? Well, now I know.
When a village was first created, the natives would gather large rocks from the area and those rocks would be placed in a circle around the base of the lodge. The rocks would be placed on the covering, like tent stakes. When the tribe moved on, the rocks would remain.
When we took the students on a field trip, we stopped to look at the tipi rings, I find I am learning information about the past, as I am teaching my children. There are times that they teach me about their tribe, area and legends, and I welcome it.
By allowing them to teach me about the culture, I am letting them know that I value their heritage, their knowledge, and that in life we are always learning.
Well, I am out of room, so Nii tak ko to mat tsi no, I will see you again.