Wow! The weather has surely changed! Growing up here in the Wind River during my childhood I think about fall time, bees, hunting, snow, mud, and most of all the wind. I am hoping you are all out enjoying the weather. I love how beautiful the leaves turn and make the landscape a whole different vibe. Wyoming’s mountains during the summer look further and when it snows the mountains look closer. The snow makes these little details visible and seemingly closer. This being the second week of my job I have been writing and researching grants and projects to work on. Looking for partnerships and collaborations for the end of the season and next year. I am hoping to have activities that share who are as an indigenous population and find venues and ways of sharing our culture. I am also looking for organizations that can work together to educate about the issues we face as an indigenous population. I feel that by writing this column you get to know me a little more than the people who don’t follow this column. I feel that through writing, it connects people in ways that are deeper than just following someone on social media. I hope with these stories I share and the information I share, you understand my perspective on life as an indigenous woman. I plan to share my humor, my anxieties, and parts of my life through my relationships with my family through stories. With that I wanted to share that my father was a tribal historian/storyteller. My father was born here on the reservation in the 1930's. We always argued about the year he was born because back then it was difficult to record in detail various things. It wasn’t like it is today. My father was a dry birth. That means his mom, my neiwo-grandmother, had an amniotic sac break before she could give birth to my dad. This incident created a lifetime of struggles for my dad and his mom as far as health and health care. When my dad turned 12 he went out with his dad and uncles to spend the night out in the wild as do all young boys who are turning into men. That was his “coming of age” for my dad, but there were other young men at the time. My dad talked about when they came back to their camp, which was a log house and wall tent they ate and were welcomed by his female relatives and his mom. In Arapaho, our aunts are our mom and he was greeted with many of his mom’s who would ensure he lived up to his duties and responsibilities as a young Arapaho man. The next day his family took him to elders at the time. He said the tipi was huge and it was made from buffalo hides. He said the hides were smoked hides and when he entered it was warm inside the tipi and dark. He looked around and he could see other boys his age who were also “coming of age”. His grandpa stood up and told everyone in the tipi that 7 boys were chosen to be “storytellers”. To these elders being a storyteller was important because he learned the stories of the tribe and over the course of his life, he saw many of the young men come and go from the tribe. My dad lived to be 90 years old. He passed on many stories and accounts. I only owe him this knowledge and will sometimes share those times from time to time. My dad was raised by Arapaho women matriarchs. He was raised with strong women in his life and it was portrayed in his stories. Many of my dad’s grandmas were married to predominantly Arapaho but some were French traders, Cheyenne, Lakota, Nakota, Dakota, Arikara, Mandan, Haidasa, Gros Ventre, Yellow Knife, Paigan, Black Feet, Black Foot, etc. Some of these tribes are in Canada. My dad used High Plain Sign Language like many older men but he also had close relationships with his grandpas that he spoke their language. As my dad was drafted into the Korean Conflict and relocated after serving to Los Angeles, he picked up Spanish. My dad was multilingual. My dad’s advocacy for various issues was my model growing up. Seeing my dad speak up and represent his community was something I took on and have chosen myself to advocate. Much of my advocacy background is for land, however, it is all connected to me. I share this because it will become relevant in my column as we move forward. Have a great week! Stay warm!
Hohou! Nohuusoho'. Thank you! Yufna Soldier Wolf