NHT's Office

       An American Indian "Lost One"

a generation of NDN children were lost to their People -
i am one of them, a Lost One -
my story begins in Chelsea, MA, a village of Boston,
and six months in the first monkey wrench was thrown
i was abandoned to the landlady and later only knew 
that my mother was full-blooded American Indian -
i'd not know my mother's name or birthplace for 30+ years -
it would be the only verifiable info i'd ever find on her -
internet and all.

i grew up being passed around in the White Man's world 
until the age of 12 when adoption stole my name 
and strangers told me i had to be somebody else now...
it took me almost 40 years to get my own name back.

Boston born and bred when indigenous was evil, 
information of my heritage had been kept from me, 
but despite the well meaning attempts to shush truth,
i'd always known inside that  i held this quiet self-knowledge,
eventually validated 
by the Wampanoag traditional leader,
Gertrude Haynes Aikens, a/k/a Princess Evening Star.  

our meeting was memorable if only for me,
a newly licensed 17 year old who gave into curiosity 
and stopped in at the Princess's gift shop teepee --
at first i was shy, and she was most gracious
despite weariness from battling local officials 
to protect her people's ancient burial grounds -
by the end of our visit, though,
she had become inexplicably impatient.
i found out later she was dying.

i treasure the memory of her honouring me 
in a manner locally known as reserved only for Natives - 
she told me that my people were of the 'southwest' 
Navajo Dine, she said. 
i still have the Navajo doll she gave to me -
Princess Evening Star is the reason why
at 17 believing i'd found my people, 
i immersed myself in studying everything Navajo -
it was easy, the Dine seemed so familiar, 
home to my solitary heart -

when this New Englander actually travelled Navajo lands, 
inside me, thoughts and places opened up of which 
i'd had no prior knowledge, only suspicion ...
the very faces of the Dine reached into my soul -
i had never before seen anyone who looked like me,
and those desert museums held myriad photos 
of Navajo children who felt like lost relatives ...
so it was in Navajo land that my medicine became alive ...
Also by then i knew my mother's name and was delighted
by Southwest telephone books to find 
her surname 
as common in Navajo land as Smith is in England 

which might seem to confirm the Wampanoag's words -

...except there's a twist in this story strongly suggesting
that i may very well be Choctaw ...
my mother's birthplace incorporated into the Choctaw Nation
in 1901, well before she was born.
Additionally  the Choctaw are one of the tallest natives - 
recently i've shrunk to 5'10" from my lifelong 6' stature...

But if nothing else, my life has been full of monkey wrenches
and so here is the wrench to toss into THAT story: 

in records of all 5 Muskogean Tribes, 
of which Choctaw is but one, 
not a single family is listed with my mother's surname...??

As it happens legal paperwork weighs more than hearsay,
and the document i have with my mother's birthplace 
has recently earned "unofficial" recognition by the Choctaw.

i confess, it feels good to be attached to a specific tribe,
after 6 decades of being told who i am, and who to be -
but i also realize that in the end none of this will matter -
what matters is for my medicine, whether Dine or Chahta, 
to be as valid as any other's chosen by this path -
and while this path is traditionally and 
culturally informed,
for the Lost Ones who walk this path,
teachings of Spirit transcend tribal or cultural boundaries 

Mitakuye Oyasin (Lakota), loosely translated:
We are all related 

Ah-sheh'heh (Navajo)
Ya ko kae (Choctaw)
Philámayaye (Lakota)
Thank you


This Breed's Other Half

Because only my mother was full NDN, 
i am also known as a "Breed" -
the man who called himself my father
was nearly full blooded, legendary Black Irish 
you know, the unusual-looking Irish with black hair blue eyes 

 while i inherited my mother's colouring, it was 
by this man
who held it a fatherly duty to ensure unbroken connection
to his Celtic background,
that i was named in Gaelic for his favourite place in Ireland -
thus my unusual given name often begged
why i didn't look Irish ...

Raised an Irish cradle Catholic 
while the sweeping (and often misinterpretted) changes
were barely thoughts in the mind of JPXX111, 
i spent my elementary years steeping in old school education 
from the venerable Sisters of St. Joseph,
whose Rule dates back to 1650's France
and whose founder was a Jesuit

My teachers were the keepers of Catholic esotericism -
these sisters of the mystical -
they became more like tutors to me than teachers,
because my experience was far more intimate with them
than one might imagine -

by pure happenstance a member of the family
with whom i was staying at the time
was in fact a Sister of St. Joseph -

so it was i have memories of solitary sunday afternoons,
roaming strange convent grounds
while adults behind stone walls enjoyed visits
with their loved ones.

Then by pure chance alone, she became assigned 
to the parochial school which i attended 

contrary to what one might think,
i did not become the 'star child' of all my peers 
for having a 'nun as an aunt' --
instead i followed instructions 
to keep our connection secret as an exercise in humility ...

Nuns are rarely impractical,
and that's how i ended up every afternoon
 waiting for my ride home
 in the convent's front parlour where,
 again as instructed,
i sat almost motionless
fairly lost in an overly large wing-backed chair,
silent and awaiting the melody 
of my teachers' afternoon prayer  
to waft down the hall and come gently into my hearing ...

Nurturing my Celtic sensibilities
i am thankful that these women perfectly aligned me 
to walk the path of my American Indian heritage

the venerable Sisters of St. Joseph
my teachers of Catholic esoterics 

          related readings:  Doll Story
                                       Father's Day