Out at the Hobbema Indian Rodeo, a little white farm boy sits expectantly right down on the front bench of the bleachers, legs nearly touching the fence, while up behind him, his broad mother worries beside her blind husband, a man who can only listen, tightly wrapped in his suit and Western string tie.
The boy leans forward between two slow-talking Indians, huge and heavy in dark plaid and black hats. He is glad he left his holster and silver six shooter at home this year.
The air is still, its scent of sun-dried farm dirt as light as feathers. Even the harrowed corral is waiting, its dark clumps flattened for the coming of the horses, the spray of their hooves. The only movements are behind the gate, dark faces, arms tight on ropes. He listens for the horn, wanting that surprise again of some local native youth, a guy from the pool hall, one he would never have noticed in town. The gate moves and now here he comes flying from the chute up on the back of a pounding, kicking, whirlwind. The boy is standing, seeing the power of the arm, its hand clenched down, not slipping, forcing the rider upright, other hand flashing above, legs flying in the leaps, all with the same determination and skill as the best Texas cowboys at the big stampede back in Ponoka.
Finally the chuckwagon race, always the ultimate event, but here just three brown wooden wagons, the old-fashioned farm kind with seats and wheels and nothing else, no canvas covers, no fancy logos, slowly rolling out, and in the seats, three native farm boys holding back their horses until that horn sounds, and the earth shudders under hooves like hammers, and the drivers' long arms whip down their reins, lanky legs straining against the boards, black hair flying as they careen tightly around those two barrels, then thunder off together into the straightaway.
Mouth open, adrenaline pumping. That one moment out on that reserve.
Wandering then, as the evening cools his young spirit, he hears the drums begin, and the chanting -- hi ya ya ya hi ya ya ya -- a circle of men and women drumming and chanting together, and he is there standing on the grass between these tall dark people, in the arc of their canvas and skin tents, and as his legs begin to follow the rhythm in the light of the fire a warrior moves from the shadows in beaded buckskin and feathers stepping slowly into a dance, and with each touch and tap of his feet the sudden rhythmic jangle of bells on his moccasins joins the beat of the drums and the chant as it slides into song, its words from another world, but the rhythms make sense to the boy's young ears, and the movements of the dancer, his head down and down, then up, his feet tapping, stomping, tangling through the beat, all this builds a home in the boy's mind, far from his own, yet right there in front of him.
And as the decades pass, as he dodges, back-pedals and leaps his way through stressful white culture, its continual attack and defence, its judgements -- always there is this peaceful place, the jangling moccasins, soft tap of feet, the communal drumming, the communal chant.
Meredith Moeckel, Raven Black, Larry Burfield and 9 others like this.
Patricia Black Wonderful idea, Stan!
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 4 February at 22:39
Magnus Grendel Samson Coleman YOU HAD A GREAT READ WITH IT STAN, AS WELL...
Like · Reply · 5 February at 12:55
Stan Burfield Thanks Magnus. Between you and I we did a very fast transition from Mocassin Bells to Decibels smile emoticon
Like · Reply · 1 · 5 February at 13:07