I called you over tonight because I know you write. I have something you need to tell, people need to know.
It was late when the old lady called me over to her house. She is going to be 77 this year and still works full time.
She started to talk and I listened, because that is how we do it here.
When I was a little girl, I don’t even know how old I was, so don’t ask. My grandma used to always be at our house, she used to baby sit us sometimes, but she was always there...she took care of us. Back in those days we didn’t have the kind of help you could get now...just our rations so we always made bread. Making bread was so much a part of our life because sometimes that is all we had to eat, but because of grandma we still ate and that is why I taught every girl in our family, or tried to teach them to make bread...even if it is just gabooboo bread (skillet bread.) Because you never know if that bread will make you a stronger person, inside and out..
Anyway grandma taught us to make bread, she told us stories, one day she was too old, she said.
She called me and my brother over....Takojas (grandchildren)come here...someday I won’t be here and you need to hear this story. so my brother and I, we went over.
Takojas, I am going to tell you what happened to me when I was a 14 year old girl. I was in Ft Yates (North Dakota), that is our people, that is where we are from when my mother and my father died from a flu. I had nowhere to go or stay and I was only 14. I was taking care of my brothers...they were babies yet, 3 of them...one of them I still had to hold. That is when Gaca (Grandpa) Sitting Bull called me over.
“My girl” he said “I am sending you down to your moms family down in Pine Ridge. I have people going down there, you can ride with them....tell your mother’s people that you and your brothers are pitiful and they need to take pity on you.”
She was scared but knew she had no family left really in Ft. Yates. So her and her brothers rode in a wagon and slept on hay and covered with blankets to keep warm. It was cold, real cold, they stopped in Wounded Knee and the girl got out of the wagon while her brothers slept...she sat under the wagon with another girl that was traveling. They tried without success to make a small fire. that is when she heard the gunshots and seen the soldiers coming on horses. She grabbed her youngest brother and ran. The two that lie sleeping in the wagon were shot before they could even wake up.
The girl held her brother and ran when she was approached from the front. She was shot but it was her baby brothers body that saved her...she fell with her brother as his blood ran down the front of her. that is who she is, who she was, that is what she went through.
She told her two takojas to come closer and look as she lifted her dress. She was an old woman, and would have never lifted her dress ever, but she wanted these two kids to know, to see. They looked closer and suddenly they realized why she was in pain all the time, why she walked funny, why she sat outside at night and cried.
She had a bullet hole by her hip and one in her private area that had never healed. The bullets still in her and worms living there. Long worms with pinks heads. The kids screamed and ran from her...the little girl puking.
The old lady looked at me and said “Unci (grandmother) told me to never tell anyone...never to tell. But i am getting old and I wanted to tell you because you like to write. Please write this down.
I then told her, You know some people will say “That is history, you Indians got your asses kicked, forget it and drink your firewater” What do you say to people that say that? I was very hurt when it was said to me.
That is why they need to know, those Indians that got their asses kicked were babies, 14 year old girls that carried those bullets for the rest of her life...she never had kids of her own, always taking care of the rest of us. Yes, our people suffered, but how will my Takoja’s know who they are? How will they know what they are if someone doesn’t tell them what we did survive? Yes, we are healing...but we will never forget. I don’t tell white man to forget about Pearl Harbor, or to forget about 9/11. You respect the dead. I say anyone who says that had horrible parents. You write this down...you are a voice and you sing. If I could have named your column I would have named it Singing Woman, because that is who you are. Don’t stop singing, Dana. Don't let anyone make you stop singing.
*conversation I had late into the night last night, with my kids great grandmother.
Recipe for Gabooboo Bread
flour (half 5 lb. bag)
baking powder(3 tbsp)
powdered milk(palm full)
a little sugar(palm full)
and warm water (about 3 cups)
Stir all together without the water, add a little oil to your warm water and mix together with water. I am not sure of measurements but the consistency of the bread should be sticky. Have a large skillet heating with a little oil. When you hold hand over it should feel the heat. Make dough into large patties and cook in skillt covered for about 8 minutes. Flip over when one side is browned. Cook other side for another 8 minutes. Bread is soft, warm and delicious.
Someday I hope you know how bread can make you a stronger person, inside and out.