Friday, June 13, 2008

Such is, a sacred life

My job is to buy art from the people.

People who make that their way of life and living, because they have no choice. It is one thing our people here have that they hang onto desperately and sacredly. There are few jobs here and being an artist is a way of life, lucky as most here are to be able to make a living out of art, it is not thought of that way.

I have stated before, every piece represents a gallon of gas, milk, bread, a portion of a lightbill, it is not a comfortable living, but barely a living.

They Lakotas however, has so much fierce pride inside, they do a spenldid job of living. Every piece is well represented of the area, the culture and an adaptable way of life. Nowhere else do you find such beauty in a piece of art as small as a pair of earrings.

I know one such girl that quills with such pride, every piece speaks to you as if it is already yours because the weaving is so intricate and tight and when you know who made it, you think, wow, she cares so much for her work, she takes painstaking time to make great detail, even though it probably just gas money or money to get by for the day. She was passed on that trait from an aunt, who learned from her mother. That grandmother is no longer here, but taught a whole generation to quill. In turn, a whole new generation is learning the ways of quilling and making a living from it. All from one woman.

One woman who realized that the porcupine was a sacred animal to her family, for generations to come. That the porcupine would provide way of life for her people, as in the past and give her tiyospaye a sense of utmost pride.

I watched the young girl quill and bring me beautiful piece after beautiful piece. I watched her through her last two trimesters of pregnancy, grow more and more excited about having a girl, her first girl. She would stand there and rub her stomach as we talked. I saw her and her husband come in a week ago with the brand new baby.

She was beautiful, with a head full of black hair, gorgeous complexion and sleeping as if the world wasn't spinning. I bought her earrings, and told her congratualtions. I teased her about missing her quillwork.

I saw her Monday when I went to work. She was with her husband. He came into my office. He gave me a look that told a different story.

Did you hear, he asked, she's gone. He said before I could answer.


She passed away in her sleep yesterday morning. Do you guys donate at all?

Oh no, I will find out. I gave him a hug, told him sorry and they left.

I had to inform them the next morning that we didn't donate. The school I work for, who operates on donations, didn't donate for such instances. They bought her a turtle amulet for her belly button and they needed moccasins.

Don't worry about it, I told them.

I stayed up all night Tuesday, furiously making and beading purple moccasins for a little girl I will never know. For a couple I just got to know.


Because life is sacred, that is how the Lakota believe. We must carry on with these ways.

Rest in Peace Naudia Sunshine.

1 comment:

Mike S said...

A child lost is a future denied. All life is indeed sacred. A universal truth.