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Two years ago,
My left over hippie aunt,
the one with the Tye dye wardrobe
and the silver braid down her butt,
dragged me into visiting an Indian reservation.


"We have Cherokee in our blood!"was one of her arguments
Cherokee thats so far back in the family tree
it takes up a single leaf

"you cant live in Arizona without experiencing the raw culure of a Reservation!" was another.
I experienced one everyday
on the bus ride to school
dusty patch of land

sad little houses

even sadder faces

why would i,
or anyone for that matter,
want to experience such a thing


But my aunt was visiting for the summer
and my mother had a new husband
and she desperately wanted both of us,
out of her hair.

That's my theory.
"Go check it out Kizzie.You always did like an adventure."
oh I did , did I?

And so,
off i went,unwillingly
into the great wild yonder
with my flower child aunt Becks.
The one with the tye dye wardrobe,
and the silver braid down her butt,
and the seventies radio station turned up full blast
on our 45 minute ride to the reservation.

I might as well have been the big bad wolf,
because i huffed and puffed the whole ride over.


The Reservation
was even worse up close
than it had been from the safety of the bus window
It sent a chill up my spine


Those houses with broken windows
shattered wine bottles scattered everywhere
and more chip than paint
were only a few miles
from neatly bricked cottages
with cobble stone driveways
and refinished kitchens


It
tangled
my
heart
in
knots.

"Oh,Kizzie,come meet my good friend"exclaimed aunt becks
Arron Crow
tan business suit
midnight black braids down to his chest
finished off
with a creme colored cowboy hat
pretty good looking actually

The just pinched flush of my aunts cheeks
showed she agreed

"Nice to meet you",
said a deep voice
connected to a stretched out hand
a hand that i curiously shook

And aunt Becks proceeds to tell me the man's entire life story
which sounded like something
ripped out of the pages of a book
stolen from the acts of a play
or written by the hand of a Hollywood director


Mr.Crow grew up on this reservation
he loved the families and the culture
but was determined to escape the cycle of poverty
with the unconditional support from his parents,
he studied hard
got into a wonderful college
became a rich architect
and now,
now he wants to give back to his community
by building new houses and repairing old ones.
and if that works out, maybe more.
End.Curtain.

Well it was about time somebody did.
Give back,I mean

Mr.Crow looked me over
for a good long while
but not the kind of while that makes you want to run to the nearest police station.
the kind of while
that makes you wonder,
what is so interesting about me?
will you let me know once you figure it out?



"I have a brother about your age",
he said
finally shattering the silence
I cocked my head to the side
as if to say,"is that so?"
It was my never fail routine
whenever an adult told me
about a relative
son
brother
sister
cousin
nephew
niece
daughter
grandchild
that just happened to be my age.

It was the ultimate ice breaker.
"really?"
i was expected to ask
what are they like?
whatever is their name?
I would so love to meet them

But I hadn't known Mr.Crow long enough
to owe him any of that false interest
or any of my
pleased- to- meet -you- smiles.

So I was myself
and myself stared
right into the shining metal brim
of his cream colored cowboy hat

"His name is Abel."
Crow continued,
not in the least bit flustered
by my attempted rudeness.
which made me smile




So aunt Becks and I spent our summer there
along with some other volunteers
consiting mostly
of other Native american loving hippies like her,
and kids my age ,
looking to earn some community service hours.

We all worked together
bringing up foundations
and eventually walls
and everything else a house should be.

We reparied those broken windows
cleaned up those scattered beer bottles
and we got rid those chips to make room for the paint.
for these reservation Indians
who I started to agree

Truly,
truly deserved it.


One day
the absolute most humid,
sticky,
and most thick aired day of the year,

I met Susie Crow.

Whose first words to these "educated non indians",
were "I gave birth of Arron Crow."
her chin was held high and her back straight
trying to make a good first impression
and trying to show us
that although she was born
on a reservation
where according to Mr.crow
the education and schooling is 'bull crap'
she still managed to have her so
become a rich and successful engineer

And all of this was said,
by those seven words
and it was all I could do
not to give her a big thumbs up

After her very necessary statement,
she invited whole groups of us at a time
into the home we had helped repair
for a drink of water
which turned into lunch
which was flat dough deep fried in oil
and dried fish.
A.K.A Fry bread and Stink fish.
which I like the sound of a whole lot better
but I am not sure I wouldve eaten
if i knew the names before hand.


It was then,
as i was wiping my mouth clean on a napkin
that a tall,
almond skinned,
shaggy haired boy
in a black T-shirt with the name of my favorite band splashed across it
dissolved out of the darkness
of the upstairs of Susie Crow's house.

"Abel"
I thought id said in mind
but heard out loud in the air
I bit my tongue as a punishment for myself

"who are you"
he could have said
"how do you know my name,you creep"
he could have said
or even,
"Yea, I'm Abel,who wants to know?"

but instead
instead
instead he says,
"Hey.
you're
sitting
in
my
chair."

I imedietly hoped to my feet and mutter a sorry.
I imedietly hoped to my feet and mutter a sorry?

Who is this mysterious boy
who can cause Kizzie Dakota
to,dare I say it,
apologize?


He laughed, satisfied with the results of his words
"I'm just teasing.
Hey,Im Abel.
Oh wait,you already knew that."
another laugh.
I feel my ears burn hot.
Abel outsrestched his hand
and it felt awfully familiar
then I remebered this was Mr.Crows
about-my-age brother
I again chose to shake the hand.


After a minute or two,
Able looked at me with a puzzled expression
what
I said with my eyes
"You know,
you can sit down if you want to."
I'd been standing the whole time.
I laughed,and the other volunteers laughed with me.


It took me a while to get used to Abel.
the way his deep brown eyes melted into his skin
and the way he bit his lip when I teased him.
but eventually,the flame in my ears gave out,
and they no longer burned.
although the smallest flicker moved to my chest
where i buried it for myself


"Your not like your brother."
I said one day.
we were sitting on the tallest rock we had found on our trail that day
"No,I'm not"
Abel replied matter- of -factly,crunching on an apple
and making me shaky
by staring straight into my eyes.

Neither of us said anything for a moment.

"Mr.Crow-Your brother-,
he's been working his whole life
to get out of the reservation."

"Ever since i can remember."

"But you-
you seem just fine where you are.
why?"
Abel blinked a few times.
"..Do you mean,why do i choose
to stay here
with all this poverty
and alcoholism,
and violence?"
I shook my head yes.
that had been exactly what i wanted to ask.
But around Abel,
I was just too polite to say it.

My Aunt and I were at the Reservation almost everyday,
so we knew about the alcohol
and the deaths
and the not having enough money
for a decent school.
We'd also learned that these atrocities were widespread
and not uncommon among Indian Reservations.



He took another noisy bite of his apple
and talked with his mouth full.
"Mmph..,mell Mizzie,"
he swallowed,
Let me give you an illustration."

He was always giving me illustrations.
He sounded so intellegent
when he talked that way
that it only made me wonder
even more
why he would want to stay
in a place
with such poor education.

"Let me give you an illustratiion",
he repeated.

l
and this is what he told me
to make me understand

There is a boy
who lives on a reservation
with two acholohilc parents
next to no money
hungry
school books from last century.
and teachers who've stopped caring.

His parents,his grandparents and their parents

have been born and buried on the rez.
the whole family is drunk and depressed

and the boy sulks around the house
barely going to school if at all

following his parents example throughout his life.


Then there is another boy,
with the same conditions as the first,
bad schooling
no money
alcohol.

But this one makes a fishing rod
out of some things he found around the house
and goes out to the mountains every morning
bringing back fish he caught the same night.
his family will never go hungry
as long as he goes out and fishes
sometimes
even hunting small animals
He will alsways have his pick of berries and nuts
on his adventures
and he is free to roam the mountainside
as he pleases
when this boy grows up,
he will live on the rez
and he will want his children to experience
the same freedom he did as a child.

*******
I snuck a glance at the fishing rod
made from a long green branch
and a string of yarn with a hook
in the grasp of Abel's hand

"And are you that second boy?"
I asked not being able to face him

"I think I might be,"
is his answer,as he looks off somewhere
only he can see

"But then again",
he says to me,eyes shining with a new kind of mischief



















"We never know what the future holds."












I come back to the reservation every summer after that,long after the houses are all finished.































and this summer,I might just stay for a while.




















{End.}



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