Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Sheltered and True"

This poem is spillover from the August 1, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] alatefeline, [personal profile] daisiesrockalot, and [personal profile] bairnsidhe. It also fills the "adoption" square in my 7-31-17 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by a pool from [personal profile] ng_moonmoth, [personal profile] technoshaman, and EdorFaus. It belongs to the Iron Horses thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"Sheltered and True"

The fourth day after Kenzie's rescue
found him restless and anxious.

His bruises ached and his scars itched,
but he didn't want to take any more pills
and he found it difficult to meditate.

He paced through the roundhouse
and walked around outside, but
the effort soon wore him out.

Kenzie loved the beautiful scenery
of Rocky Boy's Reservation, the way that
the rolling slopes of the Bear's Paw Mountains
seemed to cup the little towns and houses.

He loved the smell of sweetgrass and
the sound of the birds singing overhead.

He loved the rustic curves of the roundhouse
that somehow helped him to feel at home.
He kept trailing a hand along the wall
just to ground himself in the feel of
the sturdy house around him.

When Kenzie saw Ida sitting
on the couch by the woodstove,
he flopped into her lap and said,
"I don't ever want to leave."

"Then don't," she said,
stroking his hair.

"I can't stay," he said.
"Sooner or later, you'll
get tired of pampering me."

"Four days," Ida said gently. "It's
our custom to take care of a Sun Dancer
for four days. Give your body time to heal,
and talk with Blazing Grass tomorrow.
Then you can be a diligent boy and
start helping out with things."

Kenzie rolled so that he could
look up at her. It was still awkward,
but at least he could do it now
without wanting to scream.

"Really?" he said. "You're
not just saying that?"

"Really," she assured him.
"We love a hard worker, and I've
seen you looking for things to do.
Trust me, a little patience now will be
better than re-injuring yourself and
having to rest even longer."

"Yeah, I know," Kenzie said.
"I just want to make myself useful.
I'm a good guest. I don't mooch."

"You are a wonderful guest, and
definitely not a mooch," Ida said.
"Stay here as long as you like."

"You make it sound ... permanent,"
Kenzie said wistfully. He wished
he could believe that. "Like you're
planning to adopt me or something."

"We're open to that possibility,"
Ida said. "It's early to broach this topic,
but have you thought about adoption?
We've taken in several of Blair's friends,
since not everyone appreciates two-spirits."

"Yep, it happens every few years,"
Blair said as she entered the living room
and sat down beside her mother.

"I guess I've fantasized about having
a real family," Kenzie said. "I haven't
done it recently, though, not since I
was little. I have to be realistic, and
that means taking care of myself."

"Your family sounds unworthy of you,"
Ida said with a sigh. Gentle fingers
tucked Kenzie's hair behind his ears.
"Think about finding a family of choice,
one way or another, doesn't have to be us."

Kenzie wanted them, though, suddenly
and fiercely. "But you're the only ones
who want me," he said. "Why does it
matter that I think about it? I will take
what I can get when I have the chance."

"It matters, because a person's clan
determines certain obligations and
opportunities for them, such as
eligible partners for marriage,"
said Ida. "For example, if we
adopt you, then you will belong
to the Caribou clan, making Blair
your sibling and thus ineligible."

"When someone is considering
adoption into the tribe, then it's
a good idea to meet people first,"
said Blair. "That way you don't wind up
in the same clan as someone you'd like
to court or as most of the other people
who might make good mates for you."

"I'm not really thinking that far ahead,"
Kenzie said. "Today is hard enough."

"I know," Ida said. "That's what we're for.
We'll help you get through the hard things."

"Are you sure people won't mind
that I'm so white?" Kenzie said.

"Most won't mind," Blair said.
"We always have a few friends
who move into the reservation for
various reasons. I've even seen
another redhead around, but
I don't remember her name."

"Corsen Aufroy," said Ida.
"She was a linguistics major at
the University of Montana before
the money ran out. Then she
moved here to earn her way
through Stone Child College."

"What did she do, take
a part-time job?" Kenzie said.

"Something like that," Ida said.
"Corsen works for the tribe. Anyone
can go to the tribal office in Box Elder, or
in the other settlements to one of the elders,
find some work to do, and get paid for it in
daso-diba'igan, a certain number of hours.
Then you can trade that for what you need."

Kenzie thought about that, and realized
that he had heard of something like that.

"So it's an alternative currency?" he said.
"Like Brookings Bucks? I've heard of those,
but I don't know anything more than the name.
I think one of the classes that I snuck into
mentioned some based on hours."

"Yes, other people have similar ideas,"
Ida said. "This way, nobody has to be broke
or unemployed, as you always have your skills."

Kenzie's heart ached, just thinking of
all the times when he'd gone hungry
because he didn't have any money,
and nobody would give him work.

"That sounds really nice," he said.
"I'd love to have that opportunity."

"Later," Blair said gently. "Tomorrow
Blazing Grass will check your body
and tell you what's safe to do."

"There's no reason you can't
start thinking about what you'd
like to contribute," Ida said.

Kenzie shifted in place
to ease a muscle that was
starting to stiffen up on him.

"I like arts and crafts," he said.
"Sometimes I make things and
sell them. When I'm staying with
friends, I cook and clean, or help out
around the house in other ways."

"Those are all useful," Ida said.
"You couldn't sell anything as
native art -- unless you get
adopted or earn your way in --
but there are other places."

"I don't think I'd want call mine
native anyway," Kenzie said.

Ida chuckled. "You sound like
Giveaway Woman, who biked in as
a young hippie and never left. She
married into the tribe, but she wouldn't
sell anything; in fact, she refused to have
anything to do with money. Later she
helped establish our tribal currency."

"It's interesting how there are different ways
of getting into the tribe," Kenzie said.

"Yes, you can be born in, adopted, or
married," Ida said. "Our tribe also uses
a point system so that people can earn
their way in. It's a bit messy and folks
still argue over it, but I think that it's
better than the other alternatives."

"How do the points work ?" Kenzie said.

"It takes 200 points to qualify," said Ida.
"You can get up to 100 for genetics,
60 for the language, crafts and skills
usually count 5 to 10, religious things
are worth 25 to 50, and so forth."

"You've got a lot going for you already,"
Blair said. "The Iron Horses can vouch for
your Sun Dance and the spirit interest,
and Smoking Breath will back us up."

"That's good," Kenzie said. "I'd rather
earn my own way than have someone else
carry the weight by adopting me. I'm just
afraid that people will start calling me
half-assed or something like that."

Blair sighed. "No, if they're being rude,
they'll call you a wannabe," she said.
"If you married a native woman, then
they'd call your children half-breeds."

Ida made a scolding sound and said,
"Well, there's no need for you to repeat it."

"Sorry, Mother," Blair said contritely.
"I just thought Kenzie should know
what he's getting into. He did ask."

"Yeah, I did," Kenzie said. He fidgeted
again, trying to get comfortable. "I wish
that I had something to do. I'm not
used to lying around doing nothing,
and I'm starting to go stir-crazy."

"Now you sound like Many Tongues,"
Blair said with a smile. "He came back from
the Army in a wheelchair, and decided he could
do the most good by learning tribal languages.
He's good at it, but he still needs help with
some things, and he gets fussy about
sitting idle for any length of time."

"The parfleches that I made yesterday
should be dry enough to paint now,"
Ida said. "I was planning to work on
them today. I suppose it won't hurt
for you to do one of those."

"Yes, please," Kenzie said,
pushing himself to sit up.

Ida gave him a hand, and then
Blair helped him to his feet.
"Just don't push yourself
too hard," Blair warned.

Or else Blazing Grass
would hear all about it
tomorrow, Kenzie guessed.
Better to avoid that issue.

So Blair dragged out
the folding wooden tables
that Ida used for crafts, and
Kenzie helped set them up
while Ida brought supplies.

"You're lucky that the paint
is already done," Blair muttered.
"Making that takes forever."

"I heard that," Ida scolded.
"I have traditional paints, oils,
and acrylics, so take your pick."

The parfleches themselves had
stiffened overnight, just damp enough
so that the pigments would soak in
rather than pooling on the surface.

"Which is better?" Kenzie asked,
fingering the thick rawhide.

"That depends on what you want,"
Ida said. "For a traditional look,
choose earth pigments, and for
a modern look, consider acrylics.
Oil paints take longer to dry, and
and they aren't ideal for beginners."

Kenzie felt somewhat tempted
by the traditional options, which
he had seen in museums, but he
didn't want his mistaken for that.
Something else would be safer.

Also, he had used acrylics before,
but never the earth pigments that
pooled thick and glossy in their cups.

So he chose three colors of acrylic --
black, white, and red -- which should
stand out well on the light brown
of the rawhide background.

As Kenzie watched, he realized
that Ida was making her designs
freehand, while Blair used a triangle
of scrap rawhide as a template.
Neither used a ruler or pencil.

"How are you doing the designs?"
he asked. "That looks really hard."

"It takes practice," Ida said. "It's
best to start with something simple,
especially if you're used to outlining
your work on regular canvas."

"Draw whatever designs you want,
too," Blair said as she picked up
a new color. "You can choose
something traditional, such as
triangles, or make up your own."

"Think of things that are meaningful
to you, or if this will be a gift, to
the recipient," Ida advised.

Kenzie's first thought was
to make something for Joseph,
Ron, or Ben; but then he realized
that his first effort wasn't likely
to be very impressive.

He remembered that
Henry Holds His Horses
used parfleches among
his packing materials, and
even if the art turned out poorly,
it would still have practical use.

After thinking carefully, Kenzie
used a bone stylus to make
tiny dots outlining the shape
of a galloping horse.

"You're good at this,"
Ida said. "Most kids ask
for a pencil the first time."
She shook her head. "If you
do that, the lines show through."

"I just copied what you're doing,
and used that to adapt the kind of
preparation I know from art classes,"
Kenzie said. "It's nothing special."

Blair snorted at him. "You need
to lose that habit, little brother,"
she said. "Don't put yourself down."

"Uh huh," Kenzie said, tucking
his chin tight against his chest.

Under Kenzie's hands, the horse
began to take shape in black
and white, his legs curling
gracefully under his body.

The sound of a motorcycle
made Kenzie look up, but he
didn't recognize the rider.

She was tall and svelte,
with very little breast or hip,
and her long hair spilled over
her shoulders in streaks of
blonde and brown.

The motorcycle was
the color of polished bone,
and its chrome trim gleamed
in the sun as she parked it.

Kenzie was maybe
a bit envious of that bike.

Her leathers, too, were creamy
and sleek as she shucked off
jacket and chaps to hang on
the bike, leaving ratty jeans
and a white top underneath.

Then she stalked over to Blair
and delivered a very thorough kiss.

When Blair came up for air, she said,
"Kenzie, this is my emfriend Bobtail.
Bobtail, Kenzie is a new friend, so
try not to scare him, okay?"

"Okay," Bobtail said,
staring at Kenzie.

Her brown eyes were
flecked with gold, and
she looked as if she
wanted to eat him.

"Hi," Kenzie said faintly.

"Bobtail, we're making
parfleches today," Blair said.
"Pull up a seat if you want
to join in the fun."

"Did you bring cookies?"
Bobtail asked, looking around.

"Yes, they're in the box of
traditional supplies," Ida said.

Bobtail dug around in the box
and came out with a tray full of
pigment discs and pieces.

She picked out a black sliver
and began expertly outlining
a woman riding a horse.

Then she started coloring
the pinto horse green.

"I saw this recently when I
visited the Blackfeet Reservation,"
said Bobtail. "She had a horse
just the color of spring leaves
coming up through snow."

"Wow," Kenzie said.
"It sounds beautiful."

The picture she made
certainly was. It made his
look like kindergarten art
in comparison to hers.

Ida was drawing a sprig
of blue-and-white flowers with
two little things that might be
either leaves or feathers.

Blair had made a design
of wide geometric lines in
red and blue, bracketed by
a black-and-white feather
painted on each side of it.

Kenzie was secretly relieved
that Blair's art wasn't exceptional.

"Don't worry, you're doing fine,"
Blair said. "I'm just not great at
most of the feminine skills. It used
to be that only women made parfleches,
but now some men do it too. I hope
you don't mind the one I'm making
for you is a little bit messy."

"For me?" Kenzie said.

"We often make things for
each other," Bobcat said.
"I'm making this for Blair.
Whose is yours for?"

"Henry Holds His Horses,"
Kenzie admitted. "I saw him
using some similar to this."

"That's a good choice," Ida said.
"A parfleche is always appropriate
as a gift. I haven't decided who
mine is for yet, but it's good
to have some spares."

"Do you think Henry will
like this?" Kenzie asked, looking
down at his art. The horse was
a lot chunkier than Bobtail's.

"I'm sure he'll appreciate it,"
Blair said firmly. "He never has
enough things to put stuff in."

"That's good to know," Kenzie said
as he drew four hoofprints on
the flap above the horse.

"If you like this kind of craft,
you can always practice to learn
more about it," said Blair. "Don't worry
too much about traditional gender roles,
they change over time anyway."

Bobtail nodded. "I got better at this
after I had my womanhood ceremony,
but that's because being misgendered
made me so nervous that my hands
shook most of the time," she said.

"You can do that?" Kenzie said,
startled. "I mean, have a ceremony
to change your gender or whatever."

He wondered if he could do that
for this whole two-spirit thing.

"Yes," said Bobtail. "I got fostered
with white people for a while, and
it was awful -- they did everything
wrong. Later on, I got back into
the tribe and then it was better."

"Sometimes people need to redo
a rite of passage, and that's fine,"
Blair said. "It can help a lot."

That made Kenzie think
about the miserable muddle
of his Sun Dance, and how he
wished he could go back and
do that the right way.

He couldn't go back ... but
maybe he could go forward.

"I was just remembering
my Sun Dance and wondering
if I could do that over, or if it's
the kind of thing that people can
only do once, " Kenzie said.

"Most people only do it once
in the full form, but it's not rare for
a Sun Dancer to renew his vows
at a later time," Blair said. "It's
meant to be a little less intense,
but sometimes people have
visions then anyway."

"I think it's something I'd
like to consider," Kenzie said.
"I've been learning a lot from
all of you, and I'd like to try
putting that into practice."

"We host a powwow in August,"
said Ida. "You would have time
to prepare for a little dancing then.
If you want to do the whole thing,
though, you need to go through
the entire year of training for it."

"I definitely want to learn more,"
Kenzie said. He liked the lessons that
Ron had given him, even if some of them
were uncomfortable. "I just wasn't sure
if I would get the chance to use it."

"Some people make a custom
of looking at the sun," Ida said.
"It's like any other skill, some have
a knack for it, and they keep doing it
to help their relatives or the whole tribe."

"You've already done so much for me,"
Kenzie said. "You've taken care of me and
welcomed me into your home. I'd like
a chance to give something back."

"You don't have to," Blair said,
patting him on the shoulder.

"I know," Kenzie said.
"That's why I want to.
This is the kind of family
that I want to belong to."

"That's really nice, Kenzie,
but you need something more
than a hunger for belonging
in order to choose a family,"
Blair said. "You're welcome,
of course, but this is not
a decision to make lightly."

Bobcat looked up from her work.
"The hunger to belong is not merely
a desire to be attached to something,"
she said solemnly. "It is seeking out
the transformation and discoveries
that only become possible when
belonging is sheltered and true."

Kenzie shivered, the hairs
on his neck rising and falling
in the wake of her words.

"Yes," he said. "That is exactly
how I feel. When I'm with you folks,
I'm more me. When I was with
my first family, somehow they
made me feel like less."

"I don't like those people,
whoever they are," Bobtail said.

"None of us do," Blair muttered.

Kenzie leaned against her,
trying to burrow under her arm
for protection. He was getting tired
and maybe a little overwhelmed.

Well, at least he had managed
to finish one thing before his body
conked out on him again.

"You look like you could
use a nap," Ida said.

"Mmmhmm," Kenzie said.

"Take him indoors," Bobtail said.
"I'll put away the supplies, and
lay out the parfleches to dry."

"Thank you," Ida said
as she helped Blair lift
Kenzie to his feet.

He leaned on them as
they walked him back to
the house, then tucked him
into the soft refuge of his bed.

"Dream well," Ida said, and
kissed him on the forehead.

It made him feel sheltered and true.

* * *


Blair Her Road Goes Both Ways -- She has light copper skin, almond-shaped black eyes, and long straight black hair. She has a soft, round face with a few chin hairs that she cherishes. Her body is strong and slender with wide shoulders and small breasts. She has little waist definition and fairly narrow hips. She stands 5'9" tall. She is the daughter of Ida and Tomson Starblanket. Blair is a brave-woman who takes the social role of a man, but hasn't changed her body with surgery. She just naturally has higher testosterone and lower estrogen, hence the androgynous appearance. She uses feminine pronouns for convenience, although she doesn't mind being referred to in the masculine -- her gangmates routinely call her "one of the guys." Her heritage includes Cree, Ojibwa, and French. She belongs to the Caribou clan. She speaks English, Canadian French, and Nēhiyawēwin ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ or Plains Cree -- which is not the same dialect as her parents, she learned it as an adult. The name "Her Road Goes Both Ways" actually came from running back and forth along the road as a toddler.
Blair belongs to a mostly Native American motorcycle gang, the Iron Horses. That is, all of them were born somewhere in North America, and a majority are wholly or partly tribal in heritage. This cultural medley means that the Iron Horses never fit in perfectly in the native or the mainstream society. They are quasi-outlaw heroes, some rougher than others; they do things like hosting giveaways and protecting abuse survivors (sometimes fatally for the abuser). Blair is adept at both knife fighting and hand-to-hand combat. She keeps the gang balanced. Her mystical abilities including finding lost spirits, and reassembling them if the pieces are broken.
Origin: Blair went on a vision quest and came back with superpowers.
Uniform: When not riding, Blair likes jeans and a masculine shirt, often checked or plaid. When riding, she wears black leathers with the gang patch. The center of the patch shows a motorcycle/horse hybrid. The top rocker says Iron Horses. The bottom rocker names the home reservation for that band of the gang, although most bands have a mix of members from different places, not all of them from any reservation. The patches are made with traditional Blackfeet quillwork, which along with the leathers often requires teamwork from several members; other decorations on the leathers may reflect the wearer's own tribe if not Blackfeet. Members typically wear their hair loose or in long braids. Each bike has a medicine bag attached between the handlebars so the spirits can recognize it.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Biker, Good (+2) Brave-Woman, Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) Intrapersonal Intelligence
Poor (-2) Torn Between Two Worlds
Powers: Good (+2) Caribou Totem, Average (0) Spirit Finder
Average (0) Motorcycle with Good (+2) Cargo Capacity, Good (+2) Handling, and Good (+2) Magical Protection
Motivation: To bring balance between the genders.

Bobtail (Annika Begay) -- She has tinted skin, golden-brown eyes, and long straight hair variegated in brown and blonde. The pigment actually forms spots on her scalp. She has freckles too. Her heritage includes 1/4 Chippewa, 1/8 Cree, 1/8 Navajo, and 1/4 Swedish. Bobtail is transgender, assigned male at birth, which caused a lot of tension in her life. She has kept her small but functional male parts and had a vagina added behind them. She is homosexual in the sense of preferring the company of other two-spirits, and her emfriend is Blair Her Road Goes Both Ways. Bobtail rides an ivory Ironhorse motorcycle without saddlebags, and usually wheedles Blair into carrying her gear. As a crafter, Bobtail enjoys many traditional methods, and she does best with woodcarving.
Origin: Annika was neglected by her birth parents, then removed and fostered with a white family who actively abused her. This caused her superpowers to manifest at preschool age. For years, she persisted in running away from bad homes to live wild as long as she could before someone hunted her down again. Eventually a lawsuit won her back and placed her with a Chippewa family, who showed her the value of human society. They also helped her transition to female. However, she still has little patience with the annoying details of human life.
Uniform: Bobtail tolerates clothes as a necessity but doesn't care much about them, with a few exceptions. She has a really nice set of ivory motorcycle leathers, matching boots, and gloves. Her jacket has the gang patch. The center of the patch shows a motorcycle/horse hybrid. The top rocker says Iron Horses. The bottom rocker names the home reservation for that band of the gang, although most bands have a mix of members from different places, not all of them from any reservation. The patches are made with traditional Blackfeet quillwork, which along with the leathers often requires teamwork from several members; other decorations on the leathers may reflect the wearer's own tribe if not Blackfeet. Members typically wear their hair loose or in long braids. Each bike has a medicine bag attached between the handlebars so the spirits can recognize it.
Qualities: Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Naturalistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Playful, Good (+2) Two-Spirit, Good (+2) Woodcarver
Poor (-2) Impatient with Arbitrary Human Expectations
Powers: Good (+2) Bobcat Totem, Average (0) Feral
She has semi-retractile cat claws on her fingers and toes.
Motivation: Curiosity.

The Feral power usually appears in male characters.

See Bobtail's jacket, chaps, boots, and gloves.

Many Tongues (Theoren "Theo" Greyeyes) -- He has fair skin, gray eyes, and dark hair trimmed into a short mohawk. His heritage includes Cree, Chippewa, and British. He wears glasses. Many Tongues is a disabled Army veteran, paralyzed from the waist down, who uses a wheelchair. Because of this, he needs help with some everyday tasks.
Many Tongues works at the Rocky Boy's Early Headstart language immersion program. He speaks A'ananin (Gros Ventre), Dakota (Sioux), English, French, Lipan Apache, Nakoda (Assiniboine), Nēhiyawēwin ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ or Plains Cree, Ojibwemowin (Chippewa or Ojibwa), Oji-Cree (another dialect of Ojibwa), Plains Indian Sign, Salish, and Siksika (Blackfeet). He is currently struggling to learn Diné (Navajo). He has chosen a mix of widely-spoken tribal languages and very rare ones.
Qualities: Master (+6) Tribal Languages, Expert (+4) Âniskô-kiskinwahamâkêwin, Good (+2) Army Veteran, Good (+2) Dark Humor, Good (+2) Endurance
Poor (-2) Activities of Daily Living

Giveaway Woman (Joan Phillips) -- She had fair skin, dark gray eyes, and long straight blonde hair that turns white with age. She was a hippie who rode her bicycle into the Rocky Boy's Reservation in Montana, fell in love with a local man, and never left. She stopped using U.S. dollars, and helped develop the tribal currency. They called her Giveaway Woman because she wouldn't buy or sell anything, a trait that played into the evolution of tribal service as part of the economy. She passed away in 2010.
Qualities: Master (+6) Activist, Expert (+4) Generous, Expert (+4) Artisan, Good (+2) Existential Intelligence, Good (+2) Grace, Good (+2) Mother
Poor (-2) Easily Fed Up

See Giveaway Woman as a young hippie and an old woman.

Corsen Aufroy -- She has fair skin, hazel eyes, and long auburn hair with just a little wave. Her heritage includes Welsh and French. She was a graduate student majoring in linguistics at the University of Montana before the money ran out. Then she moved to Rocky Boy's Reservation to earn her way through Stone Child College. Her strong work ethic and deft computer skills have made her very popular on the reservation.
Qualities: Good (+2) Beautiful, Good (+2) Computer Skills, Good (+2) Linguist, Good (+2) Linguistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Work Ethic
Poor (-2) Impoverished Background

* * *

"The hunger to belong is not merely a desire to be attached to something. It is rather sensing that great transformation and discovery become possible when belonging is sheltered and true."
-- John O'Donohue

In local-America, Rocky Boy died before reaching the reservation. In Terramagne-America, Rocky Boy survived and continued leading his tribe after they reached their new home. See a town, the tribal office and its mural.

The Starblanket family roundhouse is made of cob with a grass roof. It has three bedrooms and a den/playroom. In this floor plan, the main entrance comes through the laundry room. In a traditional home, the place of honor was opposite the entrance, in this case roughly the great room and the master bedroom. The kitchen occupies the central area where the hearth once resided. The back side of the kitchen facing the master bedroom has altar niches. The library runs along the wall beside the back door and wraps around to the door of the master bedroom. The dining table tucks against a bench along the outer wall. The living room has a built-in couch and a woodstove. The sitting room has a built-in couch, chairs, and bookcases. The den / playroom has a fireplace, a built-in couch, and several pieces of loose furniture. There is also a niche with a desk and chair behind the fireplace. Toys are kept in baskets or shelves inset into the walls. The laundry room has a sink and cabinets in addition to the washer and dryer. The kitchen includes a refrigerator, chest freezer, stove, and sink. The back side of the kitchen facing the master bedroom has altar niches. The master bedroom has a queen-size bed. The master bathroom is decorated with tile mosaics of sea creatures. It has a wooden shelf unit attached to the wall. The guest bedroom has a full-size bed with a desk and chair behind the headboard. A huge planter lines the wall above the window, above which hangs a ceiling fan with grow lights. The planter and nearby shelves hold a variety of succulents, other houseplants, and even a banana tree. The bunkroom holds one pair of twin-size bunks along with a windowseat. The guest bathroom is decorated with turquoise tiles and small planters full of water-loving flowers. This is the porch of the Starblanket family roundhouse.

Supposedly, the Indian Child Welfare Act prevents native children from being kidnapped and given to white people. However, it still happens and it counts as genocide. It also reveals the vicious lies of white society: they never meant to offer civilization for real. They just want victims they can keep impoverished to remind others what happens to those who are displeasing. If the government really cared about native children, it would make sure they had things like food, shelter, clothing, health care, and a local economy. Instead, local-American reservations tend to be squalid horrors, and that's not an accident. Terramagne-American ones are somewhat better but that's largely because they stopped relying on the government for everything and looked for ways to use what resources they had: mostly people.

In L-America, tribal membership is a racist mess. The blood quantum is one of the last bastions of hardcore institutionalized racism. In T-America, the government is still on the hook for providing treaty and other benefits to people of Native American heritage even if their tribal membership changes, because the government's obligation is based on its documents rather than tribal ones. It is slightly less awful but still an embarrassment. Historically, adoption was a routine part of tribal life across most cultures, although the details varied. Some tribes still practice this today, most often with outsiders who have invested a lot into a tribe.

Tribal membership on reservations can be very fraught. In L-America, white people threw together two tribes to make the "Chippewa-Cree." In Terramagne, the Rocky Boy's Reservation has three recognized groups: the Cree tribe, the Chippewa/Ojibwe tribe, and the unaffiliated members who are counted by the U.S. government as Indians belonging to that reservation but not part of either tribe. Rocky Boy's was designated as the place for Indians who didn't have a close tie with a tribe, and this is a perennial problem. The logical solution would be to adopt them into a tribe, but they'd have to qualify in, and most of them don't want to do the extra work because they feel that they should have a tribe by right of birth like others do. That gives them a reputation as "those lazy so-and-so's" which does not help the diplomatic atmosphere of the reservation.

Historically, Cree marriages were often arranged and used to strengthen ties between families. Chippewa/Ojibwe culture divides people into clans, where these phratries and moieties still influence marriage eligibility. In T-Rocky Boy's Reservation, the Chippewa clans are Bear (Bear phratry), Gopher, Moose, and Caribou (Marten phratry), Catfish (Fish phratry), Crane and Eagle (Crane phratry), Stone (Stone People phratry).

The Ojibwe virtues or values are: honesty, truth, humility, love, wisdom, courage, respect. Here you can read about Cree cultural teachings.

Tribal people aren't exactly impressed by the mainstream concept of capitalism, as illustrated in the classic essay "The Green Frog Skin." In some areas, though, they had their own native currency such as wampum before the invaders arrived. Some tribes are minting coins based on U.S. currency, which can be spent, although I've only seen one tribe really advertising that. Mostly they're treating this stuff as a collector's item. What we really need is an intertribal alternative currency. Time-based currency counts value based on how long it takes to make or do something. For an example, see Ithaca Hours. Brookings Bucks come from Brookings, South Dakota.

daso-diba'igan adv num
1. a certain number of hours, so many hours
-- The Ojibwe People's Dictionary

Read the full notes on the tribal currency here.

Tradeable skills are things that are commonly bartered or otherwise exchanged such as child care, elder care, household chores, yard work, farm work, soft skills, and general skills.

Locally, some people have suggested using something other than historic rolls or presumed genetics to determine tribal membership. Some T-American tribes have switched to a point system that usually incorporates both genetic and cultural aspects -- although they tend to count someone as a member if they are born to two members, married in, or formally adopted. The point system offers a better option for people with only one tribal parent, intertribal parents, and outsiders. Here's a look at Rocky Boy's point system:

200 points required to earn membership
* up to 100 (full blood) for genetics, allows DNA testing of outsiders
* other 100 from cultural aspects
* learning the tribal currency is worth 5 points; a term of service to the tribe is worth 10 points per year
* living on the reservation may earn up to 10 points per year, to a maximum of 50 points, with a 10 point bonus for those born there or moved within first year
* speaking the tribal language earns up to 10 points per year of study/level of fluency, up to a total of 50, with a 10 point bonus if learned as a native tongue; the most common award is 10 points, and the average is 15
* for parents seeking entry, teaching their children the heritage language counts 25 points
* most crafts (flint knapping, leatherworking, beading, etc.) are worth up to 10 points, but rare or treasured ones may count more; the average award is 5
* most skills (dancing, singing, hunting, etc.) are worth 10 points, but rare or treasured ones may count more; the average award is 5
* virtues are worth up to 20 points, although the usual award averages around 10; a tribe often has a list of 7-10 virtues valued in their culture
* learning the geography is worth up to 15 points
* learning the ecosystem is worth up to 25 points, or 10 for animals or 10 for plants
* religious rituals and other special training often range 25-50 points
* crying for a vision is worth 25 if successful and 10 if not, usually requires at least one month of training, often several
* sun dance is worth 50 points, usually requires one year of training
* observation of signs indicating that the spirits favor a candidate may be attested by a medicine person or tribal elder, usually up to 25 points, rarely up to 50 in cases of conspicuous public manifestations
* superpowers congruent with tribal values and beliefs (totem spirit, weather powers, etc.) typically count 25-50 points, but some powers are detested in general, while others (such as shapeshifting) are revered in some tribes but despised in others
* donation of land is typically worth 1 point per acre, sometimes less if not contiguous with tribal lands, or considerably more if a prized sacred spot

Parfleches are still made in local-America, but they're more popular in Terramagne-America. Originally they were made by women, but now they are made by all genders. Because the styles varied across tribes and people traded widely, historic parfleches can be used to show the trade routes. Read about tanning skins to make rawhide or buckskin, and see a parfleche pattern. Various paints are used including earth pigments, oil, and acrylic. Learn how to paint a parfleche.

Here you can see a whole hide with three different parfleches already colored. This method works well when you are curing the hide from scratch, because you can paint the hide when it reaches the proper stage of drying. Then you don't have to re-wet it later. However, it's much harder to get the designs aligned properly on the finished product this way.

Paint cookies offer another method of coloring rawhide. Modern ones look like this. Here is a historic paint kit. These could be used in one of two ways: 1) Draw on the parfleche with the paint cookie, using it like a crayon. 2) Rub a bone tool on the paint cookie and use that to press the pigment into the rawhide.

Parfleches have spawned many derivatives, some in L-America and many more in T-America. This shoulder bag features colorful horses running on a canvas background. Here you can really see the parfleche ancestry in the decoration as well as the design. Parfleche purses are still commonly used in T-American tribes, mostly by women who like the idea of a big purse. This style usually has one large compartment and a long shoulder strap. Here is a briefcase of fully tanned leather that resembles a parfleche. Rawhide ones are still used in T-American tribes, mostly by men who want a briefcase that doesn't scream "sellout." A tribal businessman who carries a parfleche instead of a leather briefcase is probably more in tune with his traditions.

This is literally just a parfleche made of heavy paper. Some of them even use the same kind of pattern, so one way to get a parfleche pattern is just to undo one of these so that it lies flat. In T-American tribes, an elaborate parfleche is the preferred way of transporting important papers such as adoption forms, wills, or deeds. Using a traditional container that takes time and care to make is a way of showing respect to the documents. If you hand someone a contract in a paper envelope, they may think you're not taking it seriously enough. Envelope type parfleches are also used to divide small flat items, such as scraps of leather or fabric, inside a larger container.

Parfleches are popular for storing personal items. Plastic makeup bags are cheap and convenient, but they don't last long and they use unsustainable materials made by megacorps. Rawhide ones are more expensive and time-consuming to make, but they are durable and last a long time. Also they are made by tribal people using renewable resources. In T-American tribes, women often use a boxlike parfleche, with or without dividers, to store their traditional cosmetic for use with regalia. This shaving kit is made from vegetable tanned leather, which is stiff like rawhide but more resistant to water damage. Some T-American folks now like to make parfleches out of veg instead of rawhide. Due to the similarity in texture and handling, you can use the same patterns for both. In T-American tribes, men often like this kind of rounded parfleche for storing a traditional shaving kit and/or cosmetics for use with regalia.

Tribal people often make crafts for each other. See the parfleche that Kenzie makes for Henry Holds His Horses, the one Blair makes for Kenzie, the one Bobtail makes for Blair, and the one Ida makes.

Folding Table Short
This style of table is easily made with wood reclaimed from pallets, fences, or other things; it has legs that fold from the short ends toward the center. Here is a somewhat similar pattern. This type of table has criss-cross legs that fold from the long sides toward the center. These can be made in different sizes to produce a picnic table and benches.

Self-worth is the appreciation of one's own virtues, talents, and contributions. Emotional maltreatment contributes to low self-worth, which has negative impacts. When a friend puts himself down, you don't have to agree, but try not to invalidate his feelings. Know how to help someone with a low sense of self-worth. There are ways to build self-worth in yourself or in young people. Here's a handy worksheet for tracking interactions that raise or undermine self-worth.

This detailed description of Sun Dance rituals features multiple variations, including options for those who have danced previously.

Compare the traits of functional and dysfunctional families. My definition distills those aspects down one threshold: belonging to a functional family makes life easier, while belonging to a dysfunctional family makes life harder. Learn how to heal from a dysfunctional family or help a friend cope with family problems.

Seek to bring out the best in the people around you. In order to attract good people, cultivate your better qualities. When choosing companions, look for those who encourage you to be your best self. If people are looking for your ugly bits, leave them.
Tags: crafts, cyberfunded creativity, economics, ethnic studies, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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