Friday, June 18, 2010

If I were a Native American Child for a Day

by Chelsea Nugent, Age 10

June 29, 1682

As the sun crept across the room and kissed my face, I wake up with a sudden jolt. Visions spin in my head as fear raced through my body. My heart is pounding. I blink once or twice bringing myself back to reality, realizing it is only a dream. "Not only do the Navajos raid Hopi villages," I thought, "they raid my wonderful dreams, too."

My father, uncle, little brother and cousin left to farm the fields on the mesa. My mother, aunt and I are outside grinding corn as we eat our morning meal of leftover bread from yesterday. Soon my arm ached from grinding corn so I stopped to rest. "Mother, what are we going to bake today?" I asked. "We are going to bake piki bread from this blue corn," my mother replied still grinding her corn. "Shooting Star, start grinding your corn, the sooner we can get baking," my aunt scolded. I sighed deeply and began grinding my corn again.

After all the corn was ground, my mother, my aunt, and I began making piki bread. First, my mom mixed the corn meal with water to make the dough. Then, I flattened the dough until it was paper-thin, and my aunt placed the dough on the stove to bake. "Now remember half of the bread is for supper, and the rest is for the ceremony," my mother told my aunt and me.

Ceremony? What ceremony? Then it hit me. The Coming Home ceremony! We have it every July as part of our Hopi culture, and it was only four days away! I must have looked shocked because my mother asked, "What's wrong Shooting Star?" "Nothing," I replied quickly. "Why don't you go help grandfather weave," my mother suggested.

Once I was on the second level where my grandfather was, I stepped into the weaving room quietly. My grandfather looked up and motioned to the loom on the other side of the room. I knew he wanted me to work on the weaving that I started yesterday. Soon my weaving was almost finished and the dark room was getting very hot. "Grandfather, may I go outside?" I asked. He looked up and studied my weaving. "Yes, you have done enough today, Shooting Star," he answered in a raspy voice. When I was on the roof, I felt a lot better than being in that stuffy room. I looked up at the sun and noticed that it was towards the west. The delicious smells of supper were rising from the kitchen.

Suddenly it occurred to me that it was time for my father, uncle, little brother and my cousin to be coming back from farming. I looked across the mesa. At the very edge I could just make out four figures in the distance. My body filled with joy as I  climbed down the ladder with my long black hair flowing behind me and ran to the door followed by my mom, aunt and sister who clutched a Kachina doll in her hand. My father, uncle, cousin and little brother were just coming up to the door. We hugged each other and went inside for supper.

After a delicious meal of piki bread, corn, beans and pork, we sat around the sitting room telling stories and laughing, all happy to be together again.

We were safe from the raiding Navajos today, but sadly, you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Comments from the Clear Creek Courant Newspaper editor.
"You have every right to be ultimately proud of your granddaughter. What a delightful article! She should be writing children's books. She has a knack for simplicity and wonderful description."

January 27, 2003

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