Thanksgiving by Alice Rose Crow~Maar’aq
November 27, 2014 § 7 Comments
We are pleased to share the first winning entry in Brevity‘s Holiday Smile contest:
After freeze up, smiling Eskimo kids, imported Bureau of Indian Affairs kids, Federal Fish and Wildlife kids, Federal Aviation Administration kids, school teacher’s kids, missionary’s kids, and cop’s kids sat around faux wood tables at the yellow state-operated school. We spilled broken crayons from repurposed red No. 10 coffee cans to connect the dots then color in stock images. Smiling Indians offered provisions into outstretched hands of smiling settlers. We reached for Crayolas to color Indians a mix of tan and brown; pilgrims, peach. If we dug around and couldn’t find a sliver of peach, we left smiling settler faces blank. If we colored on construction paper, we grabbed white nubs.
We were American children sitting in compulsory school. We had already stood up to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. After coloring, gluing, and stapling, we paraded around in uncomfortable glued construction paper orangey-brown feather shaped headdresses or stapled black and white hats. Some kids in pointy hats raised hands in mock greeting, “How!” Some kids in floppy headdresses stomped their feet to an improvised shrill cadence. Some kids knew better. I daydreamed about sledding and hunting and the scent of fresh air.
Fast forward forty years. Settling into a gated county campground, a family group walked by my tent pitched near the dunes, close enough to sniff waves licking Pacific shores. An elementary girl loudly moaned, it’s my turn to play Indian! and began a manic chant, Hi-ya-ya-ya, Hi-ya-ya-ya. Her strident sing-song voice was deafening then faded as they walked away into the night. I was returned to the natural lulling rhythm of water. Thanksgiving.
Alice Rose Crow~Maar’aq, was born and raised on the Kusquqvak in southwest Alaska, and nests in Spenard. She is a member of the inaugural class of the Institute of American Indi(genous)an Arts low-rez MFA in Creative Writing Program.
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