Tattoos in Mayberry

52,359 poems read

open lands.Wild Horses.
Not a gold star route to plunk
everything down and summer vacation..
Closed Reservation.
You'd have to go to the other side
of the far Glacier and a ways beyond 
to visit flashy, fast livin, good timin,,
Hollywood Indian types.
where there's a jewelry store
inside a casino where you can get polished agates and
even acquire an electric powered rock polisher on
the lay away plan.

But, here things move much slower.
Here the land, with it's people
don't make so much noise.
There's little interest on this side
of the Glacier to have the look
or feel of  anywhere else.,
No strip or megamalls,
Few, if any manicured lawns, or track housing....
If you come here to the Indian's Big Country,,
Best if you offer up your most powerful medicine
put great thought into your offerring
and be generous
blend in as best you can,
don't forget your camera,,
and don't overstay your welcome..
The most gorgeous lands are here.
Lands most city folk like me
are  flat unworthy of laying eyes on 
Cabins spaced out  in the high prairie, by the acre and parcel. ..
A few, round houses by the lake 
Spotty, fifth wheeler
travel trailers,sitting like monuments on
tribal trust land,
amidst dense foliage.
.
This big country is not for sale.
 Clear mountain lakes running high,
and deep into the
Sasquatch, wild country.
 Collect by the bucket full  pure, glacial drinking water 
flowing down off the rocks
You' have to be a tribal member
or be hitched up pretty close with one
to even set foot up here without
Tribal Council permission.
The council has the final word
because the council 
knows what is best for their people
so they are wise..
Don't bring your snow mobile .
Free cherries to pick
all you can eat, fill up your basket 
it's another  Indian Summer
we, like the Buffalo.  
disrespect private property signs,
Put up a fence, 
we run it down.,
this is wild country
go and do 
as you please
High chapparell
We graze free
like the  Moose and the Elk.
 I'm walking with the clan of the
Sacred Buffalo..
Tribal policeman's law trumps
white man's  law.
Rez van zips through stop light,
car doors swingin wide open,
baby hangin' half in
half our of the car
Hollerin' , singin screamin
drunken freedom songs
raising a ruckus.
No problem...
All smoothed over, with a warning by tribal police officer
tells you to park it.
go home,sleep it off,
Tribal Cop resides on tribal trust land across our street
 handed down to him by his auntie
who holds court up on her hill.
where we also  live, as her guests, down below.,
      A full sized vintage American touring car
is greatly valued up here
Supply depot is 20 miles away from home.
  We drove twice that distance to Browning Montana
resupply 
.No rock polishing jewelery stores
here. If you look real hard you might find an outlet
store selling saddle gear.
for the few tamed horses.
 Heart Butte Montana, is situated on a flat prairie,
A flagship school was built  for their children
 where my Indian Wife taught, on assignment, native music and song 
We' were temporarily housed  next door to the school
in a guest trailor.
The trailer affirms we are temporary guests.
I am trying hard to do something
with the kids to fit in, and
not appear so much like a tourist.

The kids are uncorrupted, untarnished, beautiful,
strong, curious, with a, culture 
steeped in rich tradition, the modern
world is just close enough and just far enough away from this 
untamed,land and it's people. 
If you want your government
Indian check when it's scheduled to arrive,
a pittance to pay them back for grand theft of Continent,
you must  be  in town
to get it 
and visit the office to make an appointment that day.
Keeps their own on edge.
and from leaving the home land reservation.
Money is also a tracking device. 
The excuse behind this whereabouts restriction 
 may be,
if you leave, the heart of the reservation,
you've assimilated since you aren't living in the indian way.,
plus you aren't directly supporting efforts to sustain native culture.,
and your departure is proof
you are well off enough, that you don't need additional support.
Thankfully a good number of Indians have chosen to see the rest of the world, 
prefering to branch out than being bought off,
and isolated on their reservation
After venturing out and experiencing the outside world ,
many, no matter what the inducements, 
can not bring themselves to return to the Rez..
,It all seems kind of silly to be counted, 
 Some of the worst, but also some of the best depart.
If a tribal member wants to spend their allotment
 checks on booze, women, cars, clothes, with their money.
they can tool around all they please in Browning.
Many of the townie's prefer alcohol.
The checks arrive
once a month,
check in at the way station, then  wait at a table.
for your name to be called.
So, you can sign for your money.
There are a lot of professionally -paid,
non workers hanging around on that day.
You can mingle with others who.
do a little auto repair on the side.
Maybe custom flute makers or sculptures
Masterpiece makers selling to tourists. , 
gallery quality paintings in exchange 
for a case of beer
Rembrandts painted in dive bars 
sold on the cheap out the back

There are no petting zoos or hobby farms in the city of Browning.
There arem, however, salvage depots, car part junkyards,
amindst used car lots. Make an offer
pay your price, take 
title and car.keys.
Just outside of town you have colonies of  Amish
Fine craftsmen, furniture for sale. Come see. 
them, living simply, and modestly, as they have  done  for centuries
No accident the proximity of both cultures.
There is a post office, doubling as a western union
next to the bus station twice a day
where you can arrive and depart..
The passenger trains don't run through Heart Butte.
There is no nuclear power plant within 1000 miles of this place.
City, with a small c.

many of the horses run wild on
one of the coldest places registered
for coldness in the North lands
In addition to the horses ,
packs of  feral and semi wild
masterless resevation dogs
run amok in town
with a  pecking order 
of inbred canines.
thumbing their nose at
dominant culture. No dog catchers,
spay or neuter clinics here. 
Putting another exclamation point
on how things are done differently in Indian Country.
 A free roaming population of sex and ,hunger driven, 
stray, townie dogs  left to their own devices,
to Live or die by the law of the jungle
and acute canine senses. 
Even the strongest and smartest
pack dog every day, struggles 
harsh brutal, often below freezing,
conditions to live to see another day..
Many animals fold under less challenging conditions. 
It isn't unimaginable that an extra pet store dog
could be casually offloaded here
because somebody would raise little or no suspicion if they 
 couldn't care for or didn't want, their discarded pet..
The best a dog like that could do is beg at the grocery store,
until they died of neglect, failure to thrive, from frostbite, and consumption.
I said to my girl
look there's a dog and its not moving
It looked like roadkill. 
off the sidewalk at the grocery store,
It looked stiff, twisted and run over.,
I almost didn't believe my eyes
when it moved ever so slightly.
Right about then
my gal said
'pick it' up,put it in the back seat;
I feared, by the looks of him,
maybe we were simply going to end up 
burying him in the woods
She said, we're going to save him,
She saw something I may have missed.
We left the parking lot at the big central chain
grocery store in Browning,
cutting our shopping trip short
 Browning is the big city on this Rez.
 They have the billboards to prove it
advertising bars, hotels and  restaurants,,,

We put this half frozen thing that looked like a mop,, 
in a blanket
and she held him against her body heat,
I drove the 40 miles to our Trailer
when we got there, he was beginning to thaw out
We gave him a warm bath,
We kept pouring luke warm water in his mouth.
After a few days, we
were able to feed him.
My girflfriend knew about being forgotten, abused,
abandoned and left to die
I learned  the value of  every precious living thing.
about never giving up trying to save a precious life.
At some point he had stopped shivering
His eyes which had been glassy and barely open
were now tracking movement, and were
showing less fear, The resignation
we had seen in his eyes now became curiosity
and understanding,
Realizing , somebody cared enough to give him time
and the attention needed to recover.
His luck had turned and if he played his cards right ,
he might end up atop Cripple Creek.
His eyes darted around, anxious to show us
what an actual 'dog player' he was.
We all played gently with him,even our Rottweiler.
Checking in on him 
affectionately head butting and sniffing him
easing his anxiety to have to immediately  prove to us
 how able and wonderful
he actually was
once we got to know him better.
    There is nothing but open prairie,In Heart Butte
Nothing out there for miles but the faint curvature of the earth
on either side of the rez road
as far as you can see..
You can't be non-tribal specific Indian to  live there.
you can work with or for the tribe there,and live in temporary housing
but you can't be a resident there if you aren't of the tribe.
we being temporary residents,
My natiive singer wife being on teaching assignment
as  I mentioned, we were
stationed next to the High School in their temporary housing 
Unlike my Wife, I wasn't raised in the Indian Way
Being green,
I learned you don't ask a Peigani, Indian man, a question like 
Hey Chief
what time is it?,
The correct answer from the standpoint of this indian
and exactly what he told me
was 
I am not a chief..
Hey, you live and learn.
Or maybe you live and die.
I wanted to sink into the floor,
How could I explain to this warrior
I was making love to a native woman
spooking 
Wild horses. is a punishable crime here.
I had promised not to disturb
Peigani  tribal life. .Not tarnish paradise
on an extended vacation
in their Peigani' tribe's forbidden city. 
My job was to keep my eyes open 
and my mouth shut.
I got my taste
took my peek.
But, any way you slice it,
they have problems just like the rest of human civilization..
Everywhere on earth 
there exists pain and conflict
They have a flagship centerpiece public school,
This school could be in Connecticut,
The Hollywood Hills,,
or Beacon Street In New Orleans,
a school from anywhere U.S.A
like it was built from the standard
big school  concept playbook. 
Big football field. Baseball field,,tennis courts, Basketball courts
Swimming Pool. Stocked library.
In contrast to their collision with modernity,, 
the Indians have begun building their 
own schools, immersion schools to save native culture
and native tongue.
to salvage
their way of life, 
and what could be more valuable than through language.
expression of Oral tradition, overlooked in most schools..
Indians winning means cooperation through team work. more than aspiring 
for individual bests, fighting it out, as gladiators in the arena..
This competitive spirit must include fair play, be in harmonly 
with sustainable human life,
values consistent with the ancestors
This is critical information passed on from their elders,
In a spirit of compassion, comraderie and sharing.
These ancient bonds cannot  be broken..
I saw how this tribe
dealt with the culture clash 
with what they were told 
is the way of the future
The indians have been for a long time
, with much care, 
wisely,hedging their bets
Keeping a wary eye on any future planned for them
they didn't sign off to. 
while remaining grounded in the lessons of their rich past.
Look around from the school
in all directions, horses, deer, elk, beauty,
nature, trees, water
open, wild, free country
The stark contrast, between the school and all that's around it
can't be missed.
I love how problems are solved here.
The big city school seemed out of place.
But, it was perhaps  a necessary 
counterbalance between a changing world,  
while maintaining a separate,
but priceless Native identity.
After all,
History has shown all too painfully it's dangerous
to live in a completely insultated and isolated bubble on Mother Earth
There is good in the big world outside, Much to learn.
If you don't get swept away in an avalanche of big.
Big is happening though and it's getting bigger,
Big employs families, working on assembly lines, offices 
and factories.
construction workers are building big things
creating, security problems and bigger headaches
for, janitors, to mop up 
and
food prep workers to make more big pots of food. 
Being gifted a palatial public school 
a starship enterprise school. To have your children
boldly go where no young brave has gone before.
seems seductive.
To travel beyond  the seen and unseen
boundaries of the sovereignty of their reservation
If our grandfathers were offered a space ship
they too might take it.
Nobody could say they didn't know
the North Star.
or were left behind...
 Of course, there is work to do
here on planet earth, in Browning
where there's Woody Kipp,
He had a simple working plan,
an idea who's time had come. 
Immersion
schools where the only language
spoken  to the students within their walls was Peignai,(blackfoot) native tongue.
Woody sent out word that he wanted the babies 
to attend.
The next generation surrounded and immersed in their own language
The idea is to keep alive 
and re-populate native talkers 
the kids  will pick up english, at home, elsewhere.
on the streets, everywhere outside. Not in school.
The simple plan was to keep alive 
their langauge which otherwise 
would surely died out
and be gone,
by the  year 2035..
To me this is 
really living the serenity prayer
Couragiously changing.
changing what they can
accepting and even respecting the new,
the modern and the big and learning from it
     Remember the frozen dog, we found
half dead.
looking like a stiff,
dirt encrusted, mop
on the curb in Browning.
Some weeks after
we had came back from Heart Butte,
to my gal's Hollywood reservation,
Since we already had more than enough dog
with our Rottweiler,
we  offered to give the mop 
to the Matee neighbor lady up the hill.
, She was a powerful elder,
who was the tribal cop's auntie.
and chief of police's sister.
she said she'd take him
It was a deal made between her and my wife..
I was instructed to leave him
in her garage and shut the garage door behind him.
She was a private person.
and I was an outsider..
 
Do you  know the strangest thing happened
when spring came around  
a dead ringer for Lassie
came bounding down our hill and made a bee line
around the fifth wheeler prominently stuck in wet muck in
our front yard,
demonstrating fine collie footwork. Lassie primping Up 
and twisting his hips 
showing off powerful runners flanks
He sashayed like a Latin dancer through our front door.
Our Rottweiler was too stunned by 
his cult of his personality to
do anything but gawk. as we all were doing
There he stood, in his golden prime,
proud as a rut rooster.

Behold, the golden child had arrived..
I must admit
if I was a female collie, 
I might fall  dumbstruck in fools love right there on the spot,

To think this little man had grown into
a survivor 
'I showed em', he was telling us
Momma Cop up the hill had schooled me
I am on light patrol.
Back at the station, my  corn bread gets double buttered,
and just how little I have to do as chief crime dog
to get over.
Here was perhaps
the best little grifter sheriff
on the rez,
sleek coat, moves like a cat
a master strutting, rutting street hustler
who
gets what he wants
by simply striking a pose,
and wagging his tail
livin the easy life.

.
He wanted to come down to thank us
show us how he was worth saving
and praise us for believing in him..
At first, I barely recognized the mop..
, because over winter things had improved
exponentially for him. From starving and freezing ,
to death on unforgiving pavement,
to the top of the heap,., 
Yes, things were looking up.
having the key to crack
the combination to the safe 
holding the heart that
was locked up tight in that old woman
who lived in the big house, up our hill
good,
handsome, surprisingly clever rez dog..
take yourself another once around our house, and
,
promenade your pimpin, high livin,
pretty boy behind 
out our open front door and, back up to Candy Mountain
I imagine that rez runt knows he won
the Pet Power Ball lottery jackpot 
 that cold windy winter's day
when we found him.
Not much more than a,
frozen puddle of twisted fur.
half off the curb
at the Piggly Wiggly
in Browning Montana,.

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Buddy Bee Anthony


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