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Tuesday, November 20, 2018


A Tale of the Last Lakota Shaman, 
Wolf Howl

I studied Dyami ...  the Whites here in New Orleans called him Captain McCord ... among less cordial names.  I flicked my eyes to Mesmer, the fabled cat who owned this French Quarter restaurant.  

I wondered what Dyami saw when he looked at her.  Being the last Lakota shaman, I saw something ... someone quite different.

Dyami cleared his throat, "Wolf Howl, I know you don't celebrate Thanksgiving ...."

"Thanks-Taking," I corrected.  "The Indians gave those Pilgrims food to keep from starving, and afterwards, the Whites thanked every tribe they met by taking everything from them they wanted: land, children, a future."

Dyami sighed, "Long before the White Man arrived, the Delaware warred with the Iriquois; the Crow with the Cree, the Navajo with the Hopi ...." 

"Oh, yes," I said, "let us talk of the Hopi, who graciously welcomed the Spanish explorer, Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, and aided him on his way.”  

 Mesmer growled low in her throat, matching my mood, 

"And in gratitude, the Spanish occupiers enslaved the Hopi populace, compelling them to endure forced labor and hand over goods and crops."

Dyami shook his head.  "I wanted to bring you here to thank you for all you did for me and New Orleans, not ...."

I shook my own head.  "I did not do it for the Great White Father, but for those young girls you placed under my protection."

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Dyami said, "I will get Bush to call off his dogs for all you did."

I laughed without humor.  "He hunts you now."

"I'll think of a way."

I nodded, "I know you will try, but ...."

A hollow-eyed white man burst into the restaurant, waving a poorly maintained automatic.  "I want all your money!"

It hit him then that despite the smell of food from the kitchen, there was only me, Dyami, and a cat to rob.

"Well, shit!" he eloquently said.

I looked to Dyami, "Like all white men, he thinks a gun in the hand means the world by the tail."

"That gun's pointed right at you, Injun!"

I studied this white man, trying to decide just how painful to make his dying.

Dyami was looking out the swinging door and sighed, "Wolf Howl, he has a frightened wife and hungry children out there."

I sighed, "Life conspires to take away all my joy."

I met the man's uncertain eyes.  "I tell you what: I will buy that poorly kept gun of yours for a thousand dollars."


I gestured with my fingers, turning the silverware in front of me to gold-ware.  "It is yours ... on one condition."

"Wh-What condition?"

"That you bring your family in here to share our food."

My words seemed to hit him like a fist, and his face fell in on itself like the crust of a badly baked pie. 

"I ain't never done anything like this before but Katrina's put us out on the streets. I was at my wit's end."

I thought that had not been a long trail but kept that to myself.

He softly, hesitantly placed the gun on the table, and I slid the gold utensils to him.

The White Man tucked them quickly into his pockets.  "W-Why are you feeding my family after what I tried to do?"

I flicked my eyes to Dyami.  "Tradition."

As the man rushed out to gather his wife and children, Dyami smiled sadly at me and said what I could not bring myself to, "Happy Thanksgiving."

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