Thursday, May 7, 2015


“Hey Aint It, how did you end up at a sweat lodge meetin’ anyway?”

Gal kept turning the stick and the bread browned up nicely. Keeping her words in reserve and eyes on task, a knowing smile hijacked her lips. In contrast, agitation pinched my face and the only relief was to vent.

“Dammit all Clay, you are the likely answer to your questions. You were at the sweat and invited me there so I could meet one of your spirit citizens, Sheriff. And that’s another thing I…”

“Ah, figures,” said Clay. “Sorry man, it isn’t like I’m lying. I was speculatin’ as to how I found myself hustling home through the campground and already sweaty. I figured looking for you made sense.”

“You ran off, well, Ginx did I guess. Sucks to be me I wasn’t listening real close when you rattled off the names of your brain dwellers. Not that it mattered with Ginx. I could barely tell any difference. They had me fooled into thinking I was talking to you.”

Clay’s feathers went unruffled, the fire cackled as if happy, and I was the only one riled.

“Bread’s ready, who wants the first one?” asked Gal trying to lighten the moment. “Sit down Migizi. It’s Pow-Wow, enjoy the spirit of it while you can. This may be Clay’s last one ya know. Here, take this bread and settle in. I’m tellin’ the story of Cattail bread.”

I breathed in fragrant rich air and sighed with pleasant resignation. Gal handed me the bread on a paper plate along with a squeeze bottle of grape jelly.

“Get your coffee poured and ready. Fill that hole in the bread with sweet goodies. Clay, you sit down too,” said Gal. “And here’s a stick for you’s guys. You’re gonna make some bread when I’m talking.”

Clay and I obeyed as Gal kept tradition and friendship alive. Placing hands in lap, she leaned back in her chair and stared into the fire light just as countless ancestors had.

“Long ago, five Chippewa women, friends since children, had a disagreement. They stopped being friends for a while. One day, the eldest among ‘em realized she didn’t have what she needed for frybread and her partner wanted some. She had flour.”

Gal paused and picked up a bowl of dough beside her. She got up, gave Clay and me a small lump and took some for herself.

“Work it and think something good about each of us as you do,” she instructed.

Collecting our dough, she combined the lumps into one, worked it, and redistributed some back to us.
“Put it on the stick and roast it while I finish the story,” said Gal.

We listened as she shared.

“The woman went to her neighbor to borrow the other ingredients but came up empty handed. She was directed to another woman who was one of her former friends. Humbling herself, she went and asked for the missing items. That friend only had one, some salt. Together, they went to the other former friends and gathered all that was needed to make bread.”

Gal’s face was radiant and wise as she finished.

“So they made some bread and did as we have, they combined it and came up with this method of roasting it. The hole represents the promise of future times of friendship and is for each person to fill with generosity and goodness, yah, like forgiveness and grace. That’s what the number five represents.”

Copyright © 2015 Migizi M. New Song. All Rights Reserved.