Neewa the wonder dog and.., p.10
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       Neewa the Wonder Dog and the Ghost Hunters, p.10

          John Cerutti / Thrillers & Crime
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Why does Chester want to protect Neewa from evil? He did say evil, didn’t he?

Finally Chester says laughing, “The evil dogcatcher, that’s who.” Now serious he continues, “I don’t want Neewa to be caught by him again. The charm is kind of a tribal ID tag, most of our dogs have them.”

“With this charm on her, the dogcatcher won’t take her back to the pound again. He will recognize the tag and know Neewa is an Indian dog. Look, it makes a sound too, so you can hear her far away now.”

He shakes the charm, “Jingle ding, jingle ding.”

I breathed a sigh of relief, “Oh cool, I don’t want her going back to the pound.”

I talk to Neewa, “Did you hear that Neewa? You’re officially an Indian dog.”

“Where did you get it?” I asked Chester, wondering about the charm.

“Doctor Cuthberson gave it to me for Neewa. He told me to tell you that Neewa doesn’t have to come back for her follow-up. But she should wear the charm so she doesn’t go back to the pound.”

Chester pulls a painting from his car. “John, I almost forgot why I came here. This painting is for you and your family.”

Forgetting about the charm, ghosts, evil, orbs, the dog catcher, Doctor Cuthberson, and Indian Spirits, I look at Dad.

Dad looks at Chester, then at the painting, and back again at Chester.

Dad is noticeably surprised and shocked.

It is a beautiful painting. Its a black and white desert landscape done in acrylic paint.

Dad does not know what to say as he blurts out, “Chester, thank you, how can I ever repay you?”

“I want you and your family to have this painting. I don’t want you to forget us when you move away. We will not forget.”

Chester knew that most government workers move away after about a year. They go back home where they came from.

He adds, “John, Christina, I got to go, see you guys.”

I say, “Good-bye Chester, thanks for the charm.”

Chester replies, “Indians don’t say good-bye. The word good-bye is not in our language so there is no good-bye for Indians. We believe that when we die, we pass into the next life. We all see each other in the afterlife, the Spirit World, no need to say good-bye.”

He gets into the car and says to Dad, “Oh you have to bring your kids over to my Mother’s.”

Dad replies, “Sounds like fun, my kids know your sister, Diane.”

Chester adds, “Mom wants to meet all of you, Neewa too. She has some herbs to give you.”

“See you guys,” Chester waves and drives off.







Chapter 15 - The Tribal Historian

Jackie and I are grocery shopping downtown at the market. Dad is running some errands and will catch up with us later.

Unexpectedly, Chester and Marvin are over by the frozen food section. Jackie and I walk over to say hi. I met Marvin a while ago through Chester.

Marvin is the Tribal Historian, a Piute and Shoshone Indian and a cousin of Chester’s. He is not the outdoors man type. He doesn’t hunt, fish, or camp out. But he does want to be a lawyer.

Marvin works at my school doing I don’t know what. And he is a student at the local community college. He’s short and stout with short hair and a bubble butt. He always wears dress slacks, a pressed shirt, and a tie. The tie is always loose around the neck and the top button of his shirts is always left undone. He always wears a blazer even if it's too hot.

When we get closer to Chester and Marvin, I realize they are in a heated discussion. Marvin’s round face is bright red and his mouth is going a mile a minute. He is mad about something, and he is telling Chester about it.

Marvin has kind of a different way about him. I don’t care what people say about him, he’s been nice to my family and me. But he always looks like he’s in a hurry, or working frantically to meet some deadline or complete a very important project.

Jackie and I step up to hear what they are saying. Marvin turns toward us to include us in the conversation.

“Hey you guys, how you guys doing?” Marvin asks in his usual sultry whining tone.

Marvin and a lot of other people out West always say, “You guys”. It is the way people talk out here. It's always you guys this, and you guys that.

“Good, good, what’s up?” I reply.

Marvin answers in a harsh and disgusted tone, “My professor at the college is stupid.”

“What happened?” I ask.

“This teacher is giving me a hard time about me not knowing what a word means,” Marvin whines. He always whines.

“I never heard this word before. Where was I supposed to hear it? I don’t even know what that word means, and I’m the Tribal Historian. We don’t even have this word in our language.”

Marvin is so mad and he continues talking, spewing little drops of spit from between his oversized lips.

“Who does he think he is?” Marvin adds.

Jackie whispers to me, “Ask him what the word is.”

“No shush.” I look at Marvin.

Marvin continues, “That teacher makes me so mad, he didn’t believe me. He said I was lying and that I got the question wrong on purpose. I would never do that, lie like that. I could just scream.”

I can see that Jackie really wants to know what the word is. She cannot resist speaking up and asking Marvin.

“Marvin, what is the word?” Jackie asks with an impatient tone.

Marvin looks at us and then at Chester, then back at us again.

“That professor is wrong.” He is angry now, you can see it in his face.

“What is it? What is it?” Jackie says annoyed with the whole thing now.

Finally Marvin blurts it out, “Pedestrian, pedestrian!”

“Pedestrian?” I repeat, not knowing the meaning of the word either. “Never heard that word before either.”

Bewildered and at a loss for words, Jackie looks at me.

Marvin just shrugs.

“Marvin, I don’t know what that word means either, never heard of it,” I empathize.

Jackie whispers in my ear, “Someone crossing a street or walking.”

How would Marvin know what the word “pedestrian” means? Most Indians his age have never left this area except to go away except to go away to high school in Arizona.

I talk with Marvin for a while longer, trying to calm him down.

Chester finally adds, “That teacher is wrong, and not considering that we are different, we are not White People like him.”

Chester and Marvin start walking off into the market. Each says with a smile, “See you guys later.”

I reply, “Good-bye.”

Chester laughs, “Indians don’t say good-bye.”

Marvin raises his arm and hand as if to say wait a minute. “Christina, I almost forgot, how is that puppy of yours doing?”

I reply smiling, “She is doing really great, completely recovered. I thought we were going to lose her, but thanks to Doctor Cuthberson, he saved her.”

“Oh, I know Doc Cuthberson, he is a great doctor,” Marvin adds. “I want you to bring Neewa to our Tribal History meeting on Thursday night at seven o’clock. Give a little talk about how you adopted Neewa at the pound. It will encourage others to adopt animals. Coy dogs played an important role in the protection of our villages hundreds of years ago. They alerted our people to bears, wolves, and intruders approaching the villages. Come early so the kids can play with Neewa.”

“The meeting is for all ages, anyone can get up and give a presentation. It’s like show and tell, and everyone there is interested in our history or they wouldn’t come,” he laughs.

“Okay, I’ll bring her early. Dad will probably drop me off,” I answer, uncertain why they want me to give a talk?

Chester and Marvin are talking about something as they walk off.

I hear Chester say, “Neewa has spirit,” or something like that.

Marvin answers, “Does Christina know?”

Then they disappear down one of the aisles talking in their Native language.

***

Jackie and I are looking for Dad, he’s around here somewhere.

“Dad, what are you doing by the dairy products? I got all this stuff already, look.” Aggravated, I point into the shopping cart.

We finish getting our supplies and go through the checkout.

On the way home, I tell Dad about Marvin and his problem, and Neewa’s invitation to the Tribal History meeting on Thursday night.

Dad says, “I agree with Chester. Indians are different. Their culture is not the same as ours.”

“I’ll tell you a story about different cultures,” Dad begins.

I interrupt, “Dad, I don’t want to hear one of your long boring lectures. I’m not in school.”

Jackie sighs, “No stories please, Dad.”

Dad continues his story about different cultures. He begins, “It was about two months ago, I had a talk with the Tribal Chairman, Jake.”

“No, No,” I yell putting my fingers in my ears, “I don’t want to hear your lame story.”

Jackie has a change of heart, just to annoy me, “Go ahead Dad, I’m listening, but make it quick.”

Dad continues with his story, “I saw the Tribal Chairman sitting in his pickup truck so I walked over to him.

“’Jake,’ I nodded, ’Monday is Columbus Day.’

“Jake is his White name, most Indians have a White name and an Indian name. They only use their Indian name when they are with Indians.

“’Yeah, so what does that have to do with anything?’ Jake laughed at me with a peculiar smile.

“Jake continued, ’Columbus is the one who started all the trouble for Indians.’

“I stumble over my words a little taken back, but I finally say, ’Tomorrow is a federal holiday and I want the day off, I’m a federal employee.’

“’You want the day off?’ Jake laughed out loud.

“’Some guinea (gi-nee) gets lost at sea and you want the day off?’ Jake laughed a belly laugh. And he continued to laugh and laugh, and I started laughing too. We laughed together.

“Then Jake said, and I’ll never forget his words, ’John, you can take off any day you want.’ And he drove off without saying another word.

“Now that is a cultural difference,” Dad grins.

I interrupt, “Oh my God, I’m so bored. If you don’t stop with your dull stories I’m going to scream.”

Jackie pats Dad on the shoulder, “Dad, you are done with the history lesson, too much is no good.”

I hate listening to Dad’s stories. He thinks he is cool. I tell him, “Dad you are not cool.”

Dad sighs, “I felt a closeness with Jake for those few moments as we laughed together. I think he felt the same way.”

“The next week I heard that Jake had died in a car accident. Too many accidents happened around here.”

As we drive home, I think about Jake. It’s sad to see families missing a loved one.

Jake was the Tribal Chairman and he was always making me laugh and tickling me. I hung out with him at one of Dad’s “bring your family to work” gatherings. He was always playing pranks on people and making everyone smile. He was so much fun to be with.

The Tribal Chairman of an Indian Nation is just like the Prime Minister of England. We are studying England in History. Both are the leaders of their governments and elected by the people. The Tribal Chairman is the leader of the Tribal Council just like the Prime Minister is the leader of the Parliament.

The government of England and governments of Indian Nations have a lot in common. In England the Parliament makes the laws. On the reserve the Tribal Council makes the laws. They are also similar because the Parliament is made up of elected members and the Tribal Council is also made up of elected councilmen and councilwomen.

But the biggest similarity is that the Chief of the Indian Nation is just like the King and Queen of England. He’s a figurehead and has no official power, yet he has influence on everything. The Chief is a descendant of previous Chiefs of that Nation and has the same family bloodline. Similarly, the King and Queen of England have little official power, but lots of authority. The King or Queen of England also has the bloodline of the previous monarchs of England.

Finally we are home. I fly out of the car. “Dad, I’m taking Neewa for a walk, be back in a little while.”

“Ok, don’t go too far, it’s late and you have school tomorrow,” he agrees.

I laugh, “You worry too much, I have Neewa now.”

Dad always used to say, “Don’t walk anywhere alone.”

Now he says, “Take Neewa with you wherever you go.”

Neewa and I love to stroll around town looking at everyone’s flower gardens and pretty homes.

It’s warm tonight and I want to walk a while, just to get away from everyone. Neewa and I hike around ten blocks before we decide to turn back.

I tell Neewa as we pass a charming white Cape Cod, “I love that one. We had a house like that back home, but that was before Mom moved away. We had to sell it. I wish we never came out West. I miss my friends, Grandma, Grandpa and most of all, Mom.”

“Oh, Neewa, you look so silly with your tongue hanging out the side of your mouth,” I chuckle.

Before I know it, we are back home and it’s time to go to bed.

***

Thursday already, and I forgot all about the Tribal History meeting tonight. Lucky thing Dad reminded me at breakfast. I have that English report to do, too. I’ll worry about the Tribal History meeting later, after I do my report.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to get the bus. “Bye Dad, love you.” I shout running out the door.

***

That night after dinner Dad is driving Neewa and me to the tribal building. As I get out of the car I tell myself not to worry, it’s just like ”Show and Tell.” Anyway, I love talking about Neewa. But I don’t like getting up in front of a group of people and talking.

One good thing, this presentation will get me an extra credit grade in History. My History teacher, Mrs. Bats, is a Washoe Indian. She told the class she is going to give extra credit for any presentation about history outside of school.

To qualify for extra credit my presentation has to be about history. Since Neewa is a coy dog, and coy dogs protected Indian villages hundreds of years ago, my talk about Neewa qualifies. I’ll get an extra credit grade, not just a few points.

Right now, my History average is seventy-seven. If I get it up to an eighty, I can get a B. Dad pays three dollars for B’s and five dollars for A’s, nothing for C’s. Get a D; you lose your laptop until you bring up the grade. Don’t even think about getting an F.

The Tribal History meeting is in the new two-story building on the reserve. My eyes light up as I walk into the foyer. To my left is an enormous eagle in a glass case. Its wings are spread out and span five feet from wing tip to wing tip, showing all the beautiful feathers. Other displays of Indian artifacts, ancient tools, hunting points, and spearheads line the other side of the entrance. And original paintings of Chiefs, early villages, and warriors on horseback are hung on the walls.

A beading display with a loom and pictures of techniques are in the corner.

According to this directory I am looking at, offices make up the second floor, with offices of the Tribal Chairman, Tribal Council, a meeting room, and a recreation room. The other half of the second floor is a jewelry workshop where they make silver jewelry with turquoise and coral stones.

In another corner is a diagram with the Chiefs Family Tree. It displays the bloodline that starts around the 1400s and depicts all the descendants down through the generations to the present.

On another wall in big bold letters is, “Tribal Historian Members Project.” It is more like a tribal family tree, with the names of all the members that ever lived. The list dates back hundreds of years, showing all the different families.

Some of the living members have their White name under their Indian name.

Each member that is dead has a gravestone symbol and the words, “At Rest” or “Not At Rest.” What that means, I don’t know? Seems to me if you’re dead you’re at rest, like it or not, ha-ha.

I see Marvin who is in charge of the project.

I ask him, “What does the ‘At Rest’ and ‘Not At Rest’ mean?”

Marvin pauses, hesitating before he speaks. “’At Rest’ means that the tribal member’s body is here on the reserve and therefore their spirit is here ‘At Rest.’

“After an Indian dies, we believe that the spirit lives on in the Spirit World. Members of our Nation who have died must be brought back here to our Indian burial ground to enter the Spirit World.

“If someone dies far away, or their body disappears, turned to dust, or was never found, their spirits are ‘Not At Rest.’ Those spirits ‘Not At Rest’ wander the earth trying to return to us.”

I remark, “Oh, I get it, you have to be buried here to be ‘At Rest.’”

“Yes,” Marvin nods, “but if your body is not returned here, it is possible for your spirit to come back in another living thing or being.”

“Oh cool, I get it.”

Mrs. Bats, my History teacher, walks over to talk to Marvin and me.

She pets Neewa, and Neewa wags her tail.

I blurt out nervously, “I don’t really know what I am supposed to say.”

Marvin replies, “Just tell that wonderful story about Neewa. Start with when she was a puppy, how you went to the pound and found her. Explain to everyone what the dog catcher said when you were leaving the pound. Then let everyone know how she got the name ’Neewa’, and what it means.

“Chester told me about the holes in your yard. Everyone will laugh when they hear that story. You could explain how Neewa got sick with distemper, and how you found Doctor Cuthberson.”

Marvin laughs, “Then give them some time to ask questions. That’s all, it will be fine.”

As I enter the room with Neewa everyone applauds. I am sure they are applauding Neewa. The little kids call Neewa to come by them and she meanders through the aisles getting pats on the head and smiles from the kids. She goes around the room to everyone in the hall as I speak. Everything is going just like Marvin said it would, and Neewa is a big hit as usual.

Standing at the podium in the front of the room, I talk about Neewa’s life. I start with when I got her at the pound and how I found her name in the book and what it means. Everyone laughs when I tell them about how she digs holes in the yard. And a few “Wows” come from the audience when I tell them about her close call with death, the disease distemper.
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