Neewa the wonder dog and.., p.17
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       Neewa the Wonder Dog and the Ghost Hunters, p.17

           John Cerutti
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  “Yeah! Yahoo!” The crowd roars.

  The final timer sounds “Buzz Buzz,” and everyone is cheering. The home team has won.

  We all move from the bleachers onto the gym floor. Walking out to the teams, I congratulate several of our players for their effort.

  Linda and her friends are also out on the gym floor, talking, and fooling around with friends and teammates. Plans for the evening are being made around us and we decide to hang around a little while longer.

  All the coaches are talking with each other. The coaches know Dad from work where they have their own company team. They compete against other corporations and organizations. They call my Dad coach because he’s the oldest one on the team. It took a while for them to get accustomed to him, but now they are used to his ways and he’s invited wherever they go.

  Linda, the gorgeous maiden in the bleachers, walks up to us. “You guys coming to the Pow Wow later?”

  Dad asks, “We would like to go? Where is it?”

  She replies smiling at Dad, “Come to the General Store at three. I will take you guys.”

  Linda walks back to her friends. She waves at Dad as she and her friends walk out of the gym.

  We are walking out behind them when I ask, “Dad, what is a Pow Wow?”

  Dad has a dumb look on his face. “I have no idea, but I heard something about one once. I thought it was only for Indians. I didn’t know diaboos could go?”

  Jackie impatient asks. “Dad, what is a diaboo?”

  Dad replies, “The word ‘diaboo’ is the Indian word for non-Indian.”

  The Chippewa word is waubewy'on.

  I take off running to the van. Neewa sees me and jumps around inside, ready to get out.

  “Neewa, good girl. Happy to see me?” I open the door.

  She leaps out of the van and jumps all over me. I quickly take her for a run.

  “Fetch,” I yell as I throw a stick into the snow.

  “I hope she doesn’t bring back a bone again,” Jackie says laughing.

  I answer, “yeah, that was too scary. I thought I was going to faint when she brought that bone back and dropped it on your feet, ha ha.”

  Playing fetch with Neewa is good for her. She needs the exercise to keep her muscles and bones strong.

  She can’t seem to find the stick? So I pick up another and throw it shouting, “Get it Neewa, go get it girl.”

  She powers through the fresh powder to where the stick disappeared and plunges her nose down into a foot of snow. She somehow comes up with the stick. Then with her nose topped with a pile of the white stuff, she brings it back to me and actually drops it right on my sneaker.

  “Ouch!” I yell.

  She looks up at me with concern.

  “I’m just kidding around Neewa.”

  I take the stick off my sneaker and run with it and Neewa chases me down the street. We play for a while and then head back to the van.

  “Neewa, later we are going to a Pow Wow and you are not allowed. You can stay in the van again. We are going to meet my new friend Linda. She’s taking us to the Pow Wow. I’ll only be another hour or so and then we are going home.” I scratch her behind the ear and rub her strong rib cage telling her, “good girl, good girl.”

  Chapter 32 - Pow Wow

  We are having sandwiches and sodas at the drug store after having shopped around at some of the local stores.

  “Hurry, Jackie, finish your sandwich,” I say.

  Just then Linda drives up. It’s three o’clock; she’s right on time. Out of the car she whirls dressed in a ceremonial costume.

  Walking toward us she says, “Hey you guys. How’s it going? Are you ready to go?”

  She looks beautiful, like an Indian princess. Dad looks at her all goo-goo eyed again, but says nothing.

  “The Pow Wow is about to begin. It’s one of our oldest traditions,” Linda says as we compliment her.

  “Your hair is gorgeous.”

  “Linda,” Jackie gasps, “I want to borrow that dress. Is it real deerskin? And those beaded knee-high moccasins, oh my God, I want them.”

  We gobble up the remaining bits and pay at the counter.

  “Let’s go,” Linda says as we leave the store and get into her car.

  “Pow Wows date back hundreds of years to my great ancestors. Many Indian Nations would come together to celebrate a birth, the harvest, or a victory on the battlefield.

  “We fought with other Indian Nations for hundreds of years. They would raid our village and we would retaliate and raid their village. Then it was the settlers and then the U.S. Cavalry.”

  Linda explains, “The Pow Wow is going to be in the Round Hall building, a special building.

  “At the Pow Wow we will dance the Circle Dance in celebration of spring. I dress in traditional costume for the Shawl Dance. It is a dance that shows off a princess’s dancing skills.”

  I interrupt, “Your outfit is so beautiful.”

  “There will be other dances too, all of them have important to us.

  “After the Pow Wow the Tribal Chairman, Tribal Council, and members meet in the business hall next to the Round Hall. Financial and cultural reports about the businesses and the reserve will be given.

  “Oh, we’re here. I’ll drop you guys off at the door. Go in and get a seat before it gets too crowded.

  “I’ll come and say hello after the Pow Wow is over. John, I will see you after the Pow Wow, right?”

  Dad manages to get out a “yes”.

  Jackie and I just look at each other and mumble, “Oh brother.”

  I tell Dad, “You are not cool, you think you are, but you are not. Stop trying to act cool.”

  We walk into the Round Hall building, a huge rotunda the shape of two half clam shells put together into a single round dome, but bigger.

  Inside, the frame is made of mammoth tree timbers that go from the ceiling down to the dirt floor. A rock wall that looks like a natural stadium bleacher fills one side.

  A couple of rows of wooden benches made of split trees line the rest of the outside walls. The sturdy benches have wooden legs made of small limbs cut from the forest a hundred years ago. The ends of the benches are decorated with intricately carved designs of animal heads and mystical-looking figures.

  We end up with seats near the center of the hall but pretty far back. People are filing in, sitting everywhere and filling the place. I see many of the same people that were at the basketball game. One or two of them walk by us and recognize me from the game. They nod and I smile back.

  “This place is full of Indians,” I whisper to Dad. “We are the only diaboos in the place.”

  Dad replies, “Few Whites ever get to go to an all Indian Pow Wow on a reserve. We are surrounded by miles and miles of Indian land.”

  Suddenly the Pow Wow begins with a single drumbeat echoing through the hall. It is a very slow, firm beat, very serene. Increasing in volume little by little, the drumbeat progresses to a more powerful, pulsating beat that reverberates throughout the building. Slowly more drums join in and the volume increases. Swiftly the musicians are in full swing, several more drums are added and begin different parallel rhythms.

  I locate the musicians; their faces and traditional dress come slowly into focus.

  I feel the vibrations hitting me, sound waves pounding my eardrums.

  It sounds like a war rhythm. Maybe it's the same one Geronimo danced to the night before his band of Apache warriors went into battle. At a signal from the lead drummer, the drums slow way down to a whisper.

  Indians dressed in regular street clothing and others in ceremonial garb cross the threshold from the seats onto the large dirt floor in the center of the hall. They begin to form a big circle, holding hands at first and then letting go after the circle is complete. Waiting patiently for the drums to get louder and to be joined by singers, the dancers pulse to the softly beating drums.

  The Pow Wow has begun with the Circle Dance. Now the drums get louder and the s
inging begins as pounding feet of the dancers join in. The three together are a chorus like alto, soprano, and bass, all keeping rhythm. The floor begins to move as one. A circle made of Indians in step with one another, moves to the left two-stepping in unison, as if they are one. They circle in harmony looking to each other. Methodically revolving around the room a couple of times.

  Abruptly the singing stops, the dancers become still, the Circle Dance has ended.

  The drums begin again with little hesitation, missing only a beat or two. A single dancer takes the center of the great hall, turning, spinning across the floor, returning to the perimeter.

  “Hey Ya, Hey Ya, Hey Ya,” echoes as the room becomes alive with the singers and their sharp voices. The sounds grow louder with a higher pitch in every resounding “Hey Ya.”

  “Hey Ya, Hey Ya, Hey Ya, Hey Ya, Hey Ya, Hey Ya.” The singers are in rhythm with the drummers. I listen as the refrains repeat themselves. I’ve heard something like this before, in movies or news clips depicting Native American celebrations.

  Five, six, seven drums pound, repeating two perfectly timed beats. The second strike of the drum is very sharp and heavier than the first; boom Boom, boom Boom, boom Boom, boom Boom, boom Boom, boom Boom. Faster they pound, putting us all into a daydream, a spiritual-like trance. The beat of the drums are synchronized with the high-pitched melodic inflections of voices that soften and then sharpen on cue as the rhythms change.

  For at least fifteen minutes the singers call and answer, back and forth from singer to drummer, drummer to singer, as the dancers provide the tempo.

  Roots used for medicine and to ward off evil burn like incense throughout the hall. The Medicine Woman showed me these plants in her garden. She said they are used for healing and in ceremonies. It smells like burning charcoal with a scent of sage and desert dew. Clouds of smoke hang over us suspended in the cold air in the hall that I’ve now forgotten about. Colored layers of smoke resembling the sandstone and shale of the desert ravines and hillsides swirl and complete the hall’s spiritual harmony.

  Jackie, Dad, and I stare at the dancers circling one-way around the floor as more of the Nation’s People come from their seats to join in the Circle Dance. In unison they move, fluid and smooth, they step toe to heel, toe to heel.

  The men, women and children straighten and bend to the pulse of the music. Dust from the dirt floor rises a few inches at the dancers’ feet giving the illusion that they have levitated above the floor. Flowing strands of rawhide and silk threads hang down from their garments and sway back and forth in time with the drums and singers.

  Chanting reverberates through the hall accompanied by drumming, piercing yelps, and the synchronized movement of the dancers giving the scene a surreal feeling.

  “Hey Ya, Hey Ya, Hey Ya, Hey Ya,” again saturates the air.

  Suddenly everything stops. Silence! Suspended in motion are the dancers, musicians, and singers. No one moves or speaks. Frozen in whatever position or location they are when the silence began. They are unmoving, as if in a still life photograph taken at this very instant. Not a muscle flinch nor the glance of an eye changes.

  Abruptly the stillness breaks and the suspended animation ends. All who are frozen step quickly to the side, forward, or back to regain their balance before falling down in the circle. Each dancer smiles as he or she regains their steadiness, happy to have “caught” themselves. The “catching” of oneself is an experience practiced throughout Native American folklore. Something to do with holding your own spirit, it’s a secret, like everything here.

  Everyone is laughing and greeting each other. Smiles, eye contact, and nods are exchanged amongst the dancers around the circle and with the musicians. They are one great people.

  The drummers and singers are smiling and laughing. Each of us sitting in the room rises to our feet, smiling and nodding too. It’s contagious, traveling through the Round Hall like a “wave” at a sports event. Next a rapturous applause breaks out with high-pitched calls and cries echoing for seconds that seem like minutes.

  “The Deer Dancer is next,” someone behind us whispers to Jackie.

  Some kids sitting by her are playing with her coat and scarf. Jackie is chatting with them as they tell her about their uncle, a Chief, who will be dancing next.

  Again, the circle takes shape with a mixture of new dancers and some of the dancers already on the floor.

  “Shush, Shush!” One to another they whisper, “Shush.”

  The great hall becomes silent. Softly the drums begin their familiar beat, boom Boom, one two, one two, boom Boom, boom Boom.

  Surprising us, the Chief leaps into the circle. A gasp emanates from the crowd. The Chief has a deer antler headdress called a “Gast o hweh.”

  The deer antlers of the Deer Dancer’s headdress are real. They are connected to the headdress by a small piece of deer skull and covered with buckskin. It’s small like a cap with two large antlers standing straight up like on a deer. One large eagle feather is placed in the middle, signifying there is harmony and unity in The Nation.

  Linda was telling me at lunch that when the Chief dances with the Deer Dance headdress on, he’s transformed into the “Spirit Deer,” a mythological deer.

  The Chief continues dancing alone in the circle as the outer circle and everyone in their seats watches for the transformation. Musicians are chanting, drums are beating.

  One by one mythological animals enter the hall, pass through the circle and form a smaller inner ring. “Bear” steps forward into the inner ring and joins the Chief. Next are the spirits of “Stork,” and then “Beaver”. Stork is one of Spirit Deer’s closest allies, always watching out for him from the sky. Beaver too is his friend; he makes the meadows, ponds, and lakes for Deer and the others.

  The drums are pounding in the background and chanting has grown even more powerful. All of a sudden, a great crescendo of drumming and chanting erupts as the Chief leaps high into the air and lands on his knees. Surrounded in the inner ring by his allies, the spirits that have joined him. He looks up into the heavens as everything stops. The Chief is transformed into the Spirit Deer. The mythological animals circle around the now transformed Spirit Deer. The Deer Dance is over.

  The inner and outer circles open up providing an exit of enlightenment for the Spirit Deer who departs on a voyage, a journey to protect the worthy from evil.

  Silence follows and then everyone in the circle begins talking while returning to his or her seats.

  Heather, the Medicine Woman, will be next. I didn’t even know she was at the Pow Wow. I learned after the basketball game that she would be performing the Bean Dance.

  She steps onto the dirt floor wearing a large headdress that looks like a “Katsina” Doll. The Katsina, also known as “Katsinam,” is sometimes called a Kachina Doll. They are representations of supernatural godlike spirits, Spirit Beings that live among the Indian people.

  Heather is wearing the Katsina spirit headdress of Wuyak-Kuita. This spirit protects you from evil trespassers. Around her shoulders is a ceremonial robe called a Button Blanket. The blanket is dark wool and decorated with beads and paintings of animals. It has rows of seashells sewn onto it. One of the figures is a deer, another an eagle, and the third design is a bear.

  A small self-contained fire is burning red-hot flames on the floor. Heather enters to some drumming. Very low chanting can be heard in the background. Heather walks around the flame singing and then reaches into her bandolier bag, which hangs neatly around her neck and shoulder. She throws a handful of powder into the flame. Red smoke rises straight up toward the ceiling and hangs in the air over her head. Another fistful of powder is tossed in the fire. This time yellow smoke ascends, like a signal, to the ceiling joining the red smoke hanging over us. Minutes pass as Heather completes the rest of the ceremony. Several more clouds of smoke rise up above the bleachers as she dances around the flames.

  The drums and chanting grow louder, reaching a deafening volume. All at once
Heather throws two more handfuls of powder into the flame and dark clouds of black smoke engulf her. The chanting and the drumming suddenly stops.

  As the smoke clears everyone gasps, “Oh, ah.”

  Some people and many children get out of their seats and look, straining to see.

  “Oh, ah,” again comes from the throngs of viewers followed by “shush, shush!”

  Heather is gone, disappearing into thin air. The Bean Dance is over.

  Jackie and I look at each other as I whisper, “Did you see that?”

  Dad whispers, “That was amazing, she just vanished.”

  Jackie says in a soft voice, “That was no trick.”

  My ghost hunting face becomes twisted as I try to form the words to describe my loss of fame and fortune for not having brought my camera to film the Pow Wow.

  I stammer, “Dad, you didn’t bring any equipment at all?”

  My discovery of real spirits will go undocumented again.

  Jackie questions, “Nothing, Dad? We have nothing?”

  “Brought nothing of what?” He asks innocently. “Oh that.”

  Finally coming out of Heather’s trance he whispers, “No, we have none of our ghost hunting equipment. Sorry, couldn’t take the chance that anything from work might be misplaced or broken. Or worse, someone might find out about our hobby. Besides we were supposed to be having fun at a basketball game. How was I supposed to know we’d be going to a Pow Wow?”

  Disgusted I throw up my hands, “Nothing, we brought nothing!”

  Linda’s Shawl Dance is next. It’s performed to celebrate an occasion, entertain, or teach. This dance is done in full traditional costume and performed by a special maiden selected by the Pow Wow Committee.

  Linda appears on the dirt floor dressed as we had seen her earlier in her costume. She wears a deerskin dress with beaded mythological designs sewn into the shoulders complimented by beaded knee-high moccasins. Around her shapely waist is a Concha belt made of silver seashells inlaid with turquoise and coral. The blue turquoise represents the sky and the red coral symbolizes fire. She wears a headband, not a headdress, with beaded designs and three eagle feathers hanging down. Her cape has eagle feathers along the entire hemline stretching from her left hand and across her back to her right hand, like wings.

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