Monday, January 12, 2015


My sister and I had chores -- probably by age, but not in a checklist of course. It felt like from our perspective, we were pitching in to help. No allowance. We were doing this "for the family" was what mom always said. Allowance was definitely a foreign concept to us. They inculcated in us an attitude that still is a big influence today -- to do because we're part of a group. We have to make it happen. And "on" had to do with it, which is a concept that doesn't really exist in the English language without imposition of another way to look at what is simply respect. "On" is a little deeper because it lasts a lifetime; maybe I'll learn when I transition out, it lasts beyond a lifetime. It's the "debt" one owes their parents, grandparents, ancestors which cannot be paid back. The ones who gave you life; raised you. All we can do is be good human beings. 

I feel that feeling for Granny too. When she said she was my mother, I may have felt puzzlement, but only for a moment, accepting the gift offered during a rather confusing time in my life where I had come to her for help with our daughter and later a foster daughter with all my faith. Besides the spiritual doctoring and teachings, chores of daily life played a big part -- helping with the water, the wood (everything had to be brought in), the garden, the animals, getting ready for ceremony, spring cleaning, -- going up to Dekkas, cleaning the trailer out after the winter, uprooting the mice, assessing the bear damage, starting the sacred fire, doing Granny's bid when she was in bed, cooking, canning, making feasts, all of it. Two months a summer we lived chores together. They still look back at those days as their happiest times. Chores does not have a bad connotation in our daughter's mind anymore now that she's an adult. She said in Utah, her girlfriends (probably girls who didn't HAVE to do chores) looked to her for advice because she knew how to do everything having grown up with us and at the village. 

Although she never did it, she even knows how to build a fire. At the LCC pig roast, she looked at the scattered wood on what was to roast the pig, squatted down from her 6-inch heels and quickly rearranged them, saying "There! It'll start now." An orange flame leaped up, and I secretly smiled at the girl with the eyelashes, manicure, who came to a pig roast in a little dress and 6 inch heels, dusting off the dirt from her hands unconcernedly, who the Village raised with chores.

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"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

from Outside the Monster's Belly

from Outside the Monster's Belly
. . . following Earth instead (Rakaia River, site of Salmon Ceremony, photo credit Ruth Koenig)


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Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.