Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD - Looked like a fairly good week for humans this week, but a bad week for dogs. Don't really know why.
Lupe' and I took the long way to Pine Ridge, up to Oglala first to the PO where there was need to notify the postmaster of an expected prolonged absence; a box from our Sun Dance cook in Indiana containing coffee, tobacco, a tape recorder and a couple of tapes, letting me know she was serious; and a terrifying letter from a government agency aprising me and 1.2 million other could-be victims of identity theft that their data base had been compromised.
After ripping the letter open and scanning the content in a palpitating flash, I breathed a sigh of relief, picked up the box and turned to Lupe'.
"I know what's in here! Rachelle sent us cookies! You got a blade?"
No cookies. We gassed up, ten bucks worth, "Four and a half gallons," Lupe' shouted, over at Cubby's, where the young cashier was pregnant with her third child; she already had a little girl and boy, she said, and I told her she was lucky, got a newspaper, a bag of spicy Doritos, a couple of juices and headed into Pine Ridge village.
Didn't think much other than to notice that black and white dog on it's back, stiff legged, laying off to the side. On down the road a hundred yards lay another, a yellow dog, further down in the ditch. Shit. 'How can a dog live that long...a full-grown adult...and not know...'.
We drove on in silence, Lupe' checking the gas again and again, devouring the Doritos. As we neared Calico, there was another road-kill dog. Said to Lupe', "You noticing all these dogs on the side of the road?"
"Yeah," he replied, backing off the accelerator, holding the speed down to about 45, checking the gas gauge.
"JESUS! There's another!" I said as we passed a small, wirey-haired dog.
Another hundred yards down the road was another. "Man. What's going on with the dogs?" I asked Lupe'. How many is that? Five? Six?"
Up by Red Cloud school there were two more, and as we came over the hill up by the hospital and down into Pine Ridge, there was another. Was it just that stretch of road? Highway 18?
We gassed up at Big Bats, another ten bucks for what Nita calls 'a real Gus Gazzler', went over to Sioux Nation for chili fixins for after lodge and ran into Uncle Joe over there, saying his brother Scottie fell out during peyote ceremony with a heart attack and they had to carry him out of there and give him angioplasty.
Ran into Misty and Olowan outside, saying she was too scared to go inside, just then, and Loren Black Elk in the parking lot, and another guy who only asked for thirty-five cents.
We headed out. Out past the tribal building where everything is currently in an uproar, limbo, hiatus, conflicted, antagonistic, conspiratorial and confused over the recent general elections that weren't supposed to happen, the sitting council, the sitting president, seized ballot boxes, who and who wasn't supposed to be on the ballot, the election board, and the board of election appeals. And the secretary.
Out past the rodeo grounds on our way home, there was another dog laying in the ditch. After that one, we didn't see no more.
It's quiet here now. Was for awhile. Tom B. is in town with the tribal council. "Everything's going to be okay," he said here last night before we went into lodge. "Everything is going to work out for the best of the people."
Went into lodge with thirteen last night. Nephew Adam was there, over from Casper, Wyoming where he'd been beaten up and had his nose broken by a group of white boys. It was cold last night. Tom B. loaded his pipe and prayed for council. Bo and Misty fed everyone afterward. Chili. Everyone's fixing chili these days.
No sign of Lupe'. His son just came in, looking for him. He got jumped out by Cheyenne Creek last week and ended up in the hospital emergency room with thirteen stitches. Sat here, telling the story, gingerly patting his head.