May 11 2008 Native American Newsletter
"Probably the average white man still believes that the Indian woman of the old days was little more than beast of burden to her husband. But the Missionary who has lived among his people, the sympathetic observer of their everyday life, holds a very different opinion. You may generally see the mother and the babe folded close in one shawl, indicating the real and most important business of her existence. Without the child, life is but a hollow play, and all Indians pity the couple who are unable to obey the primary command, the first law of real happiness. She has always been the silent but telling power behind life's activities and at the same time shared equally with her mate the arduous duties of primitive society. Possessed of true femininity and modesty, she was expected to be his equal in physical endurance and skill, but his superior in spiritual insight. She was looked to for the endowment of her child with Nature's gifts and powers. She was the spiritual teacher of the child as well as its tender nurse, and she brought its developing soul before the "Great Mystery" as soon as she was aware of its coming. When she had finished her work at the age of five to eight years, she turned her boy over to his father for manly training, and to the grandparents for traditional instruction, but the girl child remained under her close and thoughtful supervision. She preserved man from soul-killing materialism by herself owning what few possessions they had, and thus branding possession as feminine. The movable home was hers, with all its belongings, and she ruled there unquestioned. She was, in fact, the moral salvation of the race; all virtue was entrusted to her, and her position was recognized by all. It was held in all gentleness and discretion, under the rule that no woman could talk much or loudly until she became a grandmother. The Indian woman suffered greatly during the transition period of civilization, when men were demoralized by whiskey, and possession became masculine. The division of labor did not readily adjust itself to the change, so that her burdens were multiplied while her influence decreased. Tribe after tribe underwent the catastrophe of a disorganized and disunited family life." - Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa), Wahpeton Dakota
"Grandmother, next to mother, was the most important person in the home. Her place, in fact, could be filled by no one else. Parental devotion was very strong and the old were objects of care and devotion to the last. They were never given cause to feel useless and unwanted, for there were duties performed only by the old and because it was a rigidly kept custom for the young to treat their elders with respect. Grandmother filled a place that Mother did not fill, and the older she got the more, it seemed, we children depended upon her for attention. I can never forget one of my grandmothers, mother's mother, and what wonderful care she took of me. As a storyteller, she was a delight not only to me but to other little folks of the village. Her sense of humour was keen and she laughed as readily as we. Then, Grandmother, with the help of Grandfather, was our teacher. When Grandfather sang his songs, she encouraged us to dance to them. She beat time with him and showed us how to step with his tunes. Seldom did she go walking in the woods or on the plains without taking us with her, and these hours were profitable ones in knowledge, for scarcely was a word or an act not filled with the wisdom of life." - Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Lakota
Here's a great recipe if you would like to fix a special treat for your mother today:
3 tbsp. uncooked white rice
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 quart milk
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins, soaked dried apricots or dried cranberries and some chopped walnuts
Rinse rice. Add all other ingredients except the eggs. Separate eggs. Beat whites until very stiff. Beat yolks and fold into rice mixture. Fold in egg whites. Spoon into casserole. Bake in slow oven (250-300 degrees) for 2 hours, stirring several times. Serve with a warm caramel sauce. Oh - and do not forget a rose of her favorite color for her.
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