FTF: Going Native

It’s French Toast Friday!

Being biologically half Native American, I’ve always been interested in tribes that kept horses.  My ancestors lived in the woods and were big on fishing and birch bark canoes.   I never heard a word about horses.    Talk about bad luck.  I was lucky enough to be born Indian, which I (wrongly) considered an almost guaranteed entree into the cowboy/horse world.  (Curse you, Lone Ranger.)

Vaguely knowing there was no latent ancestral horse wisdom to tap into didn’t stop me from being convinced, as a child, that all living Indians had horses.  Good grief, even all the TV Indians had horses! The way I saw it, I was entitled to at least a pony, because darn it,  I was at least half Indian.   What’s the closest thing to half a horse?  A shorter horse, duh.

Why couldn’t we just line the bathtub with newspspers (instant stall with drain) and let the pony mow the grass in the backyard during the day…free food, no mowing.  What’s the problem?

My grandmother took me fishing.  Sigh.  I learned to FISH.  In the ocean.  Great.  What is the point of being Native American if you can’t have a dang horse?  Pointless, pointless, pointless.

By the time I was 12, I could easily catch Red Snapper, up to 6 at a time, using the ancient ancestral technique of multi-hooked drop lines on Popsicle sticks.  We used white bread rolled over peanut butter balls as bait.  3 hours and we’d come home with 30 fish.

My grandmother would soak them overnight in saltwater (ironic), and we’d scale and gut them, and then dry fry them on a bed of salt in a cast iron frying pan.  For breakfast.  I often pointed out Poptarts in the grocery aisle.

As much as I hate to admit this, it was outrageously delicious, and oddly satisfying for breakfast.  Still, I pointed out the Poptarts.  Going to school smelling like fish?  Not so much.

I went so far as to ask my grandmother once if we could like, switch tribes?  Be part of one of the cool tribes?  You know, the ones that owned horses and wore feathers in their hair?  Turqouise?  Silver?  Beading?  Buffalo?

Let’s just say I never brought it up again.  OUR tribe had to do something boring like come up with the idea for the U.S. Constitution.  Yawn.

Yup.  You guessed it.  My ancestors were the forerunners of the Punk Rock Movement.  Sans the color pink and artfully ripped clothing:  Mohawk; part of the Iroquois collective.

So in honor of every kid who thinks they were born in the wrong tribe (Jewish kids included), who dreamed of being Native American, and believed you were meant to be born with a horse instead of a silver spoon (hopefully not in your mouth…Ewww): we have two unusual photos courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Horse looks good, especially compared to other horses of the era. Well kept. Look at those shoulder muscles. Over on the left knee and left hind wrapped in cloth. Possibly old injuries?
No mention of which tribe at the LOC. I vaguely recognize the star pattern on (the shield? bag? water skin?) the gray horse's rump from attending an all Indian pow-wow, but honestly I don't have a clue. I should have paid attention. Stopped pouting about the horses. Anyone know?

Let’s make that: why wasn’t I born male into a horse tribe?  Carrying  your family’s possessions,  dragging your house behind you (attached to the horse), and riding with a baby strapped to your back.  Gee.  That looks fun.

I know, I know.  Life was hard.  Very hard.  It wasn’t all pretty ponies and scalping.

Watch out when TV and your heritage collide.  You get something oddly like French Toast Friday, a mish-mosh where everyone picks out their own stuff to bring to the table.

One thought on “FTF: Going Native

  1. My family likes to claim some Native American heritage but we think that Grandma is just trying to add some spice to our family history. I’m from a long line of New York failed inventors, lapsed southern belles, and Las Vegas socialites. Yeah, I can’t claim any historical connection.

    And I’m pretty sure that all Indians did was race around on grassy plains on their trusty steeds without any tack. Right? I think that’s what the historians agree on.

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