Christine Satory’s Story by Michael Brockley
58 years old
Call me NoName Changeling. I was born in the year the Lumbee stood down the Klan in the Battle of Maxton Field. The government placed mixed-blood babies with white adoptive families. The children with blond or red hair. With blue or green eyes. America’s forgotten children. My hair was as red as wild strawberries. My eyes, the color of luna moths. Even then, my skin was light. In Canada, I carry papers that say I am Métis but, in my country, I have no tribe.
In my country, I have no tribe. I am a split-feather. One of the lost birds set apart from the legends of Nanabozho. I never sat in a circle while the grandfathers spoke of how Nanabozho dwells among the seraphim of the Northern lights on a great island of floating ice. I am neither Potawatomi nor Ojibwa. Neither Menominee nor Kickapoo. I am the daughter who dreams of feeding her grand-daughters pemmican.
I am the daughter who feeds her grand-daughters pemmican made from a recipe printed in a book. I read Roget’s Thesaurus in search of synonyms for the language I cannot speak. I rescue abandoned words and shield them from harm’s way. Quid nunc. Gobsmacked. Hear me when I tell you, the songs my ancestors bequeathed me remain unsung. I do not resemble the silver screen image of Sacagawea, but I joined the caravan to Pine Ridge to restore what was stolen. Each day I thank the spirit leader whose gift tome was her trust. And the elders who told me to follow my spirit.
The elders told me to follow my spirit. My first husband sought his heritage among his Choctaw roots.My husband, like a Hollywood Indian from Thunderheart orDances with Wolves. Black hair, brown eyes and copper skin. Stoic until his final devastation. Our sons danced in midwestern powwows. Grew their blond hair long to hold their mysteries and prayers. Were taunted in the high school halls. Others at the powwows complained of wannabes to the BIA. They stripped the feathers from my sons’ regalia. One son was a drummer. The other a firekeeper. I taught my sons to live with honor, and they honor their mother. My sons walked away. I cut my hair. Still I walk in a spirit way.
I walk in a spirit way. I host a feast for dancers who travel with wolves. I serve squash, maize and beans. The Three Sisters. We sing for The Child of Many Colors. Practice trills. I wear long skirts. One summer, fifty people from a Bible camp stood in my lawn to ask if I had been saved. I ordered a statue of Pan for the front yard. They never returned. I teach college freshmen to celebrate mistakes in their paintings. To see beyond the limits of oil and water. For my fiftieth birthday, I had a phoenix tattooed the length of my arm. I dyed my short hair teal. To remind myself how to live as a mixed-blood in Indiana. How to live in this age without my ancestor songs. I live without a name and without a people. I walk alone in a spirit way.
This story originally appeared in Facing Racism in Muncie, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by R.A.C.E. Muncie in Muncie, Indiana.