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Family Lessons

When I saw the Hails’ wagon moving up the drive, Meena’s head beside the old woman in a gray shawl, I ran toward the director’s house. My Osage sister waved and dropped to the ground, her green dress straining across narrow shoulders as she turned to help Sarah, the missionary’s wife. Brother Amos came onto the porch pulling on a…


Sister’s Giveaway

You could have worn the black stripe Pendleton yourself if you’d come down to Oklahoma to get named in the Quaker church in Hominy.   All of us cousins on trust land with our Morrell relatives near Pettit Street named for our family. Uncle Preston slumped on the cracked leather sofa, the eagle wing fan clacking when he lifted his…


Texier’s Travels

The Parisian spends an afternoon in a magnolia grove glowing with ivory blooms. His hunting shirt is purple, embroidered with orange flowers and the morning star. He wants an Osage girl for a few piasters, a buffalo hunt, an Indian’s skull. In lemon-scented shade, he dreams the New World, a rattler at his feet. Ruby Hansen Murray (“They don’t know…


They don’t know where they will go when they die. Ho’-wa ge a-the ta i te ts’a-bi-don i-ba-hon a-zhi a-ba o.

The day the death boats came, Meena helped me serve the noon meal. She was the only other Osage at Edwards, and she’d been there for a week. When the steam whistle sounded, we went up the slope behind the mission to the Cherokee, to the small knob along the Arkansas River. Asmell like the privies in summer made Meena…