I got to spend two weeks with my mom in November. Sewing, knitting, cooking, packing, cleaning, organizing, driving five hundred miles across the state for Thanksgiving with our family. It was the most time we’ve spent together in a long time and it was wonderful. I’m getting ready to move into a van and she’s getting ready to move to the Oregon coast (a long-held dream of hers). I’m happy for both of us and proud of us for embracing the unknown and doing what we want without any promises it will work out.
While she was here, my mom gifted me her dad’s worn and loved deerskin leather jacket that he had made in Boise, Idaho back in the 1960’s. When I told my brother about it he said he wore it until it was too small for him. I’m looking forward to wrapping myself in this small piece of family history and taking it with me as I uproot my life and set out on a migratory path of discovery.
My great-grandmother, Consuelo M Sayer (Connie Leamaster was her married name) was born on the Quapaw Indian Reservation in Oklahoma.
According to the Quapaw Tribe official website,
The Quapaw were a division of a larger group known as the Dhegiha Sioux many years ago. The Dhegiha split into the tribes known today as the Quapaw, Osage, Ponca, Kansa and Omaha when they left the Ohio Valley.
The Quapaw moved down the Mississippi River into Arkansas, this is the origin of the word Ogaxpa, which can be translated as “downstream people”.
Tribal history indicates that as the Dhegiha people were moving they came upon the river, and a dense fog had arisen. The people created a rope by braiding a grapevine and while crossing the river, the vine snapped.
The Omaha people continued against the current, which is the origin of their name. The Quapaw believe our people were at the end of the rope and we floated down the river after it broke, separating our people from the group.
She was my mom’s dad’s mom and she lived until 1988. I have no memories of her or my grandfather but I couldn’t be more honored to adorn myself with her son’s fancy fringe leather jacket.
Another favorite article of clothing that is going with me is my dad’s Boy Scout shirt, from Troop 154 in Fremont, California. It’s full of patches and badges, dating from 1958-1960. It fits me perfectly and I love it!
We all live downstream. We face common problems, share common interests and look to each other with a common history. As my plan for a nomadic life moves forward, undoubtedly there are days when my heart wavers and I struggle to relax and go with the flow…
I look to my hippie redneck family who all continue to teach me about perseverance, rural, minimalistic and outdoor life, how to lean on each other, and most importantly, who I am.
And I say to my heart: rave on.
You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born free should be contented to be penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. – Chief Joseph (Nez Percé)