She stood a ways off, just beyond the firelight. The embers from the
bonfire lit up the sky and made the night gold on this bit of open
space among the sage.She glowed with the color of firelight, reds and gold giving her a
soft flow against the black night.
Summer Sing, the Nightway, where people travel for miles to gather on
a flat stretch of ground, to sing in a circle all night, and then to
dance the night away, to talk and to laugh. That is how it is done,
while a short distance away the healing ceremony goes on.
It was July and the nights were warm and pleasant. Folks gathered by
the firelight and when the songs raised up in the night caused the
ground to swell, the motion of dancers near the cedar fire swayed back
Arriving with cousins, three of them; looking for chance to see some
old friends, relations and to hear the goings on around this area
known as Sanostee not too far South of Shiprock. Getting ready
earlier, meant a sweat, a quiet time to reflect and cleanse the mind
and body, to relax and feel the flow of the days' hardships melt away.
This is done alone in a small sweat made for one at the edge of the
forest, it is way of tradition.
Then to dress with clean clothes, a sign of respect to the family
where you will visit and spend the night, a pair of Wrangler Jeans,
some Dan Post boots, and a cotton shirt, western type. The old ones,
you know those clothes that are broken in from wear, the favorite
ones. You can really feel at ease in those clothes, they are soft and
supple. Comfort is the name of the game tonite.
Outside, an old beat up Chevy pulls up, baby blue, the Nez boys rush
in and say, What's the hold up and with a final look around, you take
off and away you go. Talking and laughing.
Eshkee, (Boy) You got cash money to pay for the dances?
Nah, he's got commodity cheese in his bag to cover it. (the Sing is a
woman's choice dance, and when you are asked you have to pay the lady
Do you think those girls from Bistai' will be there?
They don't have any good ones, that's a bad place. Nothing grows there
Maybe that one girl from there might come.
Oh, you mean the Towering House woman, she comes from Coyote Pass. I
remember her from a rodeo over there, a couple of months ago.
What is she called? I don't know her name.
You mean the one with long hair, down to her waist. Wears white boots.
Yeah, I think she is the one.
You mean that good looking one. She was with this one guy from Carino
Canyon, down by Gallup, big cowboy dude. I think she is still with
him, he had his arm around her.
Maybe, she will be there, think so?
Don't worry about it, she won't look at you.
She could be there you know.
Nay, ain't gonna happen, forget about it, think about the ribs and the
Baloney here is wanting some mutton ribs, the kind that are hot and
tasty and the grease runs down your arms.
It's Bedonie, not baloney, don't call me that.
That one girl, she was in (Totah-where the rivers meet)Farmington not
too long ago, he thinks to himself, she was at the store there with
her family and when she looked at him there was a certain look in her
eyes, yes I remember the way she looked. Maybe she might be there.
The rode on and took the dirt road cutting through the cedars, a
chizh-a-teen (narrow wood hauling road) the kind you have to know
where you are going to use. It was a bumpy ride and they travelled
through washes and bluffs, going slowly across big rocks and kept on
as the night fell.
In the distance, the flow of three bonfires lit up the sky and as the
drove into the Manygoats place, they could see that there were alot of
people already gathered there, trucks, cars and some wagons were
scattered all through the area. In the middle of it was the cha-oh
(large wooden shade house) where women were cooking and one could find
pop, cooked mutton, frybread, sweets and corn cooked in the ground,
sweet sweet corn. People were standing around their vehicles, and
children ran about playing with one another. On one side was the
ceremonial hogan where a second cha-oh sat for the immediate family
and visitors. It was crowded like how it is when you come out of a
movie house, people walking elbow to elbow. It was hard to see who all
was there, since the night was thick and the light from the bonfires
cast red shadows, a glow that flickered on the faces and bodies as
they walked by.
The four made their way to the food and found a plateful of ribs and
sat down on some rocks and ate. They joked and saw old friends and
family there. Across the way the center was open for a place to dance,
where woman asked the men and they stepped in time with one another.
The women's arm locked around the back of the man she danced with him
and his arm over her shoulder, a blanket or large rug covered them
both as they moved, There were many out there. He sat down and
finished off the ribs and the dogs were waiting for him to finish so
they could have a treat as well.
He stood up and saw his cousins had wandered off. He looked around to
see it he could see them. There she was. She stood a ways off, just
beyond the firelight. The embers from the bonfire lit up the sky and
made the night gold on this bit of open space among the sage.
She wore a white squaw dress, satin which hung down to the ground,
covering her dark brown mocassins fastened with a silver button that
gleamed in the firelight. Around her waist, she wore a large silver
concho belt, an old fashioned one, a family heirloom which covered as
red sash belt, the fringes hung down by her side. Her velvet blouse
was dark blue, shimmering in the light and when she turned she wore
two large turquoise beaded necklaces, with a string of orange coral
hanging down from her neck. Her long black hair was hanging loose and
free down her back and she held a pendelton blanket.
In that instant there was no one else there but just them two. She
moved in slow motion it seemed. She glowed with the color of
firelight, reds and gold giving her a soft flow against the black
night. She had soft eyes and yet her face was strong, as if she knew
this was her time and place. She was delicate, but yet moved with a
glow of Navajo women, who had come down through the centuries,
strength in her bones and yet soft at the same time. Her eyes were
dark and twinkled against the night, she was a sight.
He stepped toward her, and she moved the shawl, flicking him with it's
end. He was her choice to dance, and so they moved to the dirt floor
cut out of the sage. He looked into her eyes and thought, it is good
to be born here among these people, and I can hear that song they are
singing. How does it go. "On horseback I go, across mountains and
canyons I go, she waits for me there, she waits for me there. On
horseback I go, on horseback I go." It was just another Enemy Way Sing
on the Navajo Rez.
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