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Feather Chronicles 2019 Edition The 2019 edition of Feather Chronicles is rich with beautiful color photography and artwork alongside captivating works of fiction and creative non-fiction. Janice Rabideaux, Jessica Jacobson, Toni Heath, and Kelly Greengrass are all new contributors to the magazine; they join authors and artists previously published here including Madona Wilber, Denise Huntingdon, Dale Kakkak, and Adam Schulz. As always, Feather Chronicles thanks our contributing authors and artists. The cover image, Snow Angels, is by Dale Kakkak, who recently retired from his duties as photographer for the Advancement Department at CMN. The 2019 edition of Feather Chronicles is published online through the digital publishing platform, Issuu.com. Everything published in the magazine since the first issue is accessible in this one online place, with formatting that features state-of-the-art appearance and paging. Thanks to CMN’s Webmaster, Sue Delrow, for developing this platform for the magazine and for her work formatting and uploading content. Paperback copies in 6-by-9 inches format are available through Amazon.com.

Feather Chronicles is produced by College of Menominee Nation students and includes contributed work from students (current, former, and future), CMN staff and faculty, and anyone engaged in the college’s many community activities. Submissions are welcome; please email them to DVickers@menominee.edu. Feather Chronicles content is protected by copyright controlled usually by the original author and in all other cases by Feather Chronicles. U.S. and international copyright laws apply. Content may be reproduced only for personal, non-commercial use.

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Table of Contents Omāēqnomenēweqnaesenon by Janice Rabideaux (Mural).................................................................... 5 Hummingbird Hawk Moth by Madona Wilber (Photo) .............................................................................. 7 Christopher Columbus by Toni Heath (Essay)................................................................................................ 8 Kindness and Strength by DKakkak (Photo).................................................................................................. 9 The Journey of MoweKwe by Jessica Jacobson (Fiction) .........................................................................10 Sketch by Madona Wilber (Drawing) ...............................................................................................................16 The Forest by Kelly Greengrass (Fiction) .........................................................................................................17 Snow Cones by DKakkak (Photo) .....................................................................................................................20 Maple Tree in Fall by Madona Wilber (Photo) ..............................................................................................21 My First: A Tribute to Cheyenne Marx by Adam Schulz (Memorial) ....................................................22 Keshena by Denise Huntington (Photo) ..........................................................................................................23 Sam’s Funeral by Toni Heath (Memorial) .......................................................................................................24 Sunset by Madona Wilber (Photo) ....................................................................................................................26

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Omāēqnomenēweqnaesenon by Janice Rabideaux The Omāēqnomenēweqnaesenon (Speak Menominee) mural welcomes library visitors as they enter the lower level of the CMN Library in a way that celebrates Menominee language and culture. Menominee artist Janice Rabideaux, Maec-Wiskenukiw (Great Bird Woman), designed and created a woodland setting using vibrant color that invites interaction. The mural features renditions of the animals representing the five major Menominee clans. Each of the animals has a beaded lanyard so that recordable devices could be added to play words and phrases in the Menominee language. The mural is a wonderful example of artistry for all those visiting the CMN Library to enjoy and will contribute to the revitalization of Menominee language for generations to come.

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Omāēqnomenēweqnaesenon by Janice Rabideaux (mural)

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Hummingbird Hawk Moth by Madona Wilber (photo)

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Christopher Columbus by Toni Heath (essay)

Why should we celebrate a man every year who took the lives of thousands of Native Americans? Well that is exactly what we do every year in October when we celebrate Christopher Columbus Day. Christopher Columbus took advantage of the generosity Native Americans gave him when he came across their land. They met him with kindness and gifts, but he took their gifts and then took advantage of them for their knowledge of the land, making them search for gold.

When no gold was to be found he took them by the hundreds onto his ship. He made labor slaves out of men and sex slaves out of women and children. Half of them would die before they reached the next destination. 7,000 children died in 3 months due to mothers unable to feed them.

The Native Americans were treated like animals. The white men would cut off their limbs to test how sharp their swords were. For fun they would behead young children. They had no remorse for them. The Native Americans were not seen as human beings at all.

All of these things were done because of the way Christopher Columbus lead his white crew. He taught them to be ignorant and cruel to others and have no concern for any kind but their own. Without his negligent ways, thousands of lives would have been saved. This is why we should not celebrate such a cruel man. We would never treat people this way today so why do we celebrate a man who did?

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Kindness and Strength by DKakkak (photo)

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The Journey of MoweKwe by Jessica Jacobson (fiction) Inside the apartment building on the third floor, MoweKwe sat up in her bed. Glancing out of her bedroom window, she noticed that the sun was shining bright. Through the small opening of the bottom of the window that was left open through the night, she could hear the birds chirping, she could feel a chilly breeze coming through. MoweKwe noticed the air was crisper than last week. It was her favorite time of year. As she peered out her window she thought to herself, “What a perfect autumn morning.” MoweKwe was in a pleasant, uplifted mood. MoweKwe’s alarm clock suddenly startled her, “buzzzz, buzzzz, buzzzz.” she realized she needed to get moving; her classes started in 45 minutes. As steam rolled out of the small bathroom entry, MoweKwe rushed out, only covered in a light blue towel that was wrapped around her slim body, clean clothes in hand. She frantically rummaged through the massive amount of papers and many books laying on her kitchen table, gathered all of them, and then forcefully shoved them in her backpack. She had fifteen minutes to get to class. As she looked at her watch, she glanced around her apartment and rushed out the door. It is MoweKwe’s first semester at Haskell University in Mayetta, Kansas, a tribal university. She is the first-generation college student in her family. MoweKwe is studying to receive her bachelor's degree in business. She is currently an assistant in the tribal accounting department, since she graduated Haskell University with her associate’s degree in accounting eight years ago. Her position is overseen and supervised by the elected tribal treasurer, JoJo Killsdeer. MoweKwe hopes are to keep working for her tribe but transfer into their business administration department. She has always had an interest in management and administrational duties; it is job experience she already has. Succeeding in her bachelor’s degree in business she believes she will be content. She doesn’t care for the job she has now. MoweKwe is very leery of the tribal treasurer. He always seemed untrustworthy and sexually inappropriate, mostly vituperative. MoweKwe never cared for him. She has an empathetic spirit, always aware of people’s persona and personal energies. MoweKwe arrived at her first class of the morning. She was relieved that she arrived just in time. As she took out her books and writing utensils, the professor, Dr. Allen SittingCrow, walked in, down the middle row to the front of the classroom. He set his bag on the desk and started preparing

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for his lecture. He was always very particular when preparing what he needed for class; his notecards were numbered and worn on the edges from being used so many times. He always had his clicker for the projector in hand, and was always quick to start his lectures, discuss, and answer questions as they arose. It was always the same agenda. Dr. SittingCrow walked over and stood behind the podium, note cards and clicker in hand, “GOOD MORNING. How was everyone’s weekend?” He paused a moment and grinned. “BAHAHAHA, I don’t care. Turn to page 198 in your text. I have places to be and the faster we get to our course work, the sooner we are all out of here.” The professor began his lecture. MoweKwe was happy her class ended well. Grinning, MoweKwe looked over at the classmate sitting next to her. “Well, time for work now, what are your plans for today Shadow?” Shadow was her younger cousin from her grandmother’s side. Shadow looked at MoweKwe unamused at her cousin’s statement. “How’s that going? Is the crook still crooked!? I was actually planning on visiting KoKo and Nami. There is a sweat lodge going on tomorrow night, you know. Why don’t you come with me?” MoweKwe replied, “Please tell them I said Bozho and I miss them both -- Oh and GdeBanen. Shadow, you already know, as far as my job is concerned, it's as good as can be. And yes, the crook is of course doing as well as ever.” MoweKwe rolled her eyes. Shadow questioned MoweKwe again, “Well, you didn’t answer me on the sweat lodge. Are you going to come? The family would love to see you there. It’s been a while. This job and this crook have consumed you whole. It's all you ever have time for now.” MoweKwe looked away briefly, almost embarrassed, and said to Shadow, “Yes, I’ll try. I’ll talk to you later, Shadow. I have to get to work now.” MoweKwe was excited to go to work this week as the treasurer was out of town for a conference for tribal leaders in Phoenix, Arizona. She knew that her whole department would be at ease knowing he wasn’t going to be nearby for the entire week. MoweKwe knew that all the personnel didn’t feel comfortable while Mr. Killdeer was around, so this week was going to be a good, productive one in his absence. MoweKwe walked into her area in the front of the building entrance, where she greeted patrons and did all of her job duties. There is a desk in the corner. MoweKwe was a very devoted employee. She observed everything around the greeting area, smiled and said, “Good Afternoon Sherry, how was the morning? How was David’s game? Did they win?”

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MoweKwe shared a part-time schedule with another woman named Sherry Twofeathers. Sherry was a young, single mother and didn’t have time to keep a full-time job. She enjoyed sharing the schedule with MoweKwe. Both ladies had the same uplifting work ethics and both took very good care of the department. MoweKwe and Sherry worked together, always making sure the entrance area was clean and professional looking. Sherry looked up at MoweKwe, nodded and said, “He is gone for the week, so my morning has been quite delightful.” She winked and giggled, “David’s game was great, they won. He scored 12 points for the team, he was so happy.” Sherry looked very proud of her son David. “So, Mr. Davidson needs copies of all tax resolutions, Ms. Clarkson would like you to call her back, so she can discuss the community feast budget, and she needs the account numbers for that as well. That was really the highlights of the morning, MoweKwe.” Sherry paused and lowered her voice, “We need to meet with our people. JoJo is a pervert and I have more proof. I also know that he has been mismanaging tribal funds for a very long time now. I was finally able to track some of the things about this that we discussed last month. It’s exactly as we thought, MoweKwe! He is ripping off the tribe! Money is being taken from all across the board. It's really time to start the removal process.” Sherry’s phone began to vibrate. She looked down and replied to the text message that she just received. “Well, MoweKwe, it's the babysitter. I can’t be late today. I really wish I could stay to chat a little longer, but I have to go. We need to finish this conversation before he gets back from the conference. We also need to make sure the right people and the right precautions are made to start the process.” Sherry grabbed her purse. Her keys jingled while she threw the strap over her shoulder. As she was walking out of the front door when she looked at MoweKwe and said, “I will see you tomorrow and we can catch up a little more while Mr. Killdeer is gone.” MoweKwe smiled and said to Sherry, “Of course we will. Have a good night, Sherry. See you tomorrow.” MoweKwe sat down at the reception desk and began to check the emails, she proceeded to return the phone calls and messages, continuing through the day, continuously thinking about the facts that Sherry had said earlier. She wondered how, why, and what it was going to take to get this man out of office.

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MoweKwe was eager to get back to her apartment to relax and unwind after the day. Upon arriving at her apartment, her cousin Shadow was waiting for her at the door, her black duffle bag hanging over her shoulder. “MoweKwe, what took so long? I need to talk to you.” MoweKwe fumbled through her keys to find the right one to unlock the door. She glanced up at Shadow. “What has you so anxious tonight, Shadow?” “The sweat lodge was moved -- It’s tonight in one hour. Get ready, I’m riding with you out to the rez, we’ll talk while you get your things together and on the ride to Nami’s. Uncle Sam is going to be running the lodge tonight. It’s for both male and female members and it’s important that you come.” MoweKwe did not want to go, but she knew she needed to, especially if her family was being so persistent about it. MoweKwe told her cousin, “Okay Shadow, give me a second. I just got here and this is too much to handle right now.” “C’mon MoweKwe move faster.” The women grabbed their things and walked down the stairs to the car. On the ride to Nami’s, Shadow talked about the treasurer. “I was in town today and I overheard Sherry talking with Uncle Sam, a few of the elders, and Dr. SittingCrow. JoJo Killdeer is a pig who is mismanaging our tribal funds and there is a process that’s being followed to remove him from office. He is slandering, mismanaging, misrepresenting, and not holding the integrity of the tribe at a high standard. MoweKwe, how much of these things do you know to be true? You will be asked some questions tonight from our elders, so just be ready.” MoweKwe was shocked that all of the accusations were out in the community already. She knew Sherry was the one who started the removal process. She also knew that Sherry had all the supporting documentation to back up the accusations. MoweKwe replied to Shadow, “I know just about as much as you heard. I never liked him and have always felt he misrepresented our tribe. I have always felt that there is a better way to manage the department that I work in and he won’t let me advance. Why? I believe it's because he’s threatened by me for some reason. Maybe I know too much. I don’t know, Shadow.” MoweKwe and Shadow arrived at Nami’s driveway. It was a long driveway; MoweKwe turned in and drove down. At the end was Nami’s little blue shack. She parked her car next to a brown, rusty rez bomb. The parking area was full of relatives’ cars. The ladies grabbed their bags and walked

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towards the side of the house. There were many relatives standing around, most women were in their sweat dresses and the men were in shorts. All had their bundles and towels in hand, awaiting word from Uncle Sam that it was time to come into the lodge. The fire was shining bright orange and blue. The rocks were pure burnt red and ready to be used. MoweKwe could feel the warmth of the energies of this sacred place. She was relieved and a sense of safety, strength, and clarity overcame her mind and then she felt it throughout her whole body. Uncle Sam’s voice radiated loudly from inside the lodge, “MoweKwe, Biyanzhode! Yaptthien!” MoweKwe went over to the lodge door and bend down to her knees. She crawled into the lodge. Uncle Sam and KoKo were sitting by the altar, both making sure he had everything he needed to start the sweat. KoKo sat quietly the entire time, grinning from ear to ear. Uncle Sam looked directly into MoweKwe’s eyes and said, “My girl, you have an important role and there are responsibilities that are about to be bestowed upon you. Do you understand the commitment that you are being asked?” MoweKwe was surprised; this was all going so fast. Sherry obviously worked longer and harder on the removal of the treasurer than she had actually known. MoweKwe answered Uncle Sam, “I do know what has been going on with the treasurer for a while now. I just wasn’t sure how to do something or what could even be done without concrete evidence. But, Uncle Sam, I don’t understand what you are talking about as far as my responsibilities are concerned. What do you mean?” Uncle Sam spoke to MoweKwe in a traditional fashion. “Our families have met and discussed this situation, we are all here to pray, eat, and heal together. It is time for change, and if JoJo Killdeer is removed from office, there will need to be an eligible, trustworthy replacement. Our people need an intelligent, educated, reliable, accountable, and traditional person to correct the wrong doings of the current treasurer. Your name, MoweKwe has special meaning -- Wolf Woman. Wolves move about this earth quietly and unnoticed. Having strong family ties, they are known for being intelligent, very understanding and protective. They are loyal to what they consider to be theirs. All of these qualities and strengths you represent. These are all traits a leader of our tribe needs, that is what I meant by your duties and responsibilities, it is your time and place to sit on the tribal council, as our treasurer, my girl. Time to pray.”

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Uncle Sam turned toward the lodge door and called all of the relatives in to start the sweat. “Biyanzhode!” MoweKwe kept her seat, thinking and praying harder than she had ever before in her life. She could feel the spirits of her ancestors. They were present and this made her appreciate spiritual gratification, ultimately giving her the answers she sought. A decision was made. JoJo Killdeer returned from Phoenix, Arizona just in time to be served charges for removal. The paperwork was put together quite well, thanks to Sherry. The tribal people came together and removed Mr. JoJo Killdeer. He was charged with failure to uphold the tribal Constitution, failure to uphold the integrity of the tribe, sexual harassment, and lastly financial misappropriation. Mr. Killdeer didn’t only get removed from tribal office; he went to prison. He was charged on a tribal and federal level because he broke tribal and federal laws. MoweKwe ran and won her election as the tribal treasurer. She had a plan to change careers, she didn’t want to work in accounting anymore, because of the treasurer. But, that didn’t happen as she had planned. Her education was an associate’s degree in accounting, going for her bachelor’s degree in business. Now that she is the tribal treasurer, she is completing her bachelor’s degree in accounting and will go for an associate’s degree in business later. She is doing a fantastic job; her people are happy with the choice they made. She is a great leader and is now happy. Uncle Sam was right, it was her path, her duty, her responsibility. MoweKwe was chosen for her people, by her ancestors. MoweKwe lived the rest of her adult life serving her people as an educated and humble Bodewadmi Tribal Treasurer, constantly being an active spiritual community member as well. MoweKwe believed wholeheartedly that the work she was picked to do, was all about the way she could balance both of these realms.

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Sketch by Madona Wilber (drawing)

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The Forest by Kelly Greengrass (fiction) Molly woke up that cold and snowy December morning with the intention of take a walk behind her parent’s house. It was only her third day home of the holiday break from school. She already missed the warm weather and hustle and bustle of the campus at the University of Southern California. Growing up she spent a lot of time in the woods behind her parent’s house, mostly sitting among the trees watching the leaves blow from the warm or cold wind and the animals that inhabited that part of the forest. She especially loved listening to the many sounds of nature including the rush of the creek after a rainfall or melting of the snow. She never wandered much past the other side of the creek. She had her special spot where she would sit out of sight from the animals that came walking through. As Molly got ready, she could hear her mother walking past her door every ten to fifteen seconds as if she might miss her coming out of the room. “I’ll be out soon, Mom.” Molly said. “Oh honey, I’m sorry if I woke you; I just wanted to let you know we got another foot of snow last night.” “It’s okay, Mom. I was just laying here thinking,” Molly said. Molly couldn’t help from feeling bad that she chose a school so far from her family, but Wisconsin would always be home. She just wanted to experience a place she had never been before. Deep down, the small-town midwestern girl always wanted to be that big-city, warm-weather girl with the perfect tan that brought out the natural bleached-blonde highlights in her hair. “Sweetie, do you want some coffee. I can make you a cup if you like.” “Sure Mom, I’d like that.” Molly flung the star quilt off her. Molly got up, put on her thermal underwear and pulled her hair up into a messy bun. She walked to the bedroom door and opened it. There stood her mother with a huge smile on her face. “Good Morning Dear!” she exclaimed. “Good Morning, Mom,” replied Molly. “Ope, let me get that coffee going for ya, hun,” said her mother. Molly walked to the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth. Upon exiting the bathroom, she noticed the picture of her when she was about ten years old. She was sitting in the 17 | P a g e


middle of the log that laid over the creek. Her memory quickly takes her back to that day. She wonders what it was she saw in the bushes on the other side of the creek. Her dad believed it was a deer, but Molly knew it wasn’t. She had seen so many deer throughout her life she could tell you every detail and sound of a deer. Seeing that picture got the wheels turning in her head and that’s when she decided that she was going to adventure across the creek to explore, not letting the unknown stop her. Molly pulled on her boots and put her jacket on. She yelled to her mother she was heading out back for a while. Her mother yelled back, reminding her to take her phone with her and to be careful. Molly stepped out the door. The first deep breath was a bit rough; it caused her to cough. As she stepped off the driveway, the snow crunched beneath her boots. She looked forward toward the woods in awe at the beauty and how the pure white snow blanketed everything. The branches on the pine trees drooped from the heavy snow that lay on them. Each branch top on the maple trees were perfectly lined with snow. She began walking to the trail that lead into the forest. Once there she could hear the water from the creek running as it wound through the curves and roots that lay in its path, whooshing around rocks and along the sides of the bed. She could hear the birds singing that familiar song of good morning world. As Molly ventured down the path through the snow, she realized how much she missed the time spent in these familiar, yet unfamiliar woods. Once she reached the shore of the creek at the bottom of the hill she glared across, scanning back and forth to see if she could spot anything, especially if she could see what she saw that day in the woods many years ago. She stepped on the old log that lay suspended above the creek. It was covered in snow and she was unsure if there was ice below it. She put her hands on another log that was a bit higher to help her cross. Slightly bent over she slowly and steadily slid her left foot across the bottom log, then dragging her right one to meet with the left, doing the same with her hands on the top log. As she slid her hands and feet across the snow that covered the logs dropped into the ice-cold creek and immediately dissolved. Once to the other side Molly started walking towards the area where she and her father saw the strange dark-brown animal many years ago. This was about fifty yards from the creek. As she passed the bushes, she noticed imprints in the snow with some dark hair laying atop the snow. She walked closer to get a look and noticed these were not like any animal tracks she had ever seen. She immediately took out her phone and took a picture. Just then she noticed how the woods became

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silent. The birds stop singing and the creek sounded as if it stopped running. It was an ominous silence she had never experienced before in all the years of being in those woods. Just then she heard movement to her right just over the small hill. Grabbing the dark hair and shoving it in her pocket she slowly crept toward the sound, holding her breathe to stop her heart from racing. She reached the top of the hill and could see that same dark hair that she saw years before through the hole in some bushes. Just then she stepped on a stick beneath the snow. It snapped and that’s when she saw it! As their eyes connected her entire body froze. She was unable to breathe, move or speak. All she could think was I hope it is looking past me and not at me. She wanted to lift her phone to capture a picture, but she couldn’t move. Just then it let out a loud howl and raced toward her. She stood frozen in amazement and fear. Bigfoot came stomping toward her! Just as he got directly in front of her, she jumped up, sweaty and breathing heavily. Her mother looked at her and said, “Honey are you okay? That must have seen some dream because you were breathing pretty heavy.”

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Snow Cones by DKakkak (photo)

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Maple Tree in Fall by Madona Wilber (photo)

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My First: A Tribute to Cheyenne Marx by Adam Schulz (Memorial) Cheyenne, you were my first for so many things. You were my first niece. The first to call me uncle. My first bottle making and feeding. Yes, you were even my first diaper changing and I remember that day well. You were my first babysitting, and your ma told me after the fact I wasn’t actually supposed to sit on you. I remember the first time your parents trusted me to babysit you so they could go out. You were only three or four months old. It will be easy you ma said. All you have to do is feed her and put her to bed. She forgot to tell me about having to change your diaper. But we got through it just fine, you and I. You were my first to send off to school. I swear I paced just as much as your ma waiting for you to return home. Cheyenne, my beautiful niece, you were the first to go on a date, first to go to high school and first to make me a great uncle. You were the first one I turned into a Star Wars Nerd. You were the first for me to teach to work on cars. I remember the first time you wanted to see what Uncle was doing. I was changing the oil on my Mustang at your parents’ condo, you were five or six. You were asking all sorts of questions and when I slid out to get a wrench you laid on the creeper and slid under the car. How could uncle ask you to move? So, I slid under the car on the cold concrete floor and showed you how to change oil. As with all good things all must end. You were called back to creator so now I will have new firsts that you won’t share. This breaks uncles heart but I know you will always be there watching and guiding all my next firsts. I love you Cheyenne. Fly High and watch over us until we meet again. We will hear your whisper on the winds, see your spirit in Dimitri’s eyes, and feel your touch with snows first fall. Rest easy Chey, till we meet again in my heart you shall remain.

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Keshena by Denise Huntington (photo)

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Sam’s Funeral by Toni Heath (Memorial) The sun is beaming down on the concrete making it hot enough to fry an egg. I am sitting in the backseat of my mom’s car outside of the church. My best friend, Tonia, is sitting to my right. My mom is in the driver seat and my dad is in the passenger. They tell me they are ready whenever I am, but there’s a knot in my stomach the size of a softball. Tonia reaches over and holds my hand. It’s cold and clammy but her gentle gesture helps bring me comfort. I look up and see my mom’s kind eyes staring back at me. Without speaking a word, I know she is telling me everything is going to be okay. I reach for the door handle and finally get out of the car. My knees feel weak, almost like Jell-O, but Tonia holds me by the arm almost as if she’s my own personal crutch. I look forward and we are beginning to walk towards the church doors that read Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Below reads a sign, “Peterson Funeral Inside.” Looking ahead I see a line of people so long that some are waiting to come through the doors. We walk to the end of the line, anxiously waiting our turn to hug his mother. When I reach her, she holds her arms out towards me and pulls me in. Her hug is warm and snug as my head rests on her chest. I can smell a faint scent of perfume from her shirt; it reminds me of lilacs. As she holds me I can hear her sniffles in my ear. Some of her tears drip down onto my shoulder like raindrops falling from the sky. We finally release our grip and I turn to walk farther inside. As I glance around I see familiar faces everywhere from friends and their parents, old high school classmates and even some of our past teachers. Tonia and I walk over to the group of friends we recognize and begin to exchange more hugs, as none of us are sure what to say to one another. As tears fall from our eyes and snot runs from our noses, one of our friends cracks a joke that Sam would have voiced himself if he could. Even though this is a sad day, we all let out a small chuckle as we remember what a jokester he was. After that, one by one everyone started to quietly whisper something about him. Something he once did, something he once said, something we'd never forget. Now even with tears slowly gliding down my cheeks, my lips begin to curl into a small smile. The wooden church doors opened finally to the main church, the pastor announces that the service will begin soon and this is our chance to say our final goodbyes. Here comes that softball size knot in my stomach again. I begin to shake, for this is the moment I haven’t prepared myself for quiet

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yet. I don’t think I’m ready to see him like this. I don’t think I’m ready to say goodbye. I’m gripping onto Tonia’s arm so tightly I’m leaving nail indents in her skin, something I’ll apologized later for. Slowly, we make our way towards the white casket in front of the room. My breathing is getting heavy, like a weight on my chest. We reach the casket, I look inside; it’s him but it’s not him. His hair is styled just right where the front is gelled sticking straight up, but it’s not him. He’s wearing that light blue, long sleeve, button up shirt I’ve seen him wear a hundred times before, but it’s not him. In his hands he’s holding his most prized possession, his black Gameboy; but it’s not him. Beside him next to his right shoulder is his favorite, half empty bottle of cologne, but it’s still not him. The funeral home did a nice makeup job trying to cover the scratches, cuts and bruises on his face. But I see right through it all and it’s not him. We walk in and sit on the wooden church pews that creak when we sit on them. The church fills up quickly and soon all is quiet enough to hear a pin drop as we wait for the pastor to begin. He begins to talk about Sam’s life, who he was as a person, the things he enjoyed doing, and what an incredible person he was overall. Throughout the room I can hear the sniffles from loved ones. I can see the tears falling from face to face and in the front row I hear his mother sobbing into her husband’s lap uncontrollably. Soon enough we all rise as they begin to walk Sam’s casket out, followed by his family. There’s a light melody playing over the speakers and people from each row begin to follow two by two out the church doors. Everyone’s head is drooped down like sunflowers after the sun has set. We stand outside in the blazing hot sun and let out weeps as they load the casket into the jet-black hearse. This is where we all part ways, our final goodbyes, as we all begin to walk in different directions to our vehicles. There I sit again, in the back seat of my mother’s car outside of the church. I don’t speak a word to anyone. I just look out my window and everyone drives off. My head is pounding from crying, my eyes red and swollen and my heart aches over the loss of a best friend. I will always miss him and the times we shared together. It’s easy to say he’s in a better place, but for the rest of my life I will always remember August 9th, 2016 as the day I said my final goodbye to my best friend, Sam Peterson.

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Sunset by Madona Wilber (photo)

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Profile for College of Menominee Nation

Feather Chronicles 2019  

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