She went to the one room schoolhouse on the Rez. She hated leaving home. She hated having to sit there and learn about life outside of her world. Everyday, she would rush home to work alongside her dad feeding the animals and working in the garden. During the day, she would wash dishes, cook, and then wash clothes. Cooking was something that had to be done. It was never delivered or pre-made for you. You made everything from scratch. Including the beloved headcheese. A whole pigs head in a large kettle cooking on the wood stove all day was something you would never forget. Making blood sausage was something else you would never forget. Most of the time, the only things a person would see is the food on the plate as they came to the table to eat. Not her, she remembered it all and how her life was just as she expected it to be growing up an Ojibwa Woman on the Rez.
As she got older, life on the Rez started to change. The one room schoolhouse burnt to the ground. The stories of a Great War were being talked about by her father and his friends. Stories started to come to the Rez that jobs were available in Bismarck, North Dakota due to the war. They had found one for her in fact. Her and her other women relatives got a job working for a rich family as maids. Her father knew it was time for her to go out on her own. Besides, she would be with her relatives. She packed up and left on the train to Bismarck. It was an adventure. Still in the back of her mind, she missed the cows, the smell of prairie, and the talks she would have with her horses. She never left the reservation much less left her father's embrace and she was lonely.
One day, she walked to the grocery store to get groceries for the rich woman. The younger women all sit around telling her about how their men were worthless. They complained about living in an apartment that had three bedrooms and one and ahalf baths with electric heat and running water. The best time during her day was the walk to grocery store, it was quiet and she could dream of being back home on the Rez, with her father, with her animals, with her garden, whispering her dreams into her horses ear. She finished shopping and started out towards the door. The door swung open and knocked her groceries out of her hands and onto the floor. She started to pick them up and noticed another brown hand helping her gather up what had fallen. She looked up and saw the same dark brown eyes looking back at her. Embarrassed she looked down and nervously continued to gather her groceries.
He introduced himself. He was from Pine Ridge. Pine Ridge, she never heard of that place. He asked her what reservation she was from and what she did in Bismarck. She felt flushed. She never talked to a man by herself outside of her father. He kept after her and offered to walk her home as well as help her carry the groceries. She agreed.
Months later, after many walks with the man from Pine Ridge she knew she was falling in love. They secretly met and had made up there minds that they would marry. By this time, their hand holding and talking had went past the good night kiss. She still missed her father. She still missed being at home. But the feelings she had about the man from Pine Ridge brought change in what she expected for her future.
They were talking about how they were going to tell their parents. If it was even possible, his parents had even less than what her parents did as far as money or property. He worked in Bismarck and sent his family money just like she did. Getting married and starting a family meant choosing to take some hard steps together.
Without her knowing, he decided to join the service. He wanted to make something of himself, for her and their future. His orders came and he had to tell her. She was devastated. She was in love.
He left the following week. She was crazy with loneliness. More than she had been when she first left the reservation. She prayed for him everyday. The following week came, she still felt like half of her was gone. She didn't know what it meant to be "overseas". Hearing from him would take weeks she was told. Everyday felt like forever.
She stared to not feel good. Her stomach was upset. She felt like throwing up every morning. She felt like she was dying of loneliness. He older relative that was with her knew what it all meant. She was going to have a child. Her head was spinning with the news. She wasn't married. She would never be able to go home. Being pregnant, even saying the word pregnant, was not heard of if you were not married.
Working in the big house with the women all complaining about their men was torturous. Everyday she knew she had to hold on until he came back. The third week came and one of her relatives came to get her, someone was at the door for her. She went to the door and saw a small Indian woman and taller Indian man. They were his parents. They came to tell her that their son was killed in action.
To Be Continued....