The Trials and Tribulations of a Girl?
A Novel By Teddie S.
Copyright © 2018 Teddie S.
All Rights Reserved.
Window Rock and the clan meeting.
Friday had been fun with Kelly and Larry here. The first thing on the agenda was a visit to Mrs. Yanaba Cyl who was the weaver who’d made my white Biil dress. Ajie was looking for a Biil dress to wear to the meeting of The Big Medicine People Clan on Sunday. She found a gorgeous red Biil dress with a fancy black and white sawtooth pattern on it. Kelly also found an elegant long skirt and blouse.
Then Kelly and Larry had asked us to be the godparents to their baby, who could say no to that. The barbecue went smoothly. No surprise guests. I sat and meditated at the bonfire under a full Moon. And as Naainish had told me, there were no problems with my spirits and the Moon or spirits of the bonfire. I did tell Kelly and Larry that I felt that their son would do some amazing things during his lifetime.
On Saturday morning all four of us slept in. Amy and I were up first, followed in a short time by Kelly and Larry. And we decided to make frybread breakfast tacos for breakfast. And I think that our tacos get better every time we make them. Then again, maybe it’s sharing them with good friends.
We spent Saturday exploring Albuquerque and the area around it, and we even found the zoo. For lunch, we found another drive-in on Historic Route 66 to add to our list. Then we found the lower end of the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, looked it over, and watched as a tram arrived from the top. And I asked, “Anyone afraid of heights?”
“Why?”, Kelly asked.
“I thought it might be fun to take the tram up to the top and watch a Sunset from up there.”
“Ah … I’ll pass.”
“Don’t like heights?”
“Not really. I just like to keep my feet on the ground.”
"Flying doesn't bother you?"
"Just a little."
“There is another way to the top that’ll keep your feet on the ground.”
With a grin, I said, “We could hike up.”
“You could hike up, and I’ll stay here and watch you.”
“We could also drive up.”
“You can drive up there?”
“Why? What’s up there?”
“Some hiking trails, a ski area, and the upper end of the tram.”
“Driving up would work.”
We continued exploring the city, and at dinner time we stopped at Nunzio's Pizza. We had to wait a little bit for a booth, but what do you expect for a place that serves excellent pizza, especially on a Saturday night. I wondered what this place is like during the school year?
Amy and Larry had a glass of wine, and Larry said that it was excellent. Kelly and I opted for pop. Kelly because she’s pregnant, and me because I’m driving.
Amy asked Kelly, “We aren’t doing too much for you. Are we?”
“No, I’m doing fine.”, Kelly replied. “Besides I’m not that far along and I feel good.”
“I just didn’t want to tire you out.”
“I’m fine. I’m just happy to be with the two of you.”
Amy smiled, as she said, “And we are so happy to be with you guys too.”
As we left Nunzio's, we ran past the apartment, and I ran inside to grab the jackets and windbreakers. As I tossed them into the car, Larry asked, “Why do we need coats? It’s, what, ninety degrees out here.”
“Yeah.”, I said. “But the Sandia Crest it’s probably sixty-five, and when the Sun sets it quickly gets colder than that. And the wind can be strong.”
Kelly and Larry couldn't believe what they saw on the way up the Sandia Crest Highway and how many switchbacks we went through. And when we got to the top, they were glad that we had the jackets with us. And just like with Mark, when he saw the sign at the top, Larry said, “We’re more than two miles above sea level!”
“Yep.”, I said, “And about five-thousand feet above Albuquerque. We have yet to be up here after it gets dark, but I’ll bet the stars are amazing.”
“Does it ever rain up here?”
“Some of the stuff I’ve read about hiking up here warns about getting caught in a summer storm because of the temperature drop that happens with them. If you get wet, you can suffer from hypothermia.”
“So it does rain out here?”
“Right now we’re in what they call the monsoon season. So we get storms.”
“And I bet they get a lot of snow up here too.”, Kelly said.
“I read someplace that it’s around ten feet for the season.”
We walked over to one of the overlook spots, and you could see Albuquerque far below us, and I don’t know how far to the west we could see, but I’d bet it was Arizona.
We stood there and watched the Sunset with beautiful shades of yellow, red, and pink. The wind picked up a little, and I saw Kelly cuddle up to Larry as Amy cuddled up to me. Then we watched as the lights in Albuquerque come on.
On the way back down the mountain, yes the car started right up, Kelly said, “I just love it out here.”
Sunday morning we were up early and made a quick breakfast. Then we took Kelly and Larry to the airport to catch their flight home. And like with Maria and Mark the so longs were tear-filled.
As we waited with them until they could board the plane, Amy asked Kelly, “Please stay in touch and let us know what’s going on with Connor.”
“Honey.”, Kelly replied. “I’ll let you know as soon as I find out anything about Connor.”
We watched them board the plane and then watched as the plane took off.
As we walked to the car, I said, “When Kelly hugged me she told me that they really do miss us.”
“Larry told me the same thing.”, Amy said. “And you know what? I miss them and Maria and Mark too.”
Once we were back at the apartment, Amy asked, “What time do you think we should leave?”
“It takes about two-and-a-half hours to get there.”, I said. “And it starts at one. So we should probably be out of here no later than ten.”
“We going to stop for lunch?”
“We probably should.”
“Think we should leave a little earlier?”
“That might be better.”
Amy and I went up to our room to start getting ready, and she asked, “Are we packing an overnight bag?”
“I don’t know. What about your classes?”
“I could miss the morning class. In fact, I could probably teach the class.”
“Okay. Let's pack a bag and see what time we’re through with the meeting, and what Aunt Ginny has on her mind.”
We packed a bag with a change of clothes in it. And since we didn’t know if we’d have time to change, we were going to wear our Biil dresses for the drive over. So it was Bill dresses and wrap moccasins. We went very light with the jewelry that we wore, but we did take the camera bag with other things in it.
We both did our hair in two braids with fancy wraps at the ends and added our plain braided leather headbands. The braided leather headbands with the Eagle feathers were in the camera bag.
We finally got on the road at about nine-forty-five and headed west towards Arizona. Most of this drive was in New Mexico as Window Rock is just across the New Mexico/Arizona border. At Gallup, New Mexico we got off the main road and headed north.
While we were still in Gallup, we found a nice restaurant and stopped for a quick lunch. And talk about being overdressed, we were in Biil dresses, and there were some locals in the restaurant wearing jeans and plaid shirts and a few tourists. And we got the once over.
After we’d eaten, it only took us a half-an-hour to drive to Window Rock. And the Navajo Nation Council Chambers wasn’t hard to find. I loved the rustic architecture of the building. We parked the car and walked into the building.
First, we saw Chief Kinlicheeny talking with a few people. Why is he here?
Then we found my grandmother, both aunts, and Naainish standing together. We walked up to them. Grandma was the first to see us, she smiled, and said, “Kai and Ajie, you made it.”
“Of course we did, grandma.”, I said. “This is important. Isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is. And, Ajie, I just love your Biil dress.”
“Thanks, grandma.”, Ajie said. “We got it from the same lady that we got Kai’s Biil dress from.”
“Why is Chief Kinlicheeny here.”, I asked.
“Since there’s no clan chief, he’s here to preside over the meeting.”, Naainish said.
“Yes. That is very good.”
“We need to finish dressing, where’s the ladies room.”
“You look perfect right now.”, Aunt Ginny said.
“We have some additions to do.”, Ajie said.
Aunt Ginny pointed, and said, “It’s right over there.”
Ajie and I walked over to the ladies room. And we proceeded to add the jewelry that we had in the camera bag. Both of us replaced the braided leather headbands that we were wearing with the braided leather headbands with Eagle feathers. Then we added our Concho belts. Then some bracelets and rings. Ajie put on one of the beaded chokers that we were given by Chief Todachine through Naainish. I put on the Concho choker. Of course, we both had on the ever-present meteorite necklaces. And we both put on our squash blossom necklaces. I know we were a little overdone, but we like to dress up when we can. Besides this was important.
When we walked out of the ladies room, there were more people there. Chief Kinlicheeny was talking with my grandmother and aunts. We walked over to them, and I said, “Yá’át’ééh, Naat'áanii Kinlicheeny.” (It is good, Chief Kinlicheeny)
He looked at us, and said, “Yá’át’ééh, Kai dóó Ajie. I am glad that you’re here.”
“I’m surprised to see you.”
“I needed to be here. The clan has no chief, so I need to run the meeting. And I want to be sure that everything is on the up and up.”
I smiled, and said, “Then it’s good that you’re here.”
Then I saw Dr. Etsitty from the university and her husband, Tahoma. I'm hoping that Tahoma will be the next chief of the clan. And I said to Chief Kinlicheeny, “Please excuse us. I see someone that I need to talk to.”
“I’ll see the two of you later.”, the chief replied.
As Ajie and I walked over to the Etsitty's, who were talking to two older ladies, I noticed that we were being given a good look by the people who were there, and a number of them smiled at us as we walked passed them. And we returned the smiles.
When we walked up to the Etsitty's, the two ladies talking with them saw us and stopped talking. The Etsitty's turned saw us, and I said, “Yá’át’ééh,
Mr. and Dr. Etsitty.”
“Hello Kai and Ajie.”, Dr. Etsitty said. “And please make it Vickie and Tom.”
“Okay. Yá’át’ééh, Vickie dóó Tom.”
Tom then said, to the two ladies that they were talking to, “Mom and grandma, I’d like you to meet Kai Nez and Ajie Nez. Kai and Ajie this is my mother and
“Kai Nez.”, the older of the two ladies said. “I know that name.”
The younger of the two women whispered to her, “Mom, she’s the Nádleeh.”
“Oh, my. What is she doing here?”
“Ma'am, I’m a member of this clan. My grandmother is Haseya Devereux. And I’m here to try to correct a wrong.”
“Oh. I didn’t know. What are you trying to correct?”
“That someone who we both know should be chief of this clan.”
“You believe that don’t you?”
“Yes, ma'am. More than you will ever know.”
I looked at Ton Etsitty, and said, “Tom, I feel that most of this meeting is going to be in Navajo, would it help you and Vickie if we sat with you and interpret for you?”
“You would do that?”, Vickie asked.
“Yes.”, I replied.
“Yes, we would.”, Amy added. “Then we’ll have to start Navajo lessons for Tom.”
“He’ll need them.”, I added.
“I will?”, Tom said.
“We hope so.”, Ajie said.
“No, he will need them.”, I said.
The older woman looked at me, and said, “You know this. Don’t you?”
I smiled, as I said, “Yes.”
Just then Chief Kinlicheeny announced that the meeting was about to start. Everyone filed into the Council Chambers and found seats. Ajie sat between Vickie and Tom so that both of them could hear her. I sat next to Tom.
I saw Ajie lean over to Vickie, and heard her say, “I got my NCLEX-RN results on Friday. And my Ohio license.”
I saw Vickie smile, and she said, “Seeing your grades and letters of recommendation, I had no doubt that you’d passed it. Call and make an appointment to see me. And I’ll see if I can get someone from the New Mexico Board of Nursing to be there.”
“I’ll do that on Monday. Oh, I may not make my first class on Monday. Kai’s aunt wants us to stay tonight.”
“Amy. That wouldn’t be a problem. Your instructors like you.”
(From here on everything was in Navajo.)
Chief Kinlicheeny called the meeting to order and said that there were two orders of business and possibly three. Then he said, “Kai Nez. Would you please join me. Also, would Naainish Yazzie join me.”
I looked at Ajie, and she said, “Go on.”
I got up, walked to the front, and stood there with Chief Todachine and Naainish. Then the Chief said, “A few years ago Chief Nastas Todachine met this young lady and was taken by her. And that was before he knew that she was a Nádleeh.
“When I first met Kai Nez I was also taken by her. She is a fascinating person.
“Chief Todachine was in the hospital when he met her and her friend Ajie Nez. And he made them both honorary members of the clan. Also, Kai Nez was made a member of the Navajo Nation at the same time, which I was pleased to preside over.
“Just before Chief Todachine passed he was working on making Kai Nez a full member of this clan. Kai’s mother, Asdza Young, is a member of this clan as are her grandmother, Haseya Devereux, and her aunts, Sahkyo Biakeddy and Shimasani Haskie.
“But the chief passed before he could complete it.
“When Chief Todachine passed, Kai Nez and her friend Ajie Nez decided that something needed to be done to remember the Chief. And the two of them set up and provided the initial funding for the Chief Nastas Todachine Memorial Scholarship.”
There was a round of applause.
Chief Kinlicheeny continued with, “So, with your permission, I would like to complete what Chief Todachine started and have Kai Nez become a full member of this clan. Are there any objections to this?”
There were no objections.
Chief Kinlicheeny then said, “Hearing no objections. I now proclaim that Kai Nez is a full member of the Azee'tsoh dine'é.”
There was some nice applause.
Then I saw Naainish hand Chief Kinlicheeny a fancy picture frame. It was made like the others were, from tree branches. Then Chief Kinlicheeny said, “I have signed this certificate of membership, but have left a place for the signature of the next clan Chief.”
He handed me the picture frame. I took it, and we shook hands. Then he did something that I haven’t seen him do very often. He smiled.
I then said, “Thank you very much, Chief. This honor means so much to me.”
I then walked back to where I was sitting. Tom Etsitty looked at the certificate, and said, “Very nice, Kai.”
I looked at Tom, smiled, and whispered, “They left you a place for you to sign.”
“Kai, I don’t think that’s going to happen. There’s too many that want to see another election.”
“Tom, it’s too early to say that for sure.”
I then heard Vickie ask, “Ajie, why didn’t they make you a full member?”
“I don’t have any Navajo blood.”, Ajie replied. “So they can’t.”
“Not really. It’s the rules.”
Then Chief Kinlicheeny got the attention of everyone, and said, “Now to the main reason for this meeting. How do we choose a new clan chief?
“The Navajo Election Administration has told me that they were part of the investigation into Peshlakai’s election and it was fraudulent. He didn’t receive enough valid votes to win the election. There were many duplicate ballots, and when those were removed from the count, the actual winner was Tahoma Etsitty.
“There are two options open to the clan. The first is to certify Tahoma Etsitty as the actual winner and new chief. And the second is to hold a new election.
“At my request, there are two members of the Election Administration here today. If it’s decided to accept the correct results from the original election, they will certify Tahoma Etsitty as the winner and the new chief. Or if it’s decided to hold a new election, they will start the process of setting up the election, and the clan will be without a chief until the new election is held.
“I know that there are two different groups, one for accepting the original election results and one that wants a new election. We will hear from people from each side and then have a secret ballot to decide which option the clan will take. Each speaker will have a maximum of five minutes.”
We sat there for about a little over an hour and listened to people from both sides. Some people had good arguments, and some didn’t. Finally, everyone had their say, and Chief Kinlicheeny asked, “Is there anyone one else that would like to speak?”
I looked at Naainish, he smiled and nodded yes. I stood up, and said, “Yes, Chief Kinlicheeny. I would.”
I walked to the front of the room, stood at the podium, and said, “Hello everyone. I know that I’m new. But I think that gives me an advantage. I haven’t heard these arguments before. And there were some good arguments for both sides.
“I’ve also had an opportunity that most of you probably haven’t had. I’ve been able to sit and talk with Tahoma Etsitty at length. We talked about the Nation, the clan, the people, and about each other. I learned a lot about him, and he learned a lot about me.
“What I learned about him makes me feel that he will not only be good for the clan, but good for the Nation, good for all of the people. His ideas are excellent. And with the help of everyone, he can institute many programs to help the people.
“The more I talked with him, the better I felt about him. And I feel that he would make an excellent choice for chief of this clan. I also think that you’ll see this too if you give him the chance that he deserves.
“And in my opinion, Tahoma Etsitty should be given a chance to correct problems caused by others. He should be allowed to take the office that he was cheated out of.”
There was some applause. More than I thought there would be.
I walked back over to where I was sitting, and as I sat, Tom looked at me, and whispered, “Kai. Did you really feel that about me when we talked?”
“Tom.”, I whispered back, “Yes, my spirits were pleased with you, and felt that you will do great things.”
Tom sat back and looked at me.
Then Chief Kinlicheeny said, “Is there anyone else that would like to speak?”
No one raised a hand or stood. So, Chief Kinlicheeny asked the two people from the Election Administration to take a secret vote. One of the members of the Election Administration asked that anyone not a member of the clan to leave the Council Champers while the vote was taken. Ajie and Vickie left, also Chief Kinlicheeny, Naainish, and a few others left.
The people from the Election Administration handed out ballots and asked everyone to vote for either a new election, or to accept the corrected results of the old election, or neither. Then to fold the ballot in half, hold it up, and one of them would collect it.
A short time later the two people from the Election Administration were sitting in front of us counting ballots. There were three piles. I guess one for each option that they’d given us. Once they were done, they talked together for a minute, filled out some paperwork, and asked someone sitting at the back of the Council Chambers to ask everyone else to come back in.
Once everyone was back in the room, the two people from the Election Administration walked over to Chief Kinlicheeny, spoke with him for a minute, and handed him a piece of paper. Chief Kinlicheeny opened the paper, read it, and smiled for the second time today. I think I knew the outcome.
Then Chief Kinlicheeny walked up to the podium, looked at the people, and said, “Ladies and gentlemen this vote wasn’t as close as I thought it would be.
“It was sixty-five percent to thirty percent. Five percent had no opinion. So I would like to ask the new chief of the Azee'tsoh dine'é (The Big Medicine People clan) to come up here and join me. Chief Tahoma Etsitty, please join me.”
There was a nice round of applause. I looked at Tom, smiled, and said, “Go on up, Chief Etsitty.”
As he stood up, he looked at me, and said, “Kai, you knew. Didn’t you?”
“Let's just say that I had some inside information.”
Tom or Chief Etsitty walked to where Chief Kinlicheeny was, and they shook hands. And Chief Kinlicheeny said to the people, “It’s with great honor and pride, that I present to the members of the The Big Medicine People clan their new chief, Chief Tahoma Etsitty.”
(we’re back to English)
There was more applause as Chief Etsitty moved to the podium, and gave a short improvised acceptance speech, which received applause. After he finished his speech, Naainish, carrying a beautiful blanket, that I found out later is called a Chief’s Blanket, walked up to Chief Etsitty and presented the blanket to him.
Then Tom said, “For my first official duty as Chief, I’d like to complete something that Chief Todachine started. Kai Nez, would you please join me and bring your certificate with you.”
I sat there and looked at him, and he said, “Come on Kai. Please join me.”
I got up, picked up the picture frame with the certificate in it, and walked up to the podium. Chief Etsitty and I removed the back of the picture frame, removed the certificate, and he signed it. He almost forgot to put Chief in front of his name.
After he’d signed it, we shook hands. And I said, “Thank you, Chief.”
“Kai.”, Chief Etsitty said. “It was a great pleasure to sign this certificate.”
”Chief, this certificate will go in a place of honor in our home.”
Then Chief Etsitty said, “Since this was a special meeting. There is no more business. So I’ll entertain a motion to adjourn.”
Someone in the crowd said, “I so move.”
“Do I have a second?”
Three or four people said, “Second.”
“I want to thank everyone for coming. This meeting is adjourned.”
After the meeting had adjourned, Ajie and I were standing around talking with my grandmother and aunts. The new Chief, his wife Vickie, his mother, and grandmother walked over to us. After introductions, Chief Etsitty’s grandmother said to me, “Kai Nez, you know my grandson better than I do. And you did help correct a wrong. I’ve read about you in the Times, and now meeting you, I see that you are someone special. Your speech was short, but from the heart, and the people saw that.”
“Thank you.”, I said. “I liked your grandson from the moment I met him. And I felt my spirits liked him too. I’m glad that I could help right the wrong.”
“Kai.”, Chief Etsitty said. “Could I talk to you in private for a minute.”
“Sure.”, I replied.
I followed the Chief over to an area that had cleared out, he turned, looked at me, and said, “Kai, first thank you for your support. I feel that without it we would be going through a new election.
“And, I want to ask you to do something for me?”
“I would like to use you as an advisor.”
“Kai, you are very level-headed for someone so young. You are wise beyond your years, and I watched the people as you spoke. They paid close attention to your words. It was like they knew that you were speaking the truth.”
“I know. There will be times that I’ll need advice on things, and I’d like you to be one of those that I can trust.”
“So there will be others?”
“Oh yes. Many others. When a decision is needed, I want to be sure it’s the correct one.”
“That is good.”
“Yes, it is. So will you?”
“Yes, sir. I’ll be happy to.”
We shook hands, and he said, “Thank you, Kai.”
“Chief, I want you to remember that what I tell you may not be what you want to hear. I’ll be speaking from my heart. And my spirits will be guiding me.”
“Kai, I understand that. And it’s one of the reasons that I want you.”
We then walked back over to where our families were standing and still talking. As we walked up, Ajie looked at me, and asked, “What was that about?”
“I’ll tell you later.”, I replied.
Then Vickie said, “Tom, Kai’s Aunt Ginny has invited us to their house for dinner. I told them that I had to be back early tomorrow for a meeting. So we would have to pass on it.”
Chief Etsitty, looked at my aunt, and said, “I’m sorry, but Vickie does have that meeting. And I want to start looking into what Peshlakai may have done while he was chief that needs to be straightened out.”
“I understand.”, Aunt Ginny said. “It was just a thought.”
“A nice thought.”
“Chief.”, I said. “That blanket needs to be displayed.”
“Where?”, he asked.
“In a prominent place in your home.”
The Chief and Vickie excused themselves and left. As they walked away, Naainish walked up, and said, “Kai, your speech was short and to the point. And the people paid attention to what you said.”
“It surprised me.”, I said. “I wasn’t expecting them even to care what I had to say.”
“Kai, you underestimate yourself. They know who you are and respect that. As you spoke I could feel a sense of harmony spread across the room.”
“Naainish, at times that scares me, but today I was at ease with everything.”
“Kai, you are maturing. You understand yourself and what you have.”
Ajie and I then started following my Aunt Ginny to her house. My Aunt Ruth and grandma followed us.
As Ajie and I got into our car, Ajie asked, “So, what did Chief Tahoma want?”
“He asked me to be one of his advisers.”, I replied.
“That was nice.”
“Yes. But I told him that I might not give him the answer that he wants to hear. Because I would be speaking from the heart and my spirits would be guiding me.
“He was happy with my reply.”
“He should be. You always speak from the heart.”
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