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Chief
By Donna Flood
Chapter 12 - Is Chief Your Brother?


Weldon was handsome, fun loving, always happy, so it was not surprising girls tried to catch his eye in whatever way possible, which could be through me.

“Is Weldon your brother? How old is Weldon? Why do they call him, Chief? Will he let us ride in his Jeep?” And, those questions I had heard all my life around the ranching community, so much, that my answers were quick, easily spoken, and in an off handed manner. Now these people, where we had moved were new to me, but evidently, the interest in my good‑looking cousin was the same with the girls in these farming lands as it had been when I was younger.

“He’s my cousin, but his Mama is dead. He’s eight years older. Chief is just a nickname, his real name is Weldon. I mostly call him by his name. No, he won’t let you ride in his Jeep. The insurance won’t allow it.” My reply was cut and dried, because I had been over the inquiries so many times before. At his age most boys were already involved with girls, but then, they weren’t “rich” Osage boys, who had lived through a tragedy of murder committed by those who had a wish for easy money.

More than anything, Dean and Leon continually preached about remaining separate and apart. We didn’t know what they were talking about, but we knew they meant business and were in agreement on this matter. None of us were to make friends that easily, even though we may have wished to pick our own, friendships. Even as children, our companions were quite selected. I felt they were more like body guards, rather than friends. More than once a savvy friend did not allow me to get into what could be a questionable, situation. Dad even quoted a scripture,

“Do not make a friend without first realizing, you may have to give up your life for them.” All this clandestine kind of lifestyle spoke to the reality that Dean forever believed his wife, Bertha, Weldon’s mother, was murdered.

“When I grow up, I’m not going to make my kids afraid of people,” I thought to myself. Unfortunately, with the easy wealth of the casinos in the Native American community, this again has become an issue. The one thing the insane way of living did was to give me freedom from being prejudiced against kids from wealthy families. I understood their feelings and tried never to behave in a jealous, mean, or in any way to shut them out of our play circle, even if other children were hateful and stand off, I didn’t do that myself. Consequently, I made friends with good people, when we were children, who have remained with me for a life time.

“People always ask me if Chief is my brother!” I mentioned, to my mother.

“He is your brother, Inidan‑way.” Mother was always using that phrase and sometimes I understood, other times I did not.

“What is Indian‑way?” I asked.

“It is because we call our cousins, brother. If his mother was living she would expect this relationship, too.”

Mother seemed serious enough, and so, that is how I thought of my cousin, as my brother. “My brother, the Chief.” I was pleased about this.

“Weldon! Mother says you are like my brother. It is the way the Indians do.” I was always ready to catch his attention in some way.

Weldon turned his head toward me, in the same way his sister, Mariah would have done. His gaze fell on me for only an instant. He looked, away and off into the distance, without ever saying a word, but in this manner, we communicated as we had done, ever since I could remember.

“When are you going to be back from the rodeo?” This question was more to Weldon’s interest and I knew that.

“Well Kiddo, it’s like this. I follow that road until I win a pile of money or break my neck tryin,” Weldon was back to his lighthearted ways.

“Is it like riding that little Shetland, you told me about?” I could see some conversation forth coming and this was a way to work for that.

Weldon never was around for long, ever since he was a kid and how well I knew this part of his personality.

“Nope, not like riding a Shetland.” Weldon grinned but didn’t say anymore.

“Sounds like fun to me!” I was trying to get his comments.

“Well, I suppose some might call it fun. Mostly, it is just plain old hard work.”

Dean had walked into the room and heard the conversation.

“Son, you want to be careful about wrapping that rope on a bull too tight on your hand. That won’t keep you on the bull, all it will do is let him drag you around after he’s thrown you and you can’t get your hand out of it. I’ve seen it happen and it isn’t a pretty sight.”

This was all the talk there was about the Rodeo. Weldon knew the family didn’t approve of the Rodeo. Not Dean, Leon and certainly not Velma.

“They rope those poor little calves, slam them on the ground and tie them up, just for sport. I hate that and don’t ask me to go to a rodeo.”

True to her word, she never went and didn’t encourage any of us to go, either.

Weldon was a man now, doing man’s work, and the rodeo was all about making money to further his other projects. There were those jeeps he bought for farm work and, that was only one of the plans he was working toward.

“How’s Mariah doing on her trying to start a herd?” Dean asked.

Weldon made no comment and neither did anyone else. Her involvement at the time was too intricate to discuss. She was loaded with work and did a wonderful job with her children, the house, cooking, and sewing. They all felt the calves and man’s work was just too much.

Mother kept sending me back over to the ranch to try to help her. I did my best to do what she wanted. The children were my specialty though. They were adorable little girls, the two of them, and not that much difference in our ages, so we really just played together. For some reason, I didn’t tell Weldon about his sister crying in his room. Neither did I ever tell anyone else. Her sadness, fears, anxieties were our secret and, I honored her trust. Telling Weldon would have only been a pain to him. His lighthearted ways and happy outlook on the world was something to give us a pleasant break and we looked forward to his short visits.


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