My, soon to be,
Osage-Otoe friend stood in the doorway of my office. She was tall, as tall,
in fact, as the mighty ancestors whose genes she had inherited. They were
the pipe holders and they held no fear. She waited until she had my
“Was that your brother
who was just here?” she asked.
“Why yes, it was.” I
told her. In my mind I'm wondering how she knew. My brother was as much
Native American in his looks as she was. There was no way a stranger could
have tied us together as brother and sister but in fact we were children of
the same parents. While I thought for a minute, I realized that, of course,
there are no secrets among the Native people. Everyone knows everything
about each other.
“She sent him home with
no treatment. His fever is 104 degrees.” Her short clipped revelation
wouldn't have been any stronger if it had been a lengthy discourse.
It was typical the way
the woman drifted back to her Native ways in not even calling the head
nurse's name. This was the only evidence this nurse was to give that she was
not happy with what the other woman had done.
The whole reason for
working and being at the school was tied up with loyalty to family. My
brother came behind me and was still in the school. We hardly ever saw each
other since we were scheduled to different parts of the school. Still, I was
there if he needed me. It had been that way since we were kids.
I picked up the phone
and called the boys building. My request for my brother to return to the
clinic was honored.
Without one word to
anyone I walked to the back of the hospital where the head nurse was. She
had never seen me angry and she was so startled she almost couldn't,
breath. Her steely stare was gone. Instead there was a shifting back and
forth of her eyes as I confronted her about what she had done.
“I didn't know he was
your brother,” she tried to hedge out of responsibility.
“Now why should that
make a difference? He has a 104 degrees temperature. He is most certainly
ill.” It made me think and wonder how many children before him, had been
treated the same way by the woman. Were the children buried in the little
cemetery outside Chilocco there because of such a careless mistake? Was it
only the files she had neglected?
When my brother
returned he was put to bed and the nurses cared for him until the doctor
arrived. It turned out that he had the mumps. He was a very sick child and
had to be quarantined in the hospital to keep the other students from being
exposed. My friend with her quick thinking had saved not only my brother but
the whole school from another out break of disease like the influenza one we
had just survived.