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American History
Osage Highlanders - Chapter 5


Dawn introduced herself and was quick to tell the young man about her plans, feeling he would understand since they were obviously descendants from the same Native people.

"I want to have a traditional smoke off for the old ranch home. My aunt died there many years ago. She was full Osage but since the family was not all Native people they, of course, knew nothing of this duty to be paid to the death of someone, especially when there was a tragedy involved,"  Dawn was quick to explain to the young man. "This isn't of my faith, but I just want to do the proper thing before we try to clean up around the old place. There have been things obviously going on up there that don't look too good to me and I feel to a degree responsible to try to do something about  it."

"I understand and I can help you with that. I have had some experience, also I have an old chain saw there in the shed I think might be of some help to you."

"Wonderful!" Dawn was feeling better about things already.

Now, with the larger chain saw put into action they were able to begin to make progress, and just as Dawn was swinging the axe, plying it to the task at hand of moving out the smaller, miserable shrub like thorn trees she recognized her brother driving slowly down the road. She could see he was looking up toward the house with a look as to seeing something unbelievable. She paid no attention and continued to swing the axe as easily as she had learned to do as a girl. Through her mind was flying thoughts dredging up old memories of how she had loved him when he was a kid and she didn't know he was her brother. He was a child of her father's first wife, a German girl, who lived on adjoining land. After her Dad's divorce there were no good relations between the families. Dawn remembered not knowing why she loved him, she just did. The younger little girl loved his crooked smile, she loved the way he threw back his head and tilted it one side looking down at her. The old horse he rode she was just sure belonged to a knight in armor before he owned it. They didn't tell her he was her brother and many years went by before she learned the truth. When Dawn did learn, she wasn't angry with them for not telling her, just relieved to know there was a reason she so loved him.

Today then, there was laughter between them. "I saw someone swinging that axe and I couldn't imagine what in the world was going on".

They had cleared a sizable area in front of the house, locating the sidewalk running up to the front porch, pulling up the perennial plants she had planted forty two years ago which had taken hold and were overgrowing the yard, threatening the meadow. With the mowing the old yard was beginning to become visible. This was the scene her brother walked in upon. There had not been time for sadness, unless it was just for a moment when the tiny thread of a rose bush was uncovered beside the front gate, which had been planted there before she was born by the aunt who died here.

"Is the old well still here?" Dawn suddenly thought about it. "Sure is. You can reach right down to the water, it is full up to the top. someone has put a guard over it." Pete told her.

"Dawn spoke to no one in particular as she remembered, "Daddy dynamited through the limestone all the way down. He used to laugh at how he would pull the ladder up before the blast went off. The last several times he had to run up the ladder with its rungs getting weak and shaky. We enjoyed a lifetime of the wonderful cool freshness of it though.".

"Dad built a wind generator here right from the first. He read books and learned how to wire this old house. We had a washing machine, a radio, a little Charley McCarthy radio, an iron, and, of course, lights, all this before I was born in 1937. People thought we were rich.  Ha. Ha. Dawn did not want to go into any details on that statement.

When Pete and Dawn drove into their own drive way that evening they both felt a sense of accomplishment. She was very tired but the constant ache in her back was gone. The circulation in her hands and legs was good and that dark look to her skin was gone. "I just really needed that time in the outdoors, with exercise to get something done and the mental satisfaction as well rather than just mindless exercise. Dawn was quietly visiting with her husband without the lethargic tiredness she usually felt. Promptly after this Dawn began calling different ones of her family to tell them what she was doing. She wasn't doing the calling to coerce them to take part in any activities as far as the old place was concerned. she only wanted to let them know as a matter of courtesy what she had been doing. Maybe, it would have been better if she had not attempted to do the mannerly thing. There wasn't anyone who was interested and to a fault some thought she had surely lost her mind.

The comments ran the gambit from being noncommittal to downright discouraging with statements like, "that old place over there is gone, let it go," or "that old ranch house is full of demons,  I'd be afraid to go into it," and even, "why don't you see if you can buy it if you want it."

She didn't let anyone stumble her, she simply continued on, sending out invitations, packaging up the customary gifts to be given away to the ones who would participate, and sticking bits of money back to present to the elderly relative of her aunt's who would come to pray over the "smoke-off."

They continued to make their back and forth trek over to the place still needing to clean up where they could. There was a mysterious hole in the front of the rock porch which never could seem to be filled. It would be open again as they returned. "Why is that place open again?" Dawn wanted to know.

"Some animal is digging back into it" Pete observed.

"For what?" she was curious.

There was no reply from Pete, only silence and a far away look to tell her he wasn't going to put anything more on her than she could tolerate and she knowing his thinking after all these years, asked no questions.

They had moved up to the point where they were ready for company.


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