Indian Homes - An inanimate
“Mathee lost her husband,
as you all know,” Velma addressed the board of the rural water
association. “You, I’m sure, have a good understanding about our
traditions and ways as American Indians (the term used at the time). Some
of you have kids who are married into the tribe. If I can make sense of
how you respect your dead, then you are sure to be aware of how we bury
our own. Our ways aren’t that much different from yours. You take flowers
and we have a feast. Both traditions have a way of mercifully soothing
those who are in mourning.”
Velma glanced around the
room to see if she was making any impression on the men. The blank
expressions on the men’s impassive countenances revealed nothing.
Velma continued, “While
Mathee and her family grieved, their family could not give in to any
emotions. They had to carry water in large cans for cooking food. The
children of this now widowed woman were the ones who had to do this. This
house in which they plan to live is ready but H.U.D. (Housing Urban
Development) will not allow them to live in it without water.”
“You men know how this
government works. This provision of rural water is a wonderful thing. How
long have many of you had to depend on wells that could go dry during
drought? All phases of the government are working together at this time so
there can be water provided for these “Indian Homes,” and by the way, I
don’t exactly know what that means. Last time I heard, an inanimate house
was not of any particular race.” Velma had a ripple of laughter with that.
“As your families benefit from the rural water being provided can you find
it in your hearts to see that this newly widowed Indian woman can have
The moderator called on one
of the workers and asked, “How far are you away from Mathee’s house with
“Maybe a couple of miles?”
The man replied.
“How soon can you get that
“Tomorrow!” The contractor
gave them a positive answer.
Applause ran through the
crowd when Velma sat down and gave the meeting back over to the group.
So it happened. Mathee had
her water into the house and in a timely manner.