Real Indians Eat Jell-O

And other things my Granny taught me
Laurie Carlson Northern Lights
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I don't get it. I've read every book about Indians that Mrs. Corigliano has in the school library, and they're all the same.

Indian kids are supposed to live in wide open spaces, in deserts or forests. They have horses and coyotes and wise grandparents. They get messages from nature and have visions.

I wait here, in our mobile home that has no axles, crowded next to other mobile homes without axles. I watch the television for messages, like everyone else. I wonder if I am the right kind of Indian.

My Granny doesn't have interesting tales about life and stuff. She only wants to talk about Esther Herbert's daughter, who she thinks is too wild.

Granny always makes Jell-O salads for fancy occasions, so I asked her, 'What about fry bread?' She laughed and told me her fry bread could be used for shoulder pads.

'Granny,' I ask, as she sits and strums her fingertips on the tabletop along with the radio's tune. Her 'Primrose Passion' nail tips are the pride of Wanda's Nail Palace. 'Aren't you supposed to be teaching me about beadwork and tales about coyotes? What about Indian wisdom? That's what Indian grandmothers in books and movies do.' My Granny snaps her gum and grins at me.

'Honey, be yourself.'

She always says that.

That's all my Granny can give me.

I trust her.

'Want me to give you a perm?' she asks.

From Northern Lights (Spring 1993). Subscriptions: $25/yr. (4 issues) from Box 8084, Missoula, MT 59807-8084.

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