Real Indians Eat Jell-O

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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