Everyone’s Dressing Like Indians

Sitting Bull With Peace Pipe - Free Pictures at Historical Stock Photos.com
Sitting Bull, Lakota Medicine Man and Chief was considered the last Sioux to surrender to the U.S. Government. One of his many famous quotes was: “God made me an Indian.”

When I contemplate famous quotes in our family, it’s fun to remember where they actually came from. For example, we’ve long said to one another when a questionable statement is made in lieu of fact “Yeah, and everyone’s dressing like indians.” Here’s how that one started…

When we were building our first backyard boat my husband Bob and I worked extra jobs to to help pay for it. With two young children to consider we had to carefully plan our days, setting aside time for their activities, too. Schedule-wise, we ran a tight ship that often left little time for communication.

Summertime scheduling was harder than winter because the children were out of school and involved in more activities. Often the children went to a babysitter across the street and she planned activities for them. With four children herself the adept babysitter found many ways to keep all six occupied, including enrolling them in Vacation Bible School at the local Baptist Church.

On the final day of Bible school, as we understood it, each attendee was to be in a play reading aloud a specific verse in front of the congregation. My husband and I both arrived home around 5 p.m., in time to take them to the 6 p.m. performance. But neither of us expected what our son told us next.

“Everyone’s dressing like Indians.” he claimed.

That was the first time we’d heard about it.

“What do you mean, Indians?” I asked. And he explained his teacher had told him he was to be an indian. He would require a costume, and furthermore he wasn’t going anywhere without one!

I was dumbfounded. We had no Indian dress.

Not wanting to let him down, I checked my sewing closet where, for some unknown reason, I had about three yards of brown fabric that looked oddly like buckskin. I began cutting, sewing and frantically fitting and somehow produced a pair of fringed pants and a top that sort of resembled Indian clothing, if you squinted. From somewhere my husband produced a seagull feather and I supplied shell beads. For moccasins, we used a pair of my husband’s brown socks, held fast at the ankles with rubber bands, stuck the feather in a headband, and set off for church with three generations of family in tow.

We were late, the pews were full, but we quietly seated ourselves near the back and waited for the play to begin. I couldn’t puzzle out where the Indian idea came from as one-by-one the children were called to the front, dressed in their Sunday-school best. When our son’s name was called he marched toward the alter–seagull feather bobbing.

From all around the church I could hear whispers as he walked down the aisle to center stage.

“Look, that kid’s wearing a feather…” or “Look, the poor thing has no shoes…” or, the question of the evening “Why is he dressed like an Indian?” Worse yet, some didn’t whisper, they just pointed and snickered at the only Indian in church.

After a perfect delivery from the pulpit our son took his place seated on the floor with his school mates, legs crossed, bravely facing the entire congregation, identified by a feather that stood straight up from the back of his head, just like Sitting Bull.

Author’s note: As part of our family history I’ve always wanted to write this little anecdote and finally decided to do it. It’s interesting to me that Sitting Bull’s quote applies to this situation. Yesterday I talked to my son and asked if he remembered where he got the idea. He was adamant that indeed someone, (maybe it was God), had told him to dress like that. I could only think “Yeah, and everyone’s dressing like Indians.”

Do you have a fun family saying that has turned into a tradition? Let’s hear it.

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6 thoughts on “Everyone’s Dressing Like Indians

  1. This doesn’t have anything to do with my family, but I’m reading a book in which the main character is half native American and everyone makes such a big deal out of it although he can’t understand why. This totally made me think of that.

  2. What’s the name of the book? Was it a Sherman Alexie story? I read some of his stories and didn’t get all that excited about them. It was fun trying to find the right free photo to download.

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