My great grandmother was full-blooded Osage. It’s close enough for me to be interested in my Native American heritage so, on road trips, when I’d see those shops, I’d stop in. One time, I asked for a music recommendation and was handed R. Carlos Nakai. Now, years later, his music is on Ron’s Mac downstairs thanks to the wonders of Pandora. I get to enjoy it and think about my heritage.
I know very little about it, actually. Having grown up trying to assiduously avoid all members of my family, I have a disconnect to anything beyond the immediate generation. There’s a big plus as a result. I get to pick the specific ancestral relationships that I think are cool and ignore everything else.
I skew to the side of nurture over nature, so this level of ancestral ignorance helps support my bias. But, I have to admit that I may be off-base slightly. I started cruising the website for the Osage Nation and pretty soon, I had a mirror in my hand and was comparing faces. The pictures are of people who look like me. Not exactly, but I see resemblances. It’s a little disconcerting. Like discovering at age 48 that you were adopted and seeing pictures of your blood relations for the first time.
I have yet to find any Osage music, but here’s to the search.
Susan Scot Fry
Once, when I was in my early 20’s, a Dr. was asking me about my family medical history. I could tell him if someone was dead or alive, but that was about it. I didn’t know if my father had heart disease or had had a stroke. I didn’t know when my mother developed arthritis. I didn’t know anything at all about my siblings medical history. Why? Because I learned early in life to absolutely cut myself off from them.
It’s a baby and the bathwater sort of thing. Survival techniques like this also mean that I’m missing some vital personal knowledge.
As soon as I posted, I had a wonderful woman contact me. Her mother is Osage and her father is Sioux. She had versions of the same questions that my Dr. did so long ago. I had barely more information to share, but it was obviously bewildering to her that I could be so lacking in factual family knowledge.
Instead of feeling terrible that I don’t know, I’m going to count my blessings. I have a great relationship with my sister and my younger brother now. My mom is as whacked as ever, but in a very different and much more loving sort of way. She may not ever be able to fill me in on more details of my heritage, but I’m going to be happy with what I’ve got instead.
And maybe I’ll learn a new word every now and then in Wah Zha Zhi.