Home Opinion Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Feast in a teepee

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Feast in a teepee

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OUR THANKSGIVING meal was to be at night, so at midday Thursday, daughter Julie and I went out in search of a modest burger to hold us until turkey time.

Nothing was open in Little Rock. Nothing. Not a McD’s or Taco Bell or Sonic. Zilch. Nada. Nein.

“Let’s look for a Chinese restaurant or some Mexican place or maybe there’s even a Syrian place,” I helpfully suggested. “They’ll all be open because immigrants don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.”

Wrong! I would learn that there’s only one ethnic group which still dislikes Thanksgiving. That would be Native Americans, because that particular holiday just reminds them painfully of when the foreign devils came and took away their country and slurred their image by giving sports teams objectionable names like Indians, and Warriors and Seminoles and Redmen.

Little Rock has only one Native American restaurant — The Reservation (no reservations required). It is located in a large complex of animal skin wigwams downtown near the Presidential Library.We thanked the Great Spirit that  it was open on Thanksgiving Day.

The Reservation (no reservation required) wasn’t the perfect answer to our hunger, as it turned out.

Our tummies were growling as we threw back the flap of the teepee and tiptoed into the darkness inside.

“How! Circle your wagons and sit on the floor,” the Maitre d’Brave told us.

The menu was extremely limited. It had no writing, only crude pictures. Prices were listed in Wampum, not Dollars. Or, you were invited to trade trinkets for food. Ten percent more trinkets for hunting parties of more than 8.

You could choose from buffalo horn soup. Pemmican burgers. Chipmunk jerky. Hawk eggs. Armadillo. Large and small dog, of course, and some other stuff you don’t want to hear about.

We were seated on some fragrant bison skins on the floor.

“Hi, I’m Little Feather and I’ll be your waitress today,” a young woman said. She told us that in her tribal language her name meant “Small fluffy thing with quills pulled from bird’s butt.” She was wearing beaded buckskins and she had a wicked-looking tomahawk tucked into her rope belt.

I selected the campfire-broiled fresh prairie dog, extra crispy. Julie decided to try a half order of frog smothered with cattails, and a side order of tree stump slugs.

While we were waiting for my screaming prairie dog to be skinned, we inspected our surroundings.

We were in the Little Bighorn Room. It was decorated with jawbones and scalps and had a large autographed picture of Tonto sitting astride Scout, his trusty pinto pony.

There was a very large “Wanted Dead or Alive: John Wayne” poster. Also, there was a large Washington Redskins NFL poster with a wide red paint stripe smeared across the name.

The Reservation (no reservation required) offered its customers their choice of peacepipe smoking and non-peacepipe smoking sections, and we were unfortunately in the smokers’ room. A thick blue haze hung heavily in the air. It smelled vaguely familiar, like an Italian cooking herb or alfalfa. There were lots of customers, but we were the only ones not wearing warpaint and loincloths.

From an adjacent teepee there came the rhythmic thumping of drums. Trump, Trump, Trump, they trumped. And a group in another teepee began shouting insults at the Trumpers.

Finally, things quietened down for a few minutes. And then …..

I’m sorry that practically every eating place feels obliged to offer some form of entertainment these days. The Reservation (no reservation required) was no different. Right after the woven straw baskets containing our food were placed on our laps, a six-piece combo began whumping drums and blowing whistles.

A man wearing elk antlers danced in a circle.

“Hey, hey, heya ha ha ha,” he chanted.

Outside, it began to thunder and rain.

“Happens practically every time he sings that song,” Little Feather chuckled as she stabbed our ticket to the floor with a war spear.

Since I was fresh out of wampum, I had to use a credit card. “Or we could work out a trade for some firewater and repeating rifles,” Little Feather slyly suggested.

“Ugh! Great White Father in Washington no like me give’um you firewater and rifles,” I told her in sign language, but I did leave an extra beaver pelt for a tip.

As Julie and I walked single-file toward the wigwam exit, Little Feather yelled “Stick around. Bingo starts in the Happy Hunting Ground Room in just a few minutes. We’re giving away a Chevy Silverado today.”

Maybe next Thanksgiving, I answered.

“Nah, we’re gonna start closing on holidays,” she said.

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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: “If the professor on Gilligan’s Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can’t he fix a hole in a boat?”

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HE SAID: “I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.” Geronimo, Apache warrior

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SHE SAID: “In Iroquois society, leaders are encouraged to remember seven generations in the past and consider seven generations in the future when making decisions that affect the people.” Wilma Mankiller, first female chief of the Cherokee Nation

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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

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