Phoenix let her eyes scan across the artwork on display in the library. Although most of it looked localish, some was from other parts of the United States and Canada. In particular, she noticed some Chinookan and Salish art from the Pacific Northwest. She felt proud to be from that part of the country. She had even once taken the girls to the Cathlapotle Plankhouse in Ridgefield which was built as a historical replica, a celebration of Chinookan heritage of the Portland and Vancouver area. She volunteered with Skye’s class to be able to go with them and remembered how friends came in backwards through the round doorway – to show they posed no threat.
“Are you okay, Coonagwi?” Little Deer asked.
“I’m doing fine,” Phoenix insisted.
“Just remembering where I’m from. One day I’d love to show you the Native heritage from my area. It’s something I’ve always been proud of.”
“I’d like that,” she replied. “Maybe after you and my brother have become friends again?”
Phoenix felt herself darken, but pulled out her beadwork.
“Your work looks so good!” she complimented.
“It’s obviously my first project,” Phoenix added. “I’m not expecting perfection, but I’m doing my best.”
“You are missing the point, my friend. The point is not to make something that you could sell for a profit. The point is that you’re giving my brother some of your most precious commodity – your time. If he doesn’t appreciate it, I will avenge you myself!”
Phoenix couldn’t keep herself from laughing. “I would never make you choose between me and your brother!” she protested.
“I’m glad to hear that, but I will make him see how stupid he is being – no matter what it takes!”
Phoenix worked on the beading, trying to avoid her fingers, but to no avail.
“Dab your blood on the thread – then you can tell him you literally put your blood into it!” Little Deer suggested.
Phoenix laughed again. “Don’t you worry about your brother when he’s out hunting?”
“Yes. I always worry about my brother, but apparently, that’s my job since our mother isn’t here to look after us now. That’s what Woxi always tells me.” She sighed. “You’re worried about Kwina?”
Phoenix nodded. She hated admitting it – especially after all that had happened.
“He will be fine.”
“I know… in my head, I know it. He’s probably hunted hundreds of times, but I still worry.”
Little Deer smiled. “I know you love him – even when you don’t want to admit it. I hope, one day, you will be my sister!”
Phoenix nodded in agreement. She wanted that too – like nothing she’d ever wanted before. It was why she braved sore, bleeding fingers and spent many hours working on this beadwork that she didn’t even know he would appreciate. She didn’t know anything else to try! If this failed… It didn’t bear thinking about.
“I think our little girls are getting bored already. I suspect it’s the weather – so beautiful after last week! I love spring! The desert goes green for a few blessed weeks,” Little Deer explained.
“Where I’m from, it’s green all the time!”
“And it rains a lot too.”
“Here, we mostly get rain when we have thunderstorms. Then, it pours! Thankfully, we now collect rainwater from as many roofs as we can, it is nicer water than we get from wells or the lake. River water is good too, though Woxi tells us that we should collect more rainwater.”
Phoenix put her beading away again. “I’m hoping to finish my project in the next few days.”
“I think you’ll manage that too. Pity it wasn’t for tonight, but it will be soon, I think.”
“Do you think he will like it?”
“I am sure he will! Whether he’s man enough to admit it is another question entirely. He needs to stop being stupid! He’s normally such a smart man!”
Phoenix kept hearing this rumor, but she would have to see some proof to believe it! Either he was clueless, or cruel! Or such a coward as to not be worth the effort! Maybe she was being too harsh… he was just a man, not a god… and even gods weren’t perfect.
“Do you think I can look at my house before we go back? I doubt anyone is working on it today.”
“I’m sure there’s something going on. My father cannot hunt anymore and I’m sure there are a few others. Shall we go look at your new house, Rose?”
“Yes!” she cried and scrambled to get her coat.
Phoenix grabbed her crutches, wishing she didn’t need them – she was almost better. As long as she kept her ankle wrapped, she was fine.
They walked towards the earthships, Phoenix hurrying on the crutches. “Woxi says that no one should be without food, clothing and shelter… She says that while you are worried about the basics, you struggle to give anything more to anyone.”
“That makes sense. But what about people who are lazy?”
“They should be seen as handicapped in another way. Maybe they have mental issues that prevent them from participating in society as they should. Regardless of the reason, someone can help them become more useful. Look at me! I can’t do much more than look after Dove and myself.”
“I consider parenting the most important job of all.”
“Yet in most parts of society right now, solo parents are also expected to bring in money. Woxi says that’s harmful to everyone – the children, the single parent and society as a whole. It would be better to support the single parent in a way that helps them parent! That’s why you’re here – that’s why you get the first earthship this year.”
“It’s overwhelming,” Phoenix admitted.
“Be grateful and pay it forward.”
“That’s what Pronghorn said.”
“He’s almost as wise as my brother!”
Phoenix smiled, wishing she was able to be friends with Sage Eagle. Maybe after her peace offering… maybe he’d be nice to her. From the road, she admired the nearly-completed shell of her home. It was beautiful – and she would be the occupier of the home – as long as she had need of it! Surely, that had to be worth a few points with the chieftain’s son!
Back to the prologue
Available to purchase at Books2Read. Print version will be available soon.
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Previous Swan Valley Stories:
- Native Concession either in ebook form or [print]( . (June 2014, approximately 9 months before Phoenix.)
Swan Valley is a fictitious American Indian reservation located in the Great Divide Basin of Wyoming, USA. The Neme'o'ng (Swan People) are based on the idea of blending the Shoshoni and Arapaho peoples - as might have happened if they were stranded in a desolate area as a small band of misfits. I have developed their language from the same ideas.
Please read my note on romance, teenage intimate relationships and underage sex. I apologize if my understanding conflicts with your sense of morality, but I'm only looking at things realistically, not ideologically. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing!
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