Saturday, February 13, 2010

arrow carriers

I remember this story today and suddenly see some sad irony in it that I had not seen before:

I was in Montana on the Cattaraugus Reservation visiting with a friend, an artist, who had studied at the Fine Arts School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was twenty six years old, and we were having tea. She was explaining that because she had gone overseas with the Peace Corps, she had returned an honorary warrior in the tribe, more specifically, She Who Carries Arrows. Going to another continent entitled one to warrior status, which apparently trumped gender status, and she returned an arrow carrier.

Her brother suddenly burst in the house telling us that there had been a shoot-out in the nearby town of Hardin. Two men had attempted to rob the bank, and the female sheriff, a mother of two young toddlers, had attempted to stop them. She was hit by a bullet, but not badly, it seemed. The ambulance drivers loaded her up, chatting with her politely. She died en route to the hospital. Apparently the bullet had silently entered her pelvic region and ricocheted amply among her pelvic bones. She hardly felt a thing as she bled to death.

The ambulance drivers were devastated and psychological support teams were called in. I don't know what became of the toddlers or the husband of this warrior, but the room and the tea, with our children playing on the floor around us as this all happened still haunts me. Who are we, we women, we mothers and warriors? Who?