“Charlie, I need you to take me to a powwow.” Billie said over the phone as Charlie almost spit his coffee out,
“I-isnlt that a native thing?” Charlie said, confused, he’d never been to a powwow before, Billy talked about them, and would always say ‘One of these days, Charlie, I'm going to take you to a powwow, we can watch the dances, eat some traditional food, i’ll teach you stick game and you can be on my team. Jacob thinks he’s too cool for playing stickgame with his old man. But he’s also trying to get back into dancing, so i’ll let it go for now.”
“Yeah, but anyone can go, it’s okay. You’re with me.”
“O-okay. I’ll take you.” Charlie was curious about the food. Billy had shown him Stew before, they had leftovers from a dinner once, and Billy didn’t want Charlie to starve.
Billy didn’t think too much about bringing Charlie, he’d be fine. It was a powwow not something spiritual like Charlie was thinking, it was just going to be fun.
But he could tell how nervous Charlie was on the way down.
Once there they stopped at the check station and were asked the usual questions, do you have any drugs or alcohol, no. because this is an alcohol and drug free place. Charlie smiled. That was nice, it’s a safe place.
“Hey, Billy, who's this? No Jacob?” One of the kids manning the check station asked, as Billy smiled
“Hey Daniel, This is my friend. Jacob had stuff to do today.”
“Ah, gotcha, well i’ll see you around, Billy”
“See, you around”
Once, Billy showed Charlie where to go, passing all the different tents, and cars, Charlie saw some kids running around barefoot, and saw a lady with braiding her hair\, getting ready to put her outfit on, the outfit hanging out of the trunk of her car.
He saw rows and rows of people camping in tents, there were a couple of rv’s and teepees as well. Once they got to their parking spot, Charlie, grabbed Billy’s wheelchair out of the back, and helped him in, then they were off. Billy pointed in the direction to go. The sound of drums, and singing were heard and the smell of foods Charlie never tasted before, made it through the air.
“Are you hungry Charlie? We could grab some food, and go watch the dances if you want first, then make our way to the stickgame.” Billy said, as they got closer to the stands, once there Charlie saw stands of food, and people selling jewelry, and blankets, some stands had toys for kids and some were of stuff charlie had never seen before. But there were food stands he didn’t recognise, a stand selling what looked to charlie like a funnel cake without the powdered sugar. Stew, charlie had that before. And something called indian burger, and indian tacos.
“Yeah, sounds good.” Charlie replied, “Just lead the way”
“Okay, we’ll take two indian tacos and an order of curly fries.” Billy said once they got to the front of the line.
“Gotcha. TWO INDIAN TACOS AND A CURLY FRIES.” The guy taking the order yelled out.
So Charlie, what do you think so far?” Billy asked, smiling up at Charlie who nodded “I like it, so far.”
“Good, good. You’re going to love indian tacos, they're my favorite.” billy smiled, and their order was called
Once Charlie grabbed their orders he saw the funnel cake looking thing with beans on top, covered in lettuce, and diced tomatoes, and cheese. Charlie’s stomach growled as he handed it to Billy who smiled like a little boy at christmas. Once Charlie grabbed his he almost drooled and then came the curly fries, a giant, serving of the longest fries charlie ever saw, curled every which way and covered in grease,
“Yeah, they use a whole potato and just fry it. I forgot to tell you, but we can share it.” Billy, rolling to the sound source of the drums, “c’mon let’s go watch and eat.” Charlie followed after him.
Once they got closer it looked to Charlie like a giant almost dome overhead, the sound of drums and singing rang out and in the middle of the dome were men, in regalia moving to the exact rhythm of the beat. Charlie followed Billy to the front row, Billy stopping, motioning for Charlie to set his chair down next to him, Charlie did, handing his food over to Billy as he set his chair up.
“This is called Grass dancing. You see how they’re moving, A dancer, clad in bright colors,They wear roach headdresses which can have a spreader and two feathers attached to spinners. It sways and moves as a strand of grass in the wind. That same dancer, wearing long ribbons and fringes, flattens the grass, preparing the ground for a ceremony.” Billy explained. “It requires a high level of athleticism and flexibility. Jacob’s been practicing for months. He doesn’t think he’s ready for contests though.”
“Contests?” Charlie asked watching, the dancers with interest. There were about 20 to 30 men out there. Each outfit is different.
“Yeah, you can compete in contests. They compete for first through third. They base it on your outfit, your ability to keep up with the beat and unique style. Most of the time the prize is money, but you don’t have to compete, you’re mostly here for fun.” Billy smiled, “I always tell Jacob we’re here for fun, it doesn’t matter if you win or not.”
Charlie nodded. Eating his food, watching the dancers with interest. They were graceful, yet cool. Charlie could see Jacob dancing this.
“Oh, here comes this girl who Jacob has a crush on.” Billy smiled a mischievous smile and Charlie watched with interest, as a young lady about the same age as Jacob walked over, short black hair dark eyes, and a little heavy, but Charlie thought she was sweet.
“Hey, Billy, No Jacob?” the girl asked. Billy smiled.
“Sorry Las, not this time, he had plans already.”
“Aww, boo.” She pouted, “Who’s your friend?” She asked eying Charlie curiously.
“This is Charlie Swan, he’s filling in for Jacob today.” Billy smiled as las laughed
“Well, hello Charlie. I’m Keala, but you can just call me Las.” Las smiled, shaking his hand. Charlie thought she was very nice. “Well, Billy, can you give this back to Jacob for me? He gave it to me at the last powwow and I wanted to give it back to him.” Las then pulled out a grey hoodie, and handed it to Billy who laid it across his legs.
“Sure can do. I’ll let him know I saw you, I'll be seeing you Las’.”
“Thanks Billy, sorry i can’t stay and chat, my gma wants me to grab her an indian taco so i better be off. It was nice meeting you Charlie.” Las waved and Charlie waved back.
“She’s sweet isn’t she. I’m trying to get Jacob to ask her out. But you know how shy he is, even around bella.” Billy sighed and Charlie nodded. “She’s nice.”
Once they were done eating, it was already getting dark, and Billy had showed Charlie some stands one particular stand caught Charlie’s eye, a blanket stand, with Native designed blankets, and throw pillows, sweaters, and clothes, one particular thing caught his eye, a red, stuffed lion made out of red fabric with geometric multicolored triangles. His first thought was bella would love that, he asked the seller how much and soon it was his, he cradled in gently under his arm as Billy laughed.
“Do you like your new toy?”
“It’s for bella. I think she’ll like it.”
“Yeah, I think she'll like it too. Hey it’s getting late shall we head back? I know you got work, and I think Jacob can pick me up but if not I know the drive to the rez is out of your way.”
“We can stay if you want billy. I’m having fun”
Billy shook his head, “Nah, we should head back.”
“Okay. can we grab a frybread for the road?” Charlie asked sheepishly as Billy laughed “Of course, I'll grab Jacob one too.”
When they pulled into Charlie’s driveway it was dark, and Jacob was leaning against his dad’s car, long hair covering most of his face but Charlie knew the kid anywhere.
“Hey, welcome back. How was your first powwow Charlie?” Jacob smiled as Charlied smiled back “It was fun. Your dad says you’re practicing to be a grass dancer. I think it suits you.”
“That’s good, yeah. I’m still rusty though. Thanks Charlie. Did you have an indian taco?”
“Yeah, it was great. Your dad said he’ll invite us when you have some next time.”
“Oh jacob, Las’ said to give this back to you.” Billy grinned a knowing smile as Jacob’s face flushed as Billy threw him the “ y-you saw Las?”
“Of course. She was looking for you, disappointed you weren’t there. I told you, you should’ve gone. She was all looking for you, and sad that you weren’t there, huh Charlie.”
“Yeah, she was very nice though. Cute kid.”
“Yeah, yeah.” jacob mumbled defeated
“Well. This was fun Charlie, but we should get going now. Jacob’s got school in the morning and you and I got work. Oh tell me how Bella likes her present.” Billy called out, ignoring the curious glance Jacob gave him as he was opening the passenger door, and pushing himself into the seat Jacob was already behind him, folding the wheelchair and putting it in the back seat.”
“Will do. See you Billy, Jacob.”
With one last nodd Billy and Jacob were gone. Heading back to their reservation and the taillights heading out of town.
Once they were gone. Charlie noticed Bella was out. Must be out with friends, or edward. Charlie thought. Grabbing the stuffed lion from the back before heading inside to Bella's room.
He decided to leave the lion on the bed, sitting on her pillow right where he knew she would find it. He had told Bella he'd be heading to a powwow with Billy earlier that morning so Charlie knew Bella would know he got it for her. Not jacob. Him. Once he looked around though, started doubting the present thinking it was too childish for bella, who was all but a young lady now. Before he convinced himself to not give her the present he put on her pillow and left the room to watch tv and call it a night.
Bella sighed after the long day. All she wanted to do was sleep, so once she got home, she didn't even bother changed and was about to faceplant into the bed, when she saw something on her pillow.
A little red lion, with a yellow main, native prints all over its body. She smiled remembering Charlie had gone with Billy to a powwow today.
"Thanks dad." She whispered. Picking the lion up and squeezing it tightly. Before falling asleep