I've been watching the first couple of episodes of Into the West, and enjoying it in a guarded way. I find the bits with the settlers deeply dull, but I'm very interested in the parts of the story concerning the Lakota. I don't know how historically accurate any of it is, but Steven Spielberg seems to have managed a fairly balanced view of both sides so far. I'm pleased that they chose to have the Native American tribes speaking their own languages (though I'm in no position to say how authentic either the language or pronunciation is), but I do wish that they wouldn't make the translations for the sub-titles so stilted. They sound like my bad Latin translations, and I keep wincing in case 'White Man speak with forked tongue' pops up. I can imagine that Lakota language used in ceremonies or rituals might be quite formal, but surely family members didn't speak to one another in such a telegraphic way?
Anyway, it has reminded me of how obsessed I was with Native American tribes when I was little. I think it was in primary school that I first learned about the Plains tribes, and I thought they were wonderful. I was such a tomboy that I couldn't imagine a better life than galloping over the wide prairie in buckskin and feathers and living in a tipi, never thinking in my innocence that my life might not have been quite like that as a female Lakota or Cheyenne. For that matter, I didn't think much about the hardship involved at all, but I suppose I can be excused because I was only six or seven at the time. I want you to take my tender age into consideration when I tell you the rest of the story.
We had a bit of a project running at school on Native Americans, trying our sticky little hands at beading and so on, and one Summer afternoon I came home from school particularly enthused by the subject. I decided that I wanted to dress up like warrior and run around the garden hunting imaginary buffalo, so I rummaged through my Mum's scrap material box, looking for something to make a loincloth from. Now, buckskin was fairly hard to come by in 1970s suburbia, and all I could find that was vaguely suitable was a piece of mauve Terylene -- sadly, all too abundant in 1970s suburbia.
Fastening my mauve Terylene loincloth on with a bit of nylon string, I tucked a couple of swan feathers in my hair (I couldn't lay my hands on eagle feathers, either), grabbed my slightly wonky home-made bow, and galloped triumphantly around the garden, firing garden cane arrows into the roses, and whooping in what I fondly imagined was an authentic warrior style.
I don't know if any of our neighbours happened to be looking out of their windows at the time, but if they were, they probably shook their heads and muttered, "Strange girl..." to themselves. Some things never change.