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Simon J. Ortiz

A New Story


Simon Ortiz, b. 1941
Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico

A New Story

              1            Several years ago,
                            I was a patient at the VA hospital
                            in Ft, Lyons, Colorado.
                            I got a message to call this woman,
               5           so I called her up.
                            She said to me,
                            "I'm looking for an Indian.
                           Are you an Indian?"
                           "Yes," I said.
              10         "Oh good," she said,
                           "I'll explain why I'm looking
                           for an Indian."
                          And she explained.
                          "Every year, we put on a parade
              15        In town, a Frontier Day Parade*.
                          It's exciting and important,
                          and we have a lot of participation."
                          "Yes," I said.
                          "Well," she said, "Our theme
              20        is Frontier,
                          and we try to do it well.
                          In the past, we used to make up
                          paper mache Indians,
                          but that was years ago."
             25         "Yes," I said.
                          "And then more recently,
                          we had some people
                          who dressed up as Indians
                          to make it more authentic,
            30          you understand, real people."
                          "Yes," I said.
                          "Well," she said,
                          "that didn't seem right,
                          but we had a problem.
             35         There was a lack of Indians."
                          "Yes," I said.
                          "This year, we wanted to do it right.
                          We have looked hard and high
                          for Indians but there didn't seem
             40         to be any in this part of Colorado."
                          "Yes," I said.
                          "We want to make it real, you understand,
                          put a real Indian on a float,
                          not just a paper mache dummy
            45          or an Anglo dressed as an Indian
                          but a real Indian with feathers and paint.   [Sioux appearance]
                          Maybe even a medicine man."
                          "Yes," I said.
                          "And then we learned the VA hospital
            50          had an Indian here.
                          We were so happy,"
                          she said, happily.
                          "Yes," I said.
                          "there are several of us here."
            55          "Oh good," she said.
                           Well, last Spring
                           I got another message
                           at the college where I worked.
                           I called the woman.
            60           She was so happy
                           that I returned her call.
                           Then she explained
                           that Sir Francis Drake,
                           the English pirate
            65           (she didn't say that, I did)
                           was going to land on the coast
                           of California in June, again.
                           And then she said
                           she was looking for Indians . . .
            70           "No," I said. No.

*Cheyenne, Wyoming (near Colorado), for example holds a Frontier Day Parade in July. [Ortiz's note to line 15]