Waháŋpi!, By Agléška Cohen-Rencountre (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe)

Red skies erupt as the sun escapes prying eyes.

Glass lake surface distorts the shape of the canoes upon them from top down views.

Vagina shaped vessels pulsing between the pressures of the lake and sky.

Fish glance jump to spot who are the stewards of the birchbark cloud in their midst.

Black fur covered land loving bullfrog?

Oh yes.

It’s a rez dog, knows her way around a canoe because the manoomin is ready to harvest.

Customary knocking sticks in paw.

Nothing unusual on this dreamy day to her at all – let them deny the possibility that she knows who she is.

She sings her mother’s song in the cuckoos sing song of English.

…….

Pitbull without license rescued from Dakota community in Minnesota (not the millionaires).

Non-profit ‘Rez Dogs for a Cause’ seeks adopters and donors.

‘Manoomin,’ nicknamed for the amount of wild rice the dog had eaten for lack of any care or concern by local Native Americans.

Seems they only care about their fishing ‘rights’ during sport fisherman season.

That’s the Mille Lacs Indians, Manoomin isn’t a proper rez dog, but might as well be. Look, we have had a hard time rehoming dogs this winter.  The housing market collapse filled up the women and children shelters and dog pounds, especially with black pitbulls. We found em in the lake over in Dakota community and for all we know she was impregnated with two separate litters by Lower Sioux and Morton city sires.

What are you going to do with her anyways?

I am a children’s book author. Manoomin is an Indigenous dog no matter how you look at it. People are getting too damned invested in the race of authors.

It doesn’t matter what you say, just write down something I can share with donors. 

Thanks – she is all yours.

. . . .

Furry Bullfrog left the lake by force. That old canoe just popped up one day. Like a crocodile waiting for the right time. Next thing waters are sparkling with manoomin and our bellies are full tonight.

Instead of ending up in some museum the canoe decided to sink itself.

When those people showed up, it was either the canoe or the Furry Bullfrog.

………

Singing my mother’s songs in English was all backwards – but it had to be done. Make the best of it is what I always say.

I’m pregnant and these pups ought to have a chance to know who our relatives are before they are born – before they are named by dog eaters.

They called me Minnie, like Minnie Mouse, because I am black I guess.

They bred me to make bait dogs.

I was seized by the state in one week and became a missing beloved dog the next.

I know they just wanted my pups.

. . . . . . .

Hoop dancer’s gig is about to begin, it’s not the first time these teachers have had to fumble over themselves – wanting to tell all – but having to restrain themselves, this is a special dance and we want you to be ready to ask questions after.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Hoop dancer practices at home while most kids his age are riding bikes, going to pow wows, and watching cartoons.

He does it because he wants to.

Uŋci keeps him feeling proud, but deep down he struggles with feelings of weirdness.

Long hair don’t care, except that he does.

‘I whip my hair back and forth’!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saw em drag that mutt out of the lake. They come around in that pervert white van, slide open the doors and throw a few dogs they round up in the back of the gas station. Those dogs that are always around you know. They call em ‘rescues’ after that. My uncle used to pick out a dog or two for a season – take em home, put em on a chain outside. He got some pretty cool ones. But they get tired of each other and you know when it’s time to let em go. Pretty much everyone raises these dogs one way or the other. Scary though. They say they got all the ones that attacked that little girl. But who knows?! I figure some of them are just waiting for whatever opportunity comes their way. Man’s best friend! Ha! I don’t mess with them. I have this theory that these dogs are going to evolve into coyote-wolf-dogs that are better suited to starvation, and don’t feel anything – you know – pain. So when winter comes – they survive better and don’t rely on our garbage or dog food as much.

. . . . . . . . .

I’m not from the rez but I grew up near one in Arizona. And I know more about rez dogs than those rescues wax on about. Those dogs are loyal to those Indians. It doesn’t matter if they attack em because that’s just the environment they are living in. You take any random rez dog and put it in a room with a Indian and you are going to have a chance at seeing that dog act like a dog. So I’m telling you – if you want to adopt these things out – you have to have Indian handlers taking them in and doing the assessments. Of course we have to oversee all this, and don’t need to employ any locals in the admin side of things… who in their right mind is going to say no to a job around here? Those people eat puppies! It’s not like we are asking them to give up all that…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dear Norman and Stacey of ‘Rez Dogs for a Cause’,

Thank you for the opportunity to adopt Manoomin. I have featured her in my latest blog entitled, ‘Fisherman’s Tail’. Manoomin is due any day and I was hoping to inquire about any thoughts you have about where the pups might best be advertised. I think with the grant money you are receiving paired with the publicity my next children’s book will garner there is a real opportunity to reach well reputed investors.

Also, I think that Manoomin is lonely for company. Might you have a dog in mind for us?

Thank you,

. . . . . . . . .

Furry Bullfrog didn’t see it coming.

The New Dog arrived and that night the children’s book author in broad daylight fucking ate them whole.

Like a fucking dinosaur.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Furry Bullfrog and New Dog had a good talk as the stomach acids disintegrated their fur, skin, and guts.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Peeping out from the back stage I see all the kids sitting applesauce criss-cross. Not my school. I’m just totally questioning why it’s a school day for them but not me. Dad never explains anything to me. I’m the quiet scared one so I just learn everything through my sisters, but they don’t seem to worry about being out of school. Everyone’s eyes are on the hoop dancer teenager.

Hoops dancing around his skinny limbs. Braids shiny and long – longer than mine!

He has wings.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Furry Bullfrog gets to the point.

I’m in love with you.

New Dog nods.

We could make puppies to join my puppies but we don’t have time.

Your ass is already full of boils, so quick tell me how to find you in ‘the next’.

New Dog doesn’t speak cuckoo English, but rather cuckoo Spanish.

His tongue still works.

New Dog licks Furry’s displaced eyeball back into place.

Too much movement, both of New Dog’s ears drop off.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Children’s author burps.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I’m the handler.

I am also a meth dealer. Don’t judge.

I am a public speaker for my tiyospe during treaty council – the kind that can take it outside when necessary.

And I am the son of our tribe’s last AIMster council members.

Don’t anyone dare use the f word around me and mine.

One niece came back from Oglala Lakota College talking about ‘F-E-M-I-N-I-S-M’ and all us guys took her out on the basketball court.  She roughed us up for a second but in the end, she agreed, that word will merit little welcome here at home.

We honor our wiŋyan and did so before it dawned on white women that they should have a vote.

I watch baseball and football on my cell phone in the backyard of my HUD house. I have a good data plan. My dad pays for it! He’s on council ya know.

But I am a baller at heart.

I have two girlfriends and one online city girl that has a thing for Sundancers.

My girlfriends are fucking ruggid. Hahahahaha. One speaks Lakota to her kids – she is the wifey kind. But she recently hit a bison on the road. So the ranchers are keeping her locked up in community meetings about it all. I ain’t got time for that shit. Indian ranchers are a joke ennit. Get rid of them cows den. We don’t need all those pretend Indians breeding pretendtatanka! They call themselves that too. Indns. Hahahaha. Call yourselves Lakota, speak Lakotaiapi and don’t tell me who I am! So my other one is all I make time for at the moment. She is a short, fat, tatted up Navajo, Cheyenne, Dakota, Irish or Scottish wiŋyan. She knows more about rez life, and who I come from and am meant to be than any of the others. She talks and walks the life man. She comes with me when we go dog hunting for those dog rescue scammers. She can talk white better than those two yuppies signing my checks. They don’t want her around but it’s just another way I show them – I make up the rules, not them.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wings of red willow extend across the stage – across time and place.

Couple of cute little kid voices squeak about what the wings might belong to.

An eagle!

A chicken!

A butterfly!

I’m not sure why they are saying anything at all – it clouds my ability to concentrate. The hoop dancer is like me.

I don’t think he is a butterfly.

He is much too hidden for such flight.

If I am hiding behind a corner, he is hiding within the skin of a ‘Indian’ who is pretending to be unafraid.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Just bones clicking against each other in an assemblage of fur and bubbling gasses and stomach acids.

If a doctor x-rayed this extraordinary human’s body all would be as predicted, except for the puppies.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Children’s author is sleeping soundly.

Dreaming about spreadsheets, bank accounts, and book tours.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Hoka Hey! Plains Indians better get out the bear grease, it’s a scorcher today!

It’s currently 110 degrees and our local church goers are sitting insides on those pews that our forefathers carved. No shame in the church game, for all you slackers with trash in your yards, get up off the damn couch to come get your watecha after service. Don’t forget to thank our aunties for making these meals possible, and I better see a few of you washing dishes dis time!

In other news, we have a dog napper that wants your attention, juuuust joshing aaaaaye!

Aho.

Listen to Agléška’s rendition of this poem below.


Agléška Cohen-Rencountre graduated with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Native American Studies. For their doctoral work, Agléška plans to study gender assimilation in Native American residential boarding schools. This historical and ethnographic project will use a transnational and feminist studies framework for understanding the ways gender fluidity was made invisible in these institutions.