The Wolf at Twilight: An Indian Elder's Journey through a Land of Ghosts and Shadows
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In this fictionalized account of actual events, Nerburn brings the land of the northern High Plains alive and reveals the Native American way of teaching and learning with a depth that few outsiders have ever captured.
did a good job.” He looked at the folks gathering in the clearing. “We all did,” he said. “But don’t quit your day job to become a map maker.” Orv dragged a couple of old stumps from behind one of the sheds and placed them on either side of the plastic cooler. Shitty hurried around the house and returned with a cheap aluminum lawn chair. Angie had finished making the Spam sandwiches and was placing them on a paper plate on top of the cooler next to the jug of Kool-Aid. “Time for the feast,”
the hearts and lives of some of the kindest, most fun-loving, most thoughtful people I have ever met. But it has also taken me to places that challenge my way of understanding. Lying in the shelter pits on Chief Joseph’s final battlefield on the lonely Montana high plains, I was touched by a force, almost palpable, telling me to leave, because I did not belong there. On a wintry day on a great frozen marsh in northern Minnesota, where a battle between the Ojibwe and Sioux left hundreds dead more
turned slowly toward the dawn, I fell into a fitful sleep. When I awoke the room was awash in daylight. The red numbers on the cheap bedside clock said 10:45. I washed up in the weak dribble from the shower, then checked out of the motel and headed toward Dan’s house. The night of sleep had cleared my head, but I was still filled with questions and doubts. Why me? Why now? Why had no one sought little Yellow Bird before, or, if they had, why hadn’t they found her? And why couldn’t Wenonah or
everyone. The school people said she was staying with the family who had taken her for the summer. That’s all they’d tell me.” “Didn’t you ask the name of the family?” “They wouldn’t tell us. They said it wasn’t allowed.” “So you don’t know what happened to her?” I asked. “Indian kids disappeared all the time. Got killed. Kidnapped. Just ran away, maybe lived with another tribe.” He dug the end of his walking stick into the dust and started back toward the car. “I think about her every day,
his fingers. “Healthy living will kill you. Now, Nerburn said you were wandering in the woods.” Dan looked at the fries and snorted. “I wasn’t wandering. He just doesn’t know how to follow a trail.” “Well, it must have been a hell of a long trail. I was getting pretty toasty out there while you were cutting through that prairie grass up in your brain.” Dan picked up one of the last remaining fries and split it in two. “You’re getting to be just like Nerburn. Tick tock, tick tock. I was