One wonderful Saturday afternoon I was sitting on the bench daydreaming. It was peaceful and quiet, when suddenly the quietness was broken by a truck coming toward my grandma's house. It was my mom coming.
My mom and dad stepped out of the truck. They glanced at me and went in my grandma's house. I followed to see why my mom looked unhappy. She said to my grandpa in Navajo, "My hands are hurting. When I put them in the water that's when they hurt the worst!" She showed my grandpa her hands. When I saw them I got worried and wondered what would happen. Her hands were peeling and swollen. She told my grandpa because he was a medicine man.
My grandpa told my mother to go in the Hogan beside his house which faced east that he only used for peyote meetings and to work on people who didn't know why parts of their bodies were aching. He told my mother to sit on the blanket beside him. My grandma made the medicine by crushing the peyote plant with the grinder and took the fresh water and it into the hogan. My grandpa took the charcoal out of the woodstove that stood in the center of the hogan. He put some brown and green medicine on the charcoal. Smoke came out and the sweet smell of peyote filled the hogan. After that he prayed:
"Mother Earth gives the medicine.
The air gives clean breath.
We combined the two to ask for healing.
Mother of all things help cleanse our sister.
Restore the roundness of life.
Restore beauty before her.
Restore beauty behind her.
Restore beauty above her.
Restore beauty below her."
My grandma came in and placed the water by my grandpa's side. After that he chanted using sounds instead of words. Then he put some medicine that my grandma made and mixed it with water. My mom drank the holy medicine. He looked into the charcoal. Then he put his hawk feather in the water and sprinkled it on my mother. He looked back at my mom and said that an old man came by our house and buried a bear's paw by our house. The cruel old man had witchcrafted my mother.
My grandpa put his gloves on and took a paper sack. He went by our house and dug up a large brown bear paw with sharp white claws. He put it in the paper sack. He went back in the Hogan and burned the paper sack in the big black woodstove. I closed my nose at the terrible odor. After that my grandpa prayed again:
"Evil will leave you.
From here you will walk with beauty.
Things will be as they were before.
Clean breath will flow through you.
Evil will leave.
It is finished."
My grandpa asked my mom, "Are you working today?"
My mom replied, "No, I'm off all week."
My grandpa said, "Rest a lot."
Then my mother and father went back home.
That night I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about the old man.
The next day I went back to the boarding school. I am a Navajo girl. I have two names: an Indian name that is secret; it's known only to the members of my family. I go by Corina. When I am in a public place I go the white man's way. When I am at home I go the Navajo way. I knew I had to go back. I lived too far out on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico to attend a public school.
My grandma checked me back into the dorm. I was scared that the old man might witchcraft one of my relatives and me. I couldn't sleep at night because I was worried. Even if I dropped off to sleep I would get nightmares of the old man. I got behind in my work. I told my best friend about it. I didn't do anything all week. I couldn't stop thinking about the old man.
Finally it was Friday. When I got home I heard my grandpa say, "The old man died after he witchcrafted your mother." I was relieved that the old man died because he wouldn't go around at night and witchcraft people because he didn't like them.
Written by Corina Castillo, 12
Chuska/Tohatchi Consolidated School, Tohatchi, New Mexico (Bureau of Indian Affairs)
Illustrated by Tom Smith, 12
Tohatchi, New Mexico
Harvey Plummer, 12
Tohatchi, New Mexico