Maternal Aunt & Grandmother: Leah Mailer & Rebecca Mailer – 2nd Contact

Maternal Aunt & Grandmother: Leah Mailer & Rebecca Mailer – Second Contact


Setting: Home of Leah, Rebecca and Susan Mailer


Leah: Native Americans visit each other a lot so we always have people dropping by and we often watch each other’s children. Mine are bored today, with all this quiet. (Turning to her children) Go on and find something to do, kids. No, never mind. Go on in your rooms and get them cleaned up. (As she gives instructions, you notice the children listen intently but don’t look directly at their mother. But they obey her immediately.)


Did you think there was a party here last time? No party. We always have a few kids over. We like to have our kids around us, active and playing. They don’t bother us. We hardly even notice them unless one of them gets hurt and starts screaming. We believe they learn better from direct experience, by working most things out themselves. They don’t need us butting in.


Kinnick-Kinnick is tobacco mixed with some other plants. It’s for social smoking but, no, it doesn’t get you high. John Bass is confused if he thinks smoking marijuana is sacred. Marijuana is not sacred for Native Americans. That’s just an excuse to get high and not take responsibility for what he’s doing with his life. We also use smudge smoke for purifying.


I’m not registered with the tribe, but my mother is. I don’t know why I never did it. I guess ’cause I never lived on the reservation. Maybe I should go ahead and get my children registered too. We all qualify by the tribal blood quantum. Lavender does too.


Look, my sister has had a hard life. She went to a sleep-away summer camp when she was 10 and the man who ran the camp hurt her bad. He made her his woman the whole two weeks she was there—a little child like that, only 10 years old! She couldn’t get away from him. They wouldn’t let the kids call home. It was a charity thing, you know, and they didn’t have money for phone calls, or at least that’s what they told us. Nothing ever happened to that man; he never paid for what he did to her. Afterward Susan was never the same. Does my sister have problems? Yes. And we know why. We try to understand her pain. We give her lots of room to do what she needs to, to take care of her wounded spirit. That’s why we’re not harder on her.


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