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Looking Forward

To have clear skies during this full moon was a blessing. This morning I watched the moon over the long slope of Nicolai Ridge to the south of the island.

Since the beginning of the year, we’ve had what for us is heavy snow, winds that ripped stout branches out of trees and snapped saplings between us and the ocean. We’ve had days of slanting rain, a raucous wind that batted at the house, whooshing all around us and clearing out the darkness of winter and the last year. Spring is coming. I’m bringing daffodils inside and watching hydrangea leaves unfold.

Time has telescoped over this past year, as we’ve lived day to day, seeing what the coronavirus or national politics will deliver. One of the gifts of this slowed down year for me, has been staying in one place watching the seasons change day by day. It seems odd that as I move into the new year, it increases my awareness of how different last year was from usual. I started to write how cramped I’ve felt, but it’s also been good to be at home with my husband. But I have to say, the pictures coming from Osage County of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio meeting with Osage cultural leaders whet my appetite for home. I want to hear all of the discussions.

Shannon Shaw Duty, Osage News’ editor, spoke to Tara Gatewood of America Calling on Feb. 22 about the challenges of maintaining harmony in the family when the pandemic is keeping everyone home together. Duty said she had seen an article early on that gave advice she’s taken to heart. “Don’t be too hard on yourself. This is a hard time. Do the best you can,” she said.

The Wah-Zha-Zhe Health Center reports they have administered over 1,600 Covid vaccines and are now reaching out to all Natives over 18 years old. The Cherokee Nation had administered more than 24,000 vaccines as of Feb. 26, according to the Cherokee Phoenix. The Cowlitz Indian Tribe in Longview, where I was vaccinated, reports their health clinic had administered 1,731 doses by Feb. 19. A Public Health Service nurse assigned to the clinic answered questions and sent us home with vegetables from their garden after the first dose, Cowlitz Cares# masks with a Salish design after the second.

Our indigenous nations are contributing to the health of their citizens and to the larger community. They’re modeling the kind of community partners we can be as sovereign nations, as respected allies. And for us Natives, being treated holistically, is a gift. I think of poet Heid Erdrich, member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, who was fanned off when she got her Covid vaccination from the Indian Health Board in Minnesota.

February, the “Don’t let it fool you month” is drawing to a close. It’s time to breathe deep and look forward. I’m taking a workshop with Osage writer Chelsea Bryan through Lydia Yuknavitch’s Corporeal Writing Center in Portland. The participants are interesting bright people from rich backgrounds, but it’s the chance to be in a (Zoom) space with five talented Osage writers that’s bringing me joy.


Ruby Hansen Murray

Original Publish Date: 2021-03-14 00:00:00


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Ruby Hansen Murray
Ruby Hansen Murray is a writer and photographer living in the lower Columbia River estuary. Her work appears in As/Us, World Literature Today, CutBank, The Rumpus, Yellow Medicine Review, Apogee, About Place Journal and American Ghost: Poets on Life after Industry. She’s the winner of the Montana Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She’s been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook, Ragdale, Playa, Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Storyknife in Homer and the Island Institute in Sitka, AK. She is fellow of the Jack Straw Writers Program, Fishtrap: Writing the West and VONA, who studied at Warren Wilson College and received an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. She’s a citizen of the Osage Nation with West Indian roots.

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