How we worked our healing
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How we worked our healing while home became Tatanka House:

This is Tatanka, in our living room. She was an abandoned, mistreated bison hide that was gifted to me years ago, raw. A woman friend called me after divorcing her own abusive husband and she asked me to come collect a bison hide he had also abandoned.  Tatanka's hide had been thrown away in their old shed, poorly half-tanned, balled up in a big ugly half-wet mess, tossed in a filthy corner by one who had no idea what responsibility he had, what a sacred gift she was. I had asked a man who was known to be an Ojibwe shaman to accompany me to where the bison hide had been abandoned, thinking we would be doing a final ceremony for Tatanka. We unfolded her and the sadness felt crushing, bringing tears. But he informed me, after we unfolded Tatanka's hide, that she could be saved, could be tanned. I suggested various traditional native people we could pass her on to. But he informed me that she was now my responsiblity and that she was to have a permanant home in my new home, the very first Home of my very own that I had ever had, that I was in the process of buying with the help of so many others, a safe home that has become my greatly-needed safe foundation, my sanctuary for my family's healing from terrible times when I had suffered years of paralyzing abuse that had been life-crushing. Tatanka was a cow bison elder from Montana, and her hide had been brought to Oregon after she and others in her family had been "culled."  I consulted a local taxadermist who tried to discourage me, telling me that as an "expert," he would not bother with Tatanka's hide, that she could not be salvaged and, that no matter what, she would become a bald, gooey, throw-away waste of my time. I was instead given good direction from my Ojibwe friend and from my elder who practices traditional Plainswomen Cherokee Medicine. Again, I offered to give her away. But my elder said, no thank you and she confirmed to me that Tatanka was my own gift and my own responsiblity, my own healing, and that she was always to be in my own home. I slowly worked with Tatanka's hide in a shallow pool in my rental house's back yard, then in my own new home's backyard, and then on the soft grass in the sun. I finished tanning Tatanka, always working in prayer, then adorned her with turquoise-looking malachite,  abalone, and horsehair, filled the terrible hole with a red bundle of sacred Medicine. Another traditional friend, a very best friend who does incredible good works in secret, led me in making a wooden frame out of pallet wood that also had been discarded and salvaged. When Tatanka was affixed to the frame, I protected her with leather "washers" I had made and carefully painted with the Four Directions. Healing happened for both of us during this long process. Tatanka moved inside my new home very soon after I did. Tatanka has now had a home here for more than eight years, no longer bringing tears, instead bringing healing to my living room, to our family, to our very few guests, and to our Work. Her beauty is breathtaking every day. She gives me strength as I go out to work in our community and on our streets, still always in prayer. We work hard to help others - who like us had been thrown away for years, abused, invisible, and given up on - to find "Home"  in our communities and in our healing hearts. Thank you for the great healing. <3 This is the foretold Time of the Great Healing, the Coming Together Time, the Time of the White Bison.  I am finally able to say:  it is good to be alive. <3 Thank you <3

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