The girls stood and looked around. “Where is everything?” Swara asked.
“All the buildings are gone,” Kavya said. “The city has disappeared.”
“Oh my gosh,” Swara said and pointed towards the creek. “Those look like teepees!”
Kavya squinted in the direction Swara pointed. She could see the staggered poles and brown tips of what looked like teepees. Faint, white smoke wisped from their tops. “Where did those come from?”
“It looks like an Tribalvillage,” Swara said. “Let’s go.” They began to walk through the grass in the direction of the village.
They crossed the small creek surrounded by a few trees and squealed when they spooked a deer that jumped out in front of them and splashed through the water. As they walked through the tall grass, the teepees of the Tribalvillage became visible. They saw a scraggly dog running by with what looked like two small boys in pursuit. The village was partly sheltered by some tall trees, so they didn’t see anyone else until they reached them.
Dappled ponies stood in the trees surrounded by a fence made with rope and long poles. The ponies whinnied nervously at their approach. They attempted to feed them some grass, but the ponies shied away. From the trees, they had a better view of the village. They saw a few women sitting outside teepees cooking or cleaning and some children playing games.
“Is this where the Chief lives?” Kavya asked.
“I don’t know,” Swara said. “I think so, but I’ve never been here. He told me his village was near the dreaming place.”
“I wonder if this is like the Wizard of Oz where a tornado takes us to another land,” Kavya said.
“Or maybe it’s a dream, and we are both lying in the garage sleeping,” Swara said. “Let’s go see if the Chief lives here.”
“I’m not sure about that,” Kavya said. “The Tribal people might attack us.”
“Oh no, if they are like the Chief, I’m sure they are friendly,” Swara said. They began walking towards the village.
They were half-way between the trees and the first tepee, when one of the Tribal women looked up and yelled something. She dropped what she was doing, and ran into the nearest tepee. In a moment, she remerged with a Tribal warrior. In his hand was a tomahawk, and his face curled in a fierce snarl. The girls stopped and gazed wide-eyed as the warrior uttered a war cry and charged them with the raised tomahawk.
“Oh no!” Kavya screeched. She stepped behind Swara. “I told you they were going to attack us!”
Before the Tribal reached them, there was a shout from the village, and the warrior stopped in front of the girls and lowered his weapon. Swara gazed at the warrior in terror while Kavya stood behind her hugging her tightly. He regarded them as if nothing had happened. Several more Tribal men, women, and children emerged from their tepees and ran towards the girls and formed a half-circle of curious eyes. They muttered to one another and gestured towards the girls. Finally, the crowd parted and a tall Tribal dressed in deer skins and a headdress of feathers emerged from the crowd. He stood in front of the girls and smiled at Kavya who peered at him through Swara’s hair.
“What is your name?” he asked.
“K-k-k-k-avya,” Kavya said.
The Chief extended his hand. “Nice to meet you K-k-k-k-avya.”
Kavya gazed warily at the Chief’s hand.
“Her name is Kavya,” Swara said.
The Chief looked confused. “She does not know her own name?”
Swara giggled. “She’s just nervous.” She turned to Kavya. “This is Chief Rajat Sharma.”
“N-n-n-ice to m-m-meet you, Mr. Rajat Sharma,” Kavya said. She stepped out from behind Swara and took the Chief’s hand.
“Why does she speak so strangely?” he asked Swara. “Is she affected by the spirits of the dreaming place?”
Swara said, “No, she’s just scared of you.”
“Perhaps she thinks I will try to scalp her.” He touched her hair with his free hand. “You have very nice hair, Kavya.”
Kavya took a step back from the Chief. The Red Indians behind him laughed. The Chief smiled. “Don’t worry. I have no need for scalps.”
Kavya relaxed and smiled back.
The Chief turned to his people. “We have guests tonight! We will build a great fire and dance and feast!” The tribe cheered, and several women ran back to the village to get ready for the celebration.
“Oh no,” Swara gasped and turned to Kavya. “Mom was calling us for dinner right before we came here. We’ll be in big trouble if we don’t get back!”
The Chief frowned. “Who is this “Mom”? Is this your Chief?”
“Kinda like a Chief,” Swara said.
“Well, you must choose. Does Mom have much deer meat?”
“No, she gives us yucky food,” Kavya said.
“Does she build a great fire and let you dance about it until morning?”
“Nope,” Swara said. “She makes us do our homework and go to bed early.
With spankings,” Kavya added.
Swara giggled. “Yeah, to bed with a spanking. But not before she makes me clean my room and do all the dishes and stuff.”
Chief Rajat Sharma frowned and looked gravely at the girls. “Well, you must obey the wishes of your Chief, Swara.”
Swara glanced at Kavya who nodded her head. “Naaahhh,” Swara said. “We will stay here.”
“Very well.” The Chief smiled and spread his arms. “Welcome to my village.”
The village of Chief Rajat Sharma was a flurry of activity as they prepared the feast for their strange guests. Swara and Kavya sat on a blanket with the Chief, and the men hauled sticks and logs to the centre of the ring of tepees and stacked them in a pile. Small children scampered by, often stopping for a moment to stare wide-eyed at the two girls. One girl approached Swara and reached out to touch her blond hair, her eyes full of wonder. She giggled and ran off.
A boy pointed to Kavya, then touched a finger to each of his eyes. He whispered to the Chief.
“He wants to know why you wear clear rocks over your eyes,” the Chief said. “Do you use them to see into a person’s soul?”
Kavya giggled. “They’re called glasses. I use them to see well.”
The boy touched his eyes again and held out his hand to Kavya. Kavya removed her glasses and placed them in his hand. He examined them, holding them up to the light and peering through the lenses. Placing them over his eyes, he gazed about the village. He started to walk but stumbled and the glasses fell from his face. Kavya laughed and the boy righted himself and handed the glasses back to Kavya.
“I think you’re seeing rocks are broken,” the boy said.
Kavya replaced her glasses on her nose and smiled at the boy. “They work fine for me.” He turned and ran back to the centre of the village.
Within a short time, the villagers constructed a roaring fire. As the sun disappeared below the horizon, and the air grew cooler, they gathered about the fire at the centre of the village. Swara and Kavya sat next to the Chief on a buffalo skin rug. The village warriors sat close, their attention fixed on the girls.
Kavya leaned close to the Chief and whispered, “Why are they staring at us?”
“You are strange to them because your skin is all white, and because you wear strange clothing. They also know you have come from the dream world, so they think maybe you are not real.”
“I’m totally real,” Swara said. One of the warriors was gazing at her with hard eyes, and Swara frowned and stuck her tongue out at him. He narrowed his eyes and stuck his tongue out. Swara and Kavya giggled and stuck out their tongues at the other warriors who, in turn, stuck their tongues out. After some time playing this game, the girls were laughing so hard they had tears in their eyes.
“What manner of greeting is this?” the Chief asked. “Why do you display your tongue?”
This made the girls laugh louder.
“It’s funny!” Swara wiped tears from her eyes. “It’s not a greeting, it’s just funny.”
The Chief rolled his eyes.
Soon, the village women brought food to the fire. They set trays of steaming meat and fresh vegetables in front of them. The warriors snatched them up with their hands and began to eat. Swara curled up her nose.
“Don’t we get plates and spoons?” she asked.
he Chief frowned. “What are plates and spoons?”
“We use them to eat with,” Swara said.
“Yeah,” Kavya said. “We put the food on a plate and use the spoon to eat it.”
“You feed a spoon?” a warrior asked.
Swara and Kavya laughed.
The warrior scratched his head. “Is this spoon some sort of animal? Why do you feed it?”
“We don’t feed it; it’s not an animal,” Swara said. “We eat with a spoon.”
“It’s used to scoop up the food so we don’t have to use our hands,” Kavya said.
“What’s wrong with using your hands?” The warrior held up his hands and looked at them. They were filthy. His nose twitched, and he stuck one finger in his nose and wiggled it around. The other warriors pointed at him and laughed. He looked confused. “My nose itches.”
Later that evening, the Chief gathered the tribe around the fire. Swara and Kavya sat among the villagers. Chief Rajat Sharma stood in the light of the fire and looked across the faces of his people.
There is a story among our people about a white buffalo calf. Two warriors were hunting on the prairie when they saw a white buffalo calf approaching them. One of the warriors prepared his bow to shoot the calf, but the other warrior stopped him. He had never seen a white buffalo, and did not wish to kill it. They argued because they needed meat. The warrior raised his bow to shoot, but then the white buffalo turned into a beautiful woman. They both stared in wonder at her. They had never seen such beauty. The warrior who wanted to shoot the buffalo spoke first.
“You are a beautiful woman,” he said. “Do you want to come back to my teepee and see my collection of rare arrowheads?”
The woman rolled her eyes at this. The warrior was not happy about her reaction, so he approached her and tried to touch her. The woman drew back her foot and kicked the warrior between the legs. The warrior fell to the ground in a cloud of dust and had nothing more to say. The woman turned to the other warrior.
“Do you have something you want to say?”
The warrior saw his friend lying on the ground gasping for air, and he fell to his knees.
“I will be good!” he pleaded.
“Then return to your village,” the woman said. “Tell your people I will appear to them in four days.”
The warrior dragged his poor friend back to the village and described the incident to the other villagers. They laughed at him. Obviously, he and the other warrior, who was still unable to walk or speak, were just making excuses for returning from a hunt with no meat. However, four days later, a white buffalo wandered into the village. When it reached the center of the village, it turned into the beautiful woman. Many of the warriors stared at her, wondering over her great beauty, but the warrior she kicked warned them, so they behaved themselves.
The woman stayed in the village for four days and taught them the sacred ceremonies that we perform today to honor the Great Spirit that created the world and all of us. On the fourth day, she gathered everyone in the center of the village.
“I must go now,” she said. All the warriors were very sad that she would be leaving, but their wives were very happy.
“I will leave you with a sacred package.” She presented the chief of the village with a peace pipe. “This pipe is the symbol I will look for when I return so that I will know you are my people,” she said. Then she became very stern. “Do not lose this pipe. Bad things will happen if I come back and you have lost it.”
With these words, the woman turned back into the white buffalo calf and left the village.