When I was 9 years old, my uncle Kerry paid me in cheeseburgers to clean this traditional medicine used in Native American ceremonies. After an hour of picking the small bits of fur with my fingernails, I started to complain about it getting under my fingernails. My uncle took my little hand, held it up to my face and pointed to the green caked fingernail. “This medicine can take you anywhere your heart desires. Even all over the world – anywhere! If you really want it.”, he exclaimed.
He said it so emphatically and stared me straight in the eyes. There was a small whisper of doubt in my mind, but I dared not disagree with what he said.
Besides such a grandiose promise to my highly imaginative 9 year old mind, “The world.” I stared at my fingernail and thought fantastical thoughts.
Two years ago, just 6 years after getting out of the Navy – having traveled 11 countries, I joined a number of Native American veterans on the Walk With the Warriors event, praying and honoring all veterans. A thought crossed my mind as I stood on the National Mall after an all night prayer service, saluting the traditional flag. My fingernails were caked with green from cleaning medicine in the tipi. I sent message from Washington, DC to my uncle and said “Hey I’m over here cleaning medicine on the lawn of the National Mall outside the White House!”
A few months later – he came up to me , wild-eyed. “I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard that!” He scratched his head, paused in thought and shook from the goosebumps. He would then exclaim, “Niesha, again! Gotta watch what we say to you!” Every time I look at this picture – I think of that