Wed 5 Feb, 2003 10:33 pm
Chauntay HerManyHorses was just another Shoshone teenager when Jessse first met him at a Powwow. Tall and muscular for a 16 year old but appeared clumsy as an ox as Jesse watched him dancing on the Wyoming Indian High School gym floor in his home made regalia. But that was mostly an illusion as Jesse would notice after seeing him playing basketball. He could be as lithe as a garden snake and as frenetic as wet hen when the few hundred Shoshones and Arapahos attended the Friday night games. During the weekday practices Chauntay preferred to hang out at the water fountain flirting with any female in the area exerting as little energy as possible. Everyone seemed to call him Squaw Boy which didn't make sense to Jesse at the time, but Chauntay explained that squaw as an old Algonquin word that was picked up by the French and the English settlers and meant, quite simply, whore.
Chauntay went on to say that whites often picked up on words to demean native Americans and squaw was just another example of how degrading Indian women was just another way to degrade all Indians. Since Chauntay's mom was never married, he was the "squaw boy".
Chauntay wanted to get away from the res and saw basketball as his ticket, not unlike many African Americans wanting to get a better life with pro sports being one of the only ways out of the urban res. Chauntay got a scholarship to the state university and was on his way. During his freshman year Chauntay played well enough to get a few minutes playing time in the varsity games and was looking forward to three more good years plus a university degree. When all was said an done Chantay would not be the Squaw boy anymore. That first summer vacation from school, Chauntay took a job on a transient farm harvest crew bucking hay from Colorado on up into Montana and the crew chief assigned him the small acreages where instead of using the powered hay stackers, Chauntay would run along side the flatbed truck picking up the 75 pound bales of hay and toss them up to the stacker riding on the truck. Chauntay was in good shape at the end of the season.
With the work over, money in his pocket and time for school to start up again, Chauntay and the others from the res piled into a pickup truck for the journey back to Wyoming. It was a long drive from the Canadian border of Montana and Chauntay rode in the back of the pickup sleeping more than not. Chauntay woke up in the hospital 10 days later, his head bandaged so that only his eyes and nose could be seen. The truck had rolled going around a curve and Chauntay was thrown head first into the concrete facing of a bridge. Surgery had been done almost immediately after they got him to the hospital which saved his life but the subarachnoid hemorrhage had bled long enough to leave some permanent damage. The vision from his left eye was minimal and he had nervous leg syndrome but the real damage was the uncontrolled tonic clonic seizures and he remained in the hospital for almost 3 months. He career was over. The basketball scholarship gone, Chauntay was lost.
Jesse talked him into coming to Denver to look for work and Chauntay came hoping to find many of the other Native Americans in the area that worked construction. But the seizures were still there in spite of the medication so Chauntay was not able to handle the equipment of construction and his money was running out. He was fearful of driving his car because of the seizures so he looked for work near the bus line that ran by his apartment. Finally he got work at a nearby fast food burger joint was able to pay his bills. Chauntay was still able to attend the local area PowWows where he met a few friends and was gradually getting a stabile life together. One Sunday morning Chauntay was at work behind the grill making quick grilled breakfasts when a lone gunman came into the place telling the cashier to hand over the money. She froze saying and doing nothing as the gunman became nervous yelling for the money and threatening her with the 22 revolver. The gun went off just missing the girls head. The bullet struck Chauntay just behind the ear. He was dead when he hit the floor.
I like these type stories - Makes me recall the tales of Ira Hayes and Jim Thorpe. You kept up my interest to learn what would happen at the end, making the character 'come alive' for me.
My kind of story. May I suggest that you leave a space between paragraphs to increase readability.
A thread to peruse in place of the political ones.
Dys, coming back to your story after starting the thread on American Indians, has helped me remember the long history of neglect among the Indians and especially their children.
Too bad Chauntay's story never made the papers, but then, he was just a poor Indian kid.
I hate to develop an affinity for a character and have him meet a tragic end. But life is as it is. Good job.
Where is the thread on American Indians?
Did you write this as a fictional story?
I could see the character in front of me (starting with him dancing in the high school gym). It's believable. I honestly can't tell if it is a true story or fiction.
Thanks. Good story.
It's a story, it's accurate as far as I remember. I knew Chauntay, I went to his funeral. It was a long time ago.
It's a masterpiece, A goddamn masterpiece. Screw New York. Wolfhole is the new cultural mecca of the U.S.. Now, If we could only find it on the map?
LOL, amigo. Only Dys's spirit is there. He is alive and well in Albuquerque.
Dys: Excellent story about Chauntay! How sad
Glad you're writing, dys.
I can sympathize with this story. I live very close to a couple of Nebraska reservations. I'm friends with quite a few people of Native origin; one or two, very good friends.
The rez is like the ghetto, for some, it's very hard to escape from. I know this all too well. Sad story dyslexia, but well-written and overall a good story.