The gift was a fantastic thing, of texture far more delicate than a spider’s filmy web. It was a vision! A picture of an Indian camp, not painted on canvas nor yet written. It was dream-stuff, suspended in the thin air, filling the inclosure of the cedar wood container. As she looked upon it, the picture grew more and more real, exceeding the proportions of the chest. It was all so illusive a breath might have blown it away; yet there it was, real as life,—a circular camp of white cone-shaped tepees, astir with Indian people. The village crier, with flowing head-dress of eagle plumes, mounted on a prancing white pony, rode within the arena. Indian men, women and children stopped in groups and clusters, while bright painted faces peered out of tepee doors, to listen to the chieftain’s crier.
At this point, she, too, heard the full melodious voice. She heard distinctly the Dakota words he proclaimed to the people. “Be glad! Rejoice! Look up, and see the new day dawning! Help is near! Hear me, every one.”
She caught the glad tidings and was thrilled with new hope for her people.
It was summer on the western plains. Fields of golden sunflowers facing eastward, greeted the rising sun. Blue-Star Woman, with windshorn braids of white hair over each ear, sat in the shade of her log hut before an open fire. Lonely but unmolested she dwelt here like the ground squirrel that took its abode nearby,—both through the easy tolerance of the land owner. The Indian woman held a skillet over the burning embers. A large round cake, with long slashes in its center, was baking and crowding the capacity of the frying pan.
In deep abstraction Blue-Star Woman prepared her morning meal. “Who am I?” had become the obsessing riddle of her life. She was no longer a young woman, being in her fifty-third year. In the eyes of the white man’s law, it was required of her to give proof of her membership in the Sioux tribe. The unwritten law of heart prompted her naturally to say, “I am a being. I am Blue-Star Woman. A piece of earth is my birthright.”
It was taught, for reasons now forgot, that an Indian should never pronounce his or her name in answer to any inquiry. It was probably a means of protection in the days of black magic. Be this as it may, Blue-Star Woman lived in times when this teaching was disregarded. It gained her nothing, however, to pronounce her name to the government official to whom she applied for her share of tribal land. His persistent question was always, “Who were your parents?”