June 17, 2013
Thanks to everyone on Facebook who helped me with the idea for this entry! Also, just a side note, I don’t know how to make dream catchers so I did the best that I could, learning from the Internet. The color symbolism in this entry, I mostly made up since I couldn’t find Quileute color symbolism anywhere. The word bikà’watakwáyo is the closest Quileute word I could find to guardian and you can read about this belief here under ‘beliefs’ and I’m not sure that this spelling is completely accurate.
Tap, tap, tap.
“What?” I groaned as I rolled over in bed to see the clock; it was only seven in the morning and already someone was knocking on my door to wake me up.
“Leah?” My father’s voice spoke through the door.
“What?” I grumbled again.
“Get ready, will you?”
“For what?” I repeated, sitting up as I realized I probably wouldn’t get back to sleep.
“Well I seem to recall promising you to teach you how to make dream catchers a while ago. I thought maybe we could go do that today.” Dad’s voice is gentle, sincere, and it’s somewhat comforting to hear it—even if it is this early in the morning. No. It’s not comforting. What am I thinking? My parents don’t care, he probably just wants me to do extra chores or something.
“Dad. That was when I was ten. You’re a little late, don’t ya think?”
“Please, Leah?” Dad asks in a funny accent like he used to when I was little.
I hide my laugh with another groan, “Fine.”
Straightening the blankets, I crawl from my bed and get dressed quickly. I brush through my hair, leaving it down instead of my usual braid or ponytail.
Dad is downstairs at the table eating a bowl of cocoa pebbles—my favorite cereal, that I haven’t bought in years, but it appears like Dad got some to soften me up—as he waits for me. An empty bowl is in my spot with a spoon. Without saying a word, I pour the cereal and milk and sit down.
“I’m sorry I never got around to teaching you until now, ” Dad says as he takes his bowl to the sink and returns to wait for me.
“Doesn’t matter. I forgot about it anyways,” I reply with a shrug.
“Yes it does. And I don’t think you did. I think you remember a lot more than you say you do.”
“So?” My heartbeat accelerates, nervous that he sees past my lying.
Dad shrugs. “You never forgot when you were little either. When you were five, you remembered that you were supposed to have your birthday party in Makah after we had already had it here. You tried giving us the silent treatment for a week. But one morning you woke up and had forgotten all about that until lunch. You were so embarrassed—I took you to Makah for the rest of the day and everything was better, ” Dad finishes his story smiling at the memory.
I remember that too, but I don’t tell him so.
“You’re like your mother that way—so sweet and humble but can hold a grudge like no other, ” he says with a chuckle.
I finish eating and take my bowl to the sink.
“Ready?” Dad asks.
“Yeah, I guess.”
He holds the front door open for me and I go out to the car. He drives us through the town to the council meeting building. In the back of the building, there’s a room used for pottery and other arts our tribe does.
A few dream catchers and paintings hand around the room but most of the artwork goes to the museum safe down the street. In 1889, a fire had burned through the tribe’s land destroying nearly everything that they had. Since then, and since the technology has been gained, the tribe takes extra caution in keeping our culture safe from natural disasters as well as other technologies the world threatened to take over with.
We go inside to the back art room. A long table sits in the middle of the room and is lined with chairs. Along the back wall, shelves stretch from floor to ceiling holding art supplies, already-made pottery, and half made projects with names taped to the shelf in front of them.
Dad goes over to the shelves and starts searching.
Only council members have keys to the building, but anyone is welcome to use the supplies as long as they take care of them, clean up their messes, and write down what they used on the clipboard by the door so it can be replaced.
When I was little and Mom and Dad had meetings, Seth and I would paint in the art room. I always enjoyed it but as I got older I stopped coming. I think Seth still came occasionally but I wasn’t sure.
I join Dad at the shelves as he finds the thin strips of colored leather. He already has two metal hoops slung on his wrist.
“Pick a color,” he tells me. “The one that is you.”
I hesitate to decide. I had a willow dream catcher when I was little but as all the willow kind do, it collapsed as a symbolism of coming of age. That was a few years after I asked Dad to teach me how to make them. I don’t even remember what color that one was. As far as I knew, Seth still had his sky blue one.
“What color would you choose for me?” I ask.
“You have to choose. You can’t always depend upon others to make decisions for you.”
“Red, ” I say, taking not the bright red, but the darker maroon color from the shelf.
Dad grabs the white string to accompany the suede and sits at the table. I sit beside him.
“We’ll choose beads and feathers after we get the rim covered and the first row of web on.”
I nod and he passes me a hoop. Dad grabs a bottle of tacky glue from a tray in the middle of the table that holds pens, scissors and glue.
“Do the first loop and hold it while you wait for it to dry. After that’s secured you can do several loops at a time but don’t do so many that you can’t hold it while it dries, ” Dad speaks as he glues his first loop down and then passes the glue to me. “You can do it straight or on an angle. I find it easier when it’s angled.”
I struggle to glue and hold down the first loop but Dad just watches in silence. Finally I get it and he continues to loop the leather around his rim and glue it. I do the same when he is finished, realizing that Dad’s practiced hands make it look much easier than it is for me.
“The last loop will overlap a bit with the first, so cut the strip long enough for that. Then make a small loop around the top with the extra and tie it and glue it, ” Dad tells me as he glues his last bit of leather and then makes the loop for hanging.
He watches me do mine and then helps a bit when the leather doesn’t stick the first time.
“Okay, now the string. Tie it at the top, and then going clockwise, tie more knots. There should be thirteen when you finish. Thirteen for the thirteen phases of the moon.” Dad cuts two long pieces of string and hands one to me, then ties his string at the top of the hoop and continues down.
I do the same, trying to match my hands to his. My string tangles up and he has to help me several times to untangle it and fix my knots. With a sigh, I tie the last knot.
“Does it get any easier?” I inquire.
Dad chuckles. “That’s a matter of opinion. I think all of it is easy.”
I sigh again, “What next?”
He gets up and sets a bowl of beads and stones with holes in them on the table and then returns again with a clear box of feathers.
“Pick some beads—as many as you want. You don’t need a feather until the middle.”
Dad grabs a few random beads and sets them on the the table. I bring the bowl closer to me and carefully pick each one. As I do, he names of the symbolism of each color or stone.
“Red is for success.” I immediately throw the bead back in the bowl when he says that. “Why’d you do that?”
“I’m not successful, ” I say, avoiding Dad’s eyes. “I can’t even keep a boyfriend around.”
Dad fishes the bead back out and puts it on my string for me.
“You are. Sam had his reasons for leaving and it was wrong of him to do what he did. It had nothing to do with you though. He loved you, Leah, and he still does. You work well—at the store, in school. You know so much. You are successful, ” Dad insists. “Continue.”
I bring the bead up close to the rim, unconvinced by his words. “Now what?”
“Weave the string through. Make a hitch, here, like this,” Dad lifts his hands to demonstrate. “In the middle of that loop. Then do the same thing around the others. Add beads whenever you want.”
I nod, do a few more hitches and then dig for another bead. Dad glances up from his work.
“Yellow, for happiness.”
I sigh, “Why am I picking all the beads that aren’t me?”
“They are you, Leah. You just don’t realize it. Here—close your eyes. Reach out to the bowl and grab the rest of your beads. Choose them by how they feel, ” Dad says.
I fight the urge to roll my eyes but do as he says. He guides my hand to the bowl. The first few beads I touch all feel the same. I concentrate harder and find one that feels soft, like it’s made from clay. I open my eyes to see that it is clay, dyed a dark blue, close to being black.
“Navy, for courage. Pick another.”
I close my eyes again and find another bead. This one feels like wood; a sliver pokes out from it. I open my eyes. Green.
“Green, for nature. For earth and beauty.”
I repeat my actions, and find a white glass bead.
“White, for peace and serenity.”
“Okay, that’s all I want, ” I say.
Dad nods, “Finish the loops then. All the way until you get to the middle. Leave a hole anywhere from the size of a quarter to a dime, however you want. Some people make it determined by the amount of nightmares they have, bigger for more, smaller for less. That way the bad dreams go through and don’t get caught. Unless you use a smaller rim, then the hole is naturally smaller.
“Big then for me, ” I say.
I continue knotting the loops and get lost in my work until I get to the middle and realize how short the thread has become.
“Good,” Dad says. “Now the feather for the middle and for the ones going down. Choose.”
He lifts the lid from the box and I look through them carefully.
“Do I choose different ones or all the same?” I ask.
“However you like.”
“The same, ” I say and select four small white feathers with black tips.
“Eagle feathers, for protection, ” Dad says.
He shows me how to tie the feather into the middle and secure it with the glue and a bead. We add the three other feathers dangling from the bottom of the rim and put brown wooden beads at the top of each.
“Now you’re finished, ” he says, smiling. “You did good. See? That was successful. Now your bikà’watakwáyo can watch over your dreams too.”
“I don’t believe in bikà’watakwáyo anymore, ” I say quietly. Bikà’watakwáyo is a belief of our tribe of guardians that each person has. We have them to watch over and protect us. When I was little, I believed in them profusely, thanks to my parents and grandparents.
“No?” Dad asks surprised. “When did that change? You used to yell at the kids at school until they said that they believed too.”
I laugh. “I don’t remember that. When Sam went missing. Why did that happen if they are true? Sam’s guardian and mine would have kept him here. And when he got back, mine would have stopped the heartbreak. There has been so much that’s happened that I can’t possibly believe. Either they aren’t true or else mine just left me years ago.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way, ” Dad says, his face soft and sad. “Maybe one day your bikà’watakwáyo will return to you.”
I look away, unbelieving. “Yeah, maybe.”
“I have a meeting this morning in a few minutes, ” he says, and as he does, I hear the front door of the building open, more people arriving. “Are you okay to wait here? Or you can take the car and I’ll get a ride home.”
I shake my head, looking around the room to see that the easels and paint are still here. “No, I can wait.”
Dad smiles a little. “Okay then. Here take this one too. Do what you want with it, ” he hands me his dream catcher. “I won’t be too long.”
Dad stands up and goes out to the meeting room, leaving the door cracked open behind him. I hesitate for a moment and then deciding no one will be around to see me, go to the easel and begin squeezing paint out onto a tray. I have no idea what I’m going to paint, so I just start splotching random colors on until they make shapes. I get so caught up in my work, I don’t notice when someone comes in.
“Looks good, ” they say, making me jump. In doing so, my brush taps against my nose. I spin around to see Jacob Black watching me.
“Sorry,” he says and uses his thumb to wipe the paint from my nose and then brushes it onto his jeans.
“That’s okay, ” I whisper.
“I like your painting. And your dream catchers. You made them?”
“I made this one, ” I say holding it up. “My dad was teaching me how. And thanks.”
“Cool. Can I see?”
I pass him the dream catchers and he looks at each one closely before handing them back.
“Awesome,” he compliments again. “Do you think you could make me one?”
“Sure. When do you want it?”
“Before the thirteenth. It’s my friend’s birthday.”
“Okay. I’ll drop it by sometime soon then.”
Dad appears in the doorway then. “You ready, Leah?”
I nod, “Just a second.”
I turn around an pick up a pencil, signing my name in the middle of the canvas on a blank spot. Dad leads the way outside and Jacob follows, being joined by his Dad.
“Bye, Leah, Harry. See you guys later, ” Jacob says as we climb in the car.
I nod politely and Dad starts to drive.
“Thank you, ” I say to Dad. “For everything today. It was . . . fun.”
“You’re welcome. I’m glad you had a good time. There’s more I could teach you if you want. Our tribe use to weave baskets so tightly, you could boil water in them.”
I nod. “Yeah, maybe we can do more sometime. I really liked this even though it was hard. Jacob asked me to make him one.”
“That’ll be good. Gives you something to do this week. Borrow my keys whenever, just let me know.”
“Okay, ” I say smiling with the hope that I will be able to paint more.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy this entry and look forward to more to come! You can like Leah’s Diary on Facebook here and follow on Twitter here! I love to answer questions and see your thought on each entry!