Our Dance by Oscar Hokeah

“We Kiowa are old, but we dance.” —James Auchiah, “Kiowa Five” artist, Chief Satanta’s grandson.

Our Dance - New Text 2Gaa, we were just little guys, around a year old, when Kiowas started getting that ahongiah back in ’76, no, maybe in ’77.  It was the coalition of Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches that leased a tract of land to Fort Sill military base for one hundred years.  Good thing, too, because us Kiowas divided our share of the money between all tribal members, fifteen hundred a piece.  Those of us under the age of eighteen had our money held in trust, growing interest until our day.  We were the last in our families to walk through the front doors of those cookie-cutter homes to hear our mothers say, “Your per cap check is on the table.”

My birthday landed two months before yours. On your day, you burst into a laughing fit, but on mine I maintained all the way into the bedroom.  But we both tore into those envelopes faster than the last meatpie on a plate—ripped out those stiff government checks, too.  Remember the Statue of Liberty imprint in the upper left corner?  Remember the line of numbers in the center right?  It read something like this:  $9,826. 17.  The hot-off-the-press scent from that crisp paper hit us like the cool wall of air when we walked into the Bank of Oklahoma.

Might know, the lady behind the counter did the same to you as she did to me.  She glanced from the check to our faces and back to the check again, tapping those red, plastic fingernails on the counter.  Her eyes barely squinted when she asked us how we managed to get our hands on that kind of money.  You told her the tribe wanted us to help neglected bank tellers buy bleach for untreated roots.  I had a permanent grin that no one would spoil, so I asked her if she dated Kiowas and she said no, so I asked her if she dated Comanches and she said no, so I asked her if she dated Cherokees and she said no.  Gaa, guess I was out of luck because I was out of tribes.  We waved at the bank teller as we pushed open the doors—that mabane pretended to not notice; still even, she couldn’t ignore the six thousand in the checking account or the four thousand in our pockets.


“Follow two cousins as they experience both funny and frightening adventures with spending their Kiowa “per cap,” and in the process rehearse age old Kiowa kinships.”

My short story, Our Dance, was originally published in American Short Fiction.  With purchase, you will receive a full digital copy. Thank you for supporting the arts! Click on the Amazon Kindle icon below to continue reading Our Dance.

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