In the ‘70s, my mother was obsessed with Native Americans. I can recall her going to the Waco Public Library and checking out all of these books on Indians, which she would sit up late into the night and read in the living room. She dragged us to the theater and drive-in to see a lot of Westerns, too.
For several summers, my family would drive up to Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Arizona. We visited every stuffed buffalo and teepee between there and Texas. In fact, by the time I was six, I’d probably seen more feathers than Lola Falana had in her entire run in Las Vegas.
On one of these trips, we visited a museum where an older Native American woman in traditional dress weaved baskets. My mother was fascinated by this woman. After we had toured the museum, she went back to watch her some more. “Y’all go on to the car,” Mama said. “I just want to watch her a little longer. It’s not every day you get be this close to such authenticity.
It wasn’t long before Mama joined us in the station wagon.
““I thought you were watching your authentic Indian lady,” my father said.
““Authentic, my foot!” Mama snapped her buckle into her seatbelt. “She stood up to go get a drink at the water fountain. When she did, she hitched up her skirt and she was wearing track shoes and tube socks under that buckskin skirt!”
The experience seemed to scar my mother for life, because she refuses to wear knee-high stockings to this day. “I don’t want to be like that little Indian lady in the track shoes and tube socks.”