I am quite skilled at a number of things that have no practical use. Like most suburban kids, all of my time and efforts during youth were spent acquiring those abilities. But unlike those other kids, my dad never taught me how to properly throw a spiral, I don’t think we ever played a single game of catch.
But he did teach me how to throw a tomahawk.There really isn’t much to it. The secret is all in your distance, the number of paces you are away from the target. At five and a half paces I can stick a hawk in block of wood every time. So can my little sister. At seven paces I flip the blade around backwards and the hawk sticks upside down.
I have labored to teach my daughter about things like oligarchy and the risks of confirmation bias but I was recently excited to teach her something much more important.
A young woman must be prepared to defend herself against the onslaught of tree stumps.
I’m not exactly sure why throwing a hatchet at a tree is so satisfying but trust me when I tell you that it is. It feels primal, is only slightly challenging, and makes a nice little “thunk” sound when the blade buries itself in the wood. It also makes a disturbing “ping” when it ricochets off into the bushes.
But perhaps the most satisfying thing about the tomahawk is that I have yet to find a tournament in Brooklyn or Silver Lake. Maybe there is one in Portland but I haven’t heard about it. Not that I don’t like Silver Lake, I rather like the place, but I also like that I have something in my roots that, much like my youth, lacks any social cache’ but is packed with personal enjoyment.
Special shout-out to my brother-in-law for pulling off the perfect tomahawk version of the “Robin Hood”. You owe my Dad a new handle.
Not just any sort of tomahawk and definitely not one of those modern “tactical” tomahawks. I want a northern plains or as it is called in this case, a Sioux pipe axe.
I have wanted one since I was a kid. Yes, since I was somewhere around five years old I wanted that hawk with the pipe bowl on the poll, preferably with a weeping heart cut out of the blade. I have wanted one since I was five which is when I most likely first saw one.
I was and am no stranger to tomahawks. These early American weapon/tools were strangely enough a regular part of my youth. I had a regular throwing hawk and could regularly stick a bulls eye from 8 paces. Always 8 paces. I tried 12 once but you have to really throw it from that far whereas at 8 paces you just sort of set the thing in rotation and the weight of the axe head does all the work. I always had access to a throwing hawk, but I never got one of those fancy ones.
I don’t throw those sorts of things much these days. About the only thing I might throw would be a disc in my lower back, but none-the-less I want that stylish weapon for the wall of the study I will one day have. On a peg toward the corner will hang a long barreled flintlock with a possibles bag and powder horn slung over the stalk. hanging from the sash of the bag will be that beautiful colonial era styled pipe tomahawk.
And then if I want to upgrade to whole other level, I’ll lean one of these bad boys in the corner.
Why is it that horrible tools of war and gore can be so stylistically designed? Man, of which I am one, are strange animals indeed.
You don’t get events like this one back east. At least not very often.
We arrived at a point in the program when nothing was going on. Lunch slash break I suppose. Folks with long braids, bells on their legs, and t- shirts lounged around on lawn chairs. We wandered through booths selling beads, feathers, and kitsch.
I’m not sure if anyone at the pow wow was Navajo or not, but my little one had never experienced a Navajo taco. She has now. I’m pretty sure my middle school had no Navajos but we had Navajo tacos on the cafeteria menu at least once a week. I’m paying it forward.
I like being in a place like this. Well, maybe not a place exactly- an event. An event where the sounds and sights aren’t the same as every other day or place.
If you spend enough time going places and doing things you don’t normally go and do, then normal sort of shifts. If normality is displaced life gets interesting. I like interesting.
When the dancing started, when the grand entrance began, it was other worldly. The sounds, the movements, and the colors surrounded everything. There was a pounding constant beat driving below with a high pitched chanting up above and in the middle was colorful swirling motion.
This isn’t history but it is tradition. It was very much a now and not a then event. There is so much of native life that is dead, that is then, that it was nice to be in the middle of something that was now. It was alive. It is good to see things stay alive.