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Grandpa’s Tee-Pee



Grandpa was born – half Irish; half Dakota Sioux

Great Grandmother kept a teepee in the backyard

Great Grandfather kept a bottle filled with accounts of battles-

It is said his company left Fort Sisseton to count the dead; the dead

Custer never counted on –


Grandpa was a half breed; half Indian; half Irish

Grandma said that Grandpa’s Sioux mother would rub whiskey on his gums

to stop the pain of teething – 

In the late forties – Grandpa left South Dakota, took his family

off the reservation; headed for Chicago –

he heard Chicago had a large Irish population


Mother’s skin tone complemented her thick black hair –

She was Irish; she was Scandinavian; she was an American Indian

My Polish aunt said –” your mother never had a chance”

It wasn’t cool to be Indian in the fifties –

The Irish were accepted in Chicago; she

was Irish; she was an Indian


Grandpa’s gums still caused him pain;

Mother went to a mental hospital; I am Polish;

I am Irish; I am Dakota Sioux – I am light skinned

Grandpa would watch us when dad worked; he

drove us uptown – he parked in front of the TeePee

we would sit and wait for – for hours


Grandpa died; mom died –

the Indian wars ended



copyrighted 2008