larry p. madden | yl voice | july 2018
“Path of the Turquoise Warrior”by Vicky Meawasige Reed is a memoir that makes for a poignant trip. It's a story of love found and then love lost and also one grounded in the healing brought upon by telling the ending chapter of the life of the author's father, Louis (Louie) Meawasige. Having lost her mother many years earlier, Reed strives to cope with her pillar of strength as it tumbles down. A long-distance love and separation are no help to support the mechanisms of her trials and the responsibility of family with the impending death of a loved one requires readers to empathize.
Working hard to support her family in Canada while her husband and daughters are far away at home in Wisconsin, her angst and apprehension build as she shoulders the full weight of responsibility of family and the impending death of a loved one. Her self-inflicted wounds are exposed as the time in her hometown extends and her strolls down memory lane become more frequent. The daily vigils at the hospital, a tortuous love-driven duty, are endured without her most important critics. Missing her husband and daughters, combined with a heartfelt duty to her father, takes Reed to emotional extremes.
The shadow of cultural guilt surfaces as the Ojibwe language is used to comfort Louis. Never learning the Anishinaabemowin leaves Reed outside some of the intimate moments her father shared with old friends and family. This is very common problem with Indians both in Canada and the United States. Our language loss is at epidemic proportions among Indian people. The shame of racism, assimilation and the “cultural melting pot” adage sold to our ancestors as the modern way have all contributed to this loss.
Mrs. Reed lost more than her language — she lost her first love, her base. Like all animals, with the exception of a few herd animals, the young are often driven off. Reed's initial break with her Canadian roots was traumatic but necessary for her ability to reseed and flower. This happens to some degree in many families and it is always painful, sometimes leaving lasting emotional scars. But just as Reed was brought up with love, so she had it to give. Her family is living proof, having had the pleasure of meeting her husband having energetic young daughters who have dreams of their own.
Her Canadian family beliefs run just as deeply and the patriarch of the family left a lasting living legacy for her to be proud of. Pay Louis Meawasige the honor of accompanying him and his daughter Vicky on his final steps on his earthly path. Buy this book and walk the path of the Turquoise Warrior.
Larry P. Madden (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Wisconsin) was born and raised in the Sturgeon Bay area. A recent graduate of CMN, he enjoys the Powwow trail and strives to maintain balance on the red road.