The informant grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. Here, he tells the story of an old chieftain from the American Indian Omaha Tribe who encounters a witch after his wife’s passing.
N: There’s the Salt Witch. There’s a chief– I don’t know if he’s of the Omaha Tribe or not, cause there are some stories of chiefs of the Omaha Tribe. But, there’s a chieftain who lost his wife and he basically, like, shut down because his wife was dead. I don’t remember how his wife died. She just passed away, or something?
Um, but he retreated into his hut and the other members of the tribe were like “We gotta vote a new chief in. This guy’s doing shit all”. So one day he just came out of his hut, like, full war dress on adn just fucking leaves. And he, like, comes back a week or something later with a shitload of scalps, like heads, and a buncha salt.
And the story– like the scalps are like, “Okay. He can still kill white people. Still strong” like whatever. But like, the salt part is he told a story about one night he was trying to sleep and he heard a ruckus. So he went out and he saw a young woman, who was being held down by an old crone about to chop her head off. And the chieftain ran and buried his tomahawk into the old crone’s head. Saved the young woman, and the young woman looked up at him and had his wife’s face. But then, when he reached down to grab her, she, like, disappeared, leaving a buncha salt behind. And he sorta scooped it all up.
The informant grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. Here, he explains why a local creek from his home town was dubbed “Rawhide” Creek.
N: There’s a bunch of Native American–Native Indian– stories. Those aren’t technically my culture but– there’s a creek called Rawhide Creek. That supposedly has that name because a young man a long time ago, maybe the 1800s? I couldn’t tell ya. He set out to kill as many Indians as he could. And he killed a young girl. So her family, uh, to get revenge tracked him down. Found, like, the group he was a part of and said “You all die or you give him up” and they immediately gave him up. And so they took him to the creek, beat him to death, and skinned him. And there’s where you get the name Rawhide Creek.
Thoughts: The informant also told a similar story as to why a local bridge was named “Heartbeat Bridge”. It seems that in this region, it’s important to remember tragedies, and in order to do that, the areas that tragedies happened in are named after them.
The informant is a 67-year-old Mexican-American woman who is a reverend. She is known for tailoring wedding receptions to couples from different cultural backgrounds, and in her words “taking old traditions and giving them new meaning.” Many consider her to be the “guru of new wedding traditions.”
While out to breakfast while the informant was visiting me in Los Angeles, I asked her to describe a ritual or tradition that was commonly incorporated in weddings where either the bride or groom has an American Indian cultural background. She described a ritual called “the tying of the hands.”
“The tying of the hands is a lovely tradition. The families provide a traditional rope, which sometimes has a strip of material representing their tribe. I bind the couples’ hands together with the rope, and so they vow to be seen by the community as one. Usually the couple likes me to follow this by saying the Apache blessing. Christians, and secular weddings seem to like it as well. The start of it goes, ‘Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.’”
While the Apache blessing is rooted in American Indian tradition and the tying of the knot may incorporate a bride or groom’s tribal heritage, the combination of the two can be used for a wedding ceremony between two individuals of any background. The Apache blessing in particular is extremely transferrable because it makes no reference to God or any higher power, instead focusing solely on the positive, heartwarming implications of marriage for the bride and the groom. The tying of the hands serves as a physical representation of the couple’s union, followed by the description of the details of this union in the blessing.