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  • Almost Too Much for the Average Indian
  • Pearl Denetclaw Daniel-Means (bio)

It was a balmy September afternoon in the Madrid–Barajas Airport. The anticipation of my first visit to the Mediterranean was terribly exciting. The thought of the delicately moist, slightly salty breeze off the blue sea made my mouth water. My husband, who routinely kicked up his already fast pace a notch by simply entering an airport, was in full swing, pushing a much overloaded airport cart with our more-than-needed luggage. What were we thinking? Oh well, nothing made sense those days—we were high on love. The sounds of Latin languages flowed about—Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Such warm languages seemed hardly a distraction as they rang almost poetically in the distance. I was on foreign ground and prepared to inhale it all.

As we began to navigate to the shuttle plane that would drop us at our Malaga destination where my husband’s longtime friend, brother, and fellow artist Gines would be waiting to welcome us to his home-land, I found myself almost jogging to keep up with my 6’1”, strappingly handsome husband’s no-nonsense athletic stride. Dressed in black, signature waist-length braid ties flying, he approached the Malaga gate, paused, turned to me, and uttered, “Almost too much for the average Indian!” I offered a spontaneous giggle and responded, “Lucky for me you’re not the average Indian.” It was the perfect intro for one being thrust into the completely unknown yet fulfilling, complicated, exhilarating life of the most famous American Indian of our time.

For the first eight months of our marriage, Russell didn’t accept [End Page 8] any engagements. When I inquired about this, his reply was he wanted to get to know me and I needed to know him. As I share this, I am reminded of one of our beautiful customs: before initiating business, or anything meaningful for that matter, we would take the time to get acquainted with each other, which could take hours or even days. When you take time to get to know another human being, it is less likely that there might be any type of unethical behavior or mal intent. Intuitively, he knew the importance of my security in our relationship as I embarked on this unique path we would now share.

The mornings were Russell’s favorite time of the day. Most mornings, he rose with the Morning Star, between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. He would walk outside, face east to offer his morning prayer, return to our bed, and gently brush my hair. Not a word would be spoken as he did this lovingly. We know hair is sacred, for it holds memory. After that humble exchange we were both in a good place to greet the day.

I would make coffee or tea, and we would begin our day. After his first cup of what he termed “lawsuit hot” coffee, he would inquire, “My Lady Love, what’s on my agenda today?” I quickly realized this is how he kept from being overwhelmed. He possessed the ability to live in the moment each day. This was also how he was able to be incredibly present and effective in the “now.” My job was to organize our life so he could focus on the issues at hand on any given day.

It was in our early years of marriage that I realized Russell didn’t want to know what his schedule entailed until the day he needed to travel. He also asked me to schedule his out-of-town business on the weeks when my then-thirteen-year-old son was with me. He was adamant about my son needing to have his routine and life with his mother as much as possible given the circumstances. I would often put Russell on a plane with a folder in his turquoise Pendleton briefcase outlining any and all details and documents he might need, including his South Dakota pardon. If he was traveling to Canada, we had to arrange for an international lawyer to meet him at customs, as they were the most grueling. The Canadians...


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pp. 8-13
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