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A Good Book: “Crying Wind” by Linda Davison Stafford

It has been a few years since I read this book, but it is one I recommend to my daughter who is interested in her Indian heritage.  My family heritage is full of cowboys and Indians.  For several generations, my family has been from Oklahoma which used to be called Indian Territory, and when I read this book, I could completely relate. It is also a story of an Indian girl being converted to Christianity, and I can relate to that too.

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When I was in high school, I used to go and visit with my great grandmother who lived next door to my grandmother in Holdenville, Oklahoma. My great grandmother was 100% Cherokee. She married an Englishman, so my grandmother was a half breed.  When I went to visit my great grandmother, she was so old that she thought I was my mother.  She had so many interesting stories to tell! When I read this book, I could hear echos of my great grandmother. I also related because I had a group of uncles who were very much like Crying Winter’s uncles in the book.

man wearing cowboy hat
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My great grandmother told me that before she became a Christian, she didn’t understand how important Christianity was, but my great grandfather did.  She said in the beginning, when he went to church, she would go after him with a bull whip and make him come home.  The church met across the street from where they lived, and my great grandfather would sit on the porch during worship hours, and the church would leave the doors open so he could hear.  My great grandmother also told me that she taught herself to read using the Bible, and she did eventually become a Christian. After she died, I was going through some of her things trying to organize them and figure out what to do with them with my mother, and my mother found a diary of a Methodist preacher that was extremely interesting.  The Methodist preacher was baptizing people through immersion for the remission of their sins just the way the people in the church of Christ do.

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In the book, Crying Wind, when the girl decides to become a Christian, one of her uncles comes after her with a bullwhip.  I was amazed to read the story because of what my great grandmother had told me that she did.  I talked to a historian later who specialized in Indian history, and she said that a story like my great grandmother had told me was a very common story in Indian families.  Many of them opposed Christianity, and many of them used bullwhips on one another.

My grandfather used to have bullwhip, but he only used it in jest.  I never saw him actually hit anyone with it.  he thought it was funny to chase the grand kids and scare them with the whip. My grandfather was a cowboy, and there is a big debate about his heritage.  When my daughter tried to do a search of her ancestors, the lady who ran the archives where my daughter was searching said his grandmother was searched more than anyone else, that everyone was interested in her. My grandfather was proud of her because she took the Run at the border alone with a bunch of kids, and her picture hung in the corner of his living room. He was part white and part Indian, that’s all I know for sure, and he also liked his bullwhip, but only played with it.

woman wearing red and black feather hat
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In the book, Crying Wind went to her grandmother’s house where she grew up, and her uncles showed up.  It really reminded me of staying at my grandmother’s house, and some of my uncles coming around.  However, I actually felt like the story was historical because her uncles spent their time drunk because they didn’t know where they fit in society.  Some of my uncles liked to drink a lot too, but they all figured out where they fit. I heard people saying things about my uncles like “That group sure does like their fire water.”  However, many of them have become Christians at this point too and stopped so much drinking. Christianity is the key.  In Oklahoma, there are many alcohol treatment centers for the Indians, but my family has no role number from the Indian role, so they wouldn’t be going there because no one ever put their name on the Indian role in my family.  There used to be enough prejudice against Indians, and if an Indian could pass as white, they did, and they wouldn’t want to sign that Indian role. As far as the ones who destroyed everything by drinking too much, Christianity is the key to putting lives together.

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In the book, Crying Wind, Christianity helped Crying Wind find her place and grounded her, and after that, it helped her uncles too.  Christianity has been the salvation of my family too.  My great grandmother told me that my grandmother had not been taught enough to become a Christian because of her own early years of not understanding, and that is why my grandmother didn’t become a Christian, but in her old age, my grandmother finally did become a Christian.  One of my aunts liked to argue, and used to go argue with her grandfather, my great grandfather, about Christianity because she thought it was fun, and she ended up converting herself, and her influence has helped the rest of the family enormously, and she also converted my grandmother. Christianity has changed who we are as a family. There are several missionaries in the family now. When Linda Davison Stafford wrote her book, she helped the faith of a lot of people too because from what I understand, she toured the country talking to churches because of telling her conversion story in the book “Crying Wind.” I recommend this book to anyone who is Indian or part Indian to understand better who they are, and I recommend it to all Christians as an inspiring story.

 

 

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