I open the letter.
We just got back from camping at Bear Lake for a whole week. All of our cousins from Dad's side were there. Oh, did I tell you Jana had a huge birthday bash on Antelope Island? There was volleyball, BBQ, and hot, hot guys. I miss you. Maybe when you get back...
I crumble the letter and toss it in the pigpen. Here I am, a prisoner of my uncle's pig farm for the summer while my sister lives up life without me.
"You'll get $200 at the end of the summer," Mom had promised me.
I've done the math. For all the time I have and will put in, that will be a dollar an hour.
"I don't want to go," I had cried.
"Then, maybe you shouldn't have shoplifted," Mom had replied. "Carlie, I am scared. You are going down a dark path. You won't do your chores anymore. You are full of anger. You lack gratitude. You are failing school. I don't know what else to do with you. Maybe my brother can teach you about work ethic, and you can gain humility by cleaning pig cages all day."
And that is why I am here.
I walk outside to get some fresh air and to cool my anger down.
I sit under a Juniper Tree and cry. As I wallow in self-pity, my hand plays in the sand.
Ouch! Something pricks me. I pull out of the dirt a reddish-black arrowhead. My uncle lives in Southern Utah in a town called Kanarraville. We always find arrowheads here. This is Piute land. I rub the edges of the arrowhead. At least I have something to bring back and make my sister jealous over.
Suddenly, the arrowhead spins on my palm.
What the heck!
In fear, I throw the arrowhead on the ground. To my horror, it bounces off the dirt and lands back in my hand. It vibrates with energy as it points to the east. I walk in the direction it points, and the vibration pulsates in my hand. I turn to the west and walk. The arrowhead lies still in my hand without any movement. I turn back to the east, and again it vibrates like crazy.
Curiosity overrides my fear, and I walk in the direction of the arrowhead. Twenty minutes later, I find myself entering a majestic slot canyon.
I know I shouldn't hike in this canyon alone. After all, I am only fifteen, but this arrowhead seems to want to show me something.
My heart races. I know what I will find. The Montezuma Hoard. Rumor says some Aztecs moved it here to keep it from Cortez. My mind races as I think of all the things I will buy with my treasure.
The arrowhead leads me up an offshoot of the trail, and I find myself in an alcove—-high slates of red and orange rock tower above me.
My muscles tighten. Who is here with me? Out of a small crevice, a mighty Piute walks towards me. The arrowhead flies out of my hand and into his.
"I am Chief Quanarrah," he says. "You are David Slate's niece, are you not?"
I just look at him. Is he real? Is he alive? He almost looks transparent.
"Your uncle has been good to my progenitors. For that, I will give you a gift."
The Montezuma Hoard!
"Look," he says.
I gaze into a small pool of standing water. Chief Quanarrah swirls a stick in it. As the water settles, I see a tribe of Indians. They are wearing breechcloths, buckskin shirts, and moccasins. I watch this tribe as they travel the land.
I see their hardships and wars with other tribes and eventually white men. I see the women in heavy labor. They work as hard as the men, sometimes harder. I see the tribe freeze in the winter and bake in the summer. I observe them raise children and bury children. I see tragedy and joy. I see it all—-generations of women who seem to have nothing in materials compared to me.
"Open your hand," Cheif Quanarrah says when the images stop. He places the arrowhead in my hand.
"Why did you show me that?" I ask.
"That is for you to make meaning out of." And before my eyes, the chief dissipates into thin air.
On my way back to the farm, I contemplate the purpose of the images I saw. And then my mind opens up.
"I am blessed! I have it all!" I exclaim as the meaning hits me. Joy radiates within.
Those Piute women worked harder than any woman I know. The example I learn from them surpasses all the treasure from the Aztecs. I will use the Piute’s ethics and make them mine. I will find gratitude in all I have, for the Piute had so little, and I have so much.
I will learn from the history of our land to make myself a better person.