Red Wing’s Son-in-law’s Deer Hides and Other Taxidermy

Buy stuff? Taxidermy? Yes, I did. Some, a Native American woman’s stuff whose income was from the sunroom shop attached to her house. Bought stuff from a retired federal government white-collar stiff who traipsed around the world and whose only relative was helping him get into nursing care – he was in the Middle East. A retired, also going to nursing care, former CARE employee whose living estate sale looked like a spooky movie, but his life was liquidated for his skilled nursing care – he was in Africa. And I would buy it all again, but now – what to do with it?

Feather Art – I always bought something when we drove by the shop of the late Miss June.

There is stuff from countries in Africa, Philippine Islands, and the Americas. That is, what is left. Many things do go back to ashes, as in ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Many things do not last and certainly might not survive being packed and jostled and shipped.

There are feathers and antlers and some made into creatures. There is fish and fowl, all paint and varnish and banged up and scuffed mountings. There are warm rugs for the floor and walls and soft rugs to sit on and cover with.

Red Wing, June Custalow, has passed now but I will never regret buying stuff to support her. The shop of her things had been all but cleaned out of the clay and stone and painting, art and handwork but the place was loaded with taxidermy, dusty taxidermy.

The land of the Native American Reserves in America, even the now recognized Virginia Tribes, are sometimes a bubble of a Native world, a rural, serene, refuge from “America.” But there was not a lot of business around the Virginia back country, and there wasn’t a lot of life left, or strength in hands, to mold the clay to make the shop’s stock.

The Virginia Tribes:

The bill “…grants federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes. (U.S. Congressional) Rep. Wittman introduced the bill in February of 2017 and today, nearly one year later, it is receiving the president’s signature. “Today we celebrate a decade of hard work. Jan 29, 2018…”

500 years late.

The white tail deer pelt was there in Miss June’s shop. Her son-in-law said all the money for the pelt would go to Miss June. The pelt has the mark where the bullet entered its right side, shoulder. The meat was eaten. It was shot for the food, not for the pelt or the lamp stand. The handiwork needed buyers.

For the life of me I forget Miss June’s son-in-law’s name, but he shot the deer and they ate it. Of course everything about the deer became… something. A head on someone’s wall, a pelt on my wall, feet standing on a table topped with a lamp, and meat in their freezer. This is not some trophy for the elite rich, or anything for the elite rich to sneer at.

Too many of our advanced, educated, a wee bit arrogant in their enlightened-ness, elites today, forget we are less than 100 years from when some people got around in a horse and buggy, if they were wealthy. Much of the earth’s people will live and die without any opportunity for education. Not kill food to eat? Are you crazy? Oh yes, right, rural life cannot count. And ok vegans – in my next life I will do better. In this life I am barely hanging on.

Now that we are moving, what to do with the contents of our Yurt has spurred controversy. I have no excuses, no shame and no regrets.

The Facebook page for the shop of Miss June is still up, but not maintained.

Miss June has a memorial on Findagrave

June’s daughter who died shortly before her mother also has a memorial and the feather arrangement in the photograph there, was made by her mother Miss June, Red Wing.

Mattaponi Indian Reservation Baptist Cemetery
West Point, King William County, Virginia, USA, findagrave, Added by:  B Mowen on 22 May 2018

So much to learn and to explore!

Feature: Meet the Mattaponi

Originally Published December 15, 2019 by Virginia Water Trails

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