• Kim Senklip Harvey

The Service at Lee's

I started a weekly writing gathering with slaxts and the first week's assignment was a short essay. Here is what I wrote:

When I was a kid I spent my summers on the rez in the Tshilqot’in. “God’s country” some of the Elders used to say.

I was learning gawdly legends in my communion classes at St. Catherine’s because my mom didn’t want us to get lured into the Moonies. My Pa used to say, “nothing wrong with those 10 commandments” as he’d drop us off at the parish. I’d spend the next hour wondering what he was doing and christ, it was always more fun than this catholic homily.

I’d leave the church by way of my territories, daydreaming about the Tsilhqot’in. The place where the sky gives birth to sand dune mountains and wild horses drink from the crick.

On the land I'd help out with haying, cattle branding and some days my ?Etsi (Grandpa) would take us to Lee’s Corner, an unincorporated gas bar/diner where a worn out bull and a retired rodeo clown lived. Sometimes seven grandchildren would pile into his old collector that he spray painted cobalt blue.

He was a real legend ?Etsi. Once, he spray painted the living room cotton candy pink and didn’t even move the paintings. Granma got so mad, while us ndn grandbabies triumphantly cheered his accomplishment.

At Lee’s, the ceremony would start by ?Etsi ordering a piece of apple pie without ice cream. Then he'd say, “You’re allowed one $1 item.” I’d spend too long trying to decide if I wanted a treat or a toy but it didn’t matter, because the service had already begun.


Anything running?

Ha-ah, ha-ah.


Find any moose?

Earth pause.

Seen the cattle?


Old Slurpie passed.

Da-ah. Da-ah.

Cowboys who were ndn’s composed these Tsilhqot’in congregations and I started learning the relational protocols of my people through unconscious observance. Standing on the old greasy wood planks of Lee’s Corner, wearing my light up LA gear kicks, bearing witness to

?Etsi and our Ancestral descendants, the real teachings of my communion began.

Peace be with you ?Etsi.

Sechay nin chuh nelh ?agut’i (and with you granddaughter)

Deep love and peace to you all, on your distanced communing today,


p.s During the 2017 wildfires Lee's Corner burned to the ground. All that survives are a few abandoned lodging cabins.

You can find out more about my ?Etsi, Maxine Mack, a cowboy hall of famer here. Grandpa passed away in a car accident in 1997, on the corner, at Lee's.