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August 18, 2020: Day 5 of Quarantine

Yesterday I received my oximeter ($29.95 on Amazon). Even though I am not exhibiting symptoms my oxygen level could still be low due to COVID. My good friend and journalist extraordinaire, Inez Russell Gomez, urged me to buy one after I tested positive.

After reading the instructions on how to use it, twice, I couldn’t find the instructions on how to read it. Numerous google searches later, I figured out that my blood oxygen level is fine. But I took a picture of it anyway and sent it to my editorial board member Teresa Trumbly Lamsam, Osage. You see, her son Layton is a neurosurgeon working on his residency at Yale University. She concurred; my levels were good.

My temperature today is 98.7 and 98.8. I want to point out that on the day I found out that I had COVID, my temperature was 99.2. Not high enough to warrant a test under any other circumstance, but I thought it was a sign of things to come. Also, that first day I felt achy like a cold was coming on. My nose was runny, and my throat was slightly itchy. But we had just mowed the day before and spent 10 hours driving, so I assumed it was allergies and from being cooped up in the van. Those symptoms only lasted a day. While it may seem that I have been handed a lucky deck, I know this virus affects everyone differently and is deadly.

For example, in April, when the virus was reaching its peak on the East Coast, Teresa’s son and daughter-in-law Sarah, who is also a registered nurse, were seeing the horrors of the virus and what it did to thousands in New York. That’s when she told a handful of people, me included, that she had contracted the virus. Her experience isn’t mine to tell, but I will say this, the news she was giving us every day caused Jason and I to join hands in prayer and pray for her life. 

Last night as I watched the Democratic National “Unconventional Convention” (that still makes me laugh), I listened to the stories of the havoc this virus has created in our country. Chris Cuomo on CNN, who also had the virus, spoke about the “long haulers.” I already knew what he was talking about because Teresa is also suffering as a long hauler. These are people who contracted the virus, beat it but are still experiencing symptoms. Long haulers are still experiencing brain fog, fatigue, achy muscles, depression, shortness of breath and a host of other symptoms.

This virus is not a joke and it’s not a conspiracy. Unfortunately, I live in a red state, a red county and a red town. It is vastly unpopular to wear a mask in my community, and if you publicly advocate for it you are vilified. Just ask my friend Addie Roanhorse, a member of the board of education for Pawhuska Public Schools. After she voted for masks in the schools, community members turned on her and it was ugly. I just don’t get it.

I heard a Black woman recently say, “My whole life has been a protest.” I can completely sympathize. Try being the minority, within the minority. Since this virus is impacting brown and black people at higher rates, and killing them at higher rates, I cannot express how important it is to wear a mask.

For the brief time we were in Colorado, EVERYONE had on a mask. They were even wearing them in their cars. We stopped to get gas in Georgetown and Jason got out to pump. He didn’t have on his mask. In Oklahoma, if you’re outside, no one tends to wear a mask. We got stared at, hard. I quickly handed him his mask, because once I looked around there were signs everywhere to wear your mask. He put it on, and we went about our business. When we got to the picnic area we had lunch at, even outside, everyone had on a mask. It was normal, it was fine. No one looked mad or upset. No one complained about their civil liberties being taken away. It felt good to be in that atmosphere and Colorado is one of the states that have the virus under control. I’ve always told Jason the only reason why we live in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is because I’m Osage and that’s our capital. I’m not about to leave my people, it’s where I belong.

I think I may have figured out where I got the virus. I was handed cash during a transaction and then that person tested positive. I let my guard down and didn’t hand sanitize after receiving the cash. I know better. It all fits within the timeframe of when I got sick. I am not blaming anyone because they didn’t know they were sick, but it’s a reminder of how we need to stay vigilant. Even if we know the person, even if they’re family. Wash your hands, hand sanitize, wear your mask, physical distance, and stay safe. 


August 19, 2020: Day 6 of Quarantine

Spoke to my contact tracer today. I have a huge headache every morning when I wake up. That’s definitely not normal. I also have slight aches in my neck and shoulders, and I feel a tad bit feverish in the morning for about 30 minutes. This is when my temperature is either 99 or 98.9. However, by noon and the rest of the day I feel normal. I do have a runny nose from time to time throughout the day, but other than that I feel fine. The contact tracer said these are definitely symptoms, albeit mild. 

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Since I’ve been quarantined in my room and disinfecting everything in sight, I have been cleared to come out of quarantine on Sunday morning – as long as I remain fever free for 24 hours beforehand. Saturday will be my last full day of quarantine. This also moves up the quarantine period for my husband and kids. They were supposed to be in quarantine until Sept. 4 but now they will be finished by Aug. 29, the day after my 41st birthday. 

I told my 7-year-old the good news first, he’s taken up playing with his toys outside my door. Occasionally I can hear him breathing, peering through the crack where the door meets the wall. I’ll gently tell him he needs to go downstairs and play. I think I miss Charles the most, but I don’t tell anyone. 

Last night I felt so good. I went for a walk. My husband came with me and we stayed on opposite sides of the road while wearing our masks. It may be a bit overkill, but better safe than sorry. We like walking in the evenings together. It’s our time to talk about the kids, talk about our day. I look forward to his opinions and he looks forward to mine. We’re exact opposites on so many things and issues that it’s nice to have his honest opinion when I’m making decisions. 

We live one block from the Osage Nation campus. Our walk takes us past the Welcome Center, past two ponds, the Osage Nation Museum (the oldest tribally operated museum in the country), the WahZhaZhi Health Center, the executive branch building and we turn and walk around the old superintendent’s house. On this part of the walk I make sure to walk on the opposite side of the street from the house and I never look at it (it’s haunted). We head home walking past the Bureau of Indian Affairs Osage Agency office, the Osage Million Dollar Inn, and my favorite part of the trip, the statue of Chief Claremore. 

There is soooo much history about Chief Claremore, also known as Arrow Going Home. He is known by many names. More than 6-feet-tall and known to be a great orator. I enjoy reading about him and his family in John Joseph Mathews’ “The Osages.” I was re-reading one of the more interesting stories about his son today, Bad Tempered Buffalo, also known as Mad Buffalo. He was known for his savagery and skill on the battlefield. But it was when he unknowingly, or maybe not so unknowingly, killed and beheaded by U.S. Major Curtis Wellborne in 1823, his story becomes legendary. 

When I read Mathews’ work, and how he describes our old ways and our people in the 1700s to 1800s, it’s easy to believe. I know there are those in our tribe who say his book is lies, but I have a feeling it’s all true. Call it intuition.

At the time Bad Tempered Buffalo killed Major Wellborne, we were seeing heinous acts being done to our people. But most of all, we were losing our “brothers.” We were completely immersed in nature, the rituals we performed, the ceremonies, the prayers, they all involved animals, the four elements, the sun, the moon. The spiritual connection we had with these animals is amazing and it makes me sad that we don’t have these kinships anymore. 

In “The Osages,” Mathews describes the sequence of events that leads to Bad Tempered Buffalo’s surrender and how the U.S. Army had been preparing to wage war on the Osage. From letters written by Army personnel and missionaries at that time, they describe how 500 Osage warriors brought Bad Tempered Buffalo and five other warriors to Cantonment Gibson for surrender. One of the Osages (Panther clan) escaped in the night and the other five were taken to Little Rock, Arkansas. Three were acquitted, but Bad Tempered Buffalo and Little Eagle That Gets What He Wants were sentenced to die by hanging on December 21, 1824. 

The agent of the Osage at the time, Alexander McNair, wrote to President James Monroe and said it was the general sentiment of the soldiers and the “better class of white men” that the Osages should not be executed. While in prison, Bad Tempered Buffalo tried to commit suicide. 

On March 21, 1825, President John Quincy Adams pardoned Bad Tempered Buffalo and Little Eagle That Gets What He Wants. 

“Mad Buffalo and Little Eagle, the two Indians who were condemned to death for the murder of Major Wellborne and others in November 1823 have been pardoned by the President, and set at liberty. The magnanimity with which these Indians gave themselves up, to save their tribe, was not inferior to the famous self devotion of certain citizens of Calais, when that place capitulated to Edward the Third.” – Niles’ Register of July 9, 1825

Shannon Shaw Duty: 'Quarantine adventures' (Day 1 and 2)
Shannon Shaw Duty: 'Quarantine adventures' (Day 3 and 4)

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Shannon Shaw Duty, Osage, is the editor of the Osage News. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s in Journalism and a master’s in Legal Studies, Indigenous Peoples Law. She currently resides in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, with her husband and six children.