Making a (haunted) house a home

Making a (haunted) house a home
(Shutterstock) Smudging is a common practice in Native cultures to cleanse a house or invite positive spirits.

Liz Gray/Reporter

A humorous story about trying to ‘Native’ the right way

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — This is a story about trying to make sure my house remains un-haunted.

Toward the end of the year, I decided to move after being sick of apartment life, and I’m sorry Okmulgee, but your rent houses aren’t exactly ideal.

I have always wanted to live in the country, I grew up spending my summers in Missouri on my grandparents’ 40-acres of land and that’s where I find my heart when I think of home.

Since I rent, I figured maybe a mobile home plopped in the middle of some acreage would cross my path one day. I waited five years before something of that nature finally appeared.

During an impulsive visit to the various renting websites to find ‘the one,’ a listing seemed to magically materialize.

This place sparked my curiosity from the get-go. The description of this metal building that looked as if it were constructed to house oilrig workers, said: ‘quiet place located in the country, pond in the front yard.’

There were only a few pictures of the inside but from what I seen, the walls looked like they were made of plywood with one wall covered in corrugated metal. “Weird aesthetic choice,” I thought to myself.

But my hipster soul started to picture all the possibilities of interior decoration. Sure the plywood was kind of strange, nothing a few strips of canvas or tapestry wouldn’t be able to fix, I could get real Native and hang some blankets up.

I had to see what this place was about, in the six minutes it had been posted I had already called to set an appointment. It was either going to be hilariously bad or surprisingly good.

First, when I met the owner, she introduced herself as Janet Jackson immediately a good sign, right? No, her first name ain’t baby, it’s Janet. Miss Jackson if you’re nasty.

Come to find out, the building was a duplex and the walls were not made of plywood but raw paneling. It was beautiful, like a modern-time cabin and I signed the lease a week later.

The new house was set up in a week and I was living the cozy country life sipping my green tea with lemon.

I had to remember how to drive on a dirt road again. My poor ‘mom car’ began to look like I escaped the world of Mad Max to pick my kids up from school.

A few weeks went by and I was used to the roads. I started to look around while driving and I remember seeing a blip of color in a small chunk of land right behind my new abode, so the next time I passed I slowed down to see.

Right off the road, a gravestone sat with some artificial flowers placed beside it. I looked further and I seen there were a few more lined up on the sliver of land and realized a graveyard was literally in my backyard.

My immediate reaction was ‘great, my new house is probably haunted or at least there are probably spirits roaming around.’

I almost started to rationalize how it made all the sense in the world. I mean the doormat outside did keep disappearing into the field out front, had to be spirits? Come to find out, it was my neighbor’s gigantic horse of a dog taking it. But it was too late and I started to hype myself up on the supernatural.

That night, I turned off my bedside lamp and started to think about it. I freaked myself out so much I had to flip the light back on for a little bit.

All I could think about was how I needed to cleanse my house. I need to tap into some Native ways for security.

But I didn’t even know where to get sage.

The next day, I travelled to the back area of Mvskoke Media to seek answers from the most traditional people I know, the creative department. (Cue the stomp dance music playing as I pass through the office door.)

Part of me half expected to see Jamie Rolland wrapped up in her Pendleton style blanket ready to guide me like the true Creek she is, instead she was in her work clothes putting orders together for printing. (Lame.)

When I asked about finding sage, she told me she had always used cedar but directed me to a place in Skiatook.

Cedar? When I asked what I needed to do she simply told me to cut a piece and dry it out which sounds easy enough until I realized something.

I had no clue how to identify a cedar tree and a dreadful thought crept up into my mind.

“Oh no…. I’m bad at being a Native.”

My entire life felt like a lie. I’ve always been so proud of my heritage, but now when the time came to keep the honkvs at bay, I felt like an absolute Hvtke.

A quick Google search helped regain my red backbone and as I sat on my couch scanning all the wood in the house wondering if just maybe a sliver of cedar existed I could chip off to burn, a cabinet door or door frame, anything. I put my shoes on and trekked outside.

Looking at the trees in front of the fence that separated my backyard, the discovery that it was lined entirely with cedar trees created elation equivalent to a kid pirate finding a treasure box of chocolate.

But…beyond discovery I didn’t know the process…I decided one more day of ghosts would have to happen.

Some ancestors must have been looking out because the next day, my boyfriend strolled in with a bundle of sage his boss gave him. Mvto.

That night I smoked out the place, my son was waving his hand around and it also was the first time I heard the big horse dog bark because he was not having it with the sage, which makes me believe he’s a skinwalker.

The next morning, I found out I had done the sage wrong, another fail at being Native…great.

My son started to complain about hearing things at night. I got immediately defensive, threw my hands up and told him, “I saged the house, what more do you want?”

So I decided it was time for round two, which meant a special trip to Supernaw’s Oklahoma Indian Supply. Not going to lie, I got a little distracted because there was so much there.

I bought a rabbit fur, a bolo tie and finally some sage. Hopefully I do it right this time.

This article is an expression of my own opinions and does not represent Mvskoke Media or the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

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  • Gary Smith
    March 15, 2019, 12:30 pm

    That’s not how I heard to do it. Are these honkv the spirits of Plains Indians? That might explain why you would need sage as opposed to cedar to drive them out. No need to play the firebug with cedar either just place a sprig over all the windows and doorways openings except one. Leave that one opening unblocked for a week or two so the honkvs can leave then put the final sprig up to block them from returning. You should be able to tell by the feel of the house when the honkvs are actually gone but the week or two should be good if you aren’t completely certain as to whether they’ve left or not. Be sure to ask the cedar for its permission and not take too much from any one tree as if you harm a cedar it can harm you in return. Cedar trees are pretty powerful Medicine so be careful with them. As to ‘stekene you’d better get out the salt and owl feathers as sage just ain’t gonna do the trick…then again if it’s just a dog, or the ‘stelopocke, the salt won’t really help you.

    *This comment is an expression of my own opinion and does not represent the opinion nor imply approval of any honkv, ‘stekene, ‘stelopocke, efv or vcenv.