Gumbo Mud

Father Hoffmann shared his experience with his first spring on the reservation, including his first experience with “Gumbo Mud.”

“By Easter Sunday, the snow was gone. We had water everywhere, and the once hard soil had turned to greasy mud. I was always eager in those days, and I took the blessed occasion to drive down to the Ashland Indian camp to visit the sick people who couldn’t get to church. Since it was Easter, I had on a spotless robe.

“I went from tent to tent and to three or four dilapidated log cabins. Everyone was very friendly and kept smiling and smiling. I congratulated myself on what a good job I’d done. When it was time to leave, I jumped into the car. All the Cheyenne, young and old, came out to see me off. At least that’s what I thought they were doing.

“I only got about a third of the way up to the main dirt road. I had to drive around the deep wagon ruts; and before I knew it, my wheels started spinning. I kept hitting the gas, but there was not traction at all. Great globs of gumbo flew up and covered the windshield so I couldn’t see out. I opened the door and jumped into ankle-deep gumbo. After a few minutes my shoes felt like heavy lead and the hem of my robe, now weighted down with sticky gumbo all around, made walking difficult. I felt like I was sinking in quicksand. Meanwhile, the Cheyenne onlookers stood in absolute silence until, unable to move, I grinned sheepishly and shrugged my shoulders. Seeing that, they lost their stoic composure and doubled over with laughter.”

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