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The Legend of the Uri Nation
Back in 1804, as Meriwether Lewis and William Clark forged their historic journey toward the Pacific Coast, they frequently came into contact with various Indian tribes along the way, a fact that certainly is well documented. However, the recent discovery of artifacts linked to Lewis and Clark's expedition conclusively show that as they meandered along the Ohio River, they encountered a small tribe of Native Americans whose existence - up until now - was but a rumor. Thanks to many, many hours of research along with countless hours devoted to the translation of a seemingly endless supply of documents (all on the part of the author - bless his heart), the pieces are now starting to fall into place regarding just how much this tribe affected L & C's journey. So sit back, relax, have a cold drink or two, and prepare to become enlightened on just how Uri Nation impacts each and every one of us - often several times daily...
It was nearing the end of May, the blossoms were on the cherry trees, and famed explorers Lewis and Clark were now a few weeks into their journey. Having just left what would one day be known as Pittsburgh, they presumably had hopes of getting a jump on the Memorial Day traffic. At the time, locals referred to the bustling young city simply as the 'Pitts', reportedly because construction of the city's sanitary sewer system had not been initiated yet. In any case, things were going well (as far as expeditions go) and when the group came to a large clearing along the river, they decided to break for lunch. The area was everything they had hoped for: peaceful and quiet.
Well, perhaps too quiet.
Before Bill Clark had taken one bite from the PBJ his mom, Petula, had packed for him only weeks earlier, the entire group found itself surrounded by an agitated Indian tribe, many with arrows locked and loaded, and taking aim on the small entourage. In fact, it has been rumored for years that one of the (apparently trigger-happy) braves said, "Go ahead - make my day", but that claim has never been substantiated. Anyway, after about a twenty minute walk, the captives soon found themselves face to face with the grand leader of the Uri Nation Chiefdom, who went by the name of Yellowstream.
The aged Indian chief stared intently at the two captives for a few moments before speaking.
"So, why white man walk on land sacred to people of Uri Nation?"
Lewis stepped forward, nodded, bowed his head, saluted - he was trying to cover all the etiquette angles here - and extended his hand to the chief.
"If you'll allow me to introduce myself. I am Meriwether Lewis..."
The chief ignored the attempted handshake.
"'Meriwether' long name. Too long for Chief's limited grasp of English. Chief call you 'Mary' for short."
Hoping to nip this in the bud before it got legs, Lewis held up his hands in protest.
"I'd prefer you didn't - I get razzed enough about my name as it is. Where I come from, 'Mary' is a woman's name."
The chief sighed. "Funny. Same thing where Chief come from, too, Mary." He then turned and motioned towards Clark. "Who other paleface?"
Clark stepped forward but - based upon the chief's rejection a few moments earlier - didn't offer to shake the ancient warrior's hand. "The name's William Clark, your eminence."
Another tribesman who had been standing to the right of Chief Yellowstream - and who appeared even older than the chief, grabbed the chief's arm and hurriedly whispered something into chief's ear. The leader nodded and addressed the two captives.
"My brother, Weakstream, who also part-time witchdoctor-slash-fortune teller, say names, 'William and Mary', very catchy, and predict that in future, institution of higher learning named after pair of palefaces."
Lewis and Clark looked at each other and shrugged. Clark motioned towards Weakstream. "I know I'm going to regret asking, but how did 'Weakstream' get his name?"
Chief Yellowstream looked at his brother, winced, and murmured, "Weakstream suffer indignity of enlarged prostate."
Clark rolled his eyes. "I was right about regretting the question."
Lewis couldn't help but let out a quick laugh. This did not escape the attention of Yellowstream, who walked over to Lewis and removed the explorer's coonskin cap. The chief removed his Bowie knife from its sheath and pressed the blade to the now even paler paleface's face.
"Paleface forget who holding cards at this rodeo. Paleface keep up with stand-up routine - paleface soon become candidate for Hairclub for Men commercial."
Sensing that this might be a good time to intervene, Clark edged over and slid between Lewis and Yellowstream.
"You know, Chief, all this talk about Uri Nation has me needing to use the restroom. It probably is the dumbest question ever in a land called 'Uri Nation', but I really gotta go. What do you guys use for a bathroom around here?"
The chief pointed to a solitary teepee that was mounted on the side of a hill, and which appeared to be in considerable disrepair.
"Use pee-pee teepee over there. "That temporary potty until construction on ADA-compliant pee-pee teepee finished."
Clark grimaced. "Jeez, Chief, that looks like it's going to collapse any minute. You can't be too proud of that eyesore."
Chief Yellowstream grabbed Clark by the lapels of his shirt and drew him near.
"This just between you, me, and fencepost, but Weakstream use illegal immigrants to build potty. Squaws in tribe make big joke, call it 'Cheapie pee-pee teepee'. Bring much shame on Uri Nation, especially when other brother, who big deal writer for Tribal paper, write scathing editorial about 'Cheapie pee-pee teepee'. Media have field day at expense of Yellowstream and Uri Nation."
"Wow...What's that brother's name?"
"One of these days I will know better than to ask."
"Learning curve for paleface pretty big."
Once nature's call had been answered, the two returned to the modest village, and nightfall was setting in. After joining the Uri Nation for a generous helping of Skyline Chili - they were close to Cincinnati after all - Lewis, Clark, and various members of the Uri hierarchy gathered around the campfire. Yellowstream signaled to a young squaw, who then disappeared into a teepee, but then reappeared with a long pipe, which she presented to the chief.
Lewis, a bachelor, was having a hard time keeping his eyes off of the beautiful young woman. This did not escape Yellowstream's attention.
"Time to smoke peace pipe. Lewis, make mental note that spelling is p-e-a-c-e....Not p-i-e-c-e as in 'piece-of-tail' pipe, if paleface know what Chief mean."
Somewhat embarrassed that his feelings for the young maiden were so obvious, Lewis stammered and said, "Yeah...Peace, uh..."
Yellowstream glared at Lewis. "No! Not pizza! Me Chief Yellowstream - not Papa John. Time to take paleface eyes off of daughter Jett."
Now it was time for Clark to re-enter the conversation. "Wait a minute. You're telling me that your daughter's name is Jettstream?"
The grizzled warrior smiled. "No. 'Jett' just middle name. Full name really Joan Jettstream ."
"Wow. You have a very interesting family - the names in particular. But please explain how 'Uri Nation' came to be..."
The old Native American took an especially long drag on the peace pipe, and held it in for quite awhile before finally exhaling.
"Many moon ago, when grandfather - himself a very tall warrior - his name was 'Upstream' - settled on this land to raise family and lead fellow braves, thought he had perfect name for tribe when he came up with 'Cherokee'. But guess what happened, paleface?"
Lewis thought he had it all figured out. "I know! The Cherokee name had already been taken, and to stave off a potential inter-tribal conflict, you relented and dropped the name."
Chief Yellowstream shook his head. "No way, Jose. Turn out Chrysler Corporation using name for line of Jeep motor cars company selling. Tribe not afford go head-to-head with corporate lawyer. Corporate lawyer play for keeps. So, as paleface might say, 'The Man' stick it to us. Try to keep us down."
Again, Lewis and Clark looked at each other and nodded in agreement as the chief continued with his tale.
"Anyhow, Upstream eventually get over frustration of Chrysler setback. One night, Upstream come home after annual homecoming parade, which include consumption of much firewater, and see many brave relieving selves in street. Upstream say 'Jeez...Upstream stumble upon land of urination'. And - viola - Uri Nation born."
"Wasn't there any negative feedback about the name choice?"
"At first, maybe little objection. But soon, name 'Uri Nation' become household word. "Uri Nation Festival' become monthly event - increased tourism great boost for local economy - many brave prosper - help ensure Upstream win many re-election for tribal chief in landslide."
Soon, Lewis and Clark had resumed their journey, anxious to reach the Pacific coast. Yet, every time they paused along the way to take a bathroom break, they couldn't help but think back and marvel at the Legend of the Uri Nation, and how it had helped the tribe get a "leg up" on the competition.