Clinic Stories

Neshoba County (Part II)

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians occupy a reservation just outside of Philadelphia, MS. Under the leadership of tribal chief, Philip Martin, gambling came to the reservation and Philadelphia became a regional destination. Restaurants and hotels sprouted, employment soared and for the first time I was able to spend the night on the reservation at the casino hotel.

The glitter, lights, noise and liquor soaked revelers held less appeal than the reservation itself. Never before was I emboldened to jog around an Indian reservation. Now as a guest I felt entitled to a self directed tour. The housing was minimalist and the landscaping emphasized a dirt theme mixed with litter, partly from neglect but mainly due to a plethora of yard dogs. As I passed each cinder block shack, another threatening dog would run snarling toward the street. I finally found a quiet road and forgot about being chased.

Away from the houses and along the road was a puppy with his head stuck in a jar. He was running backward, spinning and pushing in an effort to free himself. I stopped, picked him up and tried to work his head free. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a blur with teeth, his mother headed our way at a dead run. I dropped the puppy and ran as fast as I could, yielding to her very persuasive argument. It wasn’t safe to go back. I could only hope the family would find the puppy before it was too late.

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