The call came while Lydia flipped her grandchildren’s pancakes. Lydia glanced at the call ID and frowned as she looked at her treaty husband’s number. “Hello?”, “Oh, it’s you, Oakes. How are you?” She continued the frown while listening and plating the kids’ supper. “Uh huh, well, what makes you think I can do anything about it? Can you hold on, please?” Lydia called her grandbabies to eat and poured their drinks and maple syrup, taking her time returning to the phone. “I’m sorry, Oakes. I just don’t get why you’re calling me.” Lydia listened once more, rolled her eyes and replied “Ok, Ok. I’ll take a drive out tomorrow. See you then.”
Oakes Gardner and Lydia Printer were married a few months earlier, as the finalization of a treaty between Oakes’ federally-recognized tribe and Lydia’s state-recognized one. Oakes’ tribe wanted to open a casino but had no land. Lydia’s tribe had a 5000-acre forest but neither the money nor the authority to do much with it. The treaty enabled both groups to develop economic opportunities for their people. The Elders of both communities thought it best to seal the deal with a marriage between the tribes, to both mimic and honor what the ancestors would have done. To lessen any potential complications in the modern world, it was decided that the treaty bride and groom would be middle-aged, divorced or widowed, with grown children and self-supporting. Lydia and Oakes, both twice married and divorced, fit the criteria.
Lydia rose early the next day, fed the cats, left a message for her co-worker at the tribe’s cultural center and climbed into her jeep. During the two hour ride to Oakes’ house, she considered what he had told her the night before. Papers were missing from his tribe’s archive and not just any papers. Missing were detailed financial records from a previous administration. The papers had been ordered sealed to protect the tribe from unpleasant repercussions. Over the years, Lydia had developed a reputation for unraveling unusual situations. Oakes had helped her recently when a valuable artifact went missing from her tribe’s museum and now apparently thought they were some sort of detective team.
Nearly two hours to the minute, Lydia cursed as she realized she was lost. She had been to Oakes’ house once before and wrongly thought she remembered the way. The road to the tribal office was just ahead so she turned there instead and pulled into the parking lot of the tribe’s new health clinic. Oakes picked up on the first ring, “Where are you?” “At the health clinic since I forgot the way to your house.” Time skipped a beat or two before Oakes answered that he was on his way and hung up. Less than 15 minutes later, he pulled into the lot next to Lydia. He hopped out of the car and looked at her expectantly. Ignoring his look, she sighed “Ok, so, what’s going on and how can I help?”