Dances with Viagra
Carol Runningbrook (22), a young member of the Pequot Indian tribe in
Ledyard, Connecticut, claims that she has discovered a cure for female
infertility. What is this wonder drug? How can the medical community make
buckets of money off of Runningbrook's new procedure?
Well, they can't, really. Her cure was given to her in 1997 in a dream. A
fish, which she had been seeing in dreams since she was a child, swam up to
her and touched her belly. Instantly it swelled -- Carol was pregnant.
When she awoke, she was not pregnant, but she had an idea to help her sister,
Fawn. Fawn (26) and her husband Jake (49) had been trying unsuccessfully to
conceive since the two were married in 1992. They had tried talking to
tribal elders, and they had gone to conventional fertility clinics. Carol
brought her sister deep into the forest, to the shore of a shallow creek.
The Big One That Didn't Go Away - Runningbrook Swings A Magic Fish
"She stood at the shore line and a large trout swam right up to her, as if it
wanted her to pluck it from the water," says Fawn, who did not know fully why
Carol wanted to bring her into the woods. "She seemed possessed, in a trance,
and she took the fish and she hit me with it, like those Christian
televangelists." A month later Fawn was pregnant.
It took little time for word to spread around the area.
Quickly, Carol and her "fertility fish" were tribal icons. People
from other tribes, as well as curious onlookers and women for whom
conventional fertility treatments have failed, started visiting Carol. She
claims that she has received no financial reward for her treatments, asking
for people to simply donate any moneys that would have gone to her to an
environmental charity of their choice.
Frank Bear (37), who runs the tribal gambling establishment, has officially
confronted her about this practice, claiming that it is taking people away
from the tribal casino (a major source of revenue within the tribe). "The
people coming to our reservation are not spending money here. Residents are
going to Carol, and once again not spending money on tribal property. She
has them giving their money away to non-native charities!" Bear says. He
claims that in the two years since Runningbrook began her "treatments,"
tribal tourism is up but tribal revenue is down.
"I can't force people to spend money here," claims Runningbrook. "I can only
do what I was put here to do. I want to see my tribe flourish, and I can
only believe that what I am doing must help."
The Hartford Review, April 9, 1998
Photo courtesy of River Mansfield, Pequot Tribe Newsletter.