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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 23, 2002 - Issue 55


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It Will Be OK ... Everything Will Be OK

by Shyhawk (FM)

Redtail HawkSeveral months have now passed since the loss of friends in NYC. Sadly they remain lost amongst the rubble. It seems the spirit of who I once was also remains distant. There seems to be no focus left in my walk and as a ship without a rudder my heart is at the mercy of the winds blowing across the waters.

I look deep into myself to remember the lessons I was taught and still have only seen the surface of. I question who I am. Time passes and land struggles drag on here as all across Indian Country. I thought the deepest blow to my heart is the coming loss of forest land from the mountain that is my heart. Prayers and ceremony were done for my mother. Things this dominant culture has no clue about.

Meetings were a farce. The money commission already had made a contract to log the land. At the meeting the commission representative told of how this devastation would benefit all the animals and the forest itself. It would not harm the native trout stream running at the foot of this area to be logged. The magnificent beauty and peace of this area would return in eighty years. The fences constructed to keep the saplings undisturbed would not effect my heart. They did not explain the money to be made in this operation or the callousness that this loss of such a special place will mean to so many as my self.

Gone will be a special place to visit with the Old Ones in such magnificent beauty and peace -- gifts from Creator. As the mountain is scrapped clean so will my heart ache and our tears will mix together on this tragic day.

The deal is done now and soon heavy equipment will be heard instead of the sweet calls of the song birds. Dust will fill my nostrils in place of the gentle odors of the wild flowers and the pines. My eyes will see shattered bits of wood and torn up earth were once ferns waved in the wind and the one legends looked out over the valley. The soft voices on a gentle wind that shared their stories with my heart will be gone forever. Beauty and sacredness replaced by disrespect!

The drifting of my path continues. The losses of the land and friends from life my continue. My sense of belonging is gone. I try to focus but life is a blur and my heart does not sing any more. Still every morning the sun rises over my beloved mountain. My heart is softened once more and I am grateful for another day. I see Creator in all things around me. In the gentle light of early morning -- night fades and a new day begins.

The news of Grandfather s passing came from one of my sisters on the phone. Grandfather was ill -- but the call stopped me still. My heart stopped and my mind went blank. I should be happy for Grandfather for he is now free of all the pain. Selfishly I feel lost without his guidance and strength. Out my window stands the mountain.

I look to her. Part of her will be lost and now Grandfather. I feel so lost The roots that once sprouted from my feet and held me to this place are gone. My spirit now tumbles and swirls across the land as a wind blown leaf.

Darkness swallows my heart and the pain goes deep. I think of my father and uncles who have also passed in the past few years. My family and elders are passing -- soon I will stand all alone.

Today is cloudy and rainy -- it is the day before the gathering for Grandfather. Mother' s soft cold tears wet the earth and fall on my hair. The silence of the air seems to reflect my heart's emotions. The earth is turned to mud. The bright sky is gray and a fog hangs low. The sky is empty of the winged ones. It seems our spirits both weep for one who is greatly loved and missed by so many.

The morning has arrived to honor Grandfather and release him. I do not know what to expect - I am just numb now. I leave early to help the family in any way I am needed. It is good to see the family once more. My heart stirs even with the sadness. I am able to spend a little time with each one. They say I help them -- really they help my broken spirit. Their strength shines through and I am a bit ashamed of my selfishness.

I travel to the gathering place. Today is cold and crisp. The sky a brilliant blue. White streaky clouds race across her surface driven by a brisk winter wind. The sun is blinding. I look to Creator in this beauty and a warmth seems to touch my heart once more. I walk across a small valley of wet brown earth and winter grass of dull green and brown. The smell of mother fills my nostrils. Her perfume brings a soft smile to my face. The fires are already burning and the damp air keeps the smoke low to the ground. The wind gifts me with the sweet odors of hardwood, cedar, and sage. A feeling of home begins to reappear in this lonely spirit of mine.

The small valley is gently rolling. Her surface is dotted with large sycamore trees. They are old friends to me. Their bark consists of blotches of yellow and brown. The yellow skin is smooth and the brown bark is course. Their pinto colored limbs stretch wide intertwining high in the air. It reminds me of the web of life -- everything is interdependent and we are all connected. Mitakuye Oyasin - All, All my Relations.

One tree speaks to my heart. She stands tall and straight. She reaches to the soft blue canopy above her. I feel her smooth skin and look to her highest limbs. There are small brown balls of fluff. These are her babies. These young ones will be released on the wind in the spring. The wind will carry them to their new homes. A new generation will begin -- the circle will continue. I too am reminded a new generation follows my foot steps. Soon my generation will teach as Grandfather has so eloquently. In my life the circle too continues -- the selfishness begins to leave my heart. I feel good for Grandfather and thank him and Creator for all he has taught me.

I walk ahead past a gentle rise in land. A beautiful sight greets these tired eyes. Before me is a dear friend. He tends the fires. I offer greetings and in our embrace more is experienced then the exchange of a thousand words. He is a friend and one connected to the land and the Old Ones deeply. This would be more then enough -- yet there is more. He is friend and family. His energy fills my heart and the coldness is gone from it. The oyate(people) have a hard road in this dominant culture. They also have a great strength. Our families are strong and tempered from the hardship of time. I am reminded once more of who I am. In my friends embrace the roots again sprout from my feet. INA and I again become one.

My friend stands on the edge of a high embankment cut over years by the river who runs at her feet. In the river is a small cascade. This river is my friend and the life's blood of the eastern people who live here still - Lenape - Unami (The Original People). The river reminds me of their purpose. The people remain to care for INA and teach others to respect her. I am reminded of my duties and responsibilities once more. For the first time in many months purpose returns to my heart -- the path can be seen once more as the morning fog slowly lifts from my heart's eye.

I tell my friend of the stories I know of this river and those that traveled on and beside her for so many thousands of years. The cascades sing to my heart with a gentle song -- a healing song. I am drawn to my ancestors strength. I am not alone on this land in this place. The mountain is having a special place decimated but Creator replaces this loss by this new home for my heart to walk. Wopila.

The sun dances on the rippling singing water. My heart dances with the music once more. This is my home. No matter what man does to it in disrespect she will live in me and I in her. We are one! How could I forget this -- again I am ashamed of my weakness? Creator sends lessons and I so easily forget.

Now I must come back to the day. I am requested to escort family and guests to this gathering place. With each guest and elder I am privileged to meet and bring to this place something is shared between us. During this duty many gifts are given. Many words of wisdom are experienced. I am honored the family has entrusted this duty to me. I show my respect by doing the very best I can to aide the elders and make them feel welcome here. The beauty of this land makes the task an easy one. All remark on INA s beauty here - I again am so grateful for Creators gifts here on this homeland.

Everyone has arrived and it is time to let go. Many families gather as one today in this place. As I stand watch - I look out over the oyate(people) and the land. Many nations stand in honor of one here. My heart is so happy to see so many gathered together here as one.

Prayers are given and as I look skyward -- the warm sum filters through my eyes to my soul. Creator is with us today. The clouds race by and their soft beauty sings to me on a strong cold biting winter wind. Yet I am warm. The smoke from the fires blows directly over me. The smells of cedar and sage are heavy. My clothing carry their presence for days. My prayers are one with those of the many gathered here this day.

Across the river is a small stand of tall sycamores. They appear white in the brilliant light. I am reminded these trees offer pieces of themselves to be used in ceremony. Today their mere presence is a healing for this broken spirit.

My glance runs over the people. The strength here makes me smile. Many great leaders and teachers. They are quiet as Grandfather of their deeds and teach by gentle guiding from behind. I hope one day to be able to teach in this manner with as much clarity and heart.

Poems and stories are read and gifted to Grandfather. Songs are sung. Then one elder sings the Warriors Honor Song for Grandfather. The song is done in our own language -- not English. I love our languages -- they belong to this land as much as this river before me.

I again look across the river and the small forest before me. The song takes me home. I see the canoes on the water before us. The people fishing and laughing here. The forest that stretched forever. The villages and the smells fill my heart. I have been taken home once more. For now I am one with everything. The river, the Old Ones, the sounds and songs of the past which infiltrate this time and the present. The two ages are one and I experience them both in this instant. How do you put into words this gift - I cannot? Those with a true heart will understand for they have already stood where I stand now. Aho

A cry is heard as my focus returns to the present. I see everyone looking skyward. There a huge redtail hawk circles low over our circle. Grandfather is fine -- my heart is now at ease. The winged messenger circles what seems for hours and then departs. Such beauty this day and so many gifts!

The day ends with stories of remembrance of Grandfather. One speaks of Grandfather now in camp. He is waiting for the rest of us to join him. A thought that soothes my heart - I can think of no better place to be. The person speaking of Grandfather says he sees him with a big pot of stew on at the fire. A murmur goes through the crowd and then laughter. A voice says Grandfather has a big pot of coffee on not stew. Everyone now laughs including the one relating what he sees. It is true Grandfather was never far from his coffee. I see him in his felt hat with his feathers arranged his special way, his vest with big strong bare arms exposed, and his soft eyes looking into mine as he walks across the powwow grounds in his unique gate. Aho.

A week has now passed since the gathering. Grandfather has returned in my dreams to tell me everything is OK -- it is OK. He stands before me with eyes twinkling in his regalia and felt hat. I feel his strength pulling me back out of my shell. There are things to do on this Turtle Island. I feel his strength - I must again help those in need and fight to protect INA. I must again fight to protect what little of our land is left -- our sacred places that this dominate society so easily scoffs at and destroys for profit. The time line is long and these disrespects will be answered for!

Long ago a dream was given to me when I asked to find my way in this land. The dream came after prayers and much time seeking answers -- a life time. The dream contained many things most of which I am only understanding now in the autumn of my life. In this dream an elder came to me and took me to the circle for the first time. A time when I did not belong -- at least I did not know I belonged. This elder welcomed me and gave me a name only I know of. He told me I was needed at the circle and I was welcomed by his family.

This dream started me on my walk. This week once more the dream again returned to me. I see the elder clearly but as in the first dream no face is seen. He is a tall man of great strength both physically and spiritually. He is in regalia. He wears a vest with big arms exposed and a black felt hat with feathers arranged a special way. This time I know this elder. It is Grandfather. As in the dream he came into my life. Welcomed me to the circle and his family. I learned many lessons and have met many elders through his kindness. Aho

It is a time of loss -- but it is a time of gift for me. Things and lessons that seemed significant but unrelated have now come together to form one picture -- clearly seen now by my heart. As on the river bank with the honor song in the background all has become one for me -- my purpose becomes clearer -- the lessons take on a deeper depth for me now with this new understanding. This is how the stories work. As ones understanding and lessons grow -- the depth of the stories grow with them.

For now I stand on my ancestors land -- it is now my land! I belong to it and her to me. The Old Ones are close here and the stories are alive once more. No matter what happens to this land physically it will live on in our spirits - We are the original people -- we each have gifts and duties from Creator. We are of many nations that makes us unique with special gifts. Yet we are one people of Turtle Island. This land was given to our ancestors to protect and respect. Time passes but our gifts and duties are still fresh within us. I see our people slowly regaining their strength and pride once more. Our spirit is not broken! Remember who you are and the ancestors who live in your hearts. Walk with your feet straight on the path of life.

As Grandfather reminds me - I remind you. IT WILL BE OK - EVERYTHING WILL BE OK. You only need to open your hearts and look within.

Thank you for allowing me to see once more Creator - Let me never dishonor my teachers.

Mitakuye Oyasin Onsimalaye
written mid winter 2002

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