Short Stories and Other Things
Most of the time we tend to look at the color of a person. My Grandmother once told me when I was younger, “When you look at a black and white picture, can you see it in color or do you just see it as black and white?” Back then, I think she was trying to tell me that if I cannot see beyond what is portrayed on the outside how would I ever be able to see into those different than I? Wise woman.
I have never been fully able to understand the white man and I don’t think I ever will. I never have questioned the creator as to why he would put these people here among us. I am sure he has a reason. Unfortunately, there have been many times, I have not been able to look past the color of a person. The atrocities forced upon our people have made me sometimes blind to their hearts, good or bad. I do not wish to see, as screams of pain and suffering enter my mind, as I think back to our people being murdered for being who they were and who we are. The Old ones believed that the future would be better, they fought and died with pride to uphold the People. Giving all so that the dream of a strong united People could be realized. For all the nobility, it was murder nonetheless, senseless killing of our People.
The injustices of yesteryear and of today have hardened my heart to the plight of the white man’s so called coaliation with the First Nations People. I will and cannot be a part of an experiment that has been going on for decades. The white man has tried this before and it did not work. I still walk down the street with my long hair and am seen as nothing more than another drunken Indian. I will not stand for it anymore. Their words disappear like mist in the morning, leaving nothing, but dry and hot air in its place.
I have fought for many years and am astonished at the passiveness of some of our people. Especially, now when we need not be passive, but aggressive in our thinking and in our actions. Where are the all the warriors of today? Am I left alone to fight? If, I am alone in this struggle, I pray to the creator, “Thank you, for making me red, as the setting sun. Thank you, for making my heart a good one. Thank you, for letting me, hear the songs of my ancestors. Thank you, for letting me, see beyond today. Thank you, for making me different. Thank you, for another day, to fight. Thank you, for making me an Indian!”
The many people who have died along the way to make you and I who we are today would wrap around the earth and the moon. Their faces unknown, yet, their hearts and ways are very well known. The familiarity when we see an old picture of our Ancestors standing with government blankets wrapped around them. The way we see ourselves as one of them. The way they look like us. The way we can feel their anguish and confusion. The way we can feel their pain. Is there inside of us for a reason. It is there to remind us of those who walked before us so that we may never forget why we are here. Their blood courses through our veins when we hear hawks screeching. When we see eagles flying overhead. When we see injustice done to one of our own. Their eyes are our eyes when we look noble and proud. Their hearts are our hearts when we hear the drumbeat. When our hearts beat in time to the drum. When our feet start to tap along with the music. All of these things are inside of us not because we were taught it, for it is, something we cannot learn. It was in us, when we were born.
Listen With Heart
Across the wind swept plains of the Dakotas I heard the hoof beats of war horses prancing proudly in their decorative war colors. I heard the war cries of eagles circling above pointing out our enemies. I saw the Owl in the daytime with his yellow eyes of fate reminding me that there would be losses. In the clouds I saw our Ancestors watching us with lightning tears and thunderous cries of hope and prayers. I ask you this, my brothers and sisters of the First Nations Peoples, what do you see amd hear when you walk out that door of yours?
Rain No More Forever
On that day when eagles cry and the rain disappears from the sky forever, then and only then, will I stop fighting for you and I. How can all creatures of the rivers, oceans and land survive without water so alive? How are we supposed to hear the rivers speaking to us with voices of wisdom and direction that nourish our hearts when our Ancestors stop shedding tears for you and I? We must begin to heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon ourselves through fighting among each other. We, as a People of Dignity and Respect must learn these tasks once again and turn our attention to what is ahead. Not by putting our attention on racism and bigotry, will we begin to see the true meaning of our existence and our future as a People United. A People willing to move forward while hanging onto the past, a People strong in mind and heart, a People able to drink from our Ancestors tear filled rivers that breathe life into our hearts.
When I was younger, I lived in a small town in Minnesota. My family being the only American Indians in this small town, I was taunted and teased a lot by the white kids. I don’t think I really understood what the big deal was back then. So what if I had darker skin and longer hair then them. Or, if I didn’t have the fanciest clothes or my parents didn’t drive the newest car. I mean, I was human just like them.
I soon realized that these white boys were not human. I was confronted by four of them, who were, bigger than I. They were calling me some racist name I forget now what it was, but it was bad. They then ensued to throw rocks at me. That was not the worst part though. The worst part was that of my heart sinking so low as I honestly started to believe that being an Indian was bad. Here, I was, a little boy of nine, being stoned for being an Indian. I didn’t cry at first, I wanted to be strong and brave like Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. But, unfortunately, the blows from the rocks and the sting of their words got to me and I began to cry.
I remember images of a thousand warriors on horses coming to battle for me. As I cried my heart out on that day. War cries rang out in my mind as I wept. I never have forgotten that day or the images that I saw. I know that experience made me stronger. A little more wise. It also, helped me to feel the pain of many of those before me. A young boy should never have to go through that or for that matter any young child.
I often wondered, why I was alone in the physical world, that day. I think it made me realize that I was Indian. It made me understand the plight of our people. For, all purpose, though, it made see that no matter what I did to try and fit in I would always be different. On that day, I became an Indian.
My family never lived on the reservation. So, many American Indians ask me today, how do I know what it feels like to be a true Indian if I did not live on the rez. I must say, that living on a reservation does not make anyone a “true” Indian. I can make and eat fry bread with the best of them, aye. Seriously, though, I can honestly say, that until you realize that you are Indian. Until you realize the pain of those before you. Until you experience it for yourself in some way, until you feel it in your heart. Until you fight the long fight. Until you hear the footsteps of your ancestors walking all around you. Until you accept it, then and only then, are you a “true” Indian.
On that day, which sometimes feels like yesterday, I realized I was an Indian and I began to fight the long fight of our people. I felt the pain they endured. I heard their moccasin footsteps all around me. And my heart soared.
Something To Believe In
Many of our people have said that our youth need to find a “cause” to believe in, in order to find themselves and their roots as First Peoples, like many of those did at the Occupation of Alcatraz. I, on the other hand, believe, that in order for our youth to find a “cause” to believe in, we must find a way to bring our children out of their ways of today. I cannot believe the audacity of some of our youth parading around in baggy pants pretending to be “gangsters” and disrespecting their elders. It makes me wonder where this disrespect came from in the first place. Could it be that they see adults disrespecting each other with name calling and fighting among themselves. When different Nations of First Peoples fight each other? We must realize what is happening to our youth when we blatantly bicker and fight in front of them. How can we, as adults of today be content with ourselves when our children are lost with no direction to turn to? I will not be content until this bickering stops among us. We must do everything to teach our youth that fighting is wrong. Teach them that being a “gangster” is not the right path to be on. Teach them to respect themselves and their elders. Teach them that being an Indian is good. Teach them to listen not with their heads but with their heart. Teach them that among all the colors that the Creator could have made them, the Creator made them red and that is the “cause” they should believe in!
An old man stands on his front porch watching the sunset. The path he has worn pacing back and forth has left a gleamed polish upon the floor. The sun’s rays have left their unmistakable mark upon his face. The wrinkles around his eyes show how many times he has looked towards the sunset waiting, watching, and pacing. The sun sets a little more with each passing minute. The shadows get longer and longer and he gets older. The long evenings he has spent pacing have taken their toll upon his legs. His feet drag a little. His knees are stiff too tired to bend them forward. The cobwebs and junk piled on the porch tell us the old man’s obsession of waiting and watching have become his life. His surroundings are non-existent to him. The outside world has disappeared. His childhood dreams have left him broken hearted. The nights alone…the days are spent suffering…A world of pain he sees and feels. He cannot bring himself to the conclusion that it doesn’t have to be this way. Drawing from his inner self he becomes frustrated. The old bones that he carries inside his frail body give way to the slightest touch and bring him pain. But, he awakes each day and goes out to the porch amidst his pain and watches. Waiting for somebody, waiting for an explanation, waiting for death? A sillouhette of a young man and a beautiful woman dancing in the sunset he sees. A young man with everything a young man can imagine flashes through his mind. The life he dreamed of passes through this old man’s heart. Rewriting the script of his life as each memory falls into place. He dreams…. He wishes…. He prays…. Waiting.
I remember playing in the vast fields of wheat when I was younger. I would watch, as the golden wheat would shine as it rolled from one side of the field to the other as the wind blew and the sun shined upon it. I would as watch the clouds drifted by and I would try to catch their shadows. I would pretend that the sun was going to burn me and that if I did not stay under the shadow of the cloud I would get hurt. Of course, I knew better, but it was a childhood game and I would run out of breath as I tried to stay under the cloud. The cloud had become my protector from everything in the world. I would imagine that it was just the clouds and I. It served my needs. When I was thirsty it would rain upon on me and quench my thirst. If I were hot it would shade me and keep me cool. When I was angry it would thunder with a veracious roar and I started to believe that I could control the clouds with my emotions. I was wrong of course. On the days the clouds did not appear I was content. If they were high clouds that had no shadows I would wait until they came down. For you see, the clouds always came.
At night, I became lonely as the clouds sank along with the sun on the horizon. They would light up with brilliant colors as they showed their beauty off one last time as they disappeared. Some nights, they would come and display fantastic light shows and I would watch with awe. I never felt lonely then. I always knew that the clouds and I were one. The following day, I would awake and find them quiet, sleeping, floating upon the wind. I would watch as they changed shapes in front of me. They would show me all the animals and faces of everyone in the world, if I stood there long enough.
I watched the clouds as they danced to the wind. I watched the clouds as they blew past everyone else who did not see the beauty in them. I watched them as they became angry at the people for being unaware of their destruction to the planet. I watched them as they poured red rain down upon the earth as they tried to dissolve the buildings that man had built. I watched them as they striked down upon the land and started fires to try and destroy the machines that made the clouds black with smoke. They are only angry..wouldn’t you be?
Now I am older and watch as the children play in the park under the weary eyes of the clouds. I tell them to try and catch the cloud shadows and watch as they run after the clouds and laugh as they try to keep up. I watch as they lay upon the grass and look towards the clouds and I know the clouds are showing them all the animals and all the faces of everyone in the world. I also know the clouds are watching them…protecting them...just as they did me.
Stringy hair, bags under her eyes, and a blank stare. The mirror looked back at her expressionless as she tried to fix her hair. The nights come early now and the first snow will be making its landing soon. Cold moonlight shined through the window and reflected in her eyes through the mirror. Revealing the youthfulness that is encased inside of her. She looked out the window and watched as the wind stirred the big firs outside her small house in the mountains. She first came here with her second husband back in what seems many years ago but it has only been two. The heartbreak she endured made the ensuing days crawl like snails sliding across hot pavement trying to reach the other side of some unknown destination.
Circumstances, have left her here all alone now with only her thoughts and dreams.
She fixed her hair and put some make up on trying to hide the bags under her eyes. It wasn’t as if she was going on a date or anything. This was a nightly ritual that she had concocted one night while she dreamed of love and romance. Dreaming of the perfect love that escapes most and finds its way into the hearts of those who deserve it the least so it seems. She looked into the mirror and was happy with what she saw and went and sat at the dinner table. Two candles and a single daisy decorated the table along with herself. She ate silently and alone. The room was filled with images of the past. Husband #1 hung on the left wall and Husband #2 on the right staring at each other. Both seemed to mock her for her mistake in falling in love with them. She meant to get rid of both pictures, but they reminded her not to make the same mistake again. Plus she liked the ideal of having them both stare at each other since both were greedy and preferred the company of money. They would be perfect for each other she thought to herself.
The candles flickered an incandescent light upon her face and shadows danced on the walls as soft music played on the radio. She stood up slowly, sort of methodically, like she was meant to do it and danced the dance of someone in love with no partner. The dance that makes the hardest of men cry. A slow, yet, passionate dance that leaves you wanting for more, as you watch the dancer that holds beauty and grace in one simple dance step, move silently across the stage. Her shadow flickered on the wall like that of mist slowly rising to heaven as dawn approached. She danced and danced All the while, snow was falling, as she searched for her perfect partner inside the confines of her heart. Tears formed as she swirled around the room. She cried for the pain she suffered. She cried for the hurt she endured. She cried for the time that it would never happen again. Her tears fell to the floor and were heard by the billions of those who went through the same agonizing life experience. She moved silently across the floor and came to a halt as the pain left her body like a dead spirit rising out of her and left her in awe.
The candles blew out as the dead spirit left her body and a cold chill filled the room. She began looking for something to throw on. The shadows on the wall that were dancing a minute ago had disappeared in the darkness that now filled the room except for a ray of moonlight that glowed upon the daisy on the middle of the table. She found an old sweater that one of her husbands had bought her. She forgot which one, for now, she was caught up in that inescapable dream. The one that holds everyone hostage. The one where you wish your dream would come true. Her past had become just that…the past. In one singular moment all the world was right. That impeccable light that had disappeared from her eyes now shone brightly in her like moonlit sparkles dancing upon water. All the times, she sat alone, now came to a halt. She was no longer alone with herself. She was never alone in the first place. It finally hit her, she had become lost within herself searching for someone. When in actually, the love she dreamt about lay right in front of her. She believed now that she had taken her last step backward and was ready to move forward. She threw on her coat and stepped outside.
The snow like twinkling stars drifted past her and the world had become frozen. The cold wind caressed her face and made her cheeks the color of red leaves in the autumn. The big fir trees around her waved to her with their pine needle covered arms and urged her on. She began looking for that love she now had a glimpse of. Through the snow she trudged. Through the cold winds she traveled on. Climbing the mountains she stumbled but carried forward guided by the stars that hid behind the parting clouds. She traveled farther and farther until the moment when the moonlight and sunlight collide. She stood where she was and watched the last star disappear from the painted black night sky and the sky colored itself a dark blue. In that fleeting moment the day and night became one.
She started to move again heading for the rising sun. Her sillouhette casting a mesmerizing spell upon all those who saw her as she left her tracks in the snow. The path she walked was well worn by those before her. All she knew was that love was back in her heart where once darkness and hurt camped inside her. The void left by her losses was now filled by hope and the promise of a new day. She carried on into the sunrise and never looked back again. Love had found her…again. She found that perfect love inside herself.
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