to save a deer
this is a fictional account, an attempt at creative writing to tell a story, however the events being described were made up actual events even worse then these were the norm in the civilization of a once strong nation.
I was born in freedom of a tribe of a strong nation, i was born to be named swift deer and raised by my family, in the way of the medicine wheel. In those days the whole tribe was your family, brothers sisters uncles and aunts regardless of blood ties. When i was old enough to learn to walk and talk my uncle two crows taught me the way of vision, of the shaman, of being one with everything. To us spirit was in everything in the trees and rivers the worms and the very air we breath. When we hunt or gathered our food we prayed and shed tear for the spirit within our prey as well as within the nuts and leaves we gathered. All was spirit, all too was medicine the two were not separate but one in the same.
Two crows was medicine cheif, a spiritual healer a shaman a man intimate with the world of visions. He taught me the dances the chants the ceremonies to greet the morning sun and ask the sky father for a cleansing rain.
When i was just 6 years old he took me to the forrest where i was left without food or clothes to seek my first visions.. I was younger then most so there were no expectations, nor were i truly left unsupervised although i felt all alone. I lay in a hole chanting praying being one with the forest awaiting vision to overtake me and show me the world of spirit and of truth, but alas no vision came , however on the 4th day alone Two crowsand my father Iron bear came running through the bush towards me. When they reached me they quickly explained in our tongue that our villiage is being forced to leave our home. I didn't understand this our home had always been the land as far as the eye could see. Our family hunted and farmed here, were buried here and prayed here. This was our home why should we leave?
I was too young to protest and to weak to fight, but had heard many a story of brave warriors deaths in a struggle for land with the white man. I didn't understand why we couldn't share, land was everywhere. Father once told me though that we had tried to share many times but the white man believed they owned it all, they would break thier own laws and kill all that apposed.
I was just a child then but still i was aware that my people were being slaughtered nearly wiped out of existence. And now we are being forced to move? To move to where?
Back at the villiage in the longhouse where the elders meet a crowd had gathered. A fast talking white man was speaking in that strange sounding manner that always reminded him of the sound pheasants made when rousted out of hiding.
I recognized some of the words the white man used (wrongly i would assume) twice he said penis while gesturing towards the women in the room, i giggled but my fathers harsh look made me realize this was no laughing matter, in fact i had never seen him madder. Next to this white man was a red man but wearing funny clothes, he was not of our tribe, not of our family, yet now he poorly spoke our language.
He gently and calmly explained that the white man had said we were to be moved beyond the horizon to a small patch of land, where we would have the "privilege" of applying for a permit to live in a house and go to a school and learn to be "civilized".
He gestured towards the women as the white man had done and went on to say "and your penises will be taught to be ladylike and your children to read and write."
The next few weeks were a blur of sorrow and tears as our homes, our villiage, our very way of life was torn to the ground and demolished before our eyes. A great many white men had come to oversee our relocation, three of which had entered two crows lodge only to reappear with many of his sacred tools, his medicine sheild, his pipe (passed down from pipe holder to pipeholder for many generations) his herbs and medicine bags all were laid out in the dirt to be urinated on then burned.
It was too much to bear many of the youth tried to put a stop to the desecration but were beatten and bound.
Then came the relocation, with little food or even water we were marched to our new reservation , yes thats the funny word they used for our home..reservation the first white man word i was to ever learn..
When we arrived at this reservation, the children were taken from thier families, myself included to live in a building together, they called it a school said it was a place to learn, but i didnt understand how we were suposed to learn when cut off from all nature the teacher of all.
They took our clothes and made us wear strange garments, that all looked the same.
There were white men and women that lived among us, in a seperare box in this cage they called school.
These men and women dressed even stranger, all in black and white, the women wearing strange head coverings and they all had strange crossed sticks around thier necks. Above each door was a board with more twisted sticks forming shapes i did not understand and another crossed sticks with a little man on it. To me this man looked indian, more then white man but i really did not understand.
Every morning we sat in class while these strangely dressed women repeated strange sounding words and drew twisted sticks on a piece of slate and made us repeat these sounds. We were beatten severely and had bars of soap shoved in our mouths if we spoke to eachother in our own tongue. every 7 suns we were pushed into a new box that smelled strangely like two crows lodge after cerimony, but here there was no vision, there was no reverence for all that is, there was no feeling of relation to the sun the moon and sky.. no, just hushed mumblings and sitting quietly staring at that strange shaman on the crossed sticks. These were the day s we feared the most.. these were the days the beattings were most severe for speaking our tongue.
Slowly we began to understand the sounds they made us repeat, and thier relationship to the twisted sticks on the slate, and even the twisted sticks on the boards above each door which we now knew said "kill the indian to save the child"
In most cases this meant to kill the indian ways, not the person, however many young children were beatten to death, the "sisters" as they made us call them would beat us with sticks, with stones, whips and even red hot pokers. there were even times when we'de hear screaming as the "fathers" did unspeakable things.
I don't think i need to tell you we were scared..terrified, they had even taken our names! I was no longer swift deer i was now sam, I did not know what a sam was, what a sam looked like, smelled like tasted like or sounded like, i had no relationship to who i am now.. What is a sam? Where does a sam live? with the feathered sky people? beneath the ground? Does a sam swim or swing from the trees? I don't know anymore who i am..
Many of the children stopped speaking our language many learned the white mans ways, thry learned the name and story about the dead man on the sticks..
But some remembered the old ways, the happy days..and our real names
We had been enslaved here for nearly 4 passings of the harvest, when we wernt being beatten or taught the glories of the white mans ways we were forced to toil in the fields growing food for the white mans towns. We had only seen our families on the white mans holidays, under the supervision of the preists and nuns that beat us.
All our people suffered we learnred at these feasts, our elders told us stories how they were taught to slaughter our brothers and sisters .the four legged and the feathered without shedding a tear without honouring thier spirit, they called us savages for caring about more then ourselves. they made it ilegal tio give away our goods in the potlatch, to dance our dances to sing our songs. they made us sign a permit to light our fires to dig our wells to plant our seeds
After the passing of the 4th harvest season strong oak (they now called him gregory, whatever that might be) came to me and said he had found a new box (we now called them rooms) with a broken lock, a place we could go and be free..Ofcourse there was no escape, except for a little while, just a place to hide from the watchful eyes of the fathers and sisters (who did not treat us like family at all)
This room, this box was through a door, down some stairs in a dark cave like space.. There were rocks strewn around some piled on the floor against the wall, and even several leafy branches laying on the floor..But we were not alone either. In the darkness were other children, only four or five..I could hear them breathing, my senses coming back to life! Even the scurrying footsteps of brother mouse greeting me..I had almost forgotten how to hear our four legged family.. Then someone spoke..mitakuye oyasin ..I almost didnt recognize my own language..the voice was so quiet..afraid to speak, but then without thought we all repeatted it barely a breathe on the wind, not to overshadow the furry lil footsteps of brother mouse mitakuye oyasin.. (at wich the mouse stopped his scurrying as if feeling welcomed amongst us..)
Without a further word we gathered stones to arrange in a circle, a medicine wheel, for the first time in many moons we saw the truth we heard the truth we honored the truth we walked in truth and gave it breath.. we remembered who we were
In our tongue we pronounced
I am running moose, I am swift deer, I am strong oak, i am rivers song i am twisted pine..then together.. i am free
We were young, only seeing 10 harvests each..but we remembered who we were
I remembered the dances Two crows taught me, i remembered some of the chants, much of the language and ceremonies.
We slipped off to our basement hideaway to practice our old ways, to teach eachother what we remembered every chance we got, we brought others too who we thought we could trust (some feared the white mans wrath so much they were apples, red outside but inside white as the father that makes them scream at night) Sundays we would hold our own ceremonies after sitting through the stand up sit down kneel repeat after me stagnation in the strange smelling room above..
After several moons our group had grown to 17.. we got braver and spoke of escape or fighting back, we chanted and sang our songs danced our dances like we belonged.
It was winter now, we had gathered around the medicine wheel in prater, a healling prayer for strong oak had been beaten nearly to death the day before for using my name, without thinking in class he said "swift deer needs a new pencil" for wich we both were beatten.. I had been bruised but not hurt severely, but strong oak was kicked punched and thrown down the stairs.
I was deep in trance while the others chanted louder and louder when the door flung open, and in rushed our nightmare..every one of the preists and nuns kicking and screamming kicking apart our medicine wheel and beatting us with its stones
One nun had me cowering in th corner blood streamming from my eye and ear a rock in hand pounding it against my flesh screamming the devil be gone let jesus save you.. as the room went black i saw others falling around me trying to fight back..
To my right little fawn lie dying her eyes met mine pleading for help but i could not get my body to move to save her. My mind was not right I almost laughed through the pain. To us the rocks they were hitting us with were living breathing things, with spirits all thier own i wondered then what the rock would think when it penetrated my skull and met my brain.. would the rock find my brain a worthy companion? had i been a good enough person to warent such an honour would rock and brain become one in spirit and be stronger then the hand that weilds it in anger?
I was dying..i knew this..we all were
but then i saw it..its eyes met mine..by the door..brother mouse stood there watching ..my eyes closing i whispered a silent prayer as brother mouse turned to run free..out the door away from this "school" my spirit leaving my body to run free with him
The white man had come to save us from a devil of their own invention
but it was the lowliest of all animals, this dirty celler mouse that set the swift deer free
although this was just a creative writing i wrote on the spur of the momment, this is not far from the reality experienced by millions of native americans during the forceful civilizing by the white men and christianity
to this day native americans have a 6 times higher moratality rate then any other group
the school children living in reservation boarding schools were routinely subjected to rape, torture beatings starvation as punishment and the systematic annhiliation of their way of life
to this day on a reservation, if a water main breaks and the entire reservation is without water it can take up to a year to obtain a permit to dig a 6 inch hole to repair it
although many tribes now have guaranteed higher education free and free healthcare for all registered tribal members very few actualy know their whole language (typicaly only kids under 8 or elders over 80 will cary on the entire language) some cerimonies remain illegal and their entire way of life is threattened
tens of millions of people were slaughtered in the single largest genocide in history.. some tribes were nearly extinct a rich deeply spiritual way of life was almost wiped out entirely by another that thought it was morally superior despite the fact they hunted for sport till extinction and murdered millions fir not sharing the same beliefs.
Im not sure if everyone understood why during the meeting before the relocation the 2 men kept gesturing towards the women but sayimg penis. many of you probably have heard the slang and derogatory word "squah" used in cartoons and such westerns and the like. the story behind the termis soldiers would go into the native american viliages looking for sex or to rape a woman, they came in asking where are the women, but not being understood. so they dropped thier pants and pointed to thier penises saying wi]=omen where are the women we want sex the men of the villiage said ah..squah (p;enis) and from then on the white men called the women penis (squah)
to this day the educators that wiped out their languages still use it incorectly