Hey folks I've put a lot of effort into typing in these stories
just for you. My hope is that from these readings that you can
be entertained, find hope, and possibly make some personal growth.
There is no secret agenda and even if there was it would be one
of peace and love, so take a chance, it's not going to break your brain,
and I promise you will be glad you've read these following stories.
This is a long story so you may want to scroll down if you don't
want to read it. It is a very good story, however.
When we contemplate such rents in the fabric as Los Angeles and the
Love Canal, Beruit and Chernobyl, Ethiopia and the East Bronx, most
of us tend to bleat out about politicians or multi-nationals or drug
cartels or other handy breeds of "them." Idictments of this kind are
easy and exculpating and slightly titillating; but perhaps we should
be looking closer to home.
A hundred yards from my house there is a bend in our little country
road. The road is narrow and the bend is blind, and vehichles are apt
to swing around it in wide, dangorous trajectories. If you are
driving and if you have any sense, you slow down and sound your horn.
If you are walking you hug the outside sweep of the bend, between the
blacktop and the chain-linked fence, close to the red fire hy; but if
it is a good day, inside and ouside your skin, you look beyond those
tokens of "schruburbia" and dicern curving harmonies.
The harmonies of the place were once far more resonant. At this
bend, the road cuts through a notch between our valley's main southern
slope and a hill-capped spur that geologic chance has thrust out from it.
This notch, or gap, or saddle was once a roomed sized patch of level
ground, probably somewhat open, as such places tend to be. Grass grew
, and a few small bushes, but the trees stood back. To the right,
though, the slope was heavily wooded, and to the left a fringe of
live oaks masked the outlier hill's steep-sided dome. East and west,
the saddle commanded vistas: down-vally to a glimpse of ocean; up-vally
into a rich and rolling panorama of rising, interlocking ridges.
Once upon a time, this saddle held a periphierally pivotal place
in valley life. Band-tailed pigeons and robins and other birds,
journeying along the valleys flank from feeding place to feeding place,
swept through in dense, swooshing flocks. Tule elk and black-tailed
deer, traveling to anf from their own feeding and sleeping and
breeding places, also funneled through. And predators passed by on
their wider excursions: bobcats and foxes and coyotes and mountain
lions and black and grizzly bears--but not, at that time, men. The
predators surely recognized the saddle as a natural place for an
ambush; and after every successful strike the turkey-vultures, or
buzzards, that for hours had been in holding patterns above the dome
of the outlier hill--floating updrafts focused by its steep slopes--moved
in to fulfill their role as garbage collectors.
For many, many years, this life continued at at its slow, rhythmic
pace. Animal populations waxed and waned. from time to time fire
swept through the saddle; but afterward the vegetation resprouted and
resumed its recurring program of succession.
When the men first appeared, nothing really changed. the men came
only rarely to the saddle, passing by on their hunting and seed
gathering forays. They too knew a good ambush site when they saw one,
and they dewly lay and wait, flintheaded arrows ready, for deer and
elk, for the band-tailed pigeons and for any quail unwise enough to
cross the open space. Or perhaps they set traps. But the men made
just one more prdator--and a rare and rather inefficient one, at
that--so they disturbed no balances.. And they altered the saddle,
physically, not at all. It remained a beautiful, curving, harmonious place.
For many more years this state of affairs continued. The life
form cycles--of vegetation, birds and beast, including humans--rolled
on. Down decades and centuries, human hunting techniques improved
only marginally, if at all, so men still disturbed no balances.
Then, little more than two centuries ago, a new, paler tribe of
people came up from the south.
At first no newcomers visited the obscure saddle on the flanks
of a long, outlying valley. They began, though, to kill off the local
bears, both grizzly and black, and soon there were no bears visiting
the saddle. The new tribe of men killed off the mountain lions, too,
and before long the lions became rare, and most of the survivors
lived deep in the forest. The newcomers established one of their
red-roofed adobe missions at the mouth of the valley, and strove to
change the habits of the darkwer earlier people. Soon, these earlier
humans rarely visited the saddle, either.
Then one day a party of pale newcomer land surveyors rode up into
the saddle to mark a boundary of one of the vast estates into which
they were dividing the whole countryside. They came to the saddle
because the boundary happened to cut directly through it and then
slant up a slope of the outlier hill. That first day, the men probably
approached the saddle from the west, up a steep wooded gully offered.
Perhaps they just followed a deer trail. If it was not the surveyors
who cut this road, then it was proably the men who in due course came
to fence the boundrary line. Anyway, a process had begun.
Within a few years, a different pale-faced tribe took over control
of the land, and soon their homes began to dot the valley floor and
flanks. Before long they cleared outlying fire roads to protect their
house from the summer brush fires. One of these dirt fire roads
followed the line of the surveyors road up the saddle and pushed out
beyond it. Beccause the hillside was steep, the upper side of the
widened road now cut deep into it, above and below the saddle. The
road therefore sliced more severely into the saddles southern flank,
sheering off almost half the root system of a live oak that grew there.
For the first time, the curving harmony of the place suffered a
Before long, someone built a cabin along the rough and ready road,
half a mile beyond the saddle. Naturally, he improved his access
road. In doing so he sliced off a little more from the saddles flank,
a little more from the live oak's root system. About this time--no
more than fifty years ago--some local horseback riders cut a narrow
bridle trail clear around the slope of the domed outlier hill. Soon,
around on the plunging and friable far side of the hill, the
trail crumbled away; but it's useless deep cut begining and and
ending remained, converging at the saddle as two stark and angular
wounds in it's once curving harmonies.
Down in the valley, the buildings grew more dense--and spread
outward. Someone else built a house a little way down the fire road.
A few more years, and the land around the saddle was subdivided.
A dirt road was cut up the side of the outlier hill to the obvious
site at its summit--now leveled in readiness for a house. Down at the
saddle, the road bisected the termini of the bridle trail, where the
curves had once met inharmony. Soon, when a couple of people decided
to build four or five house along the old fire road and sell them, the
county widened the road and blacktopped it. Saddle and live oak
suffered further degredation.
Power poles now now went in along the the road. One pole stood on
the lip of the saddle, so sited that to anyone standing there it rose
stage center in the rich and rolling panaroma of rising, and
interlocking ridges. The new houses needed a booster pump for their
water supply, and the pump needed a meter, so two boxes was up a flight
of wooden steps, set in a shallow cleft in the road embankment Steps
and a gully were both reasonably discrete, but you could not pretend
that hey did anything to mend the tatters of the old harmonies.
This was the state of affairs when, thirteen years ago, I bought,
from it's second owner, the house nearest the saddle, just a hundred
yards down the road.
At that time, the country around the saddle was, by shruburban
standards, a quiet and reasonably harmonious place. Flocks of
band-tailed pigeons--though probably smaller than when Indians lay
waiting for them--still swooshed through the saddle. So, certain
seasons, did the robins. Spring and summer, quail families struttled
querulously abroad. Deer sometimes glided through the oaks and
skittered across the road. At night, raccons roamed, and a pair of
foxes often came to the water tub at the end of my veranda. Once or
twice a year I would look out my picture window at the flank of the
outlier hill and see a bobcat strolling accross an open grassy patch
just above three fire-charged fence post that still survived from the
original Spanish estate line.
In the years since I moved in, nothing dramatic has happened, really.
Nothing at all, in fact, except for natural eventsin the advance of
what we label progress.
The county, for example, has applied normal civilized maintenance
to the road. Periodically, it has resurfaced the blacktop. Because
there was space to spare on one side of the saddle, the blackness
tended to creep outward over what was once a room-sizes grassy patch.
The county also executed it's annual sprayng of roadside vegitation
and tidy-up grading of ditches and embankments. Such deeds no doubt
helped maintain the road--as much as they did anywhere else.
Meanwhile, five or six additional houses were built along our road.
None stood within sight of the saddle, but because of them the saddle
suffered a futher series of improvements. Most of them were minor.
Each was reguarded by at least by at least some of us locals as useful
or even necessary.
All our homes face a severe fire hazard, and some years ago our
excellant fire department installed a roadside fire hydrant on the
level ground of the original saddle. At first it was painted bright
yellow, then red.
About this time, a new house went in barely two hundred feet
above the saddle--not for the owner to live in but for rental. Trees
screen it, though, and the only obvious impact on the saddle comes
when its renters are a rowdy bunch.
Soon afterward, a midwesterner bought the subdivision that embraced
the whole of the domed outlier hill, and although he was not yet ready
to build he installed across the line of the saddle--which was the
only place that you can gain motorized access to "his" hill-an ugly
galvinized chain linked fence with an ugly galvinized gate. Somehow,
the fence lay even more heavenly on the saddle than the bulldozed road
and bridal trail. It was possoble, though, to hope that it lay less
Then the water company upgraded its booster pump and meter. It
also tore down the flight of weathered wooden access steps, hacked its
shallow cleft into a deep and angler trench, and installed a modern
gray concrete stairway eqquiped with an equally soulless metal-pipe
Soon, the electric company improved our supply-and the power pole
that stood stage center in the panarama of rising, interlocking ridges
became a kingpin in the upgraded local system. Seven lines now fed in
and out of this pole, and its crown sprouted a wild assortment of
gadgetry, including two extra cross-arms festooned with massive
double-dish porcelain insulators and a big gray metal transformer,
unlovely as a garbage can. Sullen gray plastic or metal shields
shrouded support stays and parts of the main pole. And so that one,
sober or otherwise, could possibly run into this repulsive, cobwebbed
monstrosity--which even in Los Angeles would have stood out as a
monument of ugliness--it bore at human eye level a pair of garish
metal reflector strips that glittered by day and at night, in the
approaching headlights, glowed like evil rectangular eyes.
By this time, Friday-night teen-boppers had bopped the gate in the
new chain-linked fence and would rive up to the now-leveled summit of
the hilland there-or, whenit got crowded, down at the saddle, just
iside the felled gate--they would, until the sheriffs arrived, bop
their radios up to max and strew the place with beer cans and bottles
and audio tapes and fragments of female underwear and condoms.
All these changes, you will note had "utility" as an excuse. In
somebody's eyes, anyway.
Then a few years ago, the absentee Midwesterner sold "his" hill to
a man with other homes on other continents, and this new man bulldozed
the flat on the hill's summit flatter and bigger, and erected their a
large and angular house, soon known locally as the "powerhouse," that
probably had Frank Lloyd Wright executing at least one turn in his
grave-and then another turn when he saw the matching power gate that
this man built down in the saddle, accross his newly blacktopped access
road. For the gate was also a power gate-one that could be opened
and closed remotely, from the house-and this stark erection (stout
sliding ironwork, painted off-white; two massive; ill porportioned,
off white pillers; square box housing the machinery) stood dead center
in what had once been a saddle. A friend of mine seeing it for the
first time, said, "You know, it's difficult to imagine anyone putting
up such a gate outside of anything except a prison." Dead center on
his pretentous gate, our new neigbor wired a cheap red plastic sign:
Beware of Dog!" And once a week, on the day when all of us put out
our offerings for the modern garbage disposers, he put out a galvinized
garbage can so battered that its lid would not fit properly and the w
ind and passing animals often left a ring of refuse lying around it,
there in the once beautiful, curving and harmonious saddle, beside
the still-standing galvinized chain-link fence, midway midway between
the red fire hydrant and the angler off-white gate complex, oppisite
the mutilated live oak roots and the water company's cement-and-metal
stairway, in the lee of the grotesque, spider-webbed power pole.
A spn-off from the gate complex has been the local teeny-boppers,
barred from the hill's summit, now favor the roadside space outside
it as a small-scaled substitute where they can--for short interludes,
before one of us neighbors has to time to summon the sheriff--at least
max car radios and spread a little miscellanous litter.
Yet I have to say that in spit of all the degadations our little
enclave beyond the saddle remains, by modern standards, a quiet and
relatively harmonious place. Band-tailed pigeons, and robins at their
season, still swoosh through the saddle. Quail families still stroll.
Buzzards still soar above the hill on it's daily updrafts. Hawks,
too. Raccoons still roam at night, I think, and deer still glide and
skitter--though less freely since the power-house dweller extended
his chain link fence and girdled his garden with electrified wires.
It is a long time, though, since the foxes visited my veranda. And I
have not glimpsed a bobcat since the powerhouse went up. The saddest
fact, it seems to me, is that the saddle, where most of our improvements
seemed to have focused--the saddle that was once the local jewel--has
become our bleakest corner. What is even sadder, perhaps, is that
few people seem to recognize qquite what has happened--or even in
some cases, to recognize that our bend in the road was once a saddle.
For my part, I guess I had begun to resign myself--though by no means
happily--to the slow tow exacted by "progress."
But one day last week as I walked along the road toward the bend
I saw something lying on the blacktop, out in the middle of the road,
midway between the water company's concrete stairway and the power
pole. When I reached it, I saw that it was a white paper bag, and
that something even whiter, and gooey, was oozing out of it. Carefuly,
I picked the bag up. It bore the insignia of a famous fast food
dispensary. I pulled the mouth of the bag open, peered: several
french fries; a plastic knife and fork; such unconsumed of a melting
ice cream stick as had not already oozed out onto the blacktop; and
I stood there for a moment, studying what I had found. In itself
it was nothing, of course. Just a small sample of typical modern
litter. But I stood for a long moment--dangerously, there in the
middle of the blacktop, just beyond the bend around which vehicles
are now apt to swing in wide trajectories; stood there in what had
once been a beautiful saddle; stood there looking down at the
unsavory little sample that had been jettisoned without thought;
looking down inparticular at the now-sticky pennies that someone
could not be bothered to keep. Then I raised my eyes.
I found myself looking over the red fire hydrant and the battered
garbage can with its fringe of refuge, looking over and beyond the
galvinized chain-link fence, looking through the gross and repulsive
spider web of the power pole, with the off-white shape of the hideous
gate complex tucked in at the left edge of my vision. And beyond
the rich, rolling, ancient panarama or rising, interlocking ridges
I saw--spread vividly before my minds unhappy eye--our modern panarama
of Los Angeles and the Love Canal, Beruit and Chernobyl, Ethiopia and
the East Bronx. Beyond them I perceived larger rents that we had
torn in the fabric: polluted oceans, raped rain forest, the ozone rift.
In that instant of looking I did not need mundane logical bridges to
connect those vivid distant vistas with tattered remnant rags of the
saddle which I stood, or with the paper bag still clutched in my hand
and its attendant little pool of ice cream lying whit and sticky on
the blacktop at my feet. It was a short journey from ont to the other,
as the canker creeps.
As a Native American Indian (Blackfoot), I have a perception of life and death including
ways of living and ways of dying. Also, however in between the space of birth and
death there are ways of things...
I have come across many in the Rainbow who claim to be Shaman. In a world so full of
people it would be no suprise to me for there to be many Shaman, but I do find the
quantity of persons claiming to be Shaman in the Rainbow to be suspect.
I have witnessed some alleged (self proclaimed) Shaman doing things such as lying and
stealing from good people (as if it makes a difference). I have seen worthless hocus
pocus medicines supposedly extracted from the herbs and healing roots supplied by
Mother Earth, however, these methods did not work. Why?
I know why, does the self proclaimed Shaman know why?
We have heard the white mans words of warning not to be mislead by false prophets.
Can these Shaman see the spirit world? Can they control natural events? Do they have
the ability to heal through faith alone...I suspect not.
Reading a lot of books, listening to old wives tales, and watching TV does not make
one a Shaman.
For instance, I have died and returned to life when I was shot back in 1991. While I was
"dead" I did see things that I cannot explain. Does this make me a Shaman?
I have visions and have had visions for over 30 years. All of my visions have come to
pass with the exclusion of one involving a Rainbow Warrior in KC Missouri. Does this
make me a prophet?
I am not saying that I am, or am not Shaman. I am saying there are those who want to be,
who proclaim to be but simply are not!
And for these ones who are not valid in the realm of Shamanism to stand up and
proclaim to be, is a danger to any soul who listens to their babble.
Granted there are Shaman and you know who you are. Ho!
I guess what I am saying is, that a great injustice is served when a phony gives advice.
The direction the listener may be, and probably is being sent, could very well be in the
I know that being important, and being known for your deeds is important, but make
sure that your claims are justifiable, because delusions of grandeur cannot only deceive
and hurt, but also can leave ones spirit lost and unretrievable.
I ask all my Rainbow brothers and sisters to define Shaman.
These are the words of,
Once, not long ago, the buffalo were everywhere, wherever the
people were, there were the buffalo. They loved the people and the
people loved the buffalo.
When the people killed a buffalo, they did it
with reverence. They gave thanks to the buffalo's spirit. They used
every part of the buffalo they had killed. The meat was their food.
The skins was used for clothing and to cover the tipis. The hair
stuffed the pillows and saddlebags. The sinews became their
bowstrings. From the hooves they made glue. They carried water in the
bladders and stomachs. To give the buffalo honor, they painted the
skull and placed it facing the rising sun.
Then the whites came. They were new people, as beautiful and as deadly
as the black spider. The whites took the lands of the people. They
built the railroad to cut the lands of the people in half. It made life
hard for the people so the buffalo faught the railroad. The buffalo
tore up the railroad tracks. They chased away the cattle of the
The buffalo loved the people and tried to protect their way of
life. So the Army was sent to kill the buffalo. But even the soldiers
could not hold the buffalo back. Then the Army hired hunters. The
hunters came and killled and killed. Soon the bones of the buffalo
covered the land to the height of a tall man. The buffalo saw they
could fight no longer.
One morning, a Blackfoot woman whose family was running from the Army
rose early from their camp deep in the hills. She went down to the
spring near the mountainside to get water. She went quietly, alert for
enemies. The morning mist was thick, but as she bent to fill her bucket
she saw something. It was something moving in the mist.
As she watched, the mist parted and out of it came an old buffalo cow. It was
one of the old buffalo women who always led the herds. Behind her came
the last few young buffalo warriors, their horns scarred from fighting,
some of them wounded. Among them were a few calves and young cows.
Straight toward the side of the mountain, the old buffalo cow led the
last herd. As the Blackfoot woman watched, the mountain opened up in
front of them and the buffalo walked into the mountain.
Within themountain the earth was green and new. The sun shone and the meadowlarks
were singing. It was as it had been before the whites came. Then the
mountains closed behind them. The buffalo were gone.
A not so old Blackfoot story,
The vision of the the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka, contained a vast sky with stars
that reached far into old ancestral regions, held high with Father Sun and the
ever watching moon, and Mother Earth. The mother was filled with all things of
living light, the birds, the trees, the grasses of the prairies, the deer, and bear.
The Great Spirit saw all things walking, flying, swimming, growing and he
witnessed the birth of all that is, as well as the lives and deaths of all things.
As the moon that filled the sky was replaced by the smiling of Father Sun, Wakan
Tanka saw other things live on, Amidst change there was consistency.
Songs and laughter as well as stories of harmony and delight were told for all
The Great Spirit touched wind and rain, felt love and hate, courage and terror,
unbridled fear, joy and sadness.
Wakan Tanka meditated for many passing moons so that the vision may be clear.
With wisdom infinite, it was known like the beating of the heart, that his vision
must be fulfilled.
The Great Spirit had to bring the vision unto all in creation, that, which he had
witnessed in his vision, all that he had seen, heard, or felt, or even knew to pass.
Out of the void he created the rocks of the earth, as well as fire, water, and
wind. And like a mother nursing her child he breathed his breath of life into all
that he had created. On each was bestowed it's own essence and nature. Every
thing having it's own power which it in itself later came to know as it's spirit or
From these four creations was created the physical world of Sun, Stars, Moon,
On Earth the Great Spirit formed the mountains, valleys, plains, islands, lakes,
bays, rivers, streams and creeks. All the water of his creation painted so
wonderfully across the Mother like a dress of life.
To Father Sun, the Great Spirit gave the power of living light and heat. To
Mother Earth was given the power of growth and healing; to water, purity and
renewal; to the wind - music and the breath of life itself.
Everything being as it should be.
Then the Great Spirit made the rooted brothers of the Earth. There were four
kinds: vegetables, flowers, grasses, and trees. Each was given a spirit of life,
growth, healing and beauty, harmony and order.
After plants came both warm and cold blooded beings, There were two leggeds,
four legged, winged ones and the swimmers.
Last the Great Spirit created the human beings. Though last in order of creation
and in the order of dependence and weakest in bodily powers, humans were given
a great gift - the power to dream and have vision.
The Great Spirit made the Great Laws of Nature for the wellbeing and harmony
of all creatures. The Great Laws governed the place and movement of the Father
Sun, moon, stars, the power of wind, water, fire and rock, governed the rhythm
and continuity of life, birth, growth, and decay. All things lived and worked by
The Great Spirit's vision had now been manifested and brought into existence.
I have brought this story to you so that you may know your roots, your origin,
it has never been expected for you to find your way through the map of time
without a point of reference.
Lovin ya in the warmest way,
You know, there is an old saying that God
strengthens the back to bear the burden.
We would assure you that when you see with
the eyes of the spirit you will understand
a further truth: that there are no burdens
except those you yourselves pick up and put
on your backs ...
We long to show you that you yourselves take burdens upon yourselves. The wise man or woman never does this. They set themselves free to soar in spirit
- White Eagle
Once in his young mans life he was told of a village where there had been a
massacre and the long houses of these people had been toppled on top of them
and most where dead but some were buried alive. Elks Heart moved quickly and
gathered his items of health and healing and went to the site of the massacre
without any delay.
For five days and nights he dug like a hungry dog for a bone trying to find and
help people. Working himself nearly to death, his fingers swollen, his heart numb,
and his body darkened with the crimson of the remains of the massacre.
When he came home to his own village of his childhood there he was greeted and people
showed that they cared, yet Elks Heart wanted nothing and would accept the
same for his efforts.
In the winters he would gather wood and food and always give it to the people,
leaving him very cold and hungry on many cold winter nights, but he never
complained and never gave up his selfless ways.
He kept a watchful eye on all the people in the village and always, in the first sign of illness or problem, Elks
Heart would be the first one there to give, to help, or to heal. The people loved
Then one morning Elks Heart woke up late, the sun was already in the sky. As he
went outside he took notice his old horse was gone. This saddened old Elks Heart
this now missing horse was his friend and his brother for many years and now
all of a sudden he was gone.
Elks Heart, not being one to complain, just went over by his fire and sat down and began singing songs of prayer feeling maybe the
Great Spirit would give to Elks Heart a vision on where his old friend could be.
During this time some of the fellow tribesman heard the tribes Holy Man
singing and praying and crying so they moved closer to Elks Heart in hopes to
hear what it was that was causing this time of crying and one of then said he
heard Elks Heart say something to Great Spirit about his horse friend being
Well that did it, the alarm was sounded and all the people came and the tragic
tale of some thief coming in the middle of the night and stealing the tribes most
Holy Man horse. Their Medicine Man had been made a victim. This, of course,
caused major conflict. One family said they spotted another families son near
Elks Heart's lodge the night before and a fight pursued the allegations.
Then some of the nights fire guard said some visiting Shawnee boys seemed
to have more horses when they left then when they came. Upon hearing this the
braves danced and painted their faces for war and they all rode to the Shawnee
village and killed all the Shawnee braves and took all their horses for Elks Heart
When the braves returned to their village with all these Shawnee horse,
everybody in the village knew that there was victory for their people in battle, at
least so it seemed.
All of the people and the war party went to Elks Heart's lodge where he was
still singing and praying and just as the people approached he ended his prayer
and stood up and faced the direction of west. The people spoke to him and asked
him to see the horses of victory that had been brought to him for his
compensation over his horse being stolen.
Elks Heart gazed about the horses and looked back to the direction of the West
and said: "None of these are my missing horse." The people looked very dismayed
by his statement knowing that this was 'all' of the horses from the Shawnee
village. The people then said to the old Medicine Man, his horse must be here and
to please look again, they also told him that he could quit crying those tears of
pain now, his horse has been found.
Hearing this, Elks Heart turned to the people and said that there were "no tears
of pain." He stated he was simply "crying for a vision" so that he may "get a
vision from Great Spirit" on the whereabouts of his old horse friend. Elks Heart
claimed that "Great Sprit" told him his horse was in the west greener pasture to
graze on the soft grass.
Elks Heart pointed to the direction of the West. "What is that coming over the
west hill?" a voice shouted. And when the people looked they could see it was
Elk Heart's old horse friend.
Now after all the excitement and fighting and warring they knew they messed up and looked to Elks Heart for wisdom in this
situation and Elks Heart smiling watching as his old horse friend drew nearer,
and nearer. There was a moment of silence and when he finally spoke he said:
"Look... there's my old horse."
Nez Pierce (1840-1904)Chief Joseph,
Known by his people as In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat,
(Thunder coming up over the land from the water), was best
known for his resistance to the U.S. Government's attempts
to force his tribe onto reservations.
The Nez Perce were a peaceful nation spread from Idaho
to Northern Washington. The tribe had maintained good
relations with the whites after the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Joseph spent much of his early childhood at a mission
maintained by Christian missionaries.
In 1855 Chief Joseph's father, Old Joseph,
signed a treaty with the U.S. that allowed his people to
retain much of their traditional lands. In 1863 another
treaty was created that severely reduced the amount of
land, but Old Joseph maintained that this second treaty
was never agreed to by his people. A showdown over
the second (non-treaty) came after Chief Joseph assumed
his role as Chief in 1877.
After months of fighting and forced marches, many of the
Nez Perce were sent to a reservation in what is now
Oklahoma, where many died from malaria and starvation.
Chief Joseph tried every possible appeal to the federal
authorities to return the Nez Perce to the land of their
ancestors. In 1885, he was sent along with many of his
band to a reservation in Washington where, according
to the reservation doctor, he later died of a broken heart.
"I am tired of fighting.... from where the sun now stands,
I will fight no more."
"Our fathers gave us many laws, which they had learned from
their fathers. These laws were good. They told us to treat all
people as they treated us; that we should never be the first to
break a bargain; that is was a disgrace to tell a lie; that we should
speak only the truth; that it was a shame for one man to take
another his wife or his property without paying for it."
"We were contented to let things remain as the Great Spirit
"Suppose a white man should come to me and say, Joseph,
I like your horses. I want to buy them."
"I say to him, No, my horses suit me; I will not sell them."
"Then he goes to my neighbor and says, Pay me money,
and I will sell you Joseph’s horses."
"The white man returns to me and says, Joseph, I have
bought your horses and you must let me have them."
"If we sold our lands to the government, this is the way
they bought them."
"I am not a child, I think for myself. No man can think for me."
"If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian,
he can live in peace. Treat all men alike. Give them a
chance to live and grow."
"All men were made brothers. The earth is the mother
of all people, and all people should have equal rights
upon it. You might as well expect the rivers to run backward
as that any man who was born free should be contented
when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases."
"If you tie a horse to a stake, do you expect him to grow fat?
If you pen an Indian up on a small spot of earth, and compel
him to stay there, he will not be contented, nor will he grow
"The earth and myself are of one mind."
"We were taught to believe that the Great Spirit sees and
hears everything, and that he never forgets, that hereafter he
will give every man a spirit home according to his deserts; If he
has been a good man, he will have a good home; if he has been
a bad man, he will have a bad home.
This I believe, and all my people believe the same."
"Good words do not last long unless they amount to something.
Words do not pay for my dead people. They do not pay for my country,
now overrun by white men. They do not protect my father’s grave. They
do not pay for all my horses and cattle."
"Good words cannot give me back my children. Good words will
not give my people good health and stop them from dying. Good words
will not get my people a home where they can live in peace and take care
"I am tired of talk that comes to nothing It makes my heart sick when I
remember all the good words and all the broken promises. There has been
too much talking by men who had no right to talk."
"It does not require many words to speak the truth."
"We do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel about
God, as the Catholics and Protestants do. We do not want that."
"We may quarrel with men about things on earth, but we never quarrel
about the Great Spirit.
"I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our
harts more. I will tell you in my way how the Indian sees things. The white
man has more words to tell you how they look to him, but is does not
require many words to seek the truth."
"Too many misinterpretations have been made... too many misunderstandings..."
Once when I was a child there was a place, my private place, it was a hill
covered with trees, and beautiful grasses, and flowers, with a winding
stream cutting it in half. One place in the world where the grass is just as
green on both sides.
There were melon collie days that I would go lay in the golden 10 acre
wheat field, next to the hill of so many beauties. As I would look up to the
sky I would see the powder blue of the sky with the cotton candy clouds
dancing free and proud.
As I lay there sometimes brother Hawk would fly over singing to me his
chants of a great hunter, so proud, and strong, ever so delighted to get a
glimpse of his red tail feathers, as he swooshed by, in a big hurry to stake
Across the field near where the forest bent to follow the stream often
came brother silver fox, timid, but curious enough to announce the he is here,
alive, and well, but none the less keeping his distance. Sometimes his lady
friend would visit and they would forget the world as he chased her to and
fro occasionally snipping at her tail as if to give her an extra little boost of
energy. But he was always a gentlemen and never playing to rough or long.
Sometimes as I lay there the gentle breeze would sing it's warm song so
soft I would awake later warm and happy as if I were in mothers bosom.
Sitting up and looking around all was to be seen was my dads old house there
tall and long like the lodges of the Navajo and a old green not like the fresh
spring, more like mold.
Across the wheat field was old lady Gazette's house a little quaint house
up on the other hill of no trees just rocks except for the old grandfather oak
the tales he would tell as the cold winter went racing past his old bare
limbs. And in the middle was the wooded hill of many beauties.
I remember walking on the wooded hill of many beauty's one day and a
council was being held in the green rather rounded space next to the river
were it had slowly made its path through the hill there I saw Brothers Deer
and rabbit, and dog, and cat, and squirrel, raccoon, groundhog, and many
feathered brothers and sisters all gleefully parading about forgetting the
world as if there was no reason to fear or stand guard, was I amazed.
As we all sat in council that wonderful day of golden moons we talked of
love of life, and joy, and harmony, all things good, a day in history.
Always everyday all that could be heard was the sounds of the universal
family singing, and chanting, and calling out like the sweet song of the
whiperwheel, or the bobwhite as we lay on our mats at night.
Then one day some two leggeds came these were not just hikers, or nature
lovers, they wore steel hats, and had funny devices that sat on tripods, like
the ones we use over our fires to prepare a meal, or make lye soap.
In their big trucks and their speaking boxes was plans (little did we who
sat in the council the context of these plans) of a changing of our world a
change of times never to heal and be as we knew it again truly the blue
road oe East and West had came to us.
First early in the mornings the big yellow dozers would show up snorting
black smoke like sick demons as they began cutting in to mother earth foot,
by foot, as they work, we in the council stood by in shock, as they cut a road
across the golden wheat field. We saw brother rabbit, weeping to the loss of
his family under the treads of the yellow demons.
Then came the trucks that had the foul smelling tar that spilled into the
stream killing the brother fish and causing brother raccoon and his family to
have to leave to find a new home to survive, because it was out of the love
of brother fish, did brother raccoon sustain life.
As they moved closer and closer to the green wooded hill of so many
beauties, I could see Vietnam, and Sarajevo, Teniman square, Kent State,
Wounded knee, as we stood bye and watched all the brothers and sisters of
the bush, and forest, flee for their lives.
After a few months all the brother trees an the hill with many beauty's
was torn from their roots and the stream had been forced to change its
course because of the steel tubes, and the concrete walls, that the two
legged had put into the heart of Mother Earth. As she lay there screaming in
agony what was left of the council which was now only a few of the winged
brothers brother groundhog and brother hawk stood bye and watched.
Now where there was once a golden field of wheat that one could lay in
and dream of a good things, are buildings, and a parking lot, built by the two
leggeds no longer does brother Hawk have domain here. Why would he want
to there is nothing to hunt. And for brother fox, well, he was shot by one of
the two leggeds and as he lay there dying in his tearing eyes of death he
could see his beloved lady friend running for her life, as puffs of dirt kicked
up behind her, from the near misses of the two leggeds rifle.
The once beautiful hill is now flattened and the green grasses and
beautiful flowers only exist in the minds of those who still live, who sat in
council that fine sunny day and forgot the dangers of the world.
Laying on my mat at night I hear the clanking of trains and honking of car
horns and sirens and brother dog and his constant complaing of his unlawful
imprisonment. Occasionally I hear a whipperwheel but not for a couple of
summers now the Old Grandfather Oak fell to the heavy ice last winter
taking with him the wisdom of century past. All in the name of progress.
Still I lay on my back on the concrete of the sidewalk, next to the parking
lot that is next to that old Navajo Lodge, and I look up to the powder blue sky
and day dream, as I watch the smoke from the giant stacks of the factories
built by the two leggeds drift by cold and still.
This story by Yellowhand, to all my relations.
The angry fire spirits has no mercy always killing and destroying all it comes
in contact with. But always there is balance to things.
Eventually the Wakinyan (thunder beings) see the fire spirits and the resulting
mayhem caused by the fire spirits and their violent rage. So the Wakinyan Oyate
spread the waters of life gently upon the faces and souls of the angry fire
spirits calming them. Soon the fire spirits looses their anger and becomes one
with the loving rains of the water of life.... thus harmony and the way of things.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Want to make a comment or drop me a letter?
Just click on the link below and 'presto' we'll be connected!