This is the first book I read as research when I started the Dead Horse Canyon series. That was three years ago in January and I have learned so much since then. It opened my eyes to the fact that history books truly are written by the victors, often to justify horrific deeds, vilify the conquered, or pretend they never happened. Every American History book in print should have this one as an appendix, albeit “the rest of the story.” What follows is the review I wrote in January 2019. –MF
Great Speeches by Native Americans
Edited by Bob Blaisdell
Anyone who thinks they know American history needs to read this book. Those who don’t understand why the white men are hated also need to read it. In a nutshell, it’s a testimonial of exploitation, lies, and aggression, which has been the norm on the part of supposed “civilized” nations for millennia. Seeing indigenous people as inferior, savages, and uncivilized based on their lifestyle and thus treating them no better than animals has a sordid and long history.
This book chronicles the treatment of the Indigenous Americans from the first contact by the Pilgrims in the 1600s through the 20th century. The lies and aggression are nothing short of shameful and an embarrassment to any honest person. Those of us who grew up playing “cowboys and Indians” and watching similar TV shows were not seeing things as they really are.
In most cases, the Indigenous Americans only wanted peace. Some had the foresight to see the problems that were coming. They saw the land as sacred, given to them by The Great Spirit, and they treated Mother Earth with respect and gratitude. They may not have had the white man’s technology, but their societal norms were often far more advanced than “civilized” nations. The wholesale slaughter and exploitation of these people in the name of Christianity is a national disgrace.
Besides the actual slaughters, their children were often taken away, essentially kidnapped, and sent to boarding schools where their native culture was derided while they were indoctrinated with supposedly white civilization’s values. Their women were often sterilized without their knowledge. There is no doubt the intent was genocide.
If you think things have changed today, think again. Power and control by those with selfish and evil intent still prevails. Corporate power subdues the rights of individuals. Nothing has changed.
I cried more reading this book than any novel. It’s a very sad commentary on the foundation of the United States. These Native Americans were highly intelligent, moral individuals. In the vast majority of cases, they were only aggressive when they’d had enough of being lied to and could see the intent was their annihilation.
Read it. More people need their eyes opened to the truth that is our history and how it relates to what’s going on today.
Most people are familiar with the saying “To the victor go the spoils,” which includes writing (or rewriting) history books to justify defeating the enemy.
With that in mind, see how many of the following questions you can answer correctly.
1. True/False King Ferdinand was given permission to kill indigenous people or make them their slaves by the pope.
2. How many tribal nations have a formal nation-to-nation relationship with the U.S. Government?
3. How many federal and state-recognized American Indian reservations are there?
4. How many states have a recognized American Indian reservation?
5. True/False The Founding Fathers were sympathetic toward Native Americans and recognized their rights under the Declaration of Independence.
6. True/False The Declaration of Independence’s statement that “all men are created equal” included Native Americans.
7. What was the reason for the majority of U.S. Government – Indian wars?
a. White settlers occupying Indian land in violation of treaties
b. U.S. Government ignoring existing treaties due to westward expansion.
c. Loss of livelihood and hunting grounds to encroachment by white settlers.
d. All of the above
8. Indian people are categorized by culture and geography. Which of the following are NOT considered culture areas?
a. Arctic, subarctic, Northwest Coast, Plateau
b. Great Basin, California, Southwest, Mesoamerica
c. Great Plains, Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean
d. None of the above
9. In the early 19th Century, Sequoyah, a Cherokee polymath from the Little Tennessee Valley created:
a. A list of treaty violations to present to the U.S. Congress
b. The allotment system to assign land to individuals
c. A syllabary of 86 ornate characters
10. Which of the following places are based on Native American names?
a. Allegheny, Alaska, Adirondack
b. Biloxi, Caddo, Chattanooga
c. Hatteras, Erie, Huron
d. Wyoming, Winnebago, Wichita
e. All of the above
1. True. The first papal bull issued for King Ferdinand in Spain after Columbus returned from the Caribbean stated: “All people of North America are no better than feral animals and may be slaughtered at will.”
And that bull was followed by another that accompanied the North American land grants: “All land grants will be governed by the same rules as the land grants in Spain, to which you have been accustomed. Thus, as usual, any people populating your land defined by the land grant here issued are your slaves.”
2. b. 567 tribal nations
3. c. 334 reservations
4. a. 35 states with reservations
5. False. George Washington was known as Town Destroyer in the Seneca language based on the decimated cornfields and razed villages he promoted. Thomas Jefferson as Governor of Virginia, ordered a war of extermination against the Shawnee.
6. Following that “created equal” statement it states “except the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.
Yes, it really says that. The Natives were accused of being savages for defending their homeland while as one example, at Sand Creek the U.S. Army slaughtered innocent Native Americans who were literally flying the U.S. Flag with a white banner of surrender.
Custer did, indeed, have it coming.
I find it ironic that following WWII the U.S. was more than generous helping to rebuild war zones of former enemies in Germany and Japan, yet few promises made to this country’s original residents have been kept.
7. d. All of the above are reasons for the U.S. – Indian Wars.
The “Manifest Destiny” attitude of America’s early European explorers and subsequent settlers toward the country’s native population was overtly hostile. Land that was virtually stolen, deceptive treaties of which the Indigenous signers were not advised of their true content, and treaties to which both signatories agreed but Congress never ratified are but a part of the sordid tale.
Too many members of the Native population live in substandard conditions with many reservations comparable to a Third World Country and comprise some of the poorest counties in the United States. Yet now the government proposes giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to illegal aliens for being “inconvenienced.”
What’s wrong with this picture?
8. d. None of the above. All represent designated cultural areas.
9. c. A syllabary of 86 characters based on the sound of syllables in the Cherokee language
10. e. All of the above. Hundreds, more likely thousands, of places in the U.S. and Canada retain their Native American names.
SCORES BASED ON NUMBER CORRECT
9 – 10 Cheated or has a college degree in Native American History.
The suspense-laden sequel to triple award winning “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” is now available!
In honor of Native American Heritage Month both this new release as well as its predecessor, “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits,” are on sale in ebook format for only $0.99 through November 30, 2021.
If you’ve read the first book, no doubt you’ve been wondering what happens now that Charlie and Sara have discovered what her husband, Bryan, discovered that cost him his life.
While Charlie swore to avenge his white brother’s death, the path to do so remains unclear.
His job with Lone Star Operations allows him to use his college education and earn a generous income. However, it conflicts with everything he knows to be right. Is violating the Earth wrong or not? Little does he realize that his work will ultimately return him to the Northern Cheyenne reservation where his true destiny will manifest in ways he never imagined.
Sara is determined to fulfill Bryan’s last request to expose the government corruption coupled with the lethal forces that stole his life. Releasing the scandalous Top Secret data via WikiLeaks infuriates those with much to lose, which places her in the cross-hairs of a hired killer.
While miles apart, each struggles with life-threatening situations as a result of their dedication to Bryan’s legacy. Their lives remain entangled through a series of fateful decisions and circumstances that define a future fraught with unknowns for them both.
The books are available through the following links with more vendors to follow in the coming days. Remember that reviews are pure gold to authors and help other readers decide on whether a book is right for them.
The wisdom of indigenous people is something the world is in sorry need of today. There is nothing I can say that would have greater meaning on this day set aside to honor indigenous peoples throughout the world than what is said in the following video. Note that the speaker, Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman (Kangi Duta) crossed over to the next life in 2007. His words are truer now than ever before.
What we have done to our planet is shameful. The consequences will not be pretty.
Here’s an excerpt from “Return to Dead Horse Canyon: Grandfather Spirits,” the sequel to “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits.”
June 24, Sunday
When they arrived in Denver, Sara led the way to the Starbucks on East Colfax, a few doors down from the credit union where Bryan used to work. It felt right, as if the place that brewed his morning coffee would be where he’d do the deed himself.
They pulled into the parking lot, then filed inside, welcomed by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Sara did her best to act casual, though adrenaline pulsed through her as if her foe were already in pursuit.
They ordered. She removed her debit card from the zipper compartment in her purse. Will grasped her wrist and shook his head.
She frowned, confused. “It’s okay, Dad. I’ve got it.”
“No, Sara. I’ve got cash.”
Oh. . .
Beverages in hand, they looked around for a place to sit. “Should we go outside?” Connie suggested. “No one else is out there.”
While Sara debated, Will noted, “It’s awful sunny. Lots of glare.”
“True,” Sara agreed, pointing to a table near the window in back. After opening her laptop she laughed, afternoon sunshine from the south-facing window obscuring the screen. She and Connie switched places.
She connected to WiFi. As Firefox loaded Will’s expression reeked one final statement of disapproval. They held hands a moment, said a silent prayer. When she opened her eyes, it felt as if the coffee shop’s new-age logo was leering at her from the opposing wall.
Her hands shook as she typed in the WikiLeaks URL. The page loaded. The link for submissions beckoned. She entered the necessary information, then selected the huge file from the hard drive. She paused a single heartbeat, then held her breath and clicked send.
Even as a zip file it took a few minutes to upload. She gnawed her lip, eyes locked on the progress bar. Submission accepted popped up on the screen.
After sharing a collective sigh, they raised their drinks in a solemn toast. Paper cups touched amid expressions saturated with unknowns.
As Sara drained her Cappuccino she noticed a thirty-something man with brown curly hair and a neatly trimmed beard watching from a single’s table near the front.
He looked vaguely familiar.
Someone from Bryan’s work perhaps?
“I think we’re being watched,” she whispered.
“Was he here when we arrived?” Will asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“You need to start paying attention to things like that, Sara. Let’s go and see if anyone follows us.”
“Why would he? There’s not much he can do about it now.”
“You’d be surprised.”
As they pushed open the door and exited Connie said in a low voice, “Why don’t I drive the Benz and you go with Sara?”
“Good plan. I’ll help her go through the condo for any new listening devices. Meet us there. And keep a close eye on the rearview mirror.”
* * *
Even before he recognized the dark-haired woman at the back table, NSA IT specialist Jason LaGrange’s spidey sense told him that trio was up to no good.
In spite of the afternoon glare from the window beside her, when she’d glanced in his direction he remembered.
That picture. The one in Reynolds’s personal belongings. In the box he picked up at the credit union.
That was her.
Apparently oblivious to his scrutiny, he casually picked up his phone, zoomed in, and snapped a surreptitious photo while they got settled at the table.
She opened a laptop.
What the hell were they doing holding hands? Praying?
Already into the establishment’s Wi-Fi, a few keystrokes networked her computer to his own.
She typed a URL.
Or tried to, correcting a few typos before getting it right.
His eyes widened.
This was exactly what that Cracker Jack ops team was supposed to prevent.
He hit Cancel too late to stop the file transfer, but snagged a copy, its size identical to the one on the thumb-drive recovered from Reynolds’s place of employment.
He ground his teeth.
That incompetent bunch of wannabes had done nothing but screw up since Day One.
He texted Keller.
Heads-up. Target female just uploaded huge file to WikiLeaks.
The response was instantaneous.
WTF? Last report showed no movement or audio activity for several hours.
Navajo (Diné) blankets and rugs are world-famous for their beauty and technique. Here are two videos that tell about them. The first one is a lovely montage with no narration, just restful Native American music in the background and the other is Wally Brown, a Diné elder, talking about his mother who was a weaver. Following that is an excerpt from Chapter 24 of “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” where the main character, Charlie Littlewolf, reminisces on when he helped his amasani (Diné for grandmother) weave a very special blanket.
RURAL FALCON RIDGE
June 9, Saturday
Charlie sat cross-legged in front of the fireplace, wool blanket draped around his shoulders. In two days he’d start work with Lone Star Operations.
Was there any other way he could make that kind of money?
No. Absolutely not.
The prospect, however, shadowed his mind like a storm front. In response a random thought tickled his psyche.
This is something you must do.
The justification, however, remained buried beneath any conscious awareness.
Besides the industry itself, what concerned him most was the thought of living with those people. Like when he left for college.
Harassment stories along with the racist views that characterized the industry constituted modern tales of cowboys and Indians. Working with them all day would be bad enough. But bunking with them as well? He didn’t want to think about the pranks he’d be subjected to.
He pulled the wrap closer, fingers entwined in its soft texture. June or not, nights were brisk at seven thousand feet. Its earthy scent, including a hint of lanolin, unfurled memories of three decades past, when he was living on the Diné reservation in New Mexico.
His very first job.
An assignment he resented.
He could still see Littlebear leaning against the horse corral, arms folded across his chest.
“No, son,” he’d said. “You have only six winters. You are too young for the javelina hunt. You must stay and help your mother and amasani.”
Charlie hung his head, thinking he’d sneak away somewhere for the remainder of the day.
“Look at me,” his father commanded. When he obeyed, his intent collided with the probing eyes of a knowing parent. “When I return you will tell me what you did and they will tell me if you did it well.”
He pouted, looking back at the ground. Not hunting with his father was disappointing enough. That edict made it even worse. The teasing he’d suffer from his cousins and friends for doing the work of squaws would be merciless.
Moccasins shuffling in the dirt, he trudged back home to find his mother. As soon as he stepped inside their hogan she took one look at his sour face and shooed him away.
Outside again, he stifled a smile, vindicated to pursue his original plan. Then he remembered. His work was subject to review. His grandmother, one of the tribe’s weavers, was his other option. He’d watched her work a few times, but progress was slow and tedious—far too boring to hold his interest for any length of time. With luck, she wouldn’t be busy and would tell him one of her wonderful stories. He especially liked those about mischievous coyote.
But when he got to her little house, she wasn’t there.
It sounded like a big commotion over by the training corral. Sheep bleating along with people talking and a variety of other unfamiliar sounds. Curiosity tickled, he headed that way.
The characteristic smell of sheep was strong with so many confined to a small area. That, along with all the dust, evoked a giant sneeze. He wiped his nose on his sleeve, then climbed up on the fence to watch the antics of one of the lambs. That held his attention until he spotted his grandmother a short distance away.
What was she doing, poking around what looked like dozens of flat, dead sheep?
Then it a registered: Shearing time.
He watched one of the men use clippers to peel away a year’s worth of wool from one of the ewes. It came off in what looked like a solid piece. His grandmother spotted him and waved him over.
Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“I’m supposed to help you today, amasani,” he said.
Her weathered face, round like the moon and likewise bearing the grooves and craters of life, broke into a broad smile. “I’m so glad, grandson. What think you of all this wool?”
“I think it smells funny.”
“I like it,” she replied. “Sheep are almost as important now as buffalo were long ago. They give us meat and they give us wool. This is one of my favorite days, when I pick the fleeces I want before the rest go to market.”
“Aren’t they all the same?”
“No. Each is very different. Certain parts are better than others, too.” She took his little hand and led him over to those she’d set aside. “Let me show you.”
She pointed out the different parts of the animal from which the fleece was removed. Some areas were much cleaner and the fiber longer.
“I have a very special project I must do. I need you to separate the shoulder section from the ones I’ve chosen. Do you know why?”
He looked closer. “Because it is cleaner?”
“Yes. It is also the longest, which makes it easier to spin.”
That task finished, he thought he was done. Little did he realize his work had only begun. The raw wool needed to be prepared for spinning. She showed him how to tease each lock by pulling it apart.
His reverie paused as he rubbed his thumb and forefinger together, remembering how they squeaked when coated with lanolin. To his surprise back then, it also softened the callouses he’d earned practicing with his bow.
Next came combing the teased wool with a pair of carders that looked like giant-sized dog brushes. The resulting bats went into a reed basket, miniature clouds of fluff awaiting his grandmother’s skilled hand.
As the day wore on, his arms ached and he couldn’t card quickly enough to keep up with her spinning. She prodded him to work faster, her hand moving the spindle relentlessly as she twisted the prepared fiber into yarn.
As it turned out, the project lasted into summer. By then he earned her name for him, Naalnish. Once enough yarn was spun, the fun began. Now he could do some exploring while he gathered the dye materials needed to produce a variety of warm colors. Best of all, the collection process for some required a knife or ax, a worthy task for a young brave.
Cottonwood leaves, yarrow, and oak bark were some of the things she requested. Among the most challenging were cochineal beetles which, when dried and ground into powder, yielded shades of red. It took an entire day or more to collect enough from their cactus homes for a single batch. To both him and his amasani, however, it was time well-spent.
When shewas ready to start the dyeing process, he hauled water from either the iron-rich spring north of their village for reds, or the alum-rich one to the east for yellows. The resident minerals affected the final hue and were necessary for the fiber to retain its color—the ‘”why” of which planted the seed for his interest in chemistry.
When she had sufficient dyed yarn, he helped warp the loom constructed from tree trunks, tie the warp rods that helped create the pattern, then wind the different colors on smooth sticks that served as shuttles.
Then, at last, weaving began.
He marveled day by day as she lifted the warp rods and alternated shuttles, colorful geometric patterns emerging with each row, until their collective labors produced a finished blanket that was not only functional, but a work of art.
His heart swelled as he remembered the day it came off the loom. She folded it carefully, hugged it a moment, then handed it to him with a sparkle in her eyes.
“Where should I put it for you, amasani?”
“In your hogan, Naalnish. By where you sleep.”
“Because it is yours.”
Only now, as a grown man, did he appreciate the love and wisdom of that experience. Especially when he discovered that most blankets, at least those offered for sale by members of the tribe, were not made the old way, but with commercial dye and machine-spun yarn.
This was one like none other, made expressly for him with his amasani’s love and his reluctant assistance.
It was far more than the work itself. It was what it taught him. Not only about the old ways, but of cycles. Of going full circle from the vegetation the sheep ate to grow wool to dyeing the yarn with some of those same plants. The process was tedious and long, yet the result was priceless.
From that first bat of carded wool to its liberation from the loom, it instructed him in the ways of life. It taught him patience, perseverance, and appreciation—for hard work and simple things.
The Diné believed part of their soul went into such creations and always hid a loop somewhere in the tight weave for their soul to escape. So far, it was so cleverly hidden he’d never found it. His fingers caressed the soft fiber, wondering if he ever would. It felt softer each year, improving with use, unlike so many things that didn’t last. Analogous to the earth itself and his connection to it.
All thanks to the wisdom of an old woman, who at the time was not much older than he was now. Whose kind heart would forever live in a cherished wrap that kept him warm for what would soon be thirty haigos, including many spent in the frigid Colorado Rockies.
How many white men had such a treasured possession?
If there’s one thing most of us need it’s an occasional sign that we’re heading in the right direction. One thing indigenous people have that most others don’t is a deep connection with nature, which talks to them on a regular basis.
Yes, I’m talking about spirit animals and receiving messages from them.
This morning when I went outside to feed my feral cats this beautiful spider web caught my eye. The fact it was on my deck furniture was slightly less than enchanting, but the perfection of the spider’s handiwork got my attention, especially the way it glistened in the rising sun.
In many cases, if you’re paying attention, you can figure out such a message yourself by considering the animal and its characteristics. At other times, it might be more subtle. In that case, you need a reference of some description to help you figure out what the natural world is trying to tell you.
Fortunately, I have such a reference, the book “Animal Messengers: An A – Z Guide to Signs and Omens in the Natural World.”
Here’s a excerpt from what it says about spiders: “The spider symbolizes infinite possibilities. With its eight legs it is anchored in every direction, and it weaves together the powers of the elements and their expression into a unified whole. The spider weaves webs of fate, in which we can get caught, and it encourages us to keep searching for new possibilities and explore the endless steps of our journey of learning. If your attention is drawn to a spider it wants to remind you that you are constantly building new webs with your own thoughts, feelings, actions, and visions that contain tasks you must solve and subjects you must deal with.”
As is always the case with such an encounter, this had a very personal meaning to me.
If you’re not listening to what nature is telling you, you’re missing out. If you need a little help discerning what an animal is trying to say, I highly recommend this book by Regula Meyer. Note that it does not contain exotic animals you might see in a zoo, but concentrates on those you’re likely to see in the wild including mammals, birds, invertebrates, and insects, for a total of 145 different animals. It was originally written in German, so some birds common to the United States such as cardinals are not included, either, but overall it’s very insightful. It’s available at Amazon via this affiliate link.
This book is a masterful work of art in addition to containing a collection of personal experiences from members of several different tribes. These include Navajo, Mi’kmaq, Abenaki, Seneca, Cherokee, Tarahumara, Maya, Olmec, Yaqui, Creek, and Choctaw.
Though testimonials about UFO encounters are included, the majority of the book is on a more spiritual level, dealing with other types of connections with the Star People. These include the importance of ceremony, previous lost civilizations from millennia ago, high technology in the distant past, the origin of indigenous people, and prophecies of the future, which is upon us now.
The book has been around a while, the original copyright in 2000, then renewed in 2012. In today’s world that’s a long time and many things prophesied that may not yet have occurred by either of those dates have by now.
I think my favorite section was “We Wander This World with a Purpose” by Mali Keating. She spoke of the Hopi, where they came from, and their numerous prophecies. Here’s an excerpt of one section that explained so much about our modern world.
“The Anasazi were a people left over from the migration. The people were told they must never stop and build cities, but of course some did…. Cities make people crazy, as we all know. People become greedy and lose the ability to work together.”
Here’s another, that may not have been as apparent when this book was first released as it is now:
“The Hopi said that they would know that the end is coming when roads crisscrossed this continent like the web of a spider–those are the vapor trails of airplanes. You can see vapor trails like the webs of spiders in the sky.”
Actually, roads on which we drive crisscross the continent, too. Those trails in the sky, however, are not vapor trails, they are called chemtrails. Vapor trails are condensation from normal airplanes whereas chemtrails are chemicals such as barium and aluminum being deliberately sprayed in the atmosphere to supposedly combat climate change. This, like so much else out there today, is a lie. If anything, they are causing the climate to go crazy by facilitating weather manipulation.
There are numerous photos of indigenous art and the layout of the book itself is genius, between Nancy Red Star’s commentaries before each entry to her free verse poetry at the conclusion. Reading these stories is not just informative, it’s an experience of another realm beyond what meets the eyes.
A realm that Native Americans and all indigenous people understand.
May we all learn from their ancient wisdom before it’s too late.
That’s a big word, isn’t it? I’d bet dollars to donuts most of you have never heard of it before, much less know what it means.
Okay, here’s a hint:
Indigenous people consider panpsychism to be intuitively obvious.
This is something that’s inherent to their culture. It’s a form of spirituality and reverence for life too many in today’s modern world lack.
If you’re still lost, here’s another hint.
If you’re a pet owner, you might know more about this than you realize. Do you believe your fur baby, or even fish or turtle, has a personality? Does that mean it has a soul? Okay, skip the dualism, do you believe it’s conscious? A sentient being?
What about your houseplants and garden, the trees that shade your home? Do you ever talk to them? Provided they’re not made of plastic, there’s no doubt they’re alive. But are they conscious? Some research in recent years suggests they are, even if they’re a bit snobbish about it and only talk to their own kind.
Anyone who’s had their car, computer, cell phone, or some other electronic device go wonky right when they need it most has seen this. Maybe it’s only Google spying on you, in which case you can hope they hear the unpleasant things you’re expressing in your frustration.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, panpsychism is the belief that all things, animate and otherwise, have consciousness. Here’s a quote from an article by Berit Brogaard, D.M.Sci., Ph.D. and graduate student, Kristian Marlow, published in Psychology Today a few years back:
“According to the traditional version of panpsychism, everything around you is conscious: the chair your are sitting on, the rock you use as a doorstopper at home and the thick hurricane-safe windows in your office. Panpsychism literally means that particular kinds of psychological states are embedded in everything…. Consciousness may be a force akin to electromagnetism or gravity that exists in some form on the fundamental level of reality.” (Read the entire article here. )
Indigenous people have known this to be true for thousands of years.
By now Native American readers are rolling on the floor at the stupidity of the white man. No wonder he makes so many bad decisions, he’s out of touch with his world in the most pathetic of ways. Now, at long last, the white man is starting to catch on. Spirit animals are becoming popular as well as sensitivities to other energies as well. The question is whether or not it’s too late.
One of my favorite stories is told by Russell Foureagles when he states, “This may sound crazy, but rocks–especially artifacts manufactured by our ancestors–have occasionally spoken to me and sent me pictures, sometimes even movies, when I picked them up. With the aid of a rock, I have not only seen the past but, in a sense, lived it.” (The Making of a Healer: Teachings of my Oneida Grandmother, p. 195) He goes on to tell a delightful story of a rock calling to him and telling him its amazing story of being part of a hide scraping tool thousands of years before.
Think what you want, but you cannot make this stuff up.
As a writer, I let my characters lead, and they often teach me many things I never could have imagined. I don’t believe as a writer I create their essence, then channel them. One of my favorite parts of “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” is Chapter 6, “The Aspen,” where Charlie Littlewolf connects with an quaking aspen tree that helps him solve his white brother’s murder. (You can read that excerpt here.) In my science fiction story, “The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51,” the main character is a telepathic walking plant. I’ve never seen plants quite the same way since.
Okay, you don’t have to be crazy to be an author but it helps.
My point is if we but learn to listen, there are messages all around us. What wisdom might a mighty oak convey? Meditate on a tree sometime and see what you learn. I’ve obtained amazing insights just watching my birdfeeder.
One of the problems of modern life is that we so rarely take time to listen.
Today is Earth Day, reminding us to honor and appreciate our planet as well as treat her kindly. The concept of doing so only once a year is incomprehensible to Indigenous cultures. Native American reverence for all living things extends to the Earth herself. Taking what you need with respect and gratitude is expected; exploiting her resources for the sake of greed is abhorrent.
Every day was “Earth Day.”
For example, bison (erroneously called buffalo) were revered and respected. They killed only what was needed for food, then used the hide, horns, bones, and sinew for such things as clothing, tipis, and tools. Nothing was wasted. Killing for sport or simply for the animal’s hide (much less its tongue), was unheard of.
Then the white man came.
At the beginning of the 19th century 30 to 40 million bison were present on the Plains. By 1895 their numbers had been reduced to roughly 1,000. Upon completion of the Intercontinental Railroad, they were often shot from moving trains. Hide Hunters moved into Native hunting grounds and slaughtered bison, leaving their rotting carcasses behind.
In 1873, Army Lt. Col. Richard Irving Dodge stated, “Where there were myriads of buffalo the year before, there were now myriads of carcasses. The air was foul with a sickening stench, and the vast plain which only a short twelve months before teemed with animal life, was a dead, solitary putrid desert.”
Historian, Pekka Hämäläinen, noted the effect this had on Native Americans when she noted, “The buffalo was the foundation of their economy and the centerpiece of their cosmology, and the wholesale slaughter shook their existence at its core.”
Where might our country be today if it weren’t for such wanton destruction? But the real question is have we learned anything since?