Thursday, August 10, 2017

Ke' the binding tie

"Shaa alchin e"- means all my children.

It is Thanksgiving and for us also a time of birth. It was a night
unlike this one when I sat up after feeling the movement of something
tiny and small moving against the wall of her stomach. She was from
the mountain country, having lived her life on the high plains with
her people. When I met her I liked the way she laughed and she had
long black hair hanging down to her waist and she could run like the
wind. She was now my wife. She didn't know my land or people, her way
of life was one of being raised on deer meat, pow wows and in her
language they call the circle of life-Noohrahvoop.

I can remember it plainly as it were this evening. We were young, and
had no money, just two rez kids starting out in life. We lived in a
small apartment, we were lying in bed when she said she felt something
in her stomach. it was the touch of a fleet soft flicker of life. I
can remember her eyes twinkled at the feel of this child, my child
moved for the first time inside her.

I looked at her, her hair hung loosely covering her breasts and just
parted over her stomach. I will always remember her sitting halfway up
and resting against the headboard just like that. I reached out and
touched her. She is a shy person and felt awkward that I was trying to
feel the movement and we laughed a little at one another. It was a
cold winter night, and we were alone together, no one but us. I had
never been here before, to know that this small tiny person growing
was reaching out and letting us know he was there and making his
presence known. This was not like any other night, this was our life

What will the future hold? Where will we be years from now? How will
things be as he gets older? How can such a thing be, a miracle, this
young life growing?

We have to find a horse, I said. She looked at me with large brown
eyes and said, Why? She said the flutter was there again. I sat up and
looked at her squarely. She looked curiously at me. I told her. When
it is time for him to be born, we will have to pack you up and take
you to the mountain, to the forest up there. There was a mountain
outside our window. He will need to born in the old way. She looked at
me as if I were nuts. She said, it will be snowing in November when he
is born, and what makes you think it will be a boy. I said, I always
planned to have my first child being a boy. It is the way it was
always supposed to be. She said. I'm sure. I said, don't you hear it?
What, she said. I looked at her and told her it is in the wind, the
mountain tops are calling his name. The rustle of trees know it. She
just looked at me and said, you're crazy.

I find myself this evening remembering what is to wait to hear the
sound of a baby's cry, a small voice sounding out that a new century,
a new life has taken root. My son who was a flicker of life is now
grown. He has just had a new daughter born to him born in the past few
days and my only daughter is just now waiting to hear the sound of her
own child making his way into the world. Where will they go and what
will they be? I am not sure, but looking back I stand with my father,
and his father and his father all the way to the time we began just
like a small voice, a new born held by a woman, our mothers who took
great pains to care for us from then to now. It begins again and
though I have not seen him yet, I know a little about him. I live a
little through him, though he has no name yet, but then he is one of
my children, a part of myself that will go on.

How far we have come, Ke' (family tied together by a mother's womb),
there is no english word for it. It binds us all the way back to when
the forests, valleys, mesas and plains were our only home. Going all
the way back to a time we can not remember, but lives in the stories
and legends of our clans, family and people, of those who were here

My daughter spoke with me a little while yesterday and said she needed
some leather, some buckskin to make the cradleboard fit him. When he
is placed in it, he will be surrounded by zig zag lightning from his
feet to his head, which will be protected by a rainbow and shaded from
the sun. The long boards come from a tree, not too far from where we
have always lived. This young woman, my daughter now grown sat at the
feet of my own father as a child. I remember them talking and he told
her the story of how the cradle board is made and how the child is
wrapped. She was just a kid back then. She learned from her
grandmother that from pain comes life, that in a woven red sash belt
is needed to hold on to that this tie represents much more than just
something to hold on to, and that when all was done, that the child
would be protected and blessed by the Twin Heros, that such is the way
it has been and will always be.

I can see him, my father as he took her small hands and showed her how
it was done when she was just a child. Now she came to me and said
tell me again how it is with such things. We talked a little bit and
now it was my turn to talk about cradleboards. It is the way, Hozhoji,
I could here myself repeat my father's words; just like she knew.

My daughter is no longer a child, but will be a mother, and she will
sing, and dance in the house of her mother, and know the places of her
father. He does not have a name yet, but he carries the stories of
many lives in his blood, my wife's people and those of my own. His cry
will carry to the valley and to mountain top. It will not be loud and
we will wait to roll him in the snow and celebrate his first laugh
with a giveaway. He is the past and future tied together.

Tonight I can find no rest, I took a walk and looked around at the
earth around me and see the stars haven't changed their place, but yet
I know I will go on from this day and so will continue on. How strange
it is to know that for all the struggles, cares and woes that have
come to us, we continue to survive, to go on and to hope for long
summer days, the taste of cool water and to hear the laughter of
children playing not too far off. So I wait to see what the dawn will


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