Imagine, if you can, that the age of exploration and expansion, beginning in 1300 AD and continuing through 1700 AD, failed in its efforts. The countries we know as having boundaries throughout the ‘americas’ would have continued as large groups of loosely allied Nations.
In tandem, these Nations traded, worked, and warred just like all other countries living in the same proximity. They shared common languages and practices but they varied more than they had similarities. We use a single title, Indians, for what once were 800 diverse Nations on two continents. This term lacks honor in and of itself.
This fictional account cannot accurately include the infinite practices of each tribe, nor their ways of living. Instead, this author hopes to enlighten, as she has been enlightened by the immeasurable contributions Tribes could have made to present generations.
The intentions of the explorers to colonize and of the priests to convert on the continents resulted, instead, in a mass genocide of tens of millions of individuals. Small pox, measles, plague, and ignorance cost history the price of 10,000 years of harmonious traditions with nature. The loss of plant and animal species driven to extinction cannot be tallied.
This story presumes an Intervening Tide allowed the ecosystems of the ‘american’ continents to remain intact. Earth keepers maintained Lands as if the earth was an immense temple. Exploitation of Earth resources was not a concept within the thought processes of Peoples who followed in their Ancestors’ footsteps.
This author challenges manifest destiny as equal to progress. The past two hundred years of industrial advancements are now adjacent to words such as climate change, pollution, rising sea levels, mass species extinction, drained oil reserves, rain forest ruin, drought, and aquifer collapse. With power comes ever increasing Responsibility toward harmony and justice. This author hopes that as has been said, We learn history to prevent making the same mistakes
Allow yourself to reflect on all the chances one has to coexist in peace within the self; as persons; as races; as nations; and with Mother Nature who grows weary of her ineffective keepers.
Chapter 1 An Intervening Tide
Yuta slid his hand slowly from his tiny birch canoe, reading the side of yet, another foreign ship. With his trained finger, he found his target: a loose bit of overlapping wood near the edge of the ship and the sea. He began his work with sharpened deer antlers for this made the least amount of noise. Gently prying, silently scraping as the rotted wood gave in to his skill. He next utilized his sharp obsidian drill while offering up his second prayer of the night, thanking the Earth for Her Gifts. He finished with his slate awl, wincing at a tiny sound as it struck against a rusted spike. He lay motionless in the dugout canoe, listening to the sentry above call out. He repeated the foreigner’s words over and over in his head. Memorizing words to add to the chant his profession used: the words of people with Silver Heads.
Clutching his Tortoise Shell totem, he had found a place where water already dripped into the hull weakened by seaworms, now, with his objective met, water streamed into the bulkhead. By the time Yuta reached the shore at dawn, only the white cloths from tops of the giant canoe of the Silver Heads would be visible as it sank beneath the waves. He would still see the last cloth as he reached his home on the island that reached far out into the icy sea.
He sang the song of sorrow softly and would perform his secret ritual cleansing through the night, as the cries from the Giant Canoe reached the spruce lined shores.
Mother Sea, Mother Sea
Take Silver Hat men
To your bosom without anguish.
Return their spirits to their far homes
To bid farewell to those they loved
Bring their life-force back as wiser Ones
Then restore the health of water creatures
Keep me safe as I work for you
Take me, take me gently
When comes my time.
He knew his prayers regarding Silver Hats weren’t always answered. Occasionally, the White Faced Ones drifted onto the sand, some dead, some barely alive. These men and occasionally, women were not touched, for all the Tribes knew they were Unclean and carried Breath of Sicknesses. If any portion of vessels arrived on shore, the Guardians used the opportunity to practice the skills of sabotaging the underside. But the remainders were burned with massive bonfires.
Those with White Faces that lived were left to themselves in the heavily wooded forests. If the Forests willed it and the Silver Hat was strong, he might survive and join one of the many Tribes of the Alliances. Elders from the Massachusett to the Ojibwa believed few White Faces existing upon The Land might hold all illnesses and protect the Peoples from contamination.
He smiled inside his heart at white child-like Beings from across the Big Water. He laughed a bit as he recalled long debates with His People on the subject of their failed missions.
“Why do the Silver Hats persist in roaming from the Land of Too Many People when Tribal Guardians are known to destroy ships?” his youngest had queried.
“Indeed, Many have asked your wise question.” Yuta agreed solemnly. “The Sentinels and the Guardians have served since the time of our Ancestors’ Decree.”
Yuta’s oldest daughter inquired, “Oh Wise Father, do you comprehend their canoes? They seem to not to recognize the Spirit of Oak, nor an expertise of stealth.”
Yuta smiled at her, just enough to show his teeth. In his mind, he replayed all he had seen. Giant, wobbling canoes of low grade woods, patched with grasses and tree sap.
“Honored Grandfather?” His curious granddaughter questioned, using hand motions to assist her with the complex discussion. Why do the Silver Hats stack two or three entire wigwams on their canoes?”
He glanced at the woman of his hearth, Bright Eyes. He warmed from her dark eyes splashed with bits of the sun; they had discussed this very topic many times.
He did not know. Tipi coverings tied over a wobbly deck allowed the foreign crafts to be easily identified miles from shore as Sentinels watched from hill, high rock, tower, or earth mound. The men-children that sailed were loud; engaging in what Yuta thought might a combination of songs and drinking of cactus juice.
Still, the frequently repeated bellow was examined at the meeting of Guardians each winter solstice. Tribal musicians from the Yazoo and the Hupa of the Warm Waters had translated the song over decades. The word ‘rum’ in particular was difficult to define and say, but meaning was gleaned from context, by the scent of fermentation connected with the dissonant tune. Intense anger fueled by profound fear was felt when the sailor song was repeated. The War Chiefs loathed the appalling cry of the White sailor. The Shamans labored to drive away evil with burning of sage and juniper.
Yo ho, yo ho, and a bottle of rum
It’s a sailors’ life for me.
We kindle and char and in flame and ignite.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We burn up the houses, we’re really a fright.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We’re rascals and scoundrels,
We’re villains and knaves.
We’re devils and black sheep,
Yo ho and a bottle of rum.
The Peace Chiefs of the Water Ways conducted a study comparing the translation to the Morning chant of Nations. The song of the White Faces differed so from the chants The People of The Center Land sang together in harmony as the sun rose. Tribes sang with Knowledge of eons, in gratitude, listing the names and values of beloved plants and animals. Mantras were customized by each Tribe to praise the riches and bounty of every terrain.
Maker of All,
I walk gently upon your soils,
Soft are my moccasins among young seedlings.
I treat your waters.
As my own blood.
I carry the souls of
My ancestors’ traditions.
We call out for your Strength.
To be wise.
Listening, listening, listening
To the beat of your Heart,
In every creature, every rock, every river.
Each month, after the full moon, Song of Creation included the warning of Intruders coming from the Great Water as was carved on stone circles of the Azteca. The additional verse was short, but sharp as an arrowhead. The low, discordant notes chilled Yuta as he sang into the night, turning his canoe to the west.
The Others, The Others
Will come. Will soon come.
We will hold your honor,
We will protect you,
And the lineage of our Grandmothers
At the cost of our lives.