Contemporary Microfiction About First Nations People
He came down off the mountain, that afternoon, and was carrying more than just his belongings. He was thinking, and his heart was filled with questions. What was he supposed to do now? What was he supposed to do with all of the supernatural that had occurred? On the one hand his vision quest had been a huge success. He felt connected to the earth and to his people now, but what was he supposed to do with it all? How do you take feelings and put them into action?
The woman in white did give him some directions. He had a few people in mind that could teach him the old ways, or at least some of the songs. He knew, that he knew, he was to be a drummer, but he needed to learn that as well. Here he was seventeen, and he knew almost nothing of his people’s ways. He had rejected it all, for a long time. Tears filled his eyes, as he reached the old pickup at the bottom of the mountain. He threw his gear in the back, and headed for home.
And for the first time in his life he wanted to dance, but he did not know much about it – other than feeling the music, and flowing with it. As he drove the highway, he realized he was getting ahead of himself, and he thought about his time on the mountain, and the incredible peace there. He inwardly relaxed, and began to think of what to tell his father and mother.
His parents were at the dinner table when he came in. There was some small talk, as Johnny drank some chicken broth. He was feeling weak and hungry now from all the fasting. Then he opened up, and told them everything, including seeing his Grandfather’s spirit, and the vision of the lady in white. His mother was shocked that all of this had taken place, while his father just sat there and glowed. And he told them, “I remembered what Grandfather used to call me, it was Nighthawk”. “That’s the name I want to go by”. “And I need someone to teach me the ways, the songs, maybe even the language.”
Two weeks later he was being taught after work, by Tom Crowfoot, a trusted friend and a member of the people’s council. Nighthawk thought it was unusual, but Tom started out his training by telling stories, not just any stories, but stories about, and by, his people. He started with creation, how people came into being, and how his tribe began, and then how they lived in the mountains in peace, for many years. He even told funny stories about husbands and wives. After all that was a part of life, and part of the history of the people.
“You must find out where you are from – in order to know where you are going”, was Tom’s favorite expression. There was so much wisdom in this, and in the stories. The two of them would sit outside, if the weather was nice, and carve wood, Tom while he talked, and Nighthawk while he listened.
Tom never stopped telling stories, there were always stories to tell. But after a couple of weeks he began to teach Nighthawk some songs. They flowed like a river. Nighthawk’s spirit began to soar – and it would never stop soaring. The first song they sang together, was about the eagle, and as Nighthawk closed his eyes to feel the song even more, he had a vision. He saw himself dancing – and he was dancing the Eagle Dance…….
The war was already over. The people had won and everybody knew it. Regardless of what happened externally, they had won the internal war over fear, and discouragement. They would not be defeated by their circumstances. Most of the people had been up all that night, praying and encouraging one another, visiting each other, and even singing. They were all ready for the Ulani warrior.
In particular Cricket in the Meadow, and Sky were ready. Cricket in the Meadow had been praying so much, she had a tangible glow, on and around her face. Sky, had gone out in the middle of the night, to where the horses were kept (her favorite place for seeking the Creator). She had a vision of speaking in the Ulani language and saying particular words to the warrior. She ran back to the lodge, and told her mother, Cricket in the Meadow.
Cricket in the Meadow was one of the few people left in the village that could speak Ulani. “Mother, how do you say, ‘We know you are Ulani’…” Then Cricket in the Meadow, would give her the words, and they would practice their pronunciation. There were other words too, and after Sky had learned all the words she was supposed to say, Cricket in the Meadow taught her how to get rid of her Tsi accent, so she would sound more Ulani. Both of them felt these words would be important during the battle.
No one was sure who first saw the Ulani warrior, that foggy morning. It wasn’t important. No one screamed, and no one yelled, or panicked. Small verbal signals were given, like when the men went hunting. One by one, each family came out of their lodge, and stood silently in the shadows, looking at the warrior. Several of the men did have weapons in their hands, but they were not pointed at the stranger.
All of this surprised the Ulani warrior. He was shocked, because his being there, was supposed to cause the exact opposite reaction. He knew he could be killed in an instant, but he just sat there silently on his horse, observing their strange behavior. No one said anything.
And then, in front of him there was a strange glow that began. As it grew and got brighter, it took the shape of a man. His clothing was a pale white, but in the style of the Tsi people. It was an image for sure, of someone that had been alive. The spirit-man then moved closer without walking, but the Ulani’s horse was not frightened. The spirit-man said nothing, but had a very stern look on his face, and then he pointed, back the way the Ulani man had come. He was pointing outside of the village while looking at the Ulani warrior! The Tsi and Grie people recognized the spirit-man as Cricket in the Meadow’s husband, Lone Horse, who had died months ago. They were not afraid, in fact, they felt encouraged that he was there, fighting the battle with them.
The Ulani warrior wanted to leave, he tried to, but he could not move. This place was too strange! Then suddenly he heard a woman’s voice off to the right, coming from the fog. She spoke in perfect Ulani, “We know you are Ulani…..” “We forgive you and your people, for what took place in the past…….there is no war here.” “Now go!” The spirit-man was still looking at him sternly and pointing outside the village. The Ulani warrior nodded his head yes, and started to turn his horse, when a burst of flame came from the middle of the village. A fire had started on its own, without anyone touching it! A strong wind came from the east, strengthened the fire, and lifting the fog within seconds. The Ulani’s horse was frightened now, and danced around, trying to run away.
Before he left, the Ulani warrior could plainly see the face of each one there, as they stared at him, men, women, and children. Their quiet strength and determination, was something he had never seen before. He turned his frightened horse, and galloped off. They never saw the Ulani man again.
Note: Dreams do not always foretell the future, but they can warn us of a conflict to come. Sometimes how we respond to the dream, and to the conflict, is more important.