The White Man's Pain

They came by one's and two; then by dozens, these white men from the lands toward the rising sun. As was the nature of our people in those days, we welcomed them into the tents and lodges, they were allowed to sit next to the fire and we honored their gods at our smokes as we told them of ours.

They only wanted trade, the small furs of our land, in exchange they offered axes of iron, iron knives, warm blankets, red beads for the squaws. All was well with Mother Earth, there was room in our great lands for all of us said the foolish raven, the wolf tried to warn us...

Those first summers they looked so foolish, these crazy pale riders; they knew nothing of the lands or animals Mother Earth had provided for us. They often sat in the wrong place at the fire, and their tears would stream from their eyes when the smoked rolled over them. We taught them to set snares, read sign and find water; they in turn taught us about smallpox, diptheria, whooping cough and alcohol... They taught us to take from the land, they taught us anger... They taught us pain!

Within fifty winters they owned the land that was once free, the buffalo were gone, the fox and the beaver were all hunted out... The white man had found the shiny gold metal in our streams and then he brought his armies to own the land.

Our pain had just begun, this pale creature who had no knowledge, who did not know Mother Earth, was now going to teach us. The people were placed on small parcels of waste land called reservations where the mission teachers took away our heritage. Our children were dressed in strange clothes and told they were not to speak our language, and the wolf cried.

Our generations of children grew up on these harsh reservations; here in this arid land. All that our children knew of the people were the stories handed down by the elders.

They sat with the elders and learned of the wolf within, of the raven who talks when he should listen, the wisdom of the owl, the courage of the bear. They were taught to be indian in the dark of night as the mission schools robbed them of their heritage by day.

The pride of being a Snowgoose in the Turtle Clan was taught them as they sat at the elder's knees. And at the age of twelve each boy was expected to take his vision quest and find the wolf.

At the age of thirteen summers a young brave was allowed to sit in the lodge, here for the first time he experienced the vision of sage. And here he saw the long line of warriors extending back through the beginning of time when the land belonged to Mother Earth and The People were free to roam these land; and honor bound to care for it.

When man talked to the wolf and the bear, when a warrior knew the honor of serving the clan. Now those cherished memories were all they had, except for the pain the white man had poured out over the land.

As the drum beats slowly, as the tears stream down an old warriors face, as Mother Earth cries out in pain, only time has gone on. The bear and the wolf are hunted from the land; the buffalo, like the people, are all rounded up on reservations for the eyes of the white men on vacation to see here in the western lands that once was the home of the indian. As in the past, all the white man has brought is the pain...

© 2004-2010 by David L. Griffith ~ The PalletMaster

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