Sheila Williams ~ Singing Cloud
WE ARE HERE!
Yes, we are still here, in this country that gave birth to a freedom unknown to so many, we are here shadows in a land where once we were many, in every tree, rock, and water, we are here and the winds are our brothers.
Our skins now come in many colors, from the deep reddish clay, to the sands that blow across the deserts, our hair too is not the one shade that makes you think right away Indian, our children are told too often, but you don’t look Indian.
I am nothing like what you see in your cowboy movies, I never was nor were my grandmothers, I do not braid my hair often, or wear beads and feathers every day, I am not a mascot or a princess, I do not worship the sun or planets.
My male kin, and many female, served in this country’s military, we worked at jobs just like yours and paid the same taxes, I went to school and learned your ABC’s, I learned much to my surprise there are two very different histories.
Far too often I learned as well some things will never change, there are those who think only one race has rights, only one religion is the true one, and if you do not conform you are hated, my family will never be assimilated simply to belong.
Stories of days long gone are told, not to keep alive a separation, but to teach day to day right from wrong and the consequence of one’s actions, they teach me of my ancestors, how they lived and what they believed, what they treasured.
What is important to me and mine is keeping alive, staying true to whom and what we are and finding pride in an ancient path followed by my forbears, we are still here in Turtle Island, many Nations of many names and ways, and it is good.
Not much has changed inside, though the outside looks so different, respect, honor, and love still guide my decisions, trust in my Creator, offering sunrise prayers, going to the waters, tending to Sacred places and those who have crossed.
Being a good human, trying to understand what causes the hatred of my Peoples, hearing the need of connection of those of other peoples, and fighting to keep my ways Sacred to my kind, trying to explain they need to seek their own.
Too often I see the mix and matching of so many of our Nations, not understanding what they do, but thinking it is pretty, so spiritual, the honoring of Mother Earth and nature, but not knowing what they do is wrong or why.
Seeing them grow heated and angry, these strangers from other places, hearing them scream we are denying them their religious freedom, and remembering all theirs they forced on us, wanting so much to make them understand this is my home.
Sea to sea, mountain to sands, we know it, understand it, as no others ever can, we are a part of every pebble, every tree, our spirits sing upon the winds, when I look I see beauty and my heart aches, when they look they see uses and wealth.
Tears begin and roll, with a helplessness I cannot control, to see the dirt and grime, of inner cities and crime, of houses crammed back to back with no space left for grass, trees murdered for paper waste, plastics floating on the oceans shores.
Oil spills and animals killed, sludged to death and suffocating, and I think of my children, of the poisons they are breathing, cars streaming on the paved road ways in such a hurry to go nowhere, drugs, alcohol, and murders, and I wonder.
Such gifts we are to be thankful for is a question, when my grandmothers once roamed clean sweeps of meadows, my grandfathers hunted along the rivers where the waters were life giving, and yes I cry thinking of all that is lost or dying.
Yes, we are still here, in both body and spirit, we are here and finding our voices in all this noise, slowly it is true, but gathering strength and living, standing tall and proud, no longer hanging our heads in shame, out of hiding we are coming as our Nations are forming!
©Copyright July 16, 2008 by Sheila Williams ~ Singing Cloud