Lament of the Grandfathers–Vision of Native Elders


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In the smoke, in the smoke,

I see them come.

In the smoke of cedar and sage, I see them draw near.

They come from each direction

each from their place

They come they form a circle,

they form a sacred circle.

There are many that come,

they come from all directions

they come from all Peoples

they are many, they are one.

It is with one voice they speak,

It is with one voice they cry out.

They are angry and they are sad,

they weep for their hearts are sad.

They bring their rattles, their drums,

they have their pipes the sacred pipes of the People

they have their lances, their tomahawks their bows.

They beat the ground with them, they are angry.

I see them they are many,

they are many but they are one

they form a circle and dance,

they dance in the sacred circle.

I see many I don’t know and many I know

I see Tecumsheh, Dragging Canoe, Cochise,

There is the Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.

Geronimo, Sequoyah, Joseph, Red Cloud,

I see them together in a circle.

I see Roman Nose, Wildcat, Osceola, they have all come.

I see Hiawatha, Cornplanter, I see them they have come,

they have come to the council from north east south and west.

I see many, I hear them speak,

they speak in many tongues but with one voice

with one voice they cry out their questions.

They ask many questions of the Peoples.

Why do you not hear our voices?

Why do you not seek our wisdom?

We have much to say to you!

We have much to teach you!

We must make them hear us!

We must make them call on us!

Who will teach them? Who will make them hear?

They are forgetting us, forgetting the sacred way!

They are going down wrong paths,

they are going to bad places,

they live in strange lands.

We must call to them, we must call them back.

We will call on our power to lead them,

we will call on our vision to teach them,

we will strike them with the bow to warn them,

we will share our vision to make them strong again.

Let us dance. Let us dance.

Let us sing now we will call our power.

We will share it we will share our vision,

we will turn them from dark ways.

I see them dance in the vision,

I see them dance I hear their voices,

I see a great cloud, a great cloud of dust.

I see it through the smoke of cedar and sage.

There are many animals coming

they raise dust like clouds

they come with their power

they come and form a circle to dance.

Beaver is there and deer comes

I see dragon fly and bright kwis kwis

I see buffalo and bear and turtle.

Raven is there with coyote.

I see them all I see all kinds

there is fox otter and cougar

Eagle is there and wolf all animals have come

they dance  they dance in a circle.

I am worried for the animals,

They look weak, they are afraid.

They are angry their faces are sad

they do not understand.

They cry out, they cry out to the Peoples the tribes.

So few seek us, so few come to us.

Where are they? Why do they not seek us?

Our power is here to help them!

They do not seek us we will fade away.

The Grandfathers call out,

they call to the elders,

they call to the leaders,

they call to the warriors,

they call to the young men and women.

Why do you not seek us?

Why do you not seek our vision?

Why do you not seek our power?

What is wrong are you sick?

They do not seek our visions, no!

They want to use bad medicines to see strange dreams.

These are strange dreams they poison you do not use them.

They say no no let us alone let sleep through life.

They have lost their way, they have lost their home.

They must not say of their land, it is not our place not our home.

They must say here we will stand here is our home our land,

We will make it grow, we will make it strong. We will be proud.

Listen to us, listen to our voices.

From many People come our voices

Our voices sound as one. We have come together.

Together our voices go strong again.

The People say we have no hope, no future, our voices our to weak to small.

You must listen to us, listen to what we say. We will teach you. We will bring you together,

we will make many small voices into a great voice a great noise to shake the heavens.

You must come together you must unite the Peoples.

You must not say they are not of our tribe, we do not know them, they are enemies, or their ways are strange.

You must unite together You must share your vision, your power, your voices.

You must turn back your hearts to the way,

You must come back to the sacred way.

You must remove the bad strange ways from your hearts your homes.

You must return to the ways, the sacred ways of the people.

You must seek the vision and power of your people,

See us now speak to you a voice with many faces but one message

You must not seek visions of power and greed of strange people.

Return to the sacred power of the People.

Get rid of the bad ones among you.

Strike them with the bow to warn them.

Say your heart is bad, your way is wrong, you make our people sick.

If they will not come back to the way then say to them

We will not listen to you, we will not speak of you, we will not hear you.

You will not sit at our council or eat at lodge we do not know you.

Do not live the easy way, but be strong have courage.

Call the warriors for a new fight.

Not a fight of lance and bow of axe and knife

It is a fight of heart and mind a sacred fight for the soul of a people.

You must be strong the tribes must unite.

You must call a great council.

A council of all peoples.

A sacred council such as never has been done.

You will find a vision for the People, a sacred path.

With your new voice your new council your new power

you will meet the strangers with a new power

you will make your terms known you will make them listen

you will tell them what must be done.

A vision, a new vision in the smoke of cedar and sage.

Many lodges their were a great village,

It is filled from east to west from north to south.

It is filled with the People, all the People they have come together.

All manner of lodges I see, lodges of wood, of earth, of skins. The lodges of all the Peoples.

They are set up in the great circle.

They are set up in a sacred circle.

It is a great village you cannot walk around it it is too far.

In the center I saw it.

A lodge, a sacred lodge.

All the grandfathers were there.

They are mounted on horses.

The animals all the animals are there.

Come inside they cried out.

Come and take council together.

Do not wait, do not delay,

think of the people at home who depend on you.

Let the drummers make music!

Let the dancers come forward!

Let the flutes play, bring out the singers, shake the rattles.

Bring forth the medicine, the pipes, the sacred pipes.

Come into the lodge sit together and smoke.

Let us talk and share council.

We will teach you our vision the sacred vision.

We will give you power the sacred power.

When they said this the horses neighed.

They neighed and their voices were loud and ground shook with it.

The sacred earth trembled with their power.

All the animals cried out and begin to dance.

They cried out with joy, “They will seek us again and we will give them power.”

The villages will grow, the nations will be strong again!

They will become one voice, a might voice for their Peoples.

All others will know the People have risen again. The Peoples have found their voice,

they have found their vision, they have found their power.

Others will say, we must listen to the Peoples.

We must respect them. We were mistaken they are not a nation of children, they are

a nation of warriors a nation of power a nation with vision.

The grandfathers cried one last thing:

Do not forget us, do not fail to hear us.

If you do it will be a long time til we come again.

Come brothers hear us. Without vision the People perish,

Without power they fade away, without a voice they are not heard.

We will teach you

We will teach you

We will teach you the sacred way.

Wildlife & Warriors Part 2: Bear Paw Battlefield -Nez Perce last stand.


I was glad there were no other visitors at the battlefield today site of the last battle of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce band after their long trail from Idaho. It needs to be experienced with no sound but that of the wind off the mountains rushing across the plains hissing through the grasses and bringing up the smell of sage in the sun and only a lone antelope for company. It is a hard story to tell to do justice to both sides. For whatever paths of life -whether ill or good-  that had brought these groups to that place together men and boys of both sides died as warriors a long way from their homes on the cold lonely plains of Montana.

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It is a strange mixture of present peace and a past of war and death.

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Below is a picture of Snake Creek today its water rapidly rising from the hard rains in the southern Mountains that had fallen all week and were falling again today. It was the main source of water for the Nez Perce but hard to get to as this woman recalls:

..dried meat and some other grub would be handed around. It would be given to the children first. I was 3 days without food. Children cried with hunger and cold. In the small creek there was water, but we could only get to it at night.”

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4 days of fighting,shelling,siege,hard deeds, and death.

Below is the scenes from Point of Rocks where Tulhuulhulsuit and five other were killed doing what warriors and men do when evil times come defend the women and children. So peaceful a place for death to have come.

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This picture of a bullet scarred rock resting serenely in the grass highlights that strange mixture of peace and war.

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Offerings left at the spot of the final surrender and near where Ollikut and Lean Elk fell. Please if you visit do not disturb the offerings left for the fallen it is a place made sacred by the blood of warriors of both sides and should be treated as a burial site and memorial.

-Chief Joseph “…Our chiefs are killed, Looking Glass is dead.Tulhuulhulsuit is dead. the old men are all dead….He who led the young men is dead. It is cold, we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are, perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead.”   

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The next to shots are marker for Ollikut’s death site and a little water filled depression which was the mass grave of the soldiers of the 7th Calvary who fell in the battle..so little for those who gave so much. They were at last reburied at the Little Bighorn Battlefield in 1912.

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The last two photos are of the rain storm moving in from the distant mountains. Perhaps even the heavens decided to weep today for what occurred here in the fall of 1877   -Chief Joseph “..from where the sun now stands, I will fight no more, forever.”

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Surely it is only the rushing wind ahead of the storm that cries and moans across the hills and down the deep ravines that I am hearing and not lonely voices crying. Also it is but the changing light that cause dark shapes like smoke and mist to be caught in the corners of the eye and be not there when I turn toward them….or maybe it is the people of this place saying “ Aye you have told our story well- it is good- now leave us in peace again”