Green cactus; Red rock

Green cactus; Red rock
photo by Linda Hoffman Kimball

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Ancients

The Ancients
By Linda Hoffman Kimball

How long does it take
To learn the sacred truths
Set out by the Great Creator Spirit
At the beginning of humanity?
Time has nothing to do with it.
Wisdom, Honor, Bravery
Seep from the caul.
Who is not brave if not the infant
Slapped in the face with winter winds
Before she can even suckle?
Any bawling babe is honorable when hungry.
Is there more honor than
In voicing the truth –
That a stomach is empty
And there is ravening want?
Wisdom is there in the determined little fist
Gripping the finger of a protector,
Instinctively knowing
Life depends on
The strength of connection
To a power beyond one’s limits.
Our journey is not one of learning;
It is of remembering.

I attended a “Friend-raising” meeting for the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian this evening. It set me to musing
on Native American wisdom, history, and ethnology. I thought about Sherman Alexie, one of my favorite authors (who, if the writing biz bored him could be a fabulous stand-up comic. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak in person, go!) I also thought about political correctness and how do I, with my Northern European roots, have the nerve to write in this voice. And, when the Federal Government sent huge groups of Indians to Chicago and other major cities in the 1950’s to “improve their lives,” did the mingling of tribes work? Can you just toss Cherokees and Potawatomi and Apaches, etc., all together and expect cheery results? I enjoyed thinking about where our deepest knowledge comes from.

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