Today I am going to share a story
from a Friend named Les Tate
also I would like to Thank Les in allowing me to share his story .It was only
after reading his story that it made me realize that I am INDIAN.
So Please come sit by my fire
and You may find out who you are to
ARE YOU AN INDIAN?
How often have you heard or said "I'm part
Indian"? If you have,
then some Native American elders have something to teach you.
A very touching example was told by a physician from Oregon who
discovered as an adult that he was Indian. This is his story.
Listen well: Some twenty or more years ago while serving the Mono
and Chukchanse and Chownumnee communities in the Sierra Nevada,
I was asked to make a housecall on a Mono elder. She was 81 years
old and had developed pneumonia after falling on frozen snow while
bucking up some firewood.
I was surprised
that she had asked for me to come since she had always
avoided anything to do with the services provided through the local
agencies. However it seemed that she had decided I might be alright because
I had helped her grandson through some difficult times earlier and had been
studying Mono language with the 2nd graders at North Fork School.
She greeted me from inside her house with a Mana' hu, directing me into
bedroom with the sound of her voice. She was not willing to go to the hospital
like her family had pleaded, but was determined to stay in her own place and
wanted me to help her using herbs that she knew and trusted but was too weak to
do alone. I had learned to use about a dozen native medicinal plants by that time,
but was inexperienced in using herbs in a life or death situation. She eased my fears
with her kind eyes and gentle voice. I stayed with her for the next two days,
treating her with herbal medicine (and some vitamin C that she agreed to accept).
it through and we became friends. One evening several years later,
she asked me if I knew my elders. I told her that I was half Canadian and half
Appalachian from Kentucky. I told her that my Appalachian grandfather was raised
by his Cherokee mother but nobody had ever talked much about that and I didn't
want anyone to think that I was pretending to be an Indian. I was uncomfortable
saying I was part Indian and never brought it up in normal conversation.
"What! You're part Indian?" she said. "I wonder, would you point to the
part of yourself
that's Indian. Show me what part you mean."
I felt quite foolish and troubled by what she said, so I stammered out
something to the
effect that I didn't understand what she meant. Thankfully the conversation stopped at
that point. I finished bringing in several days worth of firewood for her, finished the
yerba santa tea she had made for me and went home still thinking about her words.
Some weeks later we met in the grocery store
in town and she looked down
at one of my feet and said, "I wonder if that foot is an Indian foot.
Or maybe it's your left ear. Have you
figured it out yet?"
I laughed out loud, blushing and stammering like a little kid. When I got
shopping, she was standing beside my pick-up, smiling and laughing.
"You know" she said, "you either are or you aren't. No such thing
as part Indian. It's how your heart lives in the world, how you carry
yourself. I knew before I asked you. Nobody told me. Now don't
let me hear you say you are part Indian anymore."
She died last year, but I would like her to
know that I've heeded her words.
And I've come to think that what she did for me was a teaching that
the old ones tell people like me,because others have told me that
a Native American elder also said almost the same thing
to them. I know her wisdom helped me to learn who I was that day
and her words have echoedin my memory ever since.
And because of her, I am no longer part Indian,
I give thanks to the Great Creator in allowing
me to find this story
and in finding a friend in Les Tate.
Here at my fire anyone may speak when handed the talking stick.
If you have a story you would like to share please email it to me .As
we all gather around the fire Here your story will be told
with full credit going to you or the author of the story
May the Great Creator always
fill your heart with joy
and your eyes with beauty
May you always walk in both Peace and Beauty