By William Shepherd, Undisclosed
Writing Type: Prose
By William Shepherd
Tears fall from my eyes like rain when a deer falls to the ground. But I know his soul and spirit rise to heaven. We know that this is the circle of life of the Plains Indians of long ago, as the rain falls to wash the land and bring a new beginning.
I remember days when we sat in our teepees around the fire and passed the pipe around. The young went first, telling their stories of the day and yesterday. It was night when the family came together. The smoke from the fire wrapped us like a blanket, warm and at peace. Yes, these were great times of joy and happiness with family.
Spotted Tail, chief of the Dakota, would tell of the blue stone and how it was like his people, beautiful and strong to last forever. He would see a day when his people would be like the buffalo on the land that the Great Spirit gave to them all. He would raise up his hands to the sky and ask for his people’s needs for the year, and Spirit of Good would say this is a good thing and all were happy and at peace. These were wonderful times to be alive.
As for me, I still have my Blue Stone.
A Quiet Place
When I play my Indian cedar flute, I see myself in the forest of South Dakota, where the Great Spirit lives. The sound is to me a holy sound in a place of peace and quiet. The music of the flute flows up through the trees, the soft song of open skies. It is so pleasant to my ears. I could listen for hours before I drop off to sleep. It soothes me, and I forget all things that come to me, and I return to my soul. I'm at rest, and all is well. So when things get to me, I go running to play my flute, so beautiful it is to me.
Right of Passage
As a rite of passage, a young brave must go out to the prairie alone to cleanse his soul and body, to grow into a young brave that he longs to be, at one with God and man to know the aloneness of the prairie.
As the wind from the north blows cold across the prairie, it chills me to the bone, while the long days of the sun can burn the skin. I long for night to come and cool me from the heat of the day. I know my ordeal is on its way--long nights and days with only water to cool my body from the heat.
As the sun comes up, I hear the sound of a horse's hooves that tells me my quest of many days is about over. My father brings food and water. As we sit around the fire, he says my quest is through and hands me an eagle feather.
He says, “You're a brave now and can lead the people of the Wolf Tribe, for now you know the suffering of the people. This is your vision, my brave young son.”
As we dance around the fire, sometimes hand in hand, sometimes not, the men beat the drums to gather the people. The chief calls out the dances. First the dance to start the powwow, and all gather around to receive the blessing of the people. As the excitement rises, the fire, the smoke, and the sounds of the people's voices seem to lift up in unison; even the children are having a good time. This truly is a wonderful night.
Then the dance changes to the warrior dance, and the moccasins hit the ground all at the same time. The dust rises from under their feet. The wind picks up the sound and the smoke into the open sky. You can feel the energy of the dance. It seems to bring happiness and joy to the people.
The children are sent off to bed in their teepees. The powwow goes on all night long until dawn comes up to start a new day. This is the best time of the year for all the native people. Each tribe is known by the colors and decorations of the costumes. As they dance to the sound of the drums around the fire, it takes me back to how it must have been a long time ago. As the light of the fire reflects from the movement of the dance, it is so beautiful to watch.
Each year I can hardly wait for the powwow to start up again.
In Kansas we hear the wind blow through the buffalo grass as we watch the tumbleweeds roll across this land of the wide-open spaces, as it has for many ages.
I think of my father and grandfather and how they settled this land long ago. This was the frontier as they built their houses and made their footprint upon the land. They farmed and hunted for food, and they labored and died.
They left their name that will not be forgotten by me because I still live here today. I love this land, and I'm here to stay.
A Long Walk
Growing up on the farm, when the work was done at the end of the day, I often made time for myself and went for a walk in the fields. The smell of fresh cut hay brought back thoughts of quiet summer days, of hayrack rides and dances. It made me think of the fun we had living on the farm. I remember days so hot that a swim in the pond was all we could think about.
There were nights when we would lay in the yard and look up to heaven and look at the stars and share our thoughts and dreams of moving away. But we knew we could never be happy living anywhere else.
Yes, I still live on the farm, and I still take my long walks. I'm glad and thankful for the life I have on the farm.