• SM

In honor of National American Heritage Month


In honor of National American Heritage Month, I will share a personal experience.

Several years ago I had been invited to attend a drum circle, within the traditional Pow Wow locations. I had been invited at the same time another individual had been asked if they had the time, to celebrate with the tribe. We were asked to bring something to the circle but no details, nor ideas of what.

The weekend arrived to see the other individual, had already arrived to the site. Despising being later than planned, I walked to the trunk of the vehicle. The other person had already left the vehicle area and was walking briskly within the fields, along the pathway. I grabbed what I could carry to walk the path, before returning to grab the last bit.

Once the set up had been completed the elder whom had invited the other person and I, called us towards him. Informing us towards the end of the event he would request the presentation of the item we brought, with our explaination.

Flames danced majestically within the spaces between limbs, and bodies. The drums added flares to the fire dancing, and the flames themselves. Songs were sung and presentations were celebrated, before time was a distant worry to anyone. Sweat and heat filled the fields mixing with the sweet scents of random floral essences, swirling within the breeze.

Towards the end of the night the elder stopped the drummers, during a lull. Several dancers had taken a seat to rest and after his announcement, all others joyfully sat down on the ground. He called the two of us forward, asking the reasons.

Jumping to speak first the other individual removed a small silk bag, from their pocket. They removed a piece of jewelry from the fabric, revealing lovely stones. Embedded within a unique design into the metal, the piece was breath-taking. The individual described the purpose for each stone and their choice of metal before handing the jewelry with one hand, while holding onto the bag with the other. Accepting the gift, the elder turned to me.

Initially I apologized, explaining I did not understand the purpose. Pulling a trash bag filled with empty water bottles while looking towards the ground, I apologized again. Telling the elder I had brought several cases of water bottles and a trash bag to clean up the trash, I handed him the last bottle of water. He asked why I chose the item and I explained I knew the individuals setting up the site could only carry so much, and sometimes there is not a nearby stream. Not having been out to this particular location before I explained I did not know the available resources, and I figured water would help the dehydration during dancing.

Chuckling as I added, "Especially when dancing, really close to fire."

Looking down again I added another apology because I did not understand the item, was meant only for one. Without any response the only sounds came from the wood embers of the fire, crackling loudly. Several sizzles and pops exploded within the fire pit, as I awaited judgement.

The elder said nothing for what seemed like hours, until I looked up to him. Once I kept my eyes upward his face softened, within a blink of the eyes. The other person was growing increasingly impatient awaited to hear who's gift was better, than the other.

Looking to the other individual he said, "Though these are nice you must understand out here in nature, stones are plentiful."

Insulted and unwilling to listen any further, the other person stormed off. Mumbling loudly while stoming their feet and kicking up the dirt during their tantrum, the elder waited until the distant car door closed. Once the engine was barely heard he looked to me and asked why, I apologized.

Waving his hand to start the drums again the elder and I took a walk down into the fields, to speak in the solitude of the open sky.


Artist

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