He had seen it all in his life.
First it was his uncles and aunts.
Then it was his cousins and friends
Then it was his young relatives that he always called his responsibility.
The old people said that it was part of what he had to do to finish off his journey in this life so he wouldn’t have to come back again. He could finally go home after this life.
He was very tired.
No one could really understand him when he spoke of things from long ago. But he spoke of times from past lives that he knew about. There were times when his life was short and violent and other times when he lived a very long time. Yes he had seen it all but no one believed him.
“How could he know those things anyways? He was no one special.”
Yes… He was no one special he admitted as well.
Still he had much to do. Time was getting short.
His grandparents told him of the time when he was given his human name. He was only 6 months old at that time. They had invited his relatives all the way from Montana to come up and give their grandson a name.
It took them a week to travel back in those days. First they had to get permission to leave their own reserve from the Indian Agent. then they had to find a way to travel. It was not easy in those days and it was quite rare to see old Indians travelling. They even had to get a letter stating who they were and present that to the border guards when they crossed into Canada and for when they got back to the U.S.
They would get thrown into jail if they did not have these papers. It was difficult but they did make it all the way.
“This is our Grandson. He is the only one that will carry on the memories of who we are when we are gone. We cannot let him go to residential school. That will kill him. We made that mistake with our own children.”
The old man picked him up in his arms and started to sing a song. His wife joined in and they walked around the small kitchen four times singing to Itaugh and the directions. The ancestors came in the door with the sound of the wind blowing and the team of horses became a little restless.
His parents sat on the side as well. Not saying much. They did what they could to bring small gifts and a little money for gas to the old people could go home later on in the week. His mom was a very good cook and she made a meal from the food that her brother brought along with the deer. It would be enough to satisfy everyone.
The smell of sweetgrass filled the room and it made the baby a little fussy, but he fell asleep once again when the old lady held him and sang a soft lullaby about being as strong as the wolves.
“The ancestors are here and they said to give him the name of a very brave war chief from a long time ago.”
“That chief was very brave and faced the soldiers without fear. He led many warriors and they drove the soldiers back many times so the people could get away. But when there was peace in the camp he was a hard person to understand. He had talked of visions of where he thought they should go to to be safe from the soldiers but no one listened because they felt safe where they were. They wished he would just accept things the way they were.”
They said this baby will be the same way. It is a different world for him. The enemy will be harder to see. We will give him the strength he needs but one person will always elude him until he gets older. This one is the one that will bring it all together for him.
“People needed to know someone cares for them,” his Isaugh would tell him. “That is why we asked your old relatives to come and see you. They are expecting you to be brave and generous.”
Years later he sat there. He had done many things faithfully and without question. He endured and carried on. Helping when he could. His children had all grown and moved on with their lives and did not need him to be around as much. Their mom was on her own as well. He tried to love her but he could not be what she wanted so he left when the children were small. He was sad that it turned out that way.
Many tried to love him. He was kind to them as well but he was always pulled away to listen to what the ancestors had in mind for him.
“She is there watching you but she is wounded too from life. Love her unconditionally. That is what you must do.”
“You have more important things to do in this life right now. Those young relatives are asking for you to help guide them. The modern world is making them forget the natural world. They are getting caught up in it and you have to show them how to be brave.”
“We showed what happens to those that have lost themselves.”
“Your older uncles and aunties fought the first attack and gave of their lives. They endured the torture of those schools and dulled themselves so they can survive.”
“Your cousins tried to understand this modern world but it was hard for them too. They learned to survive in the fog of living and they too gave their lives.”
“Now it is the time of the young people. Watch over them and sing them songs of encouragement to make it thru the generations.”
He did not understand himself either but he carried on with faith. That is all he had and it had gotten him this far.
In the distance he heard those same songs from when he was a baby. They made him feel less tired.