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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sunday Offering #21: Manataka Celebration


Verna Lee Hinegardner

Poet Laureate of Arkansas

I think that in a former life

this Indian, young and sweet

had to learn the agonies

that come with harsh defeat.

I think I walked the torture trail

while sharp rocks tore my feet;

I think I found boiled rabbit bones

and muscadines to eat.

Remember Manataka, Place of Peace,

with weapons laid aside, how war can cease?

I heard about The Gathering

right here in my home town

and vowed I would attend it all

until the moon went down.

I visited the Longhouse and laid some wampum down

for tickets to attend programs;

then I walked around.

Drink Manataka water to regain

good health; take thermal baths for pain.

Precious children, Sweet Magnolias,

dressed in festive outfits share

hymns they learned back home at Mission.

sang about God's loving care

sang in native tongue and English

sang their hearts out, unaware

the audience tossed dollars in.

they closed with the "Lord's Prayer.

"Manataka, land of apple blossoms,

pine,mockingbirds and loving words,

you are mine.

Storyteller, Gayle Ross, Cherokee,

told the story of creation,

how there once was total darkness

no light to see the sun

how they called a council meeting

and solve the situation.

how animals, by vote, made this

a "half dark, half light" nation.

Many hints we learned in tribes can still

solve world problems yet today - and will.

Suddenly the dancing started.

dancers slow as snail's pace

fancy Dancers fast as lighting

twirling, whirling, danced with grace

as Bill Miller shared his hit songs while

a Ghost Dance etched his face.

tribes arrived from Arizona,

Canada and everyplace!

They recalled ancestral stories;

they recount hardships, glories.

Standing Bear in bear attire told how

tribes could visit without fear,

how warriors from all nations

smoked, together, peace pipes here

vowed Manataka must be scared

for all tribes who traveled near

pledged each trail to Manataka

would hold our spirits dear.

Manataka, Place of Peace, hold this day;

may we always, for forever, share The Way.

Yes, I'm sure I once was Indian.

for blood beating in my heart

at this Great Full Circle Meeting

tells me we must never part

from traditions of our fathers

or tom-tom tales that start

when tomahawks and hatchets

show our heartache is art.

Come to Manataka; let your spirit fly;

Indians call it "Place of Peace." So do I.

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