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.