The spirits showed their wishes on the full moon.
|I was led into the Chief's quarters where he had gathered all the elders in a circle. As I was left seated in the middle of them the drums built a soft rhythm from outside.
The Chief began a chant to welcome me, “Oki Ni-Kso-Ko-Wa,” and the drums quickened and grew louder. “Take the pipe ,” he said in my native tongue, as he offered me the ceremonial pipe to smoke.
I took the long pipe decorated in bold colours and with two eagle feathers, and as I inhaled deeply and my head began to spin, the elders joined in the chant as the Chief began the call to the spirits.
The Chief began, “When this part of our land was first formed the mighty river came down to the valley and could not find a way through.”
He continued, “Each month on the full moon when the great eagle told the spirits of the river's plight, the Gods broke a part of the land and allowed the river to pass some-way into the valley.
The rhythm of the drums outside lifted me up with the Chiefs words, d--a … d--u--m, d-a .. d-u-m , Da . Du-m, Da Dum, DA DUM, DADUM, they went as they reached a crescendo. I inhaled deeply again and I was carried off, soaring on the winds as the beat started slowly again, softly.
The Chief's voice echoed around me and filled my senses, “To mark the rivers progress a horse was born of the plains above and sent down to drink from the brook now connected to the river. The horse would choose an elder to watch over the tribe and look after the land. Together they accepted the spirits and listened to their wishes.
This continued for each full moon as successive brooks forged their way slowly through the valley. On the twelfth moon the final brook broker through the valley and the mighty river could continue out of the valley, unhindered.
This battle of nature, the river against the valley and mountain is a reminder to us that no path can be taken without sacrifice.
I am glad to see that you have named the town Thirteen Creeks and honoured our history.”
I briefly opened my eyes and emerged from my transcendence, as if summoned by the Chief to acknowledge his last remark. I bowed, almost through a will not of my own as I accepted his offer of respect.
Before my next deep draw of smoke, I sensed the Chief's dry humour. A humour I had begun to love as I had begun to know him. I had begun to know him as more than a sombre and daunting figure, one that could learn and embody that essence of my culture that he found interesting.
He offered a deliberate smile to me as I drifted off and began to soar again.
As he smiled he began again, “I bet you wonder how we got to Thirteen Creeks, my friend from the spirits of other lands?”
His face then lost expression as he began the chant again, “Oki Ni-Kso-Ko-Wa.”
The elders joined in and the drums reached a fever pitch!
He called to the spirits, “It is time again for a new elder to remind us of our vows. For the new elder must bring the twelve together again and unite us in our purpose. As our history tells us, on the fourth year of the second full moon, one of the brooks takes a new path and connects with its sisters in a new way.
In this way we make a new sacrifice and forge a new bond. To mark this time we await the mark. We await the horse that will choose our new elder and wish that he brings the other twelve safely back to us again.”
As I drifted back from my transcendence again I was offered the black drink to confirm my appointment and my obligations. I swallowed all the dark liquid and for a moment felt the as though the mighty river was rushing down my throat and flooding through my body. Then everything in me - turned black.
I woke when the sun rose the next morning. I felt renewed. Different.
As my eyes grew accustomed to the light and I righted myself against a pillar on my porch the horses gradually came into focus. They just stood there, in my yard, waiting for me. I stood up slowly and walked towards them. There were thirteen. One of them moved forward. I touched his muzzle and he turned to his side.
As I mounted the one who had chosen me as the newest elder the others began to follow.
I now begin my journey to return to the elders the twelve that mark their bond with the spirits and to fulfill the wishes of mine.