I love stories about Native American Indians, always believing I had at least one life in an American southwest tribe. Nerburn’s story is a fictionalized account based on real events that captures the attention of the reader as we learn the plight of Indians today fighting to accept the horrors of their past.
An Indian elder, Dan, searches for a sister lost years earlier at one of the government schools set up to educate the youngsters, which meant brainwashing them to lose and forget their traditional ways. I found the story fascinating even if the ending of the story seemed contrived, and I learned much and was caught in the emotion of the lessons.
The Indian elder tells us to help the children and provide them a healthier way of life:
The way we are living today is not good for them. It takes the light from their eyes, because it does not teach them to see the spirit in all of life. It takes away their connection to everything else. It does not allow them to see the part they play in creation… They are not taught that they have an important role to play just where they are, and that it is they alone who can fill that role.
He also reminds us to listen. This seems so trite until we look at our own lives – are we listening to the world around us or are we too busy in our hectic lives to pay attention to others and our surroundings? Another idea, again one that is so simple, is the idea of sharing. Native Americans and other indigenous peoples know that those that “have” share with those that don’t, not a complicated lesson but one that often seems lost in our world of the very wealthy getting richer while the poor continue to suffer. This is not a political argument but a humanitarian one.
This is a story of a history we love to forget – the history that reveals our dark side in the treatment of American Indians. It is a good thing to recall, not just so we suffer through the agonies that they endured but because we must always remember who we are and what we did in the name of progress and civilization. If you are not American, you have your own tales, and many involve exploitation of weaker, poorer, or less fortunate peoples. What will be revealed when history looks back on our era, what wrongs will be exposed in each country? While there are obvious examples occurring in the world now, what are those stories that don’t seem important or are hidden? What are those shadow incidents that will eventually be discovered? This is not a condemnation of anyone, any group, or any country, simply an understanding of the steps in our human and spiritual evolution.