Now that the Peace Ride has concluded and World Peace and Prayer Day draws to an end tonight, I am still processing and trying to find words to share. The Mauri men from were quite animated as they wove together all the stories that we have heard. Symbolically they brought the stories to the fire last night, performing rituals on tip toes with loud yelps and chants, stabbing at the air with a pole and sprinkling water from the tips of a cedar branch, anointing the ground. As the chauffeur for them and the other international guests this week, it was a special treat for me. They concluded with a song about peace in front, behind, beside, within us, the peace coming with the breeze.
Elder Izaak Bashira shared about the monarch butterfly coming to New Zealand and the migratory pattern of this species. He drew the parallel of the caterpillar to those of us as peacemakers who are dreaming of flight, dreaming of a new land. He reminded us that although we dream and work for peace and a new life in a new land, it will likely be our descendents that will see the new land. In this life we will inch along, dream of flight, struggle in our cocoon and fly for awhile. But because life is short, we will not see everything that we dream of; We leave behind our children who will also inch along, grow and struggle until they fly and dream, who will give birth to a new generation. It may take many generations to reach our final destination, but our children will see the new land, a new life, a new hope as they soar. What we do today is for our children's children's children and beyond. But I witnessed some moments that made the struggles of the past few months worth all the effort and I saw a glimpe of our children beginning to fly...
One especially poignant moment happened last night. Anneka Johnson (14) is a young woman from Grantsburg WI whom I met when I spoke at her school two weeks ago. She came with her Mother and brother who are lineal descendents of a US soldier who helped with the hanging of the Dakota 38 in Mankato December 26, 1862. I invited her to come to WPPD and to meet some of the Dakota elders that I knew. She came with a good heart and chose to apologize after acknowledging what her ancestor did to the ancestors of the Dakota. She dressed in pioneer clothes and portrayed Sarah Wakefield in a monologue, teaching about the history.
Before sharing her performance, the fire keepers performed a cleansing ceremony of forgiveness, cutting the invisible strings of guilt from her ancestors. It was very moving for all of us to see the humbleness of this young woman and her courage to speak in front of this crowd with a bold voice. Afterwards, she was greeted with hugs and welcomed as each person came by to greet her in the circle. This was a snapshot of what is to come as people forgive and are forgiven. I am still trying to process the amazing miracle that happened last night.
After her performance Anneka and her family were warmly received and I had a moment is stuck in my mind...and unlike a song that you wish you could get out, I am hopeful that this one sticks. During the receiving line, one of the Maroi greeted her and pressed his forehead to hers. The smoke of the sage filled the tent and time stood still. It is a precious moment when a westerner is greeted in this warm and genuine manner by a Mauri who invades your personal space.
It is my understanding that the horse dance has not been performed here at the sacred area of Bdote for over 150 years. To see these beautiful animals prance around was stunning.
When the Peace Riders came up the hill, they were met by several white families who brought horses so that more could ride. Then this blend of new acquaintances merged together to ride together. After signing the Bdote Peace Accord which commits to Four Years of Dialogue in order to bringing healing we had a ceremonial hug. The a group of 30 horses with a mix of indigenous and white new friends then rode together on horseback across the mile long Mendota Bridge. Several indigenous children rode double, as did Orlyn Kristad's grandson (Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights), Chief Arvol Looking Horse's grand daughter and my son Caleb. Looking at these young people who are seven to twelve years old who have shared this historic experience, my heart swelled with hope that healing will come in their lifetime.
I have no authority to do anything...but I simply hope that I can be more of a help than an hindrance.