The Great Plains nomads believed they were the only true ‘Human Beings’. Everyone else was some other form of critter I guess! *
The Great Wind
Did I tell anyone here about the time the bass player (1/2 Human Being*) and I decided to go out in his yard and perform a Rain Dance to put an end to the drought around Lake Pelican in northeastern South Dakota?
Since he was half Human Being*, he said all I had to do was follow his moves precisely in the ‘Rain Dance’. I was honored and did the best a Norwegian, Bohemian, could do. He went hay ya hay ya, I went hay ya hay ya, he one footed this way, and that, I one footed this way and that.
His wife Carrie was on the phone with a friend of theirs as she watched us from the window over her sink with the window open so she could hear.
I heard her laugh and explain on the phone to her friend what we were attempting to do, and that I looked quite comical. They had a terrific time mocking us, but on we danced and dark clouds began to appear in the west. I saw the clouds, and going with considerable spirit’ of enthusiasm, turned it up a notch and began to spin and circle Roger as if possessed.
I began to chant louder, and the dust and sweat flew, and the clouds grew, and faster I spun.
At some point, Roger told me that he had had enough, and felt I was off the step a little, and maybe I should call it a day too. So I did, foolishly thinking I’d done a outstanding job for a white dude.
It still didn’t rain for a couple of weeks, and I’d mostly forgotten the whole thing. You know, when one great feat is over, you’ve got to move on to the next one. A couple of months went by. Roger’s wife Carrie called me one afternoon to tell me that her friend was pregnant.
“Well,” I said internally, “that’s nice!” Wondering why she was telling me!
So, I asked her, “Why are you telling me?”
She said that the day Roger and I were ‘Rain Dancing’, Roger had entered their cabin after I’d left, laughing. He told Carrie that the white guy started out ok, but somewhere I began doing something that looked like a different dance. He had to call the dance off before I got myself into trouble with The Spirits. He was familiar enough to know that you don’t mess with that stuff.
As it turns out, Carrie’s girlfriend’s husband couldn’t make children, and she had given up ever getting pregnant.
But, yet here it was. They didn’t have any other explanation other than, after doing the math, the conception date lined up with Carrie’s phone call. When Carrie spilled the beans that day about my white man’s Rain Dance interpretation and the fact that Roger thought I had screwed it up, a seed was definitely planted.
Now, in hindsight, Roger admitted that my Rain Dance interpretation looked an awful lot like the maiden’s fertility dance. Each dance was designed as an appeal to nature for help in producing something, and except for the speed, a few spins and gestures, resembled each other closely. That really fertilized everyone’s thoughts!
They all agreed that I had messed up the rain dance, but had danced with sufficient energy and spiritual power, to have transmitted a fertility dance to the other end of a phone line.
I thought it was all a great joke until I got a letter from the tribal council representing Roger and Carries friends. This was turning into some serious stuff! The story was a little farfetched, although I’d always suspected I had something peculiar going on. I’d swear that some of those eleven kids germinated from a single, concentrated, admiring glance from me.
Over the next few months, their tribe insisted yes, and I insisted no, so I enlisted a shaman from their local people hoping he would be my legal counsel, and determine the other tribe wrong. He arranged a meeting between himself, me, and eight members of the others tribal council members around a fire circle on the Human Being property.
After a short pipe ceremony, they asked me one straightforward question.
“Did I, a non-Human Being, try to make rain with their sacred Rain Dance on that specific date?
I said, “Yes.”
I began to explain that we did it to see if we could help!
In one motion, an extremely, seasoned jury member’s head snapped toward me, and he put his aged, bent index finger to his lips. The reflected dancing fire shot from his steely eyes as a single word pierced my conscious.
Very quietly and with no ceremony, all nine, including my council, stood up and disappeared into the darkness leaving me by myself sitting by a large fire alone. I waited.
That was it. The crackle of the dying embers and the creeping cold crawling up my spine convinced me that they were gone for good. I walked to my pickup truck and drove home. I honestly felt ancient eyes watched me until I had left their land.
I heard nothing for the next six months. When I went to Roger and Carrie’s, nothing was ever brought up, except it seemed they talked and looked at me in a different tone. Nothing sinister mind you, I just felt a little more an outsider. I did catch glimpses from Roger (a practicing Human Being) when he didn’t think I saw.
I read it as “Sorry, I can’t do anything for you now!”
I felt the incident was not over and continued to watch my back, my rear view mirror, and front door. I expected to find a message arrow stuck there. There never was.
Then exactly nine months and three days from the potent fertility dance, a young, dark haired kid ran up to me, handed me a painted and beaded, soft leather pouch, and then ran off into the distance.
Inside the pouch, there was a white feather, a piece of leather with a painted symbol and the words ‘Tate Tanka’, a smaller bag with what looked like dirt, some dried purple berries, and half dozen broken arrow points.
Not knowing what that meant, I called Roger. He said it meant that all was forgiven. My worries were over, and I now was accepted as a member of their tribe. The white feather meant peace, the soil meant something like ‘of the Earth’, the purple berries were my color, the painted piece of leather and words meant Great Wind, my tribal name, and the six broken arrow points had to do with six tribes.
So, I asked him how that could be, and he laughed. He said he couldn’t tell me right now, but that I would find out when the spirits felt the time was right! The beaded design on the soft leather pouch was a passage into the nations, and the internal objects, protection from all bad spirits.
All of this amazed me, a complete turnaround and off the hook! I was pleased that I didn’t have to look over my shoulder any more. I did wonder about, “magical and empowered by the spirits”?
I had a job as kitchen manager at a local Best Western, which left me little time to think of anything outside of my job. Carrie, Roger and I (the drummer) continued to play on the weekends within a fifty mile circle of Pelican. The kitchen manager job allowed me to feed my own bunch, and playing in the band helped me keep a little cash in my pocket.
I was now blessed with unexpected occurrences that happened at seemingly regular intervals. I would find bundles of fresh killed game (deer, rabbits, and buffalo), softened leather moccasins, and robes on my doorstep. There would be piles of driftwood neatly stacked by my door, although I didn’t have a fireplace. One day, I opened my front door to see a ceremonial drum setting in the new snow on my porch, not a footprint to be seen.
I accepted these gifts as a continuation of my bizarre relationship with the Human Beings. I’d never gone back to their lands since the campfire incident, but they had visited me on my property, I had guessed.
I love venison and took it and the other meat to the butcher shop not far from my home. I was assured it was all fresh and edible. The owner, an amateur relic collector, loved the buffalo robes and the deerskin moccasins, and I kept one of everything for myself.
The processing of the wild game didn’t cost a cent. All was good, and I let it ride as one of the mysteries of my life. I’d had a long life of precognitive visions and Deja Vous.
I had an aunt that knew ahead of time I was coming for a visit. She was a curious, athletic, red haired single woman who looked like Brenda Starr in the comics. An artist, she’d married once, but said her husband left because he felt overpowered. I’d heard from others in the family that, because of the stories, she had a reputation as an untouchable icon of womanhood by men.
When I went to visit her at her seaside home on the Pacific, we seldom spoke. She always concentrated on her art, and didn’t initiate conversations, but at the same time, I never felt unwelcome. We had a relationship that I couldn’t explain, although once I felt as though she was making sure I had what I needed to evolve in whatever direction it was I was supposed to go. One time, when I thought it was time for me to leave, she insisted I stay for a couple more days while she finished doing whatever it was she was doing. I didn’t understand it all but can tell you, when the ‘couple of days’ was over, she looked satisfied and I was mentally exhausted.
That may have seemed off the subject except I wanted to explain why I took such things as the mysterious pregnancy, leather bag, gifts on the doorstep, in stride. It wasn’t all that unusual for me. I just didn’t know where it was going.
So, life went on. I did my jobs, entertained, raised the kids and got to go fishing once in a while.
Then one day, sixteen years, nine months and three days from the date of the near forgotten, but epic ‘Rain Dance’ gone bad, Roger and Carrie came to my door. I hadn’t seen Roger and Carrie for a few years because they had relocated to the Black Hills. Roger was drawn there, and there were plenty of places to play their music.
Roger looked extremely tribal with his hair tied back, a head band securing his now silver streaked black hair. Carrie was glowing as if a non-human had found true happiness in the spirit lands.
I invited them into my humble home, felt something was up, and then forgot to ask as quickly as the feeling had come on.
They admired the ambience of my bear, elk and buffalo skinned floor and walls. I was also wearing buckskin moccasins with white socks, which made Roger laugh. As I was laughing with him, Carrie tugged on his sleeve reminding him of the reason for their visit.
Roger told me that they were there to take me to a real Human Being ritual.
I could tell by the look in his eyes, and the serious smile of Carrie that a moment in time had been reached, and I had little choice. Again, I accepted what needed to be accepted. I had no reason to resist and probably could not have if I wanted to.
I jumped into their new, green Chevy van packed with their music equipment. It was late afternoon, a time of the day I had left many times with these two for short road trip gigs.
We traveled about fifty five miles to a place I hadn’t seen for many years. Crossing a cattle guard with a bump, bump, we entered the realm of the Human Beings.
Every one hundred feet or so, a full dress warrior stood on each side of the dirt path. My heart picked up the beat, thumping so hard I could feel it in my throat. I was in the middle of something big. We followed a two wheel track up a prairie grass hillside toward a flickering glow in the dusking sky.
We circled one quarter to the right side of the rings, stopped, and exited the van. Two solemn faced warriors, one on each side, firmly took control of me by a bicep and escorted me away from Roger and Carrie. I said nothing. Whatever was about to happen, seemed out of my control. I felt no fear, but instead felt a sense of genuine belonging. A quick glance behind found forty or fifty female Human Beings following quietly, smiling. I saw beads, teeth and the reflection of the sparks in their dark eyes.
All was silent except the roar of the fire, and slow, low, drum beats from behind the other side of the circle. I was seated in front of and my back to the council. I was isolated between the Human Beings and the fire where all could see me. I held my head up, kept my back straight, crossed my legs as correctly as possible and fixed my stare as if sitting in a Tuxedo waiting for my sentence. I was making it up, trying to do the right thing.
The drums stopped. Nothing moved or sounded until a log fell from the top of the fire with a shower of sparks as if a signal from some Human deity. A flap opened from the most colorful tent to my right. The medicine man, accompanied by a half dozen others, spoke to the sky, arms raised. There was another moment of silence. The drums started again, one, then two, then three and more.
The Medicine Man started a slow dance, spinning and orbiting the fire. After the first time around, he was joined by others. The pace picked up, the drums grew louder, and dancing shadows began to move against the most white and tallest tepee.
The speed and intensity increased again, and his voice began to chant as the dust arose, the sparks ascended, and the shadows danced across the tepee. More voices joined as a chorus matched the volume of the dancing shadows.
All stopped. The medicine man’s dance stopped in front of the tall, white tent. The entrance flap opened with the hand of an elderly woman. She gently opened the flap, released it and stepped beside the Medicine man, her arm placed around his arm, a smile in the direction of the opening. Another woman exited and stood next to the opening and a decorated warrior joined her coming from behind the Council. All stood side by side facing the opening.
A pause, a perfect hand appeared on the edge of the tent opening, a leather skirted leg steps over the entrance threshold, and a divine figure emerges. Her eyes slightly lowered in reverence to this ceremony, her sixteenth birthday.
Four virginal handmaidens place a woven blanket across her arms in a presentation fashion. Quietly and gracefully the princess maiden floats toward me, while the handmaidens, also dressed in white buckskin, file reverently behind me. As I stand, wobbling a little coming out of the crossed legged position, I am steadied by the eight hands behind me. Surrounded by the smell of lavender, I feel overwhelmed and shaken.
I am looking into the eyes, the hazel green eyes of a red haired beauty. Tall with square shoulders, her skin was dark cream against the bleached skins she was wearing. Taking a moment to study the person through his hazel green eyes, she lowered her head with a smile and nod, not a bow. Gentle hands from behind, raised and held my arms at the elbow as the blanket was passed to me, made by her, a gift to her Earth Father.
I accepted the blanket as formally as she was presenting it, transfixed by the eyes, skin, and moment. An involuntary welling up in my eyes blurred the vision as my ears heard a collective sigh from the Human Beings. This was the admission from me to the family and my daughter that I was accepting responsibility for her being. It was heartfully done. I was honored.
The drums burst into the night like thunder. As if magically excited, the fire threw its children into the air at the same moment, the whole ceremonial grounds exploded into the dangdest Human Being celebration there ever was.
The celebration went on until, one and two at a time, the Human Beings retired, exhausted.
Sometime during the party, a bucket full of the grog du jour, and several puffs from a ceremonial pipe, I was taken back to my home. I woke up under the woven blanket. In the bathroom mirror, I discovered how my face paint was supposed to look. There were some animals painted on my chest, and my groin was chapped and sore. I believe my transformation into a complete Human Being had been consummated.
Over the next few years, I became a devoted friend to my new daughter. She was extremely intelligent, planned to become a physician, and go back to her home to practice.
She told me that she had demonstrated, and the tribe had witnessed unique abilities and were going to pay for her education.
We also discovered that I knew ahead of time, by hours and minutes, when she was going to visit, thought about me, or needs me for something. I was not amazed. It only confirmed what I had already suspected.