This weekend was a wonderful mix — I met people from Taiwan, New Zealand, and the good ole’ USA. It is so nice when folks can come together in this beautiful place.
I attended a Native ceremony honoring the Veterans. It was very moving. The Native folk honor the warriors for their bravery, strength and courage. They also hold the Black Hills sacred, so it was a doubly moving ceremony in this sacred place. I thought about my Dad, a WWII vet, and Caleb, my ancestor who was a Civil War vet, and about a sibling whom had enlisted in the 70s. I thought about those buried in the cemetery. I thought about their families. I noticed folks came from as far away as Texas and Pennsylvania. Such love and respect.
I read the book, Returning to the Lakota Way by Joseph Marshall III. It is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to understand the beliefs and way of life of the traditional Native folk.
In the book was a powerful story of the Shield Maker, a warrior that acted in haste that cost him a lot.
The story goes that the Shield Maker, known as Stone Arrow, was a warrior that had gone to scout out a newly arrived tribe’s village. They were spotted by a young boy warrior who attacked. Stone Arrow pushed him down and threw his lance away. The young boy came at him again with the lance, and Stone Arrow quickly disarmed him and thrust the lance into him.
All the way back to their village, Stone Arrow wondered whether he had done the right thing…whether the action was justified. He thought of all the reasons to justify his actions. Stone Arrow was an experienced warrior, but the young man was not. He wanted to be a war leader, and was worried that his actions had cost him that position.
Some time not too long after the boy warrior was killed, Stone Arrow returned to his lodge (tipi) to find his wife and baby gone. He checked around the village to see where they had gone. No one had seen them. Stone Arrow returned to his lodge and then saw it: the unmistakable signs that his family was taken by the father of the young boy he killed.
He searched and searched for his family, but never found them. He intended on killing the father of the boy.
On one search, he grew weary and made camp. An old man appeared from nowhere and began to talk with Stone Arrow about his missing family. He made the point that if Stone Arrow found the father and killed him, would that bring his family back? The father had felt the same pain of losing his son that Stone Arrow was feeling now.
Stone Arrow took his words to heart and knew that the old man was speaking the truth. But Stone Arrow felt lost without his family. He was in a no man’s land of emotions.
The old man stayed with him for awhile, asking Stone Arrow to make a choice on which path he wanted to take: a path of peace or a path of war or death. He counseled that the path of peace would not be the easy path to take, but would nourish his soul and make the unbearable more bearable. The path of death would not.
Stone Arrow took time to contemplate the wise old man’s words. He lit a fire at the top of a hill, as instructed, to let the old man know his decision was one of peace.
In the week that followed, the old man taught Stone Arrow how to make shields so strong that a lance could not penetrate them. From then on, he was known as the Shield Maker.
The old man went on to talk about warriors being men of peace who were aware of the impact of war, the sacredness of life, and wanting peace, but being willing and able to defend the village, the women and children, but always keeping in mind the impact of their actions.
This is in contrast to those who profit off of war who wish to keep us in perpetual war by creating boogeymen out of people who want what we want — peace. Most people just want to live their lives, provide food and shelter for their families. Most people want peace.