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The preparations for our journey were ready made and ere long we were under way. He told me he had prayed much for me since he heard of my trouble and that now we were going where no evil had ever been able to survive; that as soon as they come near the sacred spot, the thundering from the voice of the Great Spirit, the fire which proceeded out of his mouth as his anger arose, because of the wicked ways of the tribes of men, who were the children of the earth which he held as his own; also because of the evil doings of the evil spirits which wandered through the earth destroying its loveliness, and sadly changing the face thereof; so much so that when he chose to visit through the earth, his holiness was so much shocked and so highly incensed that he took up his abode in the mountain consecrating the spot sacred forever in his holiness. Here he established the throne of the thunders; they may dwell foreverissuing forth their deep voices, where the lightnings sport in playful gambols; the very sky reflecting back its firy and zig zag forms, immediately annihilating anything of an evil nature which had the misfortune to approach within the limits of the sacred dwelling. That the Great Spirit had been so kind as to establish good and benevolent Spirits to guard the earth and her children from the depredations of the evil ones, who seek only to destroy the beauty of the earth; the good designs of the children of men, whose eyes they blind with the mists of sorrow; and whose cares are rendered entirely deaf to the voice of the spirits of good, because they are continually filled with the lying whispers of those evil spirits, and cannot discern the voice of the good spirit who would be their friend and give comforting’ and instructive council, to soothe the troubled spirit by promising a peaceful home in the pleasant hunting-grounds of the Spirit land, where our fore-fathers luxuriate in the blessings and beauty of one eternal spring.
On arriving at the foot of the mountain, we prepared to ascend its rugged side together. We proceeded some way in silence; my heart could not but admire the stupendous grandeur of the scene below. My companion acted as guide; for he was not like me a stranger on that hallowed ground; he had there sought council from the Holy Spirit before. At length he halted, and I could but regard him with a kind of religious awe, as he pointed out a spot where I could rest; observing that he wished to ascend farther into the mountain. I felt that he certainly must doubt my ability to proceed. I was desirous to proceed, yet was as passive as a child in the hands of his father. I made no objection but readily assented to his proposal. Never had my spirit been so humbled, so subdued, as at the present time. The conversation of the day, the solemn beauty of the spot, the precarious and melancholy slate of my mind, and the excitement under which I had labored for many weeks; all together served to work my mind up to that degree, that I seemed to hear the whispers of the Great Spirit milling in with the sighs of wind which lingered in the mountains. On being left alone, in a spot too, which I felt I had no just cause to consider less than holy, with feelings which I cannot describe, I bowed myself to the earth. It was not exactly despair which took possession of me, but rather deep and hopeless grief; for that keen conviction had returned with two fold acuteness, that my child still lived; and that very conviction seemed ta bend my spirit still lower, that he should live and still I was unable to trace out the place of his concealment; to tear asunder his unhallowed bonds, was a thought almost unendurable to a father who was otherwise stricken and bereaved by the hand of death, who never seeks or even wishes to repay the loss you sustain; the deep wounds which he ungenerously inflicts without leave or ceremony, perfectly regardless of the virtue, wealth, fame or beauty of the object chosen for its prey. I almost breathlessly awaited the return of my good friend, whom I now more anxiously desired to see, than any other period of my life.
A kind of a vague realizing sense of what he would say seemed to be impressed upon me. When be returned he seated himself near where I lay, and when I looked on him, he motioned me to rise from that prostrate position. I scarce had strength to obey, so prostrate were my energies of body and mind. I did not speak, but he seeming conscious of my disposition to do so, but lacked the strength; he kindly assisted me, seating myself on my side, regarding me steadily in the eye, as if he expected me to speak; but I chose to leave it altogether to his own pleasure to break the silence; for in truth I know what to say. This he did in a few moments by saying, ‘Great and good Chief of a noble race, mourn not without hope; forget not those: who look up to thee for council to guide them. Who shall fill the place to them when thou art gone? Forsake them not, while the Great Spirit guards thy sojourn among his people; ere long, and the spirits of our fore-fathers will call for thee into the land of the shades and then thy people will mourn for thee. Rouse thee up; cause them not to mourn ere the time; let them not mourn while thou art still present with them, lest the shades of the fathers should say, he is not worthy of his charge and should be grieved at so shameful a thought. Forsake them not in their grief, but be comforted. My brother, let us reason together. Have we not known instances where birds were decoyed and ensnared when they were young and kept from enjoying liberty, so sweet to all things when young; and when they were middle-aged, having obtained freedom for which they have ever sighed, have they not flown higher, and longer, in their ecstasies; ventured farther, risked more, than those who have had a long life of practice; just because it was new to the, and then so sweet that they thought not of dangers, but soared on in triumph, consequently passing through multiplied dangers in safety and pleasure. Now listen to me. I lie not. My words are spoken in truth; they are the words of an aged man who is your friend. The dark clouds of a wintry storm have gathered about the head of the Chief and the angry blasts of the pitiless winds of adversity have blown away, no one knows whither, the idol of his heart, where all his hopes, his heart’s best affections, were enshrined. He groans under the pressure of the iron hand of the bitterness and sorrow which panther like, suddenly, yet effectively, seized upon his heart which lay secure as the speckled fawn trusting to its mother’s vigilant eye for its security and life; but it is crushed with a demon’s grasp; yet it writhes and flutters in hopeless agony, yet eagerly watching an opportunity to make its escape.
Receive this sorrow as becometh one of a noble race. Bear up under thy loss as becometh a man of experience and receive it as a forerunner of the complicated sorrows which await thy tribe; for they will change their ways more and more. The pale-face has spoken to them with a forked tongue; many who profess friendship will prove their enemies; for they will secretly lay plans to undermine the Indian; to strip him of his foot-hold here. They will ask these lands. The people will laugh that they should suppose they would leave the land where their forefathers slept. The white man will press them still more, but the people will angrily answer. No! no! then he who once called himself our brother, but has now usurped a fathers authority over us, will demand it.
The people will with one voice cry. No! Yet their voice will reach no ears; all are shut to the wail of their mourning’s; their claims will fade away and like the morning dew, cannot be found when the sun has gained his noonday height and splendor. Then will many hearts be desolate as thine, and the child shall cling to the mother who has no home to shelter its tender limbs. They shall go sorrowing and mourning to a far-off lane, where many will sicken and die, for their hearts will break. They will remember that they were crowded unwillingly away from homes sacredly dear, and while the fire which they left on the hearths of their homes is still alive, the pale-face will rush in, casting about him an eagle’s glance, betraying at once that his avaricious heart is unsatisfied no greater-treasures are left behind. But the good pale-face will go with him; he will not forsake them, but will humbly endeavor to comfort them, in their day of affliction to give the light of hope to all who will receive. Then they will live where and as the Indian lives; he will suffer when they suffer and rejoice in their joy; and he will die where the Indian died, and lay his bones in their new home. They will assume the habits of the pale-face, and the tribe will begin to prosper. The days of their sorrow shall have an end, and their joy shall be crowned with peace; they will increase in numbers again, and abundance shall be the blessing and fruit of their labors. They will prosper and become happier than the red man has been since the first great canoe of the pale-face landed on the distant shores of the land of the red man. Since that day all the visions of the Indians have been clouded with ill. As the oppressed with dropping spirits and crushed hearts relinquished to the oppressor the last claim which he had to the beautiful land of his youthful adventures, he turned away sorrowing, seeking a new home in the far-off wilds, where bis feet had seldom if ever trod. He felt the white man was his greatest enemy; and as he explored the limits of his wild retreat he was pleased there with. Then came those fearful forebodings that his posterity could not enjoy, it after him; that his bones would lie there unmourned by the stranger who thoughtlessly treads among them.
The fear of the entire extinction of the race has from that time poisoned all our thoughts, for it hid itself away in the heart like a worm in the choice bud; though enclosed in a little world of beauty and sweetness, yet eating away the very life thereof. Our children will change the religion of their forefathers; they win speak with the pale-face as with brothers, and the pale-face wilt listen to the words of those whom they have instructed in their own religion and nourished with parental care. Will they not hear the words of their children? Yes, and plead for them with the white brothers, for they will love those for whom they have labored, and seek to do them good and stay their hands from evil doing.
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Now my brother thy heart is dark; a long, long night has come upon thee. It will struggle in vain for the full warmth of the bright hopes of youth, which warm and enliven the heart as the sun does the earth at noonday; but it will no more, shine upon thee in its usual brightness. It hath departed from thee no more to return, until thou shall roam in the vast hunting-grounds of the Spirit land, accompanied by the shades of thy fathers and friends. Now, my brother, listen to the council of a friend; let thine ears be open to all his words; they are for thy good.
Thou knowest that by the light of a well known star, night weary travellers, however sick at heart from grief or fatigue, may safely guide their footsteps homeward, for it cannot lie; for its feet never depart from the path which the Great Spirit has marked out for it to travel. It does not murmur at its hardships nor yet tire of its daily journeyings. Though the path be long it is ever at its post.
Now let my brother’s heart be comforted; let its strings take strength, that its grief may relax. Let it be open to receive the lesser light of which I have spoken; that it may guide thy feet through the dark vale of old age, wherein is no light. When the heart is loaded down with sorrow, and when the bleak mountains of death shall appear in thy path, trust thyself still to its guidance. Though its light be feeble, yet it is constant and unvarying, as the Great Spirit from whom all light proceeds, whether high above our heads or beneath our feet. By its light thou can ascend that difficult mountain where the bright beams of the summer’s sun, whose rays warmed thy youthful heart into greatness, shall burst full upon thy new sight, making thy heart which had grown cold through weariness, sing joyously with warm delight. Let your ears be open to my words; let your heart feel their truth or falsehood, When I say thy child is not with the red people, but he will be a wanderer among many people, of many nations and colors; his foot shall leave its print in many lands, and he will feel himself a stranger among earth’s children; his enemies shall be bitter and implacable, but hi friends will be warm and true; trials such as few know, shall mark in his path, yet he shall conquer, and return to his people with a firm step, an open hand, and a warm, true heart. He shall make them glad, and they shall rejoice together. My brother, what I said concerning him when my hand rested on his infant head, I cannot find leave from the Spirit which dictates to my heart, to contradict now. Clouds have risen up and with their dreariness obscured the brightness of our former hopes, and you doubt the probability, you almost say possibility, of the truthfulness of my blessing upon the head of thy child. No! no! that were to suffer the evil Spirit to gain complete ascendency over me at once; to darken my mind, to despoil me of my gift from the Great Spirit. I should but contradict myself; my tribe would lose all confidence in me, for I have ever contended that we had no need to worship the evil Spirit; that: we should sin to offer sacrifice to him to appease his anger; that in so doing we only acknowledged his power as greater than the Great benevolent Spirit’s, or at least as approaching to his authority. I have ever thought that if we could please the Great Spirit, he would preserve us from the power of all our enemies, for he at all times bestows good upon all his people, though their eyes are sometimes shut, and cannot discern the good from the evil which accompanies it; Yet it incurs his anger, and grieves the shades of our fathers in the spirit land to see us bow in worship to the evil spirit, the mighty enemy of our race. I say again, the child shall be blessed by the Great benevolent Spirit, and shall yet do much good for his race, though trials shall rise up in his path, and with giant strength, forbid his advance. The evil spirit shall seem to have overcome him times without number, and in various ways; yet he shall be sustained, and rise above the many snares which have been laid to accomplish his entire overthrow. He shall rise above, and triumph over all!
Come, my brother, let the light of hope shine again into thy heart, comforting and dispelling the clouds of darkness, which have gathered there! Let the good Chief of a noble race take courage! His blood shall not yet cease to flow in the veins of his children; but their children’s children shall pronounce thy name with reverence and gladness. Now tak comfort, for thy people shall grow and flourish after a time, taking deep root in another land, and thy lost child shall return to make their hearts glad, and to rejoice m their midst, and they shall all make merry, for joy. Trust to the Good Spirit. Do not let thine ears be deaf to the voice of thy aged friend and counselor. Mourn not as ye mourn for the dead, but rather ask the Great Spirit to protect and redeem the living; let thy former course hide thy grief from mortal eyes, and tell it only to him. Let us now return to the people. Let our tongues be silent when we meet them, lest the evil spirit ensnare us. Let our hearts hold silent council with the Great Spirit, and remember forever our journey here, and our counseling together.
We returned to the dwelling place of our people. I was worn with fatigue; my deep despair seemed to have exhausted itself in frequent outbursts of violent grief to which I had given way. A hopeless yet silent sorrow took possession of my mind. A constant pain was secreted there; hope would sometimes warm up my heart it is true, contending strongly for its former undisputed sway, but when being forced to divide the spoil, would for a while, relinquish its endeavors to soothe me. I only realized its loss the more and felt all the more solicitous for its return. Would to the Great Spirit that the chief was present now, for here is his long lost and lamented son before us, exclaimed the old man.
I waa impatiently at times almost breathlessly listening to the words of the aged man. I did not dare to interrupt him, nor yet to ask even one of the many questions which arose in my mind, and trembled as it were on my tongue, but with the most intense anxiety, awaited the moment that his lips should cease to move. While he spoke, not a limb had been stirred, nor scarce a muscle moved, lest they should disturb the speaker, but when he ceased, all eyes which had been bent upon him, were turned upon me with an inquiring gaze which seemed to fasten me to ray seat. I attempted to rise, but my limbs seemed to refuse to perform their office. I endeavored to speak, but my throat was swollen and painful in the extreme; my mouth was closed. The old man broke the silence by saying, here now is the blood of Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole. Let your ears be open to my words.