The Healing Tree
Amid the thick growth of Ponderosa Pine that covers the Black Hills are patches of land on which there have been incidences and events which are remembered for many years. Some of those events become history, and some fade into obscurity. Many of those memories involve the meetings and conflicts of the settlers and the Native Americans. In the city of Wounded Knee, there lives a family named Black Horse. This is their story
Breaking the News
Alicia Black Horse sat against the old pine tree and looked down at her belly. She ran her hand across her stomach and shook her head. She was now four months pregnant and was just beginning to show. Her family was becoming suspicious, and soon she would have to share the news. She knew it was news that would not be welcomed by most members of her family, or the town, and for several reasons. "Well, Ben", she said softly, "Hang on tight. It's going to be rough going for the next few weeks". She stood up and took a deep breath, turning to pat the bark of the tree. If a person can have a favorite tree, this was Alicia's. Since she was a child, she would sit beneath that tree whenever she had a problem and needed to think things out. Running her hand across her stomach again, she headed down the hill to the house.
Geraldine, her mother, was cooking supper. Alicia smiled as Geraldine gave the sauce on the stove a quick taste and mumbled.
"Hello Mama," she said as she sat down at the kitchen table.
"Alicia, where have you been?"
"Sitting at my tree, thinking," Alicia said as she shrugged her shoulders.
"Girl, you spend far too much time sitting at that tree. I could have used your help fixing dinner."
Alicia swallowed hard and said "Mama, I need to talk to you."
Her serious tone caused Geraldine to turn and look at her daughter. "What's wrong?" She walked across the room and sat across the table from Alicia.
Alicia wasn't sure what to say first. She was overcome by so many emotions and thoughts that she just stared at her mother for a moment. "I'm pregnant, Mama."
Geraldine blinked several times, not believing she heard correctly. "No...you're joking." She half smiled. When Alicia didn't respond, she whispered "Please, Alicia, tell me you're joking."
Alicia was about to speak when she heard her brother Mark's booming voice. "What the hell? That's great, Alicia. That's just freaking great." He stomped through the kitchen and stood next to her. "What the hell are you going to do with a baby? You are the first one in the family to get into college. You have your future to think of here. You can't throw it all away now! Who is the rat bastard who got you pregnant?"
Alicia looked at Geraldine, who was holding her head in her hands. She then looked up at her brother and stood up. "No one invited YOU to this conversation, Mark. Get out and let me and Mama talk."
"Well, I may not have been invited, but I am in it now, so answer my question."
"Which one?" Alicia snapped loudly.
Mark looked at her angrily. "Pick one and go with it," he said sharply.
Alicia knew this wasn't going to be easy, but she had hoped to talk to her Mother before getting anyone else involved in it. She sighed heavily. "I am still going to finish college, Mark. This will just delay it, not prevent it." Now please, let me and Mama talk.
Mark stood and considered his sister's words. "Damn it, Alicia. This just wasn't in the plan for anyone." He looked deeply into her eyes. "Who is the father, Alicia?
This was the part Alicia was dreading the most. The news of the pregnancy was only the beginning. Once they knew the truth about the baby's father, there would be hell to pay. "Dan." she stated simply.
It took Mark a minute to remember who Dan was. His expression quickly turned from concern to sheer anger. "Dan? Dan the white man?" He said sarcastically. He pounded his fist on the counter. "Damn, Alicia. Have you completely lost your mind? Do you remember where you are from? He pointed out the window. Look around out there and see how much the white man has done for us. Now you want to bring one of their bastards into this world, OUR world?"
Alicia rose and crossed the room. She slapped Mark across the face, hard. Before he had recovered, she drew her hand back and slapped him again. "Come out of the time warp, Mark, and join us in the year 2011. Firstly, this is MY child, and you will never use the word bastard to refer to this child. Do you understand me? Secondly, we don't get to choose who we fall in love with. I didn't plan for this, but it is what it is. I already love this child, and I love his father. You are just going to have to deal with that."
"You are going to regret this for the rest of your life, Alicia," Mark said through clenched teeth before walking out of the house.
Alicia looked at her mother, who had tears in her eyes. She reached into the cupboard and pulled out a coffee cup, filled it with coffee, and set it on the table for Geraldine. "I'm sorry, Mama. I wanted this to go much differently. We will talk about it later. Everything is going to be fine." She hugged her Mother and went back up to sit under the tree.
Ghosts from the Past
Alicia made her way up the hill and sat beneath her tree. She leaned her head back against it and sighed. She had known this would be difficult, but she was not as prepared as she thought. Her anger rose again as she recalled Mark's words. "Bastard child." How dare he make such a remark about her baby! She had been so angry, she didn't even think to mention that she and Dan had already planned to marry before the baby was born.
He did bring out a point that she had given little consideration to, however. This child being only half Indian would surely bring out anger in some of the people of the town. Although most people had evolved into realizing that the past is best left there, and that the Lakota must move on toward a brighter future, there were still those who had nothing but hatred toward the white man. Interestingly, most of those were younger Indians and not the elders. She shuttered to think of the hateful things that would be said not to her, but to the child when he was older. She was thankful that she would be living off the Reservation, but knew that there were many white people who felt the same way about mixed children.
Alicia gazed at the sky and watched as clouds covered the sun. She suddenly felt very tired. The emotional evening along with being pregnant had taken their toll on her. She closed her eyes and tried to relax. She soon fell asleep against that old tree.
The young warrior watched his wife as the women of the tribe were teaching her to bead. Although she was white, she had raven hair and dark eyes. The people of the tribe had accepted her very quickly and were charmed by her humble ways and quick humor. She had been given the name Yellow Bird when she was accepted into the tribe. The two years since they had married seemed to have passed very quickly. He gazed down at his wife's swelling middle. Soon she would have their first child. He was so lost in thought, he did not notice his wife stand and walk to greet him. It was her gentle kiss on his cheek that brought him back to the present.
He smiled down at her and whispered, "Come, my Father wants to speak with us." As they walked through the village, the children began to follow them. Yellow Bird was well loved by the young people of the tribe, and often told them stories. They saw the elder sitting on a log by the creek and went to join him.
"I'm glad you came," the old man began. "I have had a vision which I want to share." As you both know, there has been much hatred between the white man and the Indian. This has been ongoing for many years and will undoubtedly continue for many more. I have seen a time in the future, however, when the two peoples shall be brought together. The one who will bring the peace will be one who shares the blood of both peoples. He will have with him the spirits of the White man and the Indian. Although this bringer of peace will know much hardship throughout his life, he will use that to bring an end to the hatred and the wars. Despite his hardships, he will also experience much love and happiness." He looked first at his son, and then Yellow Bird, and smiled. "My vision did not tell me when this would occur, but I believe that it will be your descendant who will find the way toward peace between these two cultures." The old man did not wait for conversation, but got up and left the couple alone after he shared his vision.
"Do you think it could really happen? Peace between our people?" Yellow Bird asked her husband.
"One should not question visions," said the young warrior. "Crazy Horse himself spoke of a time when the Whites would begin to come to the Indians for wisdom." He smiled at his wife, who looked awe-struck. "It may seem impossible now, but someday, our people may be able to put aside the hate and work toward a common goal." He kissed Yellow Bird and held her close.
"Alicia?" Geraldine gently touched her shoulder as she spoke. "You've been up here quite a while. I know you are upset over what Mark said, but please come back to the house and we can talk. As they walked down the hill, Alicia told her mother, "I had the most amazing dream."
Once inside the house, they sat on the sofa. Geraldine took Alicia's hands and said: "I can't say that I expected this, and I was very shocked, but all I want is for you to be happy."
"Oh, Mama, I am happy! Dan and I are to be married, and I will finish school after the baby is born. Dan has a good job, so we will be fine. Am I crazy for thinking it will all work out, Mama?
Geraldine smiled. "Alicia, there will probably be some obstacles to overcome, but I think you know that. If you love this man, and he loves you, then your child will carry this love with him always."
"But the hate, Mama...will he be hated by both the Whites and Indians? I had not really considered that."
"Some people thrive on hate, Alicia. That will always be true. Thankfully, there are a greater number of people who are more open minded. Mark was out of line, although he may not know it. I want to share something with you." Geraldine rose from the sofa and went into the bedroom. When she came out, she had a box. She sat down next to Alicia and opened it. Inside was a leather pouch. Geraldine opened the pouch and carefully removed an amulet. "This was made by your Great-Great-Great Grandmother. Inside this amulet was the umbilical cord of her child. Notice that the amulet is decorated with red and white beads. This was not done by accident." Geraldine placed the amulet into Alicia's hand. "The woman who made this amulet was raised by a White family. She became a member of the tribe because she loved an Indian man."
Alicia's jaw fell open. She could not believe what she was hearing. It was just like her dream! As Geraldine spoke, Alicia recalled the vivid scenes that filled her dream.
Geraldine continued. "Mark may not know, or he may have forgotten, but we have ancestors who were White. In fact, the tree you call yours grew over the grave of the woman who made this amulet for her child."
Alicia considered what this could mean. She remembered the words spoken by the old man in her dream. "The bringer of peace will have the blood of both peoples." Could it be? No, surely she was letting her imagination get the best of her. Still, she had to ask: "Mama, what was this woman's name?"
The Future in Motion
Congressman Ben Black Horse Mason stood under the old pine tree with his Mother on the eve of the most important speech of his life. "Ma, I just wanted to thank you. The love and guidance you and Dad have given me all of these years, along with the support of Uncle Mark and Grandma have brought me to this point. I couldn't have done it without you."
Alicia smiled and looked up at her son. "I am so proud of you, Ben. We all are. Tomorrow, you will set in motion a plan that many thought was impossible. You will be returning some of the land back to the Lakota, and proposing economic alternatives that will ensure that everyone prospers as a result."
Ben tilted his head and thought out loud. "You knew. Somehow you knew something like this would happen. All of the stories you told, and the encouragement you offered by saying that I would acheive great things were constant as I grew up. How did you know?"
Alicia flashed a huge grin. "It was destined to be. It's in your blood."
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