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Distant Drums of Wounded Knee Part Seven (Finale)
Wounded Knee Cemetary
Distant Drums of Wounded Knee Part Seven
Sam arrived at his own reservation near Lander, Wyoming and was greeted by friends and aunts and uncles as a kind of hero who stood up for what was right and paid the price with a jail term. They all wanted to hear about Kitty O'Connell and Spotted Hawk. He told them he wished to fly over to Ireland and visit with Kitty. His uncle Billy Gets-Your Gun arranged for him to teach a summer class at the Wyoming Indian School in Ethete that would pay him enough for an airline ticket from Denver to Dublin--just what he needed. He had never taught children before but his class went very well with his teaching Shoshone history and folklore. The kids gobbled up everything he had to say and they loved it when he had tribal story tellers come to his class. They did art projects relating to old stories and kept journals.
During his teaching, he received a letter from Spotted Hawk which he opened quickly almost tearing the letter in half. He told Sam that his nephew at Pine Ridge was some kind of dean at a new college called Chief Red Cloud College and that he was to come back for an interview at his convenience. Within a week, he gave his students Friday off and hopped a greyhound bus for Rapid City where his interview had been set up for Friday afternoon. Of course, he interviwed well and Mr. Lambert Jumping Calf was impressed with his college and grade school teaching experience (not to mention his support of the Wounded Knee siege). In short, he was offered a full-time teaching position beginning in September.
By early August, the Ethete class over, he had purchased a round trip ticket and was on his way to Denver with his uncle. His flight took him to Chicago where he boarded an Aer Lingus jet to Dublin. By the time they had nearly arrived on the Emerald Isle, he sensed a strong spiritual presence of something outside his aircraft. He wondered if it wasn't some sort of ancient druidic being trying to communicate with him. The presence lasted for nearly a half hour; it made a sound like a throbbing heartbeat. He thought of Kitty and that perhaps she could explain what was happening. He hoped Kitty would be there at Dublin to greet him especially after he wrote her only a week earlier that he was coming.
He then looked out his window at a bright and green land with patches of shade and sun moving quickly across the lakes and mountains. Finally the plane landed in Dublin on a bumpy runway making the plane bounce and lurch from right to left. At last he deboarded and got through customs to arrive at the central terminal--but no Kitty! He panicked and wondered now if she ever got his letter. If she didn't come, he at least had her address in Northern Ireland and just as he was about to go up to an airport policeman, she came running up to him with tears in her eyes.
They sat down at an airport cafe with his suitcase next to the table and she went and got him a "full Irish" breakfast of sausages, black and white "pudding," fried eggs, a rasher of bacon and wheaten bread and a steaming up of coffee. While he ate slowly, she asked one question after another about what happened to all the hundreds of Indians who had occupied Wounded Knee, and what happened in jail and how was Spotted Hawk doing as well as the Viet Nam vet. After breakfast she led him to her parked car and they proceeded to drive through the streets of Dublin and across the River Liffey. She showed him O'Connel Street and the G.P.O where the Irish Rebellion on Easter, 1916 had begun. She showed him Parnell Square and James Joyce's house.
He finally asked her about a strong presence he felt outside of the jet aircraft over the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It had a drumbeat like a throbbing heart. She said that perhaps as an Indian close to the land, he was one in a million people who had felt the ancient spirits of Ireland going back to druidic times when Ireland still had glacial ice on its mountains. She said that on the next day, after he had a good rest at her aunt's place of Phibsboro Road, she would take him to an ancient prehistoric site caled Newgrange or Bru na Boinne near the Boyne River outside of Drohegda.
She picked him up the next day when at last he saw a magnificent green mound lined with white stones on either side of the rocky eastern entrance. Gray clouds raced across the sky and they dashed up to the entrance that was still accessible to individuals back in 1973 as opposed to group tours of century twenty-one. She said to him that he should go in there by himself to experience a tribal Ireland of 5,000 years ago. She gave him a flashlight and a bit of wheaten bread should he become hungry
As he entered the eastern opening that allowed the rising sun to light up the interior passageway and inner chamber on the winter solstice only, he immediately identified with pale-skinned tribal druids who spoke to him in thoughts, not words. They told him they had built this burial mound to preserve the ashes of their chieftain ancestors and that one each solstice day of December 22nd, the sun illuminated their ashes to revitalize their spirits which poured forth out of the acre-sized mound to fly as purple beings over the land and to communicate with those still alive to maintain the harmony of humans and nature. They built this burial mound as a spirit connector from their times to all peoples of the future. He sensed that they wanted him to spread the word as far as the distant prairies that they could see and that they sensed he was from. In Ireland had learned about connectivity, multi-layered connectivity, that is.
Sam came out of the mound several hours later. Kitty was beginning to get worried but was so glad to see him. She hugged him after he explained his vision. They continued to explore Ireland together (but slept in separate rooms) during the next week or so including the great Cliffs of Moher in the West of Ireland. These cliffs were once the side of a canyon whose other side may well have been Newfoundland, Canada. The canyon spread apart with the great Atlantic Ocean filling in. As much as Kitty wanted to be with Sam every minute,Kitty, unfortunately she had to return to Northern Ireland and her job, but she promised someday to come out to where land is mostly sky in South Dakota. Though they had only hugged and kissed several times during his visit, he thought that just maybe, when she did come out to the rez (he made her promise she would), he just might propose to her.
The Nixon administration failed to respond to the demands of the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee '73 including the staffing of a medical facility that had been built, by the Johnson administration, at Pine Ridge, South Dakota..
Have you read Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee?
© 2010 Richard Francis Fleck