Where Sister Eagle Soars!
by Ruby Whitehurst
We are living in unpleasant days where life is hard! It seems as though the love of many is gone and everyone is concerned with “dog eat dog.” There is no such thing anymore as “love thy neighbor as thy self.” In fact, I certainly don’t want some of my neighbors to treat me like they treat themselves. Know what I mean? Meanwhile, jobs are closing and money is scarce. Food is expensive as well as unsafe; so they say. Each time we turn on the TV, we hear about new foods that cause cancer. Think about it, those same foods that we have been digesting all of our lives can now kill us! However, when I get tired of hearing about bad news and I want to get away from it all, I close my eyes and go to yesterday where Sister Eagle soars! Come and soar with me!
As Grandfather Sun slowly rises, seven pious Elders face east, with their hands humbly lifted in thanksgiving towards heaven. Sister Eagle gracefully soars high above Tuscarora Country, listening to the buzz of happy voices below. These voices belong to strong, brave, noble people, who are striving to restore their heritage. Meanwhile, a day of traditional events and festivities are at hand, enabling each participant to travel back to a time of honesty, clean air, pristine waterfalls, and new birth.
Warriors sit naked upon Mother Earth inside handmade tents filled with red, hot, glowing rocks. Relentless steam fill their lungs as streams of perspiration run down their faces. They seek guidance from the Ancient Ones. Outside, extremely excited women ignite cooking fires in which they place vessels filled with wild game, nuts, berries, vegetables, and herbs. Exuberant children help prepare a circle.
Just before noon, naked warriors emerge from the steam-consumed tent and jump into a nearby creek. In the meantime, tribal leaders sit inside the circle sucking and blowing smoke from the sacred pipe made of wood and stone and filled with tobacco, which will carrying prayers to Great Spirit who is the giver of life. Silently an aged, copper colored, Wise Medicine Man steps forward from the circle of leaders firmly holding a giant clam shell filled with a sacred mixture of cedar, sage, sweet grass, and tobacco. He lights the herbs with fire and gently blows smoke over the entire body of each cleansed warrior. All necessary preparations are complete and the festivities are about to start. Sister Eagle soars high with a glitter in her eye; proud to witness the customs of old.
Drums beat, rattles shake, chanting softly begins, while male and female voices rise with power and authority as prominent dancers attired in animal skins, feathers, furs, shells, bells, beads, and stunning ornaments patiently await their turn to enter the sacred circle. As always, the entry point must face east. Several warriors have painted faces, red, black, yellow or a combination of multiple colors. All that can be seen is their eyes peeping out from underneath a feathered cap or elaborate roach. Nevertheless, skillful dancers stay in perfect rhythm with the drum.
Fancy male dancers shake their tail feathers, while mimicking animal movements in their dance steps. Beautiful, female, jingle-dress, dancers jingle their jingles, while traditional, female, dancers keep in precise step with every drumbeat. Around and around the circle they energetically dance, until the music suddenly stops! No one moves and if a feather drops, the warrior must not remove it from the ground! Did you feel the majestic heartbeat of Mother Earth? Did you allow your body to sway with the enchanting rhythm of the drum? Quietly, four-legged creatures gather along the edges of the forest, Sister Deer, Brother Bear, Sister Squirrel, and Brother Wolf; grateful to celebrate life. Slowly but surely, Sister Turtle makes her way to join her allies, while watching the beautiful celebration-taking place today, in Tuscarora Country! Even the birds sing!
Out of the blue, someone shouts, LET THE FEASTING BEGIN! Several long, wooden, tables are lined with pans of mouth watering, tender, savory meat and wild turkey along with roasted corn, squash, beans, spicy pumpkin pie, golden-brown fry bread and apple cider. Elbows are bending and teeth are chewing, between cheerful laughs and the licking of tasty juices from their fingers. After dinner, tribal members and spectators gather around the Story Teller to hear oral accounts of Tuscarora history, legends, and scary stories. Immediately after the Story Teller finishes enlightening the crowd about bygone days the Give-Away begins. According to Native American custom and tradition the one who has the most has nothing, unless he or she shares it with those who have less.
The entire day was marvelous and not a single soul is ready to retire; however, shades of darkness are quickly approaching and the forest grows silent. For one last time, all tribal leaders assemble themselves in a circle to suck, blow, and smoke tobacco from the sacred pipe made of wood and stone. After the prayers end, each warrior, woman, child, and elder diligently remove litter from Mother Earth and extinguish all fires. Proudly, Grandmother Moon smiles from a clear star filled, sky with an illuminating face, while sleepy families enter their sleeping quarters. Finally all is quiet except the nocturnal creatures who raise their voices in chorus with praise and thanksgiving to the Creator for such a wonderful day.
High above, Sister Eagle soars with keen eyes and graceful flight watching over everyone below. She is the protector of our skies. Father Sky is her domain and Mountain Top is her home. The gentle breeze of Sister Wind is her ally. Sister Eagle kills only to stay alive, so that her offspring will to survive. Her only ambition in life is to remain free and Sister Eagle’s spirit lives inside of me. Sister Eagle looks below and realizes that the encampment is quiet as well as safe but inside each beating heart and joyful spirit lives the satisfaction of knowing that we are keeping our heritage alive! The Ancestors smile!
Ruby is a promising writer who lives along the Roanoke River in North Carolina. She loves nature and animals as well as exciting stories that include paranormal activity. Ruby also loves poetry, children, and indigenous history. Ruby's unique writing ability entails "writing like people talk."