I’ve been carrying this photo on my cell phone for weeks.

It was with me when I flew to NYC and spent timeless days with others not of this earth and  yet entirely of this earth. Why did I go and what happened to me while I was out there? Before I could determine the answers I came home to family fighting floods and spent an evening gauging atmospheric conditions in our tornado-ripened sky (when do we dive into the crawl space for shelter??) All the while this quote I found hanging in the Western Heritage Museum staying with me.

How does this feel — to follow one another out of this world? And what of the text left unwritten: And into the next world.

How did the Northern Cheyenne end up in Montana? History tells us they drifted. The Chippewa were pressed west, which pressed the Sioux further west, which displaced the Chaato areas in North Dakota where they could still occupy fixed villages, make pottery and practice agriculture. And then came the day they were driven into the plains, losing their arts and learning instead to become roving buffalo hunters in order to survive.

To this day, in sacred ceremonies, the spiritual keeper of stories tells how it came to be that the tribe lost the corn upon being forced to live after leaving their eastern country.

If you study the stories of Dull Knife and the Northern Cheyenne, you will be told how the Indians drifted. Did they, do we, do I? Underneath the buffalo-hunter’s robes is the spirit of a roving corn-planter.

About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

13 responses to “drift

  1. roseh400

    >I hope you get some down time to figure out what happened to you while you were there! 🙂 Out of this world is all right as long as you go back into that / this world and maybe going in and out is nice…. (?)Glad you are ok re flooding. 🙂

  2. >I understand drift. And there is so much more to understand and learn. Thank you.

  3. redmitten

    rose- going in and out IS nice! regarding the flooding here, i am on high ground but some of my favorite family members (and their horses and sheep) are not. we got 9 inches of rain in the past 4 weeks, which is more than we get in an entire good wet year!

    kathleen- oh i was sure you got drift. yeah! how can we tire of life when there is so much more to understand, learn and live.

  4. Beautiful line that resonates with me:

    “Why did I go and what happened to me while I was out there?”

    Very often we only know on a very logical, rational, cognitive level, yet there are so many other dimensions to experience that we process on other levels ~

    • redmitten

      kary(n) – that’s a question i hope to always be asking and one that should take a life time to answer. and yes – so many other levels and dimensions. i am drawn to the culture of the crow and cheyenne because of this very reason.

  5. re: “.. that’s a question i hope to always be asking and one that should take a life time to answer.”

    yes > one lifetime … or several (i often feel + think) ~

  6. our people died, died, died… my mohawk ancesters ‘drifted’ into canada where they split from the tribe and subsisted on farmers’ chickens. they disappeared into ontario somewhere. i wish i could follow but they left no clues behind. powerful piece, and against the context of nature’s fury, the more poignant. peace…

    • redmitten

      drwasy- “i wish i could follow but they left no clues behind”…..reading you gave me chills. the hairs on my arms rose. yes yes. and oy oy.

      at times i recognize that some of what goes on in my life is that i am searching for that way to follow. my g-ma left some clues/keys/port holes and the longer i live, the more tuned i become to them. she knew some things i am needing to know now…but am just now able to understand the meanings. writing and the world of poetry have been instrumental . . .

  7. I like how you tease so much out of the word “drift”: the history, the present emotions, the weather, so many stories. Much to comtemplate here….

  8. How do we end up anywhere? Being a migrant drifting (perhaps directedly) from a small island where the indigenous souls are outbought and outnumbered, this has so much resonance. Do we (should we) all become spiritual keepers of stories? I do hope so.

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