NATIVES, THE ENGLISH, RACISM, AND DEERFIELD [HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR]  EXPANDED  2/17/04  AND 2/17/05

OWLS AND INDIANS -- AND SOME RADICALS WHO ARE NEITHER  [HUNTER GRAY   2/05/02] [UP-DATE 6/19/03 AND 3/04/05]

 

 

NATIVES, THE ENGLISH, RACISM, AND DEERFIELD [HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR] EXPANDED 2/17/04 AND 2/17/05

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:  Micmac/St Francis Abenaki/St Regis Mohawk

 

Dear Hunter Bear,  3/03/05

My friend Alice Azure forwarded your
e-mail about the anniversary of Rogers'
Raid. I really appreciated everything you
had to say.

Did you ever see my novel THE WINTER PEOPLE,
which focusses on Rogers' Raid from the perspective
of an Abenaki boy?

Peace,

Joe Bruchac



We are now pushing again toward the anniversary of the famous St Francis
Abenaki/Catholic Mohawk raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts -- which I, for
personal and family reasons, commemorate in various ways. Many captive
English children were taken and subsequently raised as Natives in the North.
And this year -- the 300th anniversary of The Raid -- is seeing something
remarkable:  the assembling of  many Deerfield descendants for an extensive
network of tours into the Northern Indian Country involved.  In those
settings -- e.g., Abenaki and Mohawk reserves -- are a great number of other
Deerfield descendants, interested in meeting their relatives from below.

My family and I are Deerfield descendants -- Indian descendants through the
Gill and Annance lines.
 

This end-of-February [2/28 and  sometimes 2/29] is the anniversary of the
1704 raid by Abenakis and some Caughnawaga Mohawks and French on the British town of Deerfield, Massachusetts.  If that raid hadn't occurred, I [and a
great many others] probably wouldn't be gracing this essentially wonderful
mudball called Earth.  It's a revealing tale about racism [English] and the
total absence of it [Native Americans.]

Racism -- the quack and deadly effort to deny the humanity of the victim --
is a relatively new [ca. 1500s] phenomenon that began under the aegis of the
newly Protestant English and Dutch.  It was a clear effort to rationalize
genocide against Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans and
justify other awful things. The Catholic countries were certainly caught up
in ages-old cultural ethnocentrism -- the doctrine of "cultural
superiority," also quite false -- which has been used to rationalize all
kinds of hideously self-serving goals and practices. But ethnocentrism did
not [and doesn't] go the final and ultimately terrible and irreversible mile
of racism and seek to deny the basic humanity of the victim.  To a racist,
the victim is seen as genetically sub-human; to an ethnocentrist, the
victim, should he or she convert to the ethnocentrist's cultural position,
then  becomes essentially "OK."

The Native/European situation in eastern Canada and the northeastern portion
of what's now the United States was extremely complex from the outset. The
Natives of the Abenaki [or Wabanaki] Confederacy were almost always aligned
with the French -- against the encroaching and oft-urban English whose view
of Natives was generally [not always] from a racist perspective even though
they had some Indian allies at various points.  [The Scots, with an entirely
different socio-cultural background, could often be much better and, over
time, frequently married legally into Indian Nations -- a very common French
practice always.]  By the latter 1600s and the beginning of the 1700s,
England's racism was brutally obvious:  Cotton Mather termed Natives "wild
animals" and "children of Satan," cholera-infested blankets were
deliberately given as ostensible gifts to Natives, formal English bounties
were paid for the heads and scalps of Abenaki men and women and children.
That sanguinary and repressive English racist legacy still shapes much of
the United States and Canada to this moment.

The Abenakis with some Caughnawaga Mohawks and the  French -- accompanied by Jesuit priests -- swept down from the St. Francis Abenaki  refugee mission setting [Odanak, Quebec]  on Deerfield, killing many and burning much of the English town.  About 100 English captives of all ages were taken and ultimately "distributed" among the various Catholic Indian mission
communities where most got along well.  Among them were two very small
children, Samuel Gill and Rosalie James.

These were taken to St. Francis and raised as Native [and as Jesuit
Catholics.]  In 1715, they formally married each other -- ultimately
producing seven children who were biologically "white" but totally Native in
the socio-cultural sense.  One of those, Marie-Appoline, is my g/g/g/g/g
grandmother.

And another of these seven children was Joseph-Louis Gill, who became chief
of the St. Francis Abenaki and served well in that capacity for 50 years.
Obviously, the Natives weren't in the remotest sense racist -- nor have they
ever been at anytime, anywhere.  The "white captive" into full tribal
membership and participation [usually to the point of not wanting to return
to the Anglo world even when the opportunity presented itself] is a
not-uncommon "frontier" account.  And, of course, runaway African slaves
frequently found very safe haven and full citizenship in many Native tribal
nations.


In 1759, the evil [and I don't use the word lightly]   Major Robert Rogers
attacked and burned St Francis, including its church, killing many women and
children.  Among the women killed was the Abenaki wife of Joseph-Louis Gill,   the biologically "white" and 100% Abenaki Grand Chief. The Indians fought back effectively.  Wounded while defending St. Francis was my g/g/g/g/g
grandfather, Gabriel Annance, a young Mohawk from the not-distant Catholic
mission town of Caughnawaga who had married Marie-Appoline.  This was the
beginning of the famous Mohawk-based but St. Francis Abenaki Annance family
line -- one of our family's several major Native genealogical rivers. Almost
all of the Annances, several of whom attended Dartmouth College in the
latter 18th century and the earlier portion of the 19th century --and their
descendants and their various connections --consistently married other
Indians over the long pull.

Rogers' raid is the basis for an essentially  anti-Indian 1936 novel,
Northwest Passage, by Kenneth Roberts.  In 1940, it was made into a
well-known movie [starring the usually good and socially conscious Spencer
Tracy] which is also bigoted as hell.  Tracy redeemed himself many times

over in future roles:  Bad Day at Black Rock, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,
Inherit the Wind -- and many more of which many of us, I'm sure, are quite
fond.  But I am NOT fond of Northwest Passage.

The good and scholarly Jesuit, Father J.A. Maurault chronicled much of this
far-ranging and long-enduring episodic drama in his classic [in French]
Histoire des Abenakis.  This is a large, substantial study which goes
through to the mid-1800s and contains the Gill and Gill descendants
genealogy in considerable detail.  By that date, as Fr. Maurault calculated
it, there were almost a thousand known descendants of the two white
"captive" children.  The number today, of course, would be vast. 
[I
have a rare  copy of Father Maurault's work, and consider it
one of my most important books.  BTW, both my parents knew French
as well as some other languages -- and, once when our family was temporarily
on the trail,  I went to a French speaking kindergarten.]


So here is a biologically "white" Grand Chief -- for fifty dramatic years --
of an Indian Nation.  How many Anglo towns have ever had a Native mayor to
this day?

In Solidarity -- and Unity

Hunter [Hunter Bear]

Hunter Gray  [ Hunter Bear ]
www.hunterbear.org  ( social justice )

Portion of an Addendum:  Natives, Deerfield -- and the Moosehead Indian World  [Hunter Gray/Hunter Bear] Expanded 2/17/04

A final note at this point:  As the 19th century wore on, with Northeastern
Native life becoming more and more circumscribed on and around the
relatively small reservations and reserves in the United States and Canada,
many of the Indians of the old Wabanaki Confederacy -- Abenakis of St.
Francis and environs,  Maliseets and Micmacs of Southeastern Canada, and
Penobscots of Maine, as well as some Mohawks from Northern New York and
Southern Quebec, wound up by the mid-19th century in the rugged, very wild
and generally unsettled Moosehead Lake section of Northern Maine and
adjoining points north.  There, for several decades and at least two basic
generations, they lived -- often marrying across tribal lines.

And that was, for a period all too short, a fairly close and fascinating
approximation of the old, wild free life: hunters and trappers. And then,
gradually, as the Anglos pushed in and towns like Greenville grew rapidly,
the Native men worked as woodsmen and  river men and guides and the women as domestics in the great resort hotels that sprang up on the edges of
Moosehead Lake.  A major and very early figure in this setting  was Lewis
[Louis] Annance,  former Dartmouth attendee and close friend of the American
historian, Francis Parkman. Lewis Annance, my g/g/g/g uncle, mostly raised
my great grandmother, Louise, and, until his death in 1875, raised my
grandmother, Mary [Mamie --
St Francis Abenaki and Mohawk.]

After Lewis died, my grandmother -- ten years old -- went to work as a
domestic for a friendly Anglo family. She spent most of her poverty-
stricken life doing domestic and waitress and sewing work.  She very
likely also made birch baskets for the white tourists. [I should add that
our family -- this one here and the one out of which I come -- has never,
never mistreated any waitress [or waiter], anywhere.]   My grandfather, a
mix of several Wabanaki lines [but Micmac and Maliseet in cultural perspective], was a violent man toward many whites [not all], killing at least one man in a fair fight -- and a roustabout in every sense
.]

From Lewis, my grandmother received a wonderful, very heavy wolf robe -- made
from three timber wolves that he killed about the time she was born [1865.]
It went to my father and then to me and we have that huge robe, right here,
to this very day, at our Idaho home.  Unlike most of the Wabanaki, and many
of the Mohawks, Lewis and his two brothers --  great grandchildren of the
two white captive children from Deerfield -- left the Catholic Church and
became Anglicans.  Then Lewis went one step further and became a
Congregationalist -- and, finally, a Mason.

Like all of that old breed in the Moosehead country, he was communalistic --
and also a free person.  He knew Latin [from Dartmouth] and read widely --
always much interested, as his Moosehead search indicated, in Utopia.

I know that he, along with a great many on all sides of my family, would
understand why I became a left socialist at a very early age -- and, as far
as that goes, why I live in Idaho.

Yours, Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR]  Micmac / St Francis Abenaki / St Regis Mohawk
www.hunterbear.org


When you cut to the bone  and cut away the college degrees, academic and
other titles, published books and articles, ours is essentially a working
class and Indian family.  We consistently join unions  -- and we always
support them with the greatest vigor.

It's critical to always keep fighting -- and to always remember that, if one
lives with grace, he/she should be prepared to die with grace.

 

FRANCIS NOEL ANNANCE:  ROVING EYES AND "COUNTRY WIVES"  [HUNTER BEAR  2/17/05]

If anyone has any interest in the Deerfield Raid of 1704 and the attack by
Rogers' Rangers on St Francis in 1759, here are a couple of good
eferences  -- each in the same issue of the same journal:  The Beaver:
Exploring Canada's History, April/May 1993.

"Buckskin Soldier:  The Rise and Fall of Major Robert Rogers, by Ian
McCulloch.

"The Case for Francis Noel Annance" by Morag Maclachlan.

Joan Mulholland, on BWB, has read a good deal of my copy of this magazine
which I just dug out about a couple of days ago to show to Maria.  Among
much else, the author of the piece has obviously done her homework when she
knowledgably indicates the primary reference work, that of Fr. Joseph A.
Maurault S.J., priest at St Francis from 1841, who published his excellent
book in 1866, Histoire des Abenakis -- containing a long chapter on the Gill
and James situation and their descendants, virtually all of whom married
other Indians.

There were three Annance brothers, Abenakis, whose great grandparents were
these two very small white captives -- Samuel Gill and Rosalie James -- who
had been taken from the Deerfield situation via the Raid and raised as
Indians at St Francis.  They married each other in 1715 and had several
children. All were biologically white, of course, but very culturally
Indian.  One was Joseph Louis Gill who served as Grand Chief at St Francis
for half a century as well as holding the key post of Prayer Chief. As Morag
Maclachlan puts it, the three Annance boys "belonged to a unique North
American family whose history [could be traced] to the days of the French
and Indian wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries."  Francis Noel
and Louis attended Dartmouth.

Another of the captives' children was Marie Appoline Gill who married a
Mohawk, Gabriel Annance.  They were the parents of Francis Joseph Annance
who, in turn, had the three sons:  Francis Noel, Joseph, Louis.  Joseph is
my ggg/grandfather, Louis and Francis gggg/uncles. Joseph, closely
associated with John Gray  [ Ignace Hatchiorauquasha] et al, was deeply
involved for many, many years in the Rocky Mountain fur trade.  Louis
settled in Northern Maine as the region's best known Native guide  where,
ever hospitable over the generations, he raised his own children as well as
a number of various and successive Annance children from closely related
branches -- including my great grandmother, Louise, and my grandmother, Mary
[Mamie].  Much on this is on our large website.

But I have little -- beyond a mention or two -- on Francis Noel. "If all we
knew of [Francis Noel] Annance depended on the Hudson's Bay Company journal
kept by John Stuart at Fort Simpson in 1833-34," writes author Maclachlan, "
we would judge him to be sullen and untrustworthy."

He joined the British North West Company as a trapper in 1819.  The North
West Company merged with the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821.  At that point,
he became a formal clerk for HBC -- often, however, being sent on
expeditions into remote areas -- and eventually being based in the far up
Canadian Northwest.  He clashed with the fur bosses -- Chief Factor John
McLoughlin and others -- around work-related issues.  But there was much,
much trouble of another special kind with fur manager John Stuart who "found
his [Stuart's] "wife" [fiancé] in Annance's room when he returned to Fort
Simpson from a tour.  Wedding plans were abandoned."

This was not the only adventure of this sort experienced by Francis Noel
Annance.  And I understand from family history that he also took a wife from
the Flathead Nation. The article discusses the not uncommon practice of
"country wives" [wilderness relationships].  In 1867, as an older man, he
testified at a Montreal trial in support of the bona fide marital nature of
"country marriages."

In due course, he returned to the St Francis Abenaki reserve and immediate
environs in Quebec where, appropriately enough, he became a school teacher
and principal.

Best - H

HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR]   Micmac /St. Francis Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

 

OWLS AND INDIANS -- AND SOME RADICALS WHO ARE NEITHER  [HUNTER GRAY 2/05/02]  [UP DATE 6/19/03 AND 3/04/05]

OWLS AND INDIANS -- AND SOME RADICALS WHO ARE NEITHER

This is always timely.  The Native struggle to protect tribal societies and cultures and land and resources -- and to hold fast to remaining sovereignty and regain that sovereignty which has been lost, to maintain the critically fundamental treaty and related rights, and to secure bona fide self-determination within the context of those treaty rights, could not be more fundamental and enduring.   H.  12/21/07



Contemporary Note by Hunter Bear:  3/04/05

Listening, of course, is an Art.  Instant non-Indian experts on Indians are a
Manzanita Pain. [Many non-Indians are certainly fine learners and solid supporters.]
Several of the Left discussion lists I'm on are obviously interested in Natives and Native
challenges. But a few clearly are not.

The Native World is a Great Complexity. There are hundreds and hundreds and
hundreds of tribal nations in North America alone, each with its own unique
history -- and unique culture [total way of life, things "seen and unseen"]; varying degrees of acculturation and traditionalism [but never assimiliation]; each with its own Ethos and Vision: but always ultimately coming down to serving one's community and not one's self.

And all together.  Solidarity -- and Sacrifice.  Never completely
tranquil -- people disagree, sometimes fight. Never completely static -- circlic/cyclic change.  But it can be a pretty good and satisfying life.  After all, Natives and tribes and cultures have survived what are now hundreds of blood-dimmed centuries.

And we always shall.

____________________________________________________________________________
 



UP DATE [JUNE 19, 2003]

Note by Hunter Bear:

This is a timely re-run -- with a bit of an update. Sort of for the hell of
it.

Every very early morning in the dark --  daily without fail -- I hit the
trail. Leaving our 'way high up house, our Shelty and I go far up into the
wild, rough country for four or five always interesting miles.  It's reached
the point where few animals and other wild entities along the way express
any alarm at our oncoming presence.  Mule deer, moose, coyotes, lions,
bobcats, rattlesnakes, birds -- sometimes out in the open, sometimes in the
brush but looking intently at us -- now see us as a natural part of the
scenery. [The coyotes, I should add, have been following us daily for many
months.] I never travel armed on these treks, even though a friend recently
gave me a fine Ruger Single Six .22 Magnum revolver.

Should be seeing a bear or two anytime now.

Lots of owls. Big owls.  Initially, we just heard them -- Far off and
Whooing from the Four Directions.  And then, instead of flapping away
vigorously as we drew closer, they now sometime sit and wait -- or else fly
conspicuously and slowly and very deliberately indeed right above us --
say, from one elevated point over a couple of hundred yards to a juniper
tree on a high up ridge.

I'm getting to know and like them, too.  We do have a deep relationship
going.  I definitely appreciate Real Wisdom.

Owls can mean various things to various folks.  Some tribes see the owl
primarily as a messenger of impending death.  I much respect those views.
However, I do not happen to hold those perceptions.  To me, the more I see
of them, owls are friendly scouts in the night and  carriers-of-news in the
very dim light of pre-dawn.

An inquiry came to me the other day:

"my children brought home a baby grey horned owl this weekend after a storm.
my guess is the storm knocked the owl's nest down. this owl stared at my
father for a very long time until we moved the owl. while the owl was
staring my father told me the owl was of the witch and meant death-is this
true??  please email me"

This person is not from a tribe who sees the Messenger of Death.  I
responded immediately:

"While an owl looking at you is, in some Native cultures, a negative
thing -- it is not so in most.  In any case, an owl that you've rescued is
an entirely different and benign situation.  I often see owls in the early
dawn light -- and, as owls do, they frequently stare deeply and wisely --
and directly at me.  No sweat.  Your owl is not a witch or a witch's
runner -- and I'm sure It's very grateful you've been helping it out.  I am
always glad to see them.  Enjoy each other!"   [Hunter Bear]

Still, there are some very heavy owl situations.  Here is one of those --
and then a happy story as well -- along with, the more I see of this odd
human species, my growing antipathy toward certain kinds of Left radicals:

-- Hunter Bear [ Micmac / St Francis Abenaki / St Regis Mohawk]
 

It's often rough to be a genuine radical in Free America, and it's
frequently tough as hell to live in this country and be a Native American
who is also a radical.  And it isn't just the bosses and their legions and
the racists who throw the thorns and gritty sand and  the knives and
hatchets.

It's also --  sometimes -- the non-Indian radicals:  some of the sisters and
brothers of the various Red Cards.  Not all of the non-Indian radicals by
any means.  Some are genuinely fine. No sweat. But some, no matter how they
may see themselves, have considerable growing still to do -- regardless of
their  particular chronological age.

Not that these are bad folks -- because virtually all of them, whatever
their personal and ideological idiosyncrasies, are good and committed and
courageous.

Unlike the general situation in earlier eras, they mostly do recognize that
Native Americans still exist.  We've gained good ground on that score.

But they can still fall far, far short from that which we Natives wistfully
hope and still sometimes naively expect.  [After all, "from they who hath
more, more is expected."]

They can sometimes --  these particular non-Indian radicals -- be as
arrogantly and maddeningly and callously ethnocentric as a Christian
jack-leg preacher on the edges of Gallup. He -- the preacher man -- knows we
exist.  He just wants us in his corral and he wants us to be just like him.

Here, from an e-mail discussion list [with which I don't happen to be
affiliated] is an older Anglo socialist -- from an Eastern city -- recently
worrying about  " . . .people who wallow in politics of identity,
particularly national identity. Some of those people are among us and need
to be made aware of danger of stressing tribal, pagan, new age identity
stuff and its incompatibility with rational modernist politics of democratic
socialism. "

Chill.

Glacier Chill.

Missionary and government and  school principal chill.

Well, my idea of socialist democracy is that -- democracy -- and in the
context of a full measure of bread-and-butter and a full measure of liberty.
And to feather it out some more -- that means everyone having the maximum
number of reasonable choices.  And that boils down to the right to be
themselves in whichever socio-cultural setting -- or blending -- they wish.

I'm a Real Red.  And I also -- because I have a very special life-long
relationship with the Bear -- sometimes for special reasons wear a bear
claw around and well below my neck.  Usually out of sight. Nothing at all
ostentatious. It's not a secret thing -- just private.

And that's just one of many, many things that for me are soul-basic.  My
kind of socialist democracy welcomes the right and respects the obligation
that I, as a Native person, have to those deepest-fires-of-all.  Or any one
else has to his and her Way.

There's lots of lip service in radical circles to the Native cause -- once
you raise it.  People may even ask you -- as an Indigenous Red -- to write
articles about the myriad of challenges facing Indian and Eskimo and Aleut
people.  And, usually, the articles eventually get published.

And hopefully read.  And maybe even acted upon.

Sometimes then, the previously unaware non-Indian radical can understand why family and clan and tribe and tribal culture and a serving-the-community
ethos are so critical to us.  And why we fight for all treaty rights and for
full sovereignty and for bona fide self-determination.  And why we are so
committed to preservation of our communally owned earth and to the very
careful and respectful usage of its resources.  And why we always protect
our sacred places.

But I've learned that often simple intellectualizing doesn't get the message
through to non-Indians --  nearly as well as, say, true stories.  Stories
that for them are unusual stories.  Things that don't come from professors'
notes or blackboard formulae.

So I think I'll talk about Owls. One story is sad and the other is glad.

All things are consciously meaningful to Native and to other tribal
people -- and to others if  those roots are  genuinely close.  And this
certainly includes animals and birds. These thoughts are about owls of whom
I've been lately seeing many.

I'm not really an owl person at all.  But every Indian is attuned in some
fashion to those essentially lone fliers of dusk and shadow.  And whenever I
hear, as I so often do in the evening or early morning, the hoot of an
owl -- or see a big, heavy bird flying slowly in the darkness low above and
around the trees -- there are for me some very special memories.

I remember Nadine -- of a long, long time ago.  I was in my very early teens
and she, an extremely attractive young Native woman from a tribe with few
members in our immediate area, was in Flagstaff to attend Arizona State and
especially my father's art classes.  He painted her -- a fine oil portrait
which caught so very well her composed and quietly reflective and pleasant
essence.

And then one day she went with several other Native college students on an
outing to the edges of the vast Sycamore Canyon wilderness area southwest of
Flagstaff.  At one point, still afternoon with the sun 'way up, they parked
their car on the edges of the relatively rough forest road surrounded by
yellow pine mixed with scrub oak.  They had just stopped and Nadine was
sitting in the front seat.

And then suddenly, down -- fast, fast down -- came a shadow, landing on the
hood of the car.  It was an  big owl, whose daytime appearance was as
unusual as snow in Northern Arizona in August.  It can happen but  it
virtually never does.

Planted on the hood, faced by several startled young people, the owl looked
through the glass windshield at only at one -- and to that one, Nadine,  it
looked hard and directly into her eyes for a long, long moment.

And then it flew away.

And Nadine said, " He has told me that I am going to die."

She was the only person of her tribe in the car. And there are as many
different Native cultures as there are Native tribes.  This was not the
belief of the others and, although shaken, they attempted to talk her out of
it -- pointing to her excellent health.  But she said virtually nothing and
they all then returned to Flagstaff.

Three days later she was dead.  The causes were "natural" -- but never even
remotely delineated.

Her portrait, the young and serene and assured person of a vastly long time
ago -- another age --  hangs  timeless and full-of-life right here in our
Idaho home.

Jump far ahead in time to the Navajo Nation country, 'way up in the
beautiful, very isolated  Lukachukai Mountain region -- in what's
technically Arizona, not far from Four Corners where Arizona and New Mexico and Utah and Colorado intersect.  There it is very high altitude   -- 7,000 feet above sea level -- at Navajo Community College [now Dine' College] where I was then teaching and doing some other academic and some activist things.  But the Sun is bright and generally very warm even in the winter -- the season
at which this particular event occurred.  And it isn't all that windy right
there.

I was in my classroom with about thirty Native [mostly Navajo] students --
where I was trying to take western/world sociology and, through  intellectual and
psychic alchemy, transpose it into something meaningful for both the Navajo
and American worlds.  And then -- something very unusual -- a young
policeman came to the open door, immediately drawing the attention of my
students and then, of course, myself.  He was a friend, a campus security
officer, as well as a student.

"Could you come with me for just a few minutes?" he asked.  "It's important
and I know you are the one person who can help."  We walked out of the
building as he added, "Some people are a little concerned."

He pointed to the towering Ned A. Hatathli Cultural Center  about one
hundred yards away -- reaching six stories above ground toward the deep blue
turquoise sky. The Center is named for my father's long-time art student and
old family friend, the late trail-blazing Navajo educator who was the
principal founder of the College.  Ned  had also known Nadine.

My security officer friend pointed to the very top of the Center.  "See
that," said he.

I saw --  'way up, sitting on the very top -- a huge super-white owl.
Looking right down in our direction.

"My God," I said, "I'd have to go to Maine or Canada to see that."   I went
on, "That's Snowy Owl." I looked hard.  "Probably a male, given his size and
the way the feathers look."

He grinned, relaxing slightly.  "I knew you were the only one around here
who could help us."

Then he grew serious again.  "Tell me, is he O.K.?"

"He's O.K." I said, "Nothing to worry about.  No witch thing.   Just  a
little off his regular trail."

The officer now  relaxed very visibly.  Then I looked around.  Most of the
class had quietly followed us. They were grouped  a bit self-consciously and
cautiously at a distance. Calling them over, I explained that Snowy Owl is
an Arctic and Sub-Arctic friend that goes a little further south to winter
and was undoubtedly forced 'way down into our area by the rough storms
coming through the  Plains and Rockies -- right into the not far away San
Juan range of Southwestern Colorado.

"What safer place for him?" I asked, "Than the top of our Cultural Center?"
Agreement was widespread on that.

Other people were now gathering.  Class was obviously over -- co-opted by
our extremely impressive visitor.

And people were glad he'd come to see us all.  "Maybe he's bringing us
something good," one of my students quipped.  Another, with a practical
bent, added seriously "we'll take all the help we can get."

Snowy Owl stayed around through that day and the following night and the
next whole day, immobile and impassive -- impressively so. His is the only
flesh and blood entity I've ever known who could play to his audience
without an apparent flicker of motion. But sometime that next night,
undoubtedly sensing the cessation of storms to the north and far up and
beyond, he quietly left.  And we missed him.

But I remembered -- as I always do -- Nadine.

And all of the things so very deep and so very old and so very precious.

[We have a few pages of my father's art on our website.  They start with

this page, and this includes Nadine.  http://hunterbear.org/my_father_was_micmac_and_st.htm



Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]
www.hunterbear.org (social justice)

Left Discussion Group
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Redbadbear

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