Today we stood beside you…brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters and elders and fathers. So many like myself between Christmas shoppers smiles and beating drums and generations of memories and songs. We are so close and so far away but we both saw today you are not alone.
I drift to forgotten dreams and footsteps in deserts so far from the frozen streets and train rides in suits. Yes, I have walked the Bisti Wilderness and the White Sands. I have slept with visions of Milk River and climbed the Big Rock with my son the way I did when I was his age before the big highway came. I have climbed through barbed wire, lost ones I loved too soon to too much drink, and felt the hands that slap us down…but I know I have never seen with your dark eyes. Mine are pale blue like my father’s and my son’s and my little girl’s.
When I was a boy my step father helped an old man with leathery skin back to his feet as the Stampede parade passed by, while so many the others stood by. He was a good man. He had seen better days. “Thanks”, he said with his pride and the shame of our white nation for watching him fall, for watching a parade of painted ponies before the last of the mustang were rounded up and stolen from the land.
From Painted Pots to Wounded Knee, from Four Corners to Saskatoon, from Squamish to the sea and Lilloet to the sky, I have climbed the rocks and walked in the footsteps of those who came before…and in the days between I have known the empty pain of an empty cupboard and tasted the water gone wrong like it came from a lead pipe that lay in the sun and I have wondered what will I have left for my children?
And then, today…I saw the same faces and dreams and eyes that can’t lie to the mirror or see themselves on the television, but for today. I imagine their little girls, not much older than mine, sitting down with their children’s children one day telling them about this day and how even in a time when hope was only that, we stood
together to the beat of the drums and found our path home…together.
I will tell my children…and pray they will see the change we may not live to tell about.