Estonko--This morning is a Georgia morning. I’m here for a two-week residency at a small women’s college in Decatur. It is warm, as it has been in Oklahoma, and everything is blooming. Since I arrived it has been raining flower petals and pollen. The pollen count has been enormous, shattering any records in known time in this part of the world. I stood next too a truck that was streaked with yellow pollen. Because I have spent muchtime around Navajos and Pueblos I naturally consider that we are being blessed by such fertility. Yet, it’s been rough on sinuses and lungs. Any gift comes with its responsibility, its cost.
I bring my breakfast outside to concrete bench, facing East.The Sun embraces and feeds all of us, the many plants, the fvsjates with their spring mating songs making attractive webs, the many insects and creatures,including humans who are drinking of the light of the sun. I want to join two women who have taken a break from the kitchen. I like the up-and-down sound of their voices, and the pitch of their storytelling and laughter.
I remember that this is old Mvskoke country and try to settle back in the place of knowing to get a sense of who and what was here, before Mr. George Washington Scott who founded this college. The settlers here were an adamant bunch. They were basically, collected as the State of Georgia, the first state in the union to officially outlaw indigenous people. They brutally forced Mvskoke and Cherokee out, the first forced removal before the Trail of Tears. I am staying in the Alumnae House. The bed in my room belonged to Mr. Scott whose face looks at me from a picture over the bed. Now, that fact concerns me a little. I have to cover his image. There won’t be any partying in this room, though my partying days are long behind me.
What a beautiful land this is, and to leave it was the beginning of the breaking of the heart of our people. There are helpful plants everywhere I look. And I understand that the deer were plentiful. This Saturday many Mvskoke are meeting at the site of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend over in Alabama. I am planning to find a car and drive over. I’ve been there twice. The first time was about fifteen years ago, when I was invited to speak at Auburn University. I was taken out one day to the grounds of the massacre. My grandfather of seven generations, Monahwee (here they call him “Menawa”) was one of the leaders of that uprising against an unlawful move from our homelands to Indian Territory, far to the west. I walked the grounds from East to the North and all the way around. I felt such sadness that it settled in my lungs. I got bronchitis that day and I had never had bronchitis before. I also felt how the spirit of our people was still part of the land, the plants, and the place. We carry it with us through the generations. Seven generations is not long at all, in the time scheme of the present world.
I understand why some of the people warn us not to go back. What we find here could be difficult to carry. But I believe that the spirits of our people who are still here are happy to see us, to know that when we left we carried the fire and we made it. We are still here. Mvto---