The elders all knew why the meeting had been called, though no one had spoken about it. Wise Deer was ready for the next step in his Shaman training.
One by one, the elders said what they thought, and it was variations on a theme: Wise Deer needed to make his first kill. All agreed his skills were far above average, but he needed this experience. (Most other boys his age would have made their first kill long before now.)
The only one who hadn't spoken was the village Shaman himself. The Head Elder asked him, "Why are you so quiet? Do you disagree?"
The Shaman paused several minutes before finally answering, "I agree he needs to do this. But he will not return from this hunt."
"Then he must not go!" the elder exclaimed in surprise. "He is too important to lose!"
"He is lost to us already. I can not say more."
"But if we know something happens on the hunt, we can keep him safe."
"We don't know something happens on the hunt. I know he will not return. I cannot tell you more. It is important we do not interfere."
This put quite a damper on the mood of the meeting. After a number of questions the Shaman would not answer, the Head Elder said to him, "Go get the boy."
* * * * *
Grey Bear led Wise Deer wordlessly into the meeting. The Head Elder waited till the Shaman was seated, then asked the boy, "Do you know why you are here?"
Wise Deer was unused to so much attention. "Did I do something wrong?"
That sent a chuckle around the room. Wise Deer blushed, but remained silent.
"No," the Head elder assured him. "Long ago we had intended you to be trained by Grey Bear to be a Shaman. He told us you had already learned what he could teach you. We have all watched you this last year. You have learned much, but there is more to learn. It is time for you to make your first kill."
The words hit Wise Deer like a blow. He wanted no part of killing. While he knew the Elders were to be respected, he would ordinarily have stood his ground and argued against this. But he had heard the Head Elder say the same thing in a dream a few days before, and knew then that this must be. (Not that he agreed with it.)
* * * * *
Wise Deer had started preparing for the hunt immediately, though he knew it would be weeks yet. He'd meticulously prepared a spear point the way he'd seen his own father do it. (Grey Bear had told him to make a spear.) He let his own tears fall on the point throughout the process. He invested a bit of his soul into that point.
Now, with the time drawing nearer, he was preparing to fit the point to the shaft he had completed. He pulled the sinew cord from his medicine bag and put it in the small pool to soak.
This had always been one of his favorite meditation areas. Whenever he needed peaceful time alone with Creator, he had come here. The pool was a quieter part of the stream. The sound of water was still present, but Wise Deer liked that he could also hear the breeze in the treetops as well as the birds and insect sounds.
It seemed unfair that he was now making an instrument of death here. But when he'd tried to work on it elsewhere, he'd become too agitated. He needed the calming influence of this place.
As he waited for the sinew to soften, he let his mind wander. It wasn't fair that he was being asked to kill. He had learned so much these last several years.
He knew how it felt for the deer to run, for the hawk to fly, the fish to swim. He now knew much of what Creator had intended for His human children.
He knew people were supposed to cherish each other, not fight and kill each other. He knew that Creator had made four peoples with different gifts. He knew that all the peoples were supposed to learn from each other.
He'd learned what many people would consider miracles, though he knew they were just natural outcomes of walking with Creator.
He'd seen the foolishness of his people fighting each other, and the white people fighting each other as well as fighting his people.
There were so many things he longed to share and teach. He practically ached to help people understand what he now understood.
And here he was preparing to take the life of an animal. He knew it was unnecessary despite what the elders had told him. After all, there were plenty of hunters in the village, and always would be.
Eventually his thoughts settled down somewhat. An unexpected calm slowly settled over him. He began to feel at peace. Despite his inner turmoil, things were going to be allright.
It didn't take long after that for his Vision Quest to come back to him. Near the end of the Quest, he had had what he had first thought was a normal dream. In the dream, a baby boy had been born. A man standing near Wise Deer told him that the baby was actually Wise Deer. When the boy asked if he was seeing his own past, the man had said no. The man had then given Wise Deer a sinew cord. "You will need that," the man had said.
The vision had ended as suddenly as it had begun. But there in Wise Deer's hand had been the sinew cord. The same sinew that now soaked in the pool.
* * * * *
When the sinew was finally flexible enough to work, Wise Deer thought he heard laughter nearby. It was hard to be sure over the soft sounds of the pool, but it angered Wise Deer again that someone might be joking while he himself prepared the spear to slaughter a defenseless animal. In his anger, his hands were not as deft as they should have been.
He had fitted the point to the spear shaft and was wrapping the sinew around it when a voice spoke close behind him.
The voice startled Wise Deer, who spun to face it, unfinished spear still in hand.
The boom startled Wise Deer again, as did the immediate impact. He was thrown backward into the large rock behind him. The spear fell to the ground. Its unsecured point separated and partly buried iself in the dirt.
One of the men, clearly angered at the other, shouted something incomprehensible to the other, then bent down over Wise Deer. Before his vision faded into blackness, he realized two things. The man was white, and his face showed deep concern.
* * * * *
"Allright. I've come along with you. I'm good for my word. I'm not going to back out. Now will you explain why I had to drop everything and ride with you to North Georgia on the spur of the moment?" Mike asked.
As usual, Roy considered a while before answering. "It's not spur of the moment for me. It's been weeks since I saw the picture." He pointed to a travel magazine on the dashboard of the minivan. "Page 48," he said.
"You knew I was going to ask, didn't you?" Mike asked as he reached for the magazine.
"I guessed," Roy answered, shrugging.
Mike found the picture, then looked at his friend blankly.
Roy continued driving, ignoring his friend's stare.
"It's a creek," Mike said incredulously. "We have creeks in Florida. And you don't even fish," he added as an afterthought.
"I've fished," Roy defended himself.
"I've seen the President, but that doesn't make me a cabinet member," Mike replied.
"You know, the sad part is that that actually made sense to me," Roy said. After a minute he added, "Imagine having seen the President in your dreams all your life, then seeing him for the first time in real life."
"You dreamed about the President?" Mike asked in mock seriousness.
"I dreamed about that spot," Roy said, pointing at the picture. "Thanks to that article, I now know where it is."
"Must've been good dreams."
"Actually, they were mostly nightmares."
"And we're going there, why?" Mike asked, eyebrows raised.
"You're going there for moral support."
"Should have picked someone a little more moral than me then."
"I need you to support my morale. It's going to be tough facing my fears," Roy explained.
"Here's some morale advice: Turn the car around."
"I can't run from it."
"It's not chasing you."
Roy gave Mike a long look.
"The road's that way, Roy. Please watch it while you're driving," Mike said, pointing.
After a minute or two of silence, Roy spoke. "I used to have the dreams every night. Over the years, they'd tapered off to maybe once a month or so. It wasn't so bad any more. Since I saw that picture, it's back to nightly. I can't go back to that."
"They've got this thing called therapy now..." Mike began.
"This is the only therapy I can afford."
"I ain't no therapist," Mike pointed out.
"You're a pragmatist and skeptic..."
"No need to be insulting," Mike interupted.
"I mean you don't believe in anything you can't see, hear, touch, or measure. If things get too freaky, I'll need your influence to balance me out."
"Whatever. So what is this nightmare about?"
"Being killed, mostly," Roy said.
"Sometimes me, sometimes a friend, sometimes a total stranger," answered Roy.
"Do I ever get killed in it?"
"I don't remember you being in it. That's another reason I asked you along."
"Well, I don't know about all that crap, but I do see one positive thing here."
"And what's that?" Roy asked.
"You're always going on about how your great-grandmother or something was Cherokee. We'll be visiting Cherokee country!"
"I've been to Cherokee country lots of times. Besides, if we were visiting a haunted family castle in Scotland, then we'd be in Scottish country, Mike. I don't see the connection."
"I don't think there is a connection. I don't think there's any haunted Scottish castles in Cherokee country."
"I suspect you're right. Could you nap for a while? I need you to drive in a couple of hours."
Mike faked a snore in reply.
* * * * *
The walk from the parking area had only taken 15 minutes. They'd had to start hiking with flashlights, but it was now light enough to see that they had arrived at the spot in the magazine picture.
"We'll need full daylight to find the rest of the way," Roy said.
"Rest of the way? This is the creek in the picture!" Mike exclaimed.
"Yes it is. It's a landmark I recognized from tne dreams. It's not the spot where things happen."
"You mind if I take a nap, then?"
"Knock yourself out," Roy answered. "I'm going to sing a morning song, then go to water, just so you know now and don't have to interrupt me to ask."
"Fine by me, dude," Mike said, settling into a comfortable sitting position against a tree.
Mike had his eyes closed minutes before Roy actually started singing. The song seemed mostly repetitious, and must have been Cherokee or something, since he couldn't understand a word of it.
When the song ended, Mike opened his eyes and was startled at what he saw. Roy was wading into the water. He couldn't help exclaiming, "Dude, it's chilly, you're naked, and you're going into a cold mountain stream!"
Roy ignored the commentary and almost trance-like, continued wading deeper into the creek. It was as if Mike wasn't even there. When Roy was in the middle, in water just over his waist, he ducked down, imersing himself completely.
He came back up immediately, and began wading back to shore. When he reached the shore, he still seemed to be in his own world, completely ignoring Mike's chatter about how cold it was and shouldn't he get dressed.
He went to a low tree branch where his ring necklass was hanging. Mike watched incredulously as he began the ring-drop ritual.
Roy stood still as a statue with the chain hanging in a loop from his two fingers. Roy had shown the ring-drop to Mike long ago, explaining this exact scenario - someone coming out of the water from their morning bathing ritual and dropping the ring along the chain (or chord).
Mike had not realized that the ritual would have been performed in such chilly air. He had just really not thought about that. Now that he realized what Roy was doing, he got quiet. This was a "Cherokee thing" and he needed to leave Roy alone for the time being.
The ring dutifully looped itself onto the chain as Mike knew it would. He'd seen Roy practice it enough that he wasn't surprised. (Not that it was simple. When Mike had tried, the ring had always dropped to the ground.)
Once Roy had put the necklass on, he seemed to come back to the here and now. He looked directly at Mike who despite himself asked again, "Aren't you cold?"
Roy seemed to consider the question a moment then replied, "Actually, no. After the cold plunge, I actually feel warm now." He then walked to his backpack and rummaged through it till he pulled out a towel and began drying himself.
"You really planned this out, didn't you?" Mike asked.
"We're going to a very special place. I've never been there, but I've seen it all my life, the bathing ritual was very important to my ancestors. I know you don't give a darn about it, but could we just can the conversation for a while?"
Mike imitated closing a zipper over his lips. He stood up and paced aimlessly while Roy dressed. He was actually startled when Roy said, "Let's go."
Rather than continuing along the trail, Roy began following the creek bank downstream. It was rough going. They had to climb over massive rocks and walk around some thick brush and trees. In some areas, a faint trail was visible, and they followed it when they could.
Suddenly Roy stopped. Mike looked around. He didn't see anything special about the area. He looked questioningly at Roy.
"See that rock?" Roy pointed. "Things have grown up a bit, but this is the place."
"Okay, so now what?" Mike asked.
Roy slowly walked around the small clearing several times. Each time he ended up at the same large rock.
"Something was lost here," he finally said, pointing down. He looked around for a conveniently sized stone he could dig with.
"Didn't bring a shovel?" Mike asked.
Roy didn't seem to hear. After a few minutes of digging, he stopped and backed away from his shallow excavation.
"I can't do this," Roy said in a weak voice. "Would you finish?" he asked Mike.
Mike had never seen Roy like this. He was deathly pale, and wore the expression of a terrified child.
"Here," Mike said, taking the digging stone. "What am I looking for?"
"Something lost," Roy said. "Somebody dropped something." He sounded like he was worlds away.
"Gotcha," Mike replied unenthused.
A few minutes later, "Mike stopped scraping dirt and pried something up from the hole. "Huh," he said. He then brushed dirt from the object. "Look at this," he said as he turned and tossed the object to Roy.
Roy scrambled to catch it, not knowing if it was fragile or not. He caught it and froze.
* * * * *
He looked at the spear point in his hands. He was confused. He clearly remembered fixing it to the shaft. But he'd been interrupted. The white men.
The pain was not as bad as it had been. But he couldn't breathe. His chest painfully made the motions but it seemed there was no air. He was going to die.
He heard the men's voices. The words were gibberish, but somehow he seemed to understand the men.
"You fool! You've done kilt an injun! He ain't nothing but a young-un to boot. "
"I didn't know! He was pointing that spear at us. He skeered me. I'm sorry." He walked over. "Lissen boy, I'm really sorry. I got boys at home. I didn't mean to shoot ya, honest!"
He opened his eyes and saw that the man looked afraid. He rolled his head to the side to see what had happened to his spear. He saw the point sticking tip down in the ground just a few feet away. He reached over to touch it. It seemed his first kill would be himself.
Air. He needed air. He tried harder to breathe even though it increased the pain. He felt the world slipping away.
* * * * *
Intense fear gripped him, and he looked up to see if the whites were still around. There, not ten feet away, squatted a different white man. Squatted? Why was he squatting? He fought the urge to run, and held the spear point toward the white man as if it were a dagger.
The white man's face showed deep concern. "Are you alright?" he said.
The words were gibberish, but the tone was calming. He looked around again. The clearing had changed. The white man was squatting at the spot where the spear point fell. The man must have found it and given it to him.
He realized with a shock that he could breathe easily, without pain. He remembered the pain, but it was gone now.
The man spoke as he stood up. "Roy, are you alright? It's just an old spear head."
The words were still gibberish, but there was something familiar about them.
"Alright, this has gotten too weird. You wanted me around in case you freaked out. I think this qualifies. We're going home."
The man seemed upset about something, but he didn't seem threatening, even though he was white. He watched the man put on a pack. The man motioned for him to follow.
Walking was strange. His body felt way too big. How was he wearing white men's clothes? How was he healed so quickly? Had he been sleeping a long time? Had his body healed while he slept? Had his body grown up while he slept?
He followed the man, who chattered a lot. He seemed to understand a little, but he couldn't make sense of most of the man's sentences.
* * * * *
They finally reached a road. This road was black, hard, and smooth. How had it gotten there?
Parked by the road was a hut on wheels. He had seen the white man's wagons, but nothing like this! The horses must be grazing nearby, he thought.
The man opened the hut and put his pack inside. "I'm assuming you're not okay to drive right now."
He looked at the man, not having any idea what he was asking.
"Get in," the man said, opening a door and gesturing inside.
Inside, he saw chairs like he'd never seen before. He climbed in and settled into one. It was amazingly comfortable.
The man got in on the other side, sat and closed his door.
He was wondering when the horses would return when he heard a strange sound and felt the hut shake.
The man moved a stick and turned the big wheel in front of nim. The hut began moving by itself!
He stared dumbfounded as the landscape began moving faster and faster. Going around the curves made him dizzy. This was all too much. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
* * * * *
Roy woke with a start. He looked around. "Umm, Mike, what just happened?" he asked.
"Which part?" Mike asked. "You've been acting weird for a while now."
"Where's the...," Roy began. He stopped, seeing the spear point on the dashboard. He picked it up. "I remember making this, Mike."
"I don't think so. It's been buried for a long time."
"Where did you find it?" Roy asked.
Mike looked at Roy. "You saying you don't remember me tossing it to you? We dug it up."
"I remember you digging, then we're here. Was I unconscious or something?"
"Dude, you're scaring me," Mike said. "- Again," he added.
"I scared you before?"
"You acted like a scared kid, and didn't seem to understand English. I thought maybe you had had a stroke or something."
"How did you get me here?"
"You walked, Roy. You're not going to be okay to drive, are you?"
"I should be fine after a nap. I'm just tired, now."
"I just want you to know I'll be pretty ticked off if I do all the driving. I didn't want to go on this trip, much less drive."
"I'll try napping now," Roy offered.
* * * * *
It seemed Roy had just gone to sleep when a panic stop woke him. "Everything okay?" he asked.
"Depends," Mike replied. "Who's Wise Deer?
"Was I talking in my sleep?" Roy asked, surprised.
"I hope. Otherwise, I 'm afraid maybe you're starting to 'Sybil - out' on me."
"Sybil - out?" Roy asked blankly.
"Split personality - you know."
"I wish it were that simple."
"That simple? What's simple about multiple personalities?" Mike asked.
"Wise Deer lived in colonial times. He knew of the English and their king. There was no United States yet, which puts him in the 1700's.
"I knew him well from my dreams long before I studied Native American culture. I knew how his village lived. As I studied the Cherokee people later, I found my dreams had been accurate.
Roy held up the spear point. "I remember making this. Yet I also know Wise Deer made it. I'm pretty sure he was the one killed in that clearing."
"So what are you saying?" Mike asked.
"I don't know. I've never believed in reincarnation as such. But the Bible does have some extraordinary examples of non-standard deaths."
"Non-standard deaths," Mike echoed flatly.
"Enoch and Elijah never died. They were taken bodily to Heaven while alive. Lazarus and a few others died, were miraculously brought back to life, then later presumably died again. Jesus died, came back to life, then was bodily taken to Heaven alive."
"Alright. I get it. Non-standard deaths. Where you going with it?"
"I think Wise Deer was trained for a purpose and killed before it was time to fullfill it. Maybe he was reborn as me," Roy's voice trailed off sheepishly.
"You do know how crazy that sounds?"
"I have an idea, yeah."
"Remember that therapy thing I mentioned?"
"I still can't afford it, Mike. I haven't acted dangerous, have I?"
"What happens if you turn into Wise Deer while you're driving?" Mike asked.
"He died as a kid. I don't think he would emerge in a situation that he didn't feel safe with."
"But you're not sure about that," Mike said.
"Dude, this is unknown territory here. Who knows anything for sure? I think some of the 'barriers' are coming down, though. I'm beginning to remember more about Wise Deer. There's even Cherokee words and phrases floating around in here," Roy said, tapping his head.
"Could be worse, I guess," Mike said. "So you want to drive at the next stop?"
"Lunch?" Roy asked.
Mike looked at his watch. "Sure, why not?"
Roy shifted in his seat for comfort. "Wake me up when we're there if I'm not already awake." He closed his eyes.
Mike turned on the stereo, adjusting the volume downward a little. "Hope you don't mind," he said.
Roy was already asleep.
* * * * *
"I know English now," Wise Deer said, opening his eyes and stretching.
"I'll try to keep that in mind," Mike said, wondering why Roy would make such a statement.
"I only knew a few words before I fell asleep, but now I remember all of them," Wise Deer elaborated. It was Roy's voice, but there were subtle differences in pronunciation.
Mike smiled. "All of them is more than I know, Wise Deer."
"You believe me now?" Wise Deer asked, surprised.
"Roy and I had a talk. He thinks maybe he used to be you."
"I don't understand that."
"That makes three of us. Roy doesn't really seem to understand it either."
"He seems to be very smart," Wise Deer observed.
Mike laughed before he caught himself. "I'm sorry, it's hard to take things seriously when you're complementing yourself in the third person."
Wise Deer looked at him blankly.
"But you're right, he is very smart. I'm going to need Roy to drive after lunch. Is that going to be a problem? Do I need to know anything special to bring him out?"
"I have no idea," Wise Deer said. "I have never lived in someone else's body before."
"Roy thinks you two will become one. Any idea how long that might take?"
Wise Deer just shook his head, wide eyed.
* * * * *
"Roy! Lunch!" Mike called out loudly - much louder than was needed inside the vehicle.
Wise Deer had been looking at the other cars in the restaurant parking lot at the time, and startled strongly. Then, oddly, his face went blank for a second, then he looked at Mike.
"Was I asleep?" Roy asked.
"Sort of. It's lunch time, then you drive," Mike said, opening his door.
* * * * *
"Um, Roy, you've got some serious stuff going on upstairs. You're showing me two distinct personalities here. I know you believe in that specialized reincarnation thing, but come on, I don't think therapy is an option anymore. I think you just need to do it - no matter what it cost."
"Look, I know this will dig me deeper into your 'crazy' assessment, Dr Mike, but hear me out.
"I remember truths I have known all my life, but could never articulate. They're such basic truths, once you hear them you realize they're self-evident. I can't understand how so many well-meaning people have totally missed them for so long.
"I have two very different sets of life experience, and they both lead to the same truths. That's a characteristic of pure truth. It's the same no matter what direction you approach it from. If it's a falsehood or a partial truth, that will come to light when you investigate it thoroughly from all different angles.
"I remember learning them as Wise Deer now! Heck, I remember the Cherokee language now! That's something tangible we can test. I've never studied Cherokee. I only knew how to say 'hello, how are you?', and I learned a couple of songs by rote. But if we drive over to the reservation in North Carolina right now, we could find a Cherokee speaker and test my new ability."
"Whoa, whoa now!" Mike interrupted. "This was supposed to be a day trip. We're half way back to Florida, and now you want to turn around and go all the way to Cherokee, North Carolina? No, Roy!"
Roy looked at his plate, silent for a few seconds. "Okay, look. You believe I have a serious mental health problem, and you're insisting on therapy. I believe I know the Cherokee language, having never studied it.
"We've got an easy diagnostic tool here. If I can genuinely speak and understand Cherokee, then there's a distinct possibility that I'm right about having been Wise Deer. If what I think is the Cherokee language in my head turns out to be gibberish, then I go see the shrink.
"I know you're off work tomorrow, and I realize you probably have plans. How about I give you a day's pay to follow this through?"
"Net, or gross?" Mike asked.
That caught Roy off guard. "I don't know," he said distractedly. "What..."
"Make it gross," Mike interrupted, "and you're on. You pay for the motel rooms, too."
"Of course, but," Roy started.
"But you don't want to be left alone. I saw that one coming."
"I think we can both agree that I'm not fully stable yet. Waking up alone in a place strange to both me and Wise Deer might be unsettling."
Mike sighed. "Find us a non-smoking double, preferably with cable and a pool."
"You brought swim trunks?" Roy asked, surprised.
"I always keep a gym bag in the trunk. That old 'Be Prepared' thing."
"In case one of your looney friends drags you cross country unexpectedly, huh?' Roy smiled.
"Believe it or not, this isn't the first time." Mike said sheepishly.
"Really?" Roy was surprised. "Who else dragged you along?"
"Would you want me talking about this trip?"
"Good point," Roy conceded. "Okay. A day's pay, pool and cable if possible. Thank you Mike."
"Just let me make some phone calls when we're done here."
* * * * *
"You want to go in the museum?" Mike asked, surprised.
"This is the place. I'm reasonably sure they can hook me up with someone who speaks the language," Roy said as he got out of the car.
"I'll be right here," Mike said.
"Unless there's someone in the museum who speaks the language. Then I'll need you to witness."
"If you find someone in there, just come and get me."
Roy went in the Museum of the Cherokee and spoke to the first native-looking person he saw. "Excuse me, I don't want to sound disrespectful or crazy or anything, but I am doing some important research and I've got to talk with a Cherokee speaker today."
* * * * *
Roy and Mike entered the store they had been directed to. Roy addressed the first person they saw. "Excuse me, is Reggie here?"
"That's me," the man answered.
"Osiyo, dohitsu?" Roy began.
Mike listened to the incomprehensible exchange of words. It shortly became clear that Roy and Reggie understood each other, though each looked questioningly at the other at times. Toward the end of the conversation, Roy pointed at Mike.
After they were done, Reggie gave Roy a very sceptical look, then turned to Mike.
"Your friend is speaking Cherokee, but his accent is off, and he is speaking very formally. But he wanted me to tell you what I thought. What's this crap about dying and coming back? Is he a nut case?"
"I don't think so, but I'm not a doctor. Thank you for your time."
The man shrugged. "Made my day," he said.
"Wado Reggie," Roy said.
"You can stop now Roy," Mike said.
Roy insisted on buying a book before they left. It was a plain black book with Cherokee lettering on the cover.
As they got back into the car, Mike asked "A little lite reading for back at the motel?"
"Sort of," Roy answered. "It's a Cherokee Bible."
"OKAY,"Mike said, not knowing what else to say.
* * * * *
After finishing his swim and before turning on the television, Mike asked "So when do you regale me with these profound truths?"
Roy put the Cherokee Bible down and said "Now's good."
"Shoot," Mike said, plopping on his bed.
"I knew some of it was right in the Bible, and I did find it while you were out. Keep in mind though, that Wise Deer never saw a Bible, nor had his teachers."
Roy flipped through some pages in the Bible. "Someone had just asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, and Jesus answered 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets.'"
"I remember Wise Deer's teacher saying that loving the Creator was most important, and that loving others was next. He also said if I never forgot those two things, everything else would fall into place.
"He also told me that the Earth was the physical manifestation of God's love. Everything we need is a gift given for us to accept. We don't need to tear the Earth apart to live.
"The different races of people in the world were supposed to teach and learn from each other, not fight over their differences.
"Each people have their strengths and weaknesses, and by helping and learning from each other, we could bring all the strengths together and make the world a wonderful place.
"Our elders too, are here for us to learn from - not for us to just put away.
"Just those few simple truths are so profound that knowing and applying them would have a great impact on anyone's life."
"Yeah, I could see that," Mike conceded. "But how does it relate to you having been Wise Deer and now returning - sort of?"
"The Europeans invaded this continent. There's no honest way to soften that. Sometimes the natives defended themselves violently. Atrocities happened on both sides. But the biggest culprit was ignorance. Most individuals, native or european, were good people who weren't interested in stirring up trouble.
"A few misled or sometimes unscrupulous people stirred up the others in their ignorance and led the various attacks and counter-attacks. Wise Deer was caught up in the peak of all this. He had truths to teach, but no means to reach the numbers of people it would have taken to make a difference.
"The message is still important, and finally significant numbers of people are aware of the mistakes of the past. Combine that with mass communications we have now, and the potential is there to reach millions. In Wise Deer's day, he might have reached only dozens.
"I think he had to learn what he learned when he learned it, but it needs to be spread today."
"How are you planning to do that, exactly?" Mike asked.
"Jeez Mike, take your pick. Internet, magazine articles, books, word of mouth, talk shows, I don't know. I guess I could start out putting something on a website somewhere."
"Well good luck," Mike said, turning on the television.
* * * * *
The trip home was almost over. Roy was getting tired after having driven most the way. There were still over two hours of driving left, and Mike was snoring away.
Roy turned on the radio. As the second song started playing, he had to smile. It was a favorite song from his adolescence. He began to sing along.
Part way through the second verse, Mike stirred and glared at Roy through one slitted eye as Roy sang "though I wear a shirt and tie, I'm still part Red Man deep inside"
On the last chorus, Roy really put some enthusiasm in his voice, since Mike was clearly awake.
"Cherokee people! Cherokee tribe!, So proud you live, so proud you die!"
As the music began to wind down, Roy did the same, joining in on the last lines, "But maybe some day when they've learned, Cherokee Nation will return, will return, will return!"
When the last notes had played, Roy turned off the radio and stared ahead as if stunned by something.
"What?" Mike finally said.
Roy looked as if he'd forgotten Mike was there. "It's happening. Now. And not just for the Cherokee. And we're part of it."
"What?" Mike repeated.
"The people never died out, and their ideals are making a comeback. And now we're helping things along. I don't expect to see the government giving them any of their land back or anything like that, but the Native ways of thinking are starting to return, and we are helping this along."
"Cool. Now shut up and don't wake me till we get home," Mike grumbled.