Mine Own Land

“Let me tell you what I know about the pale men who came from the waters. Their skin is like the sun has never seen it; they came out from the waters on large homes they had built with the trees. Upon their faces, like the beasts, hair does grow and some have more hair on their faces than others. They can talk to each other like the birds of the air, but they do not understand us and we cannot understand them. They wear all sorts of strange coats of skin, but they feel nothing like our beasts. They eat strange foods that quickly wither away.

“The first time they came to our village, they were not aggressive. But in their eyes, you could see they were uneasy. Like the beasts are when they fear what we might do to them. They walked all about my village, talking to each other in their strange tongue. One pale man kept writing unseen things.

“The second time they came, the sticks they had carried on their backs and at their sides they now held in their hands. The sticks made thunder and threw as it were pebbles into our skin. Many of my people died from the pebbles. We tried to fight them off, but their pebbles flew faster than our arrows and spears. On their bodies they wore shiny, rock-like skins and our weapons could not penetrate them.

“I am not aware of any who have survived from my village. I stand before you as the last of my people. Tears fill my eyes and embrace my face, because my family and friends have all gone to meet our Mother. I stand with tears, because I did nothing. I ran.

“I tell you these things, so that you may know. Prepare yourselves or move on, these pale men are not like your people or my people. They are unlike any people you know. They may not even be men, these pale creatures from the waters.

“Please heed the warnings. Not only mine, but those from our fathers who spoke of pale riders that would rise from the waters. I believe these are they the fathers spoke of. I believe they are come to destroy us.”

I watched as the council spoke quietly, though in their own words. The Medicine Man, also a prophet, spoke. He was aged and look to be wise with many years before him; there was authority in his voice and all men listened. When he finished, it seemed they all agreed with his wisdom. The Interpreter looked to me and spoke through the smoke of the fire,

“Dear Friend, we are deeply saddened by the news you bring. Your people have always been welcome in our village and ours in your own. We have always enjoyed the trade we had with one another and many winters your goods have kept us through to the warmer times.

“The Prophet tells us that these are not the pale riders spoken of by our fathers. They are indeed vicious creatures, like those of the prophecies, but these are not they. We will not leave our land; we do not feel the threat is such as you make it.

“You are free to stay. Should you go, ask freely of our people and we will provide you with what you need for your journey.”

I looked at the council, it was clear that this was their belief.

I spoke with great remorse, “Ones before you I have visited have said the same. Many have died; some are now slaves and guides to the pale men. They will be here, too.

“I will not stay. I will take what provisions you can give me and towards the Dry Land I will go. They may come there, too, but maybe by that time I will be old and will have died.

“It is a shame not to die in your own land.”

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