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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 24, 2004 - Issue 105


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The Eagle and the Snake – Redman Speaks – Part 2


"Winter Warrior" by Donald VannIt took several months to organize the plan, especially in terms of appropriate selection of participants and maintaining the need for complete secrecy. Furthermore, it was a brutal winter and weather hampered preparations as well.

Some warriors and some of the women selected initially were totally against leaving their respective tribes and families in order to form the new combined tribe. To make matters worse, in some cases it meant agreeing to work together with other tribes that they personally felt anger and hostility toward as a result of the tribal history's.

However, after all of the difficulties were overcome the new tribe was formed. They all assembled in the same sacred spot where Redman had originally communicated with them. A great Pow-Wow preceded their departure. The tribes all realized the seriousness of the moment and each participated in the dancing and spiritual ceremonies. A great feast was prepared and as they ate, there was utter silence. The magnitude of this great spiritual mission was unbelievable.

The amount of supplies needed, the number of irreplaceable horses and even the numbers of valuable people that would never be returning was incredible. It was especially difficult since their numbers could not be replaced and were desperately needed for the military campaign now in progress against the white man.

Finally, on the third day, the newly formed tribe began their uncertain journey far out into the deepest, most difficult to access areas of the rocky mountains in order to begin a whole new life. They realized that they would probably never in their earthly lifetime again be able to see, or communicate with their loved ones. Their loved ones who were there to see them off felt mixed emotions also. It was an eerie feeling and all felt the tension.

The tribe had been formed hastily and there had been no time to clearly define a leadership structure. There was also no clearly defined social structure. The spiritual leaders were uncertain as to who among them held the superior spiritual role. Communication could only occur in some instances through sign language, as each tribe did not know the others language. The mission appeared to be impossible. The first few months saw tense, emotional struggles evolving on every level. The warriors physically fought and several were actually killed. The women tried to coexist in the tense environment, but ultimately, they too began to fight. The fights were vicious, and some of the women were seriously wounded, with some dying from their wounds. As the mission was evolving during the bitter cold of winter, further casualties were inevitable.

The differences of tribal customs also played a major role in the confusion. One Cherokee warrior named Raven Spirit emerged as the toughest physical man in the Tribe of the Eagle. Raven Spirit's tenacity stemmed from his experience's as a young boy and the hatred that grown in his heart as a result.

Raven Spirit had been just a young boy when his family was forced to relocate from their home in Eastern Tennessee by the President of the United States government. President Andrew Jackson had ordered the westward movement of the Cherokees of Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina against the better wishes of many, including the United States Supreme Court, the great Tennesseean Davy Crockett and even President Jackson's personal Cherokee friend Junaluska who had once saved his life. It was an absolute outrage.

"Trail of Tears" by Donald VannThe "Trail Of Tears" was a disgusting example of the way that the white man treated the Native American people. During the 800 mile march, the U.S. Cavalry and other soldiers that were assigned to escort the Cherokees pushed the men, women and children much too hard. With inadequate food, water and blankets to protect them from the severe conditions, many Cherokees died along the way.

Furthermore, the soldiers felt that it was not their responsibility to protect the Cherokees and many were robbed, beaten and even killed by bandits. Additionally, the U.S. soldiers could not speak any Cherokee, so communication was tough at best.

Raven Spirit's older brother, "Running Wolf", along with several other rebellious warriors had escaped into the Great Smoky Mountains before the Trail Of Tears journey had begun. Here they hid from the hated white man, waiting for a time when they could safely come out of hiding. Raven Spirit wished that he could go along with them, but he was too young at the time.

Along the dreadful journey, Raven Spirit's hatred of the white man became even greater, as he witnessed so many horrible things. He watched his father, "Tenasi Warrior" die after trying to stop robbers who were in the process of vandalizing some friends nearby. One of the robbers shot Tenasi Warrior straight through the heart with his rifle.

Raven Spirit had looked on in horror as his mother and sister screamed and called for help from the white soldiers. The soldiers did not understand Cherokee, but recognized that help was being requested. They came and chased the robbers away, but didn't pursue them, and they didn't even try to help Raven Spirit's mom and sister in their vain attempts to save Tenasi Warrior's life. The soldiers not only didn't help, but wouldn't even allow the family enough time to properly prepare the great Cherokee for his journey to the Spirit World. Instead, they were forced to hastily burn his body and move on, with soldiers threatening them with rifles. The scene had been horrible and Raven Spirit's anger grew even greater. Tenasi Warrior had been a wonderful leader of the Cherokee people and he would be sadly missed by all.

Several weeks later, during the night, Raven Spirit heard the voices of drunken soldiers. This was not that uncommon, but these voices were getting louder, and they were coming too near where Raven Spirit's mom, and sister were sleeping. Suddenly there was the sound of a conflict erupting between the drunken soldiers and his mom. Then there was screaming by his older sister, "Whispering Wind". Raven Spirit's rage could not be contained and he rushed toward the sound. His mother saw him coming and screamed for him to go back. Raven Spirit briefly saw Whispering Wind's clothes being ripped as she was being physically assaulted and punched by the soldiers, who were laughing in their drunken state.

As his mother ran to his sister's aide, one of the drunken soldiers shot her in the head and killed her instantly. Raven Spirit went into a rage and ran screaming toward the soldier, who smashed him in the head with the butt of his rifle, sending the young boy into a deep state of unconsciousness. He nearly died, but close family friends had taken him in to tend to his wounds and had saved his life.

The friends worked hard to nurture Raven Spirit back to physical health. While a return to physical health was possible, Raven Spirit would never again know the peace of emotional health. His mother was dead, and that much he knew. However, no one would tell him anything about Whispering Wind, and this upset him even more. The rest of his life, he never found out what had happened to his sister. His hatred for the white man was like a raging fire inside his chest. The hatred would haunt him for the rest of his days, but served to make him a fierce warrior.

Raven Spirit had become a tenacious, deadly fighter with tremendous strength and no fear. During the early stages of the trek of the Tribe of the Eagle, he had killed two of the other warriors, from different tribe's in direct physical challenges. All left alive knew that only the strongest among them had even the slightest chance of even surviving their first winter, let alone establishing a functional, cooperative tribal unit. So, at this point, with no one else interested on any level in further challenging Raven Spirit, he became accepted as the first chief of the tribe. His power was great and would be a valuable asset to them as time went by.

Mother Raven sings to her babies, telling of man and fire and feasts of new fall Salmon. Mother Raven" ©2000 Robert Gagnon. With the emergence of Raven Spirit as the tribal leader, tensions seemed to ease a bit. Everyone realized the seriousness of the situation and Raven Spirit adopted a conciliatory demeanor towards the other warriors, which further relieved tensions. The women began to work together a little better and Raven Spirit commanded the spiritual leaders, saying "O-tsa-tla-nv:-dl(v)(a)-i.", which in Cherokee means "We are all brothers". Then Raven Spirit commanded that all of them cooperate from this day forward in order to save the lives of everyone that was still alive. He then directed a Sioux spiritual leader named "Half Moon" to take responsibility for Thunder's sacred turtle shell rattle and guard it with his life.

Half Moon had been a quiet spiritual leader and Raven Spirit admired and liked that. Half Moon, unbeknownst to the others harbored the ancient secret that Redman had discovered so long ago. His ancient secret was the knowledge of "shape shifting". Shape shifting is known only to the highest level spiritual leaders and is the ability to transform oneself from a human form to that of either a bird or an animal, and then be able to return to human form at a later time. Half Moon would now also be responsible for guarding Thunders sacred turtle shell rattle, and would be responsible for appointing his successor. This would be either a warrior or spiritual leader to guard the sacred turtle shell rattle in order to preserve it for the day in which Redman returned. Furthermore, he would introduce shape shifting to Raven Spirit as soon as practical and the two would decide upon how and when and to what extent the ancient art would be revealed to other fellow tribesmen.

End – Part 2 – To Be Continued

© 2003 Geoff Hampton

Geoff Hampton is an internationally known author, speaker, motivator and business consultant. Hampton is the Executive Director for St. Mary's Health & Fitness Center in Powell, TN and is also a regular columnist for the wellness/fitness Website as well as Canku Ota. He can be reached by E-mail at His national anti-obesity/diabetes campaign, The Wellness Wakeup Challenge can be reviewed at

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