Thursday, January 5, 2017

Isak Dinesen Quotes - Standing Rock Edition

Isak Dinesen (the writer) has some great quotes.
  • The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.
  • God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.
  • Through all the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me leave to do my utmost.
I love these pearls, and perhaps they apply to the family's holiday trek. But my favorite is a Dinesen quote that she never actually said or wrote:
  • All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.

This is not to say that I am a "man of constant sorrow", but rather I find that stories help me distill meaning from events both mundane and sublime.

On the way to Standing Rock, we took a detour to Wounded Knee. Wounded Knee is a massacre site. On December 29, 1890 a large group of Ghost Dancers were surrounded by the 7th Calvary. Ghost Dancers believed their worship and dance would bring back the buffalo and those who had gone beyond the ridge. 

The 7th Calvary demanded these dancers (mostly old men, women, and children) surrender their weapons. In the confusion a single shot rang out. The origin of this shot was never firmly established. The consequences of this shot, however, cry out from the red earth beneath the snow.

One hundred and forty six members of Big Foot's band fell to the Army's Hotchkiss guns.

We met four groups of people as we explored the the massacre site and prayed on the hill above, and so begins my parable.

The first we met was a single man. He walked halfway up the snowy hill to meet us. He told us he lived nearby. His truck needed gas. His home needed weathering. The people visiting this memorial were his family's main source of income. My son, Mason, gave him some cash.

The next two we met were a mother and daughter. As we descended the hill, they met us in their pickup truck. They had jewelry to sell. My daughter, Bobo, bought a necklace.

The third group we met was a family that spoke to my children. 

"What did they say," I asked my girls.
"They were making sure we were ok," Bobo responded. "They wanted to make sure we weren't out of gas and that we had what we needed."

Bright and early on winter-crisp Tuesday morning, Wounded Knee was beginning to buzz with activity. The fourth couple that passed us, stopped to ask it the Dakota 38 + 2 riders were arriving that day. These riders travel on horseback through Mankota MN on December 26th to honor those 38 Dakota executed that day in 1862. On December 29th the riders arrive at Wounded Knee to mark the anniversary of those deaths. I let this couple know that the anniversary was still a couple of days away.

As I reflect back on our journey, I realize it was more about people than places. And people are people. Sometimes we struggle to survive. Other times we are able to reach out and ease our brothers burdens. Still other times we are able to lean back and enjoy the ride.

My son, Mason, has a solo project in which he performs under the name Wounded Knee. I filmed him singing Buffy St. Marie's song, "Wounded Knee" in the snow at Wounded Knee. At the same time, my daughter Judea was taking still photography. At a certain point this video turns into a visual essay on short people problems.

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