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Chaordia - A Novel of Transformation Ch. 6

Because of climate change a man wants to transform an old farm into a new colony

When they left, no one spoke. My dad clutched his coffee cup with both hands and stared into the fire. Glenn's gazed in the direction where the three Indians had disappeared, then, shaking his head, looked down at the ground, mulling over what had happened. Tammy bit her lower lip, glanced at Glenn seated next to her, then rubbed his back, trying to soothe him while looking at the hill where they had disappeared. Alice wrapped her arms around her body as the fire got lower and the night air chillier.

It was dark, but the full moon made it possible to see the old pasture and the hill and thick woods in its glow. I looked at the hills and wondered where Sun Dancer, Wolf, and Strong Eagle had come from, where did they live? How far had they walked? I was fascinated, wondering what their life was like now that they had left their college life behind and were attempting to live the way their ancestors lived.

"What are you thinking?" Tammy asked Glenn, breaking the silence.

"I don’t know. I don’t know what to think. I never expected something like this would happen." He stared into the fire.

"They seem pretty concerned that we're here," my dad said.

"I thought giving them cookies as a peace offering would work," Tammy said. "They seemed to appreciate that."

"That was a good thing to do," Alice said. "For a minute, I thought you changed the mood. Sun Dancer seemed surprised."

"I thought so, too," Tammy said.

My dad sighed deeply before speaking. "A cookie is not enough to change what is happening. They know their people had been given gifts as peace offerings before--blankets with smallpox, alcohol to get them drunk before signing peace treaties. They don’t trust us and won’t be fooled again."

I was surprised at how much my dad knew about what happened to the Indians, but I shouldn’t have been.

"I’ve read a lot of the history, and it’s pretty sickening. This doesn’t look good. I doubt your idea will work here."

He stood up, crumpled his paper cup in his hand and tossed it into the fire. "Good night folks." He started walking towards the barn.

"We’ll figure something out," Glenn said to him as he walked away.

"Right," my dad said, turning back to him. "I can’t imagine what."

He continued walking towards the barn with his hands deep in his jacket pocket. I could tell by his slumped shoulders he was upset.

"Let’s go.” Alice stood up. "I’m ready to turn in, too."

I glanced over at Glenn and Tammy sitting next to each other on the other side of the fire, and then Alice and I stood up, but just as we started to walk away, Alice went over to Glenn and said something that blew my mind. "Everything will be alright. I know it will. It’s important not to worry."

How can she think that? I don't believe she said that. I stood behind her.

Glenn didn’t say anything at first but narrowed his eyes, puzzled. "Okay, I’ll try not to worry, but I’m pretty upset at what just happened, but thanks for your encouragement."

"I just have a feeling everything will be alright," she repeated, then said, "Goodnight. See you in the morning."

I walked slightly behind Alice while she led the way with her flashlight. When we walked past the orchard, she stopped and turned the flashlight towards the pasture and the hill where the Indians had walked. Though there was a full moon, the light shone faintly on the tree-covered hillside. After a minute of moving the light, she said, "I wonder where they went? It seems they just appeared and disappeared."

When we entered the dark cabin, I took the matches from my jacket while she held the flashlight. I lit the candle we had placed on the little table in the center of the room. Alice had made a base out of aluminum foil she had taken earlier from Tammy. I threw some kindling into the stove, then some larger pieces of wood and finally got a fire going. It was a small cabin, and I knew it wouldn’t take long to take away the chill.

"Sun Dancer is going to help us," Alice said, sitting down on the bottom bunk. "That’s why I told Glenn not to worry."

"I’ve never heard you talk like that, Alice," I said. "You worry all the time. I know you do."

"That’s true, I’m a worrier, but this is different," she said. "It’s hard to explain. There was something in the way Sun Dancer looked at me when I mentioned the old ways. I know it sounds weird, but he seemed fascinated when I asked him about Atlantis, and he remembered the stories his grandfather told him."

"But how can you say everything will be alright and not to worry."

"I don’t know, but when I got out of the bus earlier, I had a feeling that this place was awesome."

"Right, I heard you say awesome and didn’t know why because it looked pretty bad to me. It looked interesting, but definitely not something that would make me say, awesome."

"I felt something. I felt something beautiful," Alice said. "That’s why I said awesome. I saw the old barn and the dilapidated house. Glenn might not know what his grandfather meant, but I think I did."

"Alice, I’ve never heard you talk like this. What do you mean you knew what Glenn’s grandfather meant?"

"I don’t know what I mean. It was a feeling, that’s all. I can’t put it into words. I just trust my intuition."

I didn't say anything but thought about what she said and how strange she was acting. I checked the fire, threw in another log, watched it catch and felt the room getting warmer. It was dark except for the candle on the table and the faint glow from the moon.

"It’s nice in here. Cozy," Alice said.

"It is. I like it. This is a lot better than sleeping in the barn."

"I’m tired. Which bunk do you want? Top or bottom," she asked.

"You choose. I don’t care."

"I want the bottom. You take the top."

I took off my shoes and started to climb to the top bunk when Alice did something that surprised me.

"Wait a minute," Alice said, then came over to me and kissed me on the cheek. I was stunned. We had never kissed each other, but I admit there were times I wanted to, and I felt the same thing from her, but we were more like brother and sister. "You’re my best friend, Alex."

"Thanks, you’re my best friend, too."

We were silent for a moment, and then I climbed to the top bunk and crawled into my sleeping bag. She picked up her flashlight, blew out the candle, then got into her sleeping bag and put the flashlight on the floor.

"Good night," Alice said.

"Good night." I curled up in my sleeping bag, my mind was swirling with Alice's kiss.

"Alex, I have an idea," Alice said.

"Really, you have an idea? Since when don’t you have an idea," I joked.

"Now, don’t think I’m nuts, but I think we should see if we can find Sun Dancer. I mean, find where his tribe is. I have a feeling it’s not far away."

"Are you serious? How can we do that? How can we find were they live?"

"I don’t know. Maybe we can see where they walked in the woods," she said. "I bet it’s nearby. They said this was their hunting ground and burial ground. They wouldn’t bury their ancestors too far from where they live, would they?"

"I don’t know," I said, still stunned by her idea. "Alice, I don’t think we should do that. It might make them angry. They already think we’ve invaded their land."

"I know it’s risky, but I think we should do it."

"But we’ll be leaving tomorrow afternoon. We won’t have much time and suppose we get lost in the woods. We don’t know what it’s like on that hill."

"We won’t get lost. We’ll be able to see the farm. That hill isn’t that high. We won’t be going that far."

"I think your idea is nuts, but let me think about it."

"Okay, see you in the morning...good night."

If I had trouble falling asleep before, I definitely did after hearing what Alice wanted to do. I thought about all the reasons we shouldn’t do it. What would we do if we did find Sun Dancer? She might have felt something when she mentioned Atlantis and the old ways, but what difference would that make? Glenn was warned not to try to live on the land. How could our finding Sun Dancer change anything?

I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew sunlight was pouring through the window. I lay there for a few minutes, looked over the edge of my bed and saw Alice was still asleep. I climbed down and threw some logs into the woodstove. I had to pee, so I opened the front door, stood on the front step and shot an arc off to the side of the cabin. While I stood there, I looked out at the farm and noticed a thick mist hovering above the tall grass and around the trunks of the apple trees. Through the mist, I saw the barn where everyone was sleeping, the old, empty farmhouse sitting there as it had for many years. The sun was just above the hill. I knew that was the East and thought about Alice’s idea to find Sun Dancer.

When I came in, Alice was squirming out of her sleeping bag. She sat on the edge and wrapped the sleeping bag around her shoulder, her bare feet on the floor. She looked up at me. "Well?"

"Well, what?" I asked, knowing what she was asking.

"You know. Do you want to find Sun Dancer? I think it’s important."

"I think its nuts, but yes, let’s do it."

I knew Alice was serious, and even if I had argued, she would convince me how important it was, and I would go with her, just out of friendship.

"We’ll go right after breakfast. Your dad and Glenn and Tammy will be talking about what to do and we’ll say we want to take a walk in the woods and explore."

Tammy had made a big iron skillet of scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese sprinkled on it. In another pan, she had made home fries and had slices of bread toasting on the grill, next to the pot of coffee.

"How did you two sleep?" my dad asked while helping himself to some eggs and potatoes.

"Pretty good," I said. "I really like that cabin. I could live in there."

"Me, too," Alice said. "I like it here."

"Interesting." My dad chuckled. "That's good, but it would be a lot different than Bay Shore."

Glenn held a mug of coffee and stood with his back to us and scanned the farm. I wondered what he was thinking. Is he going to go ahead with his project despite the warning? Alice stared into the fire, and I knew she was thinking about our plan. She leaned closer and whispered. "We should go soon."

I nodded but didn’t say anything. My dad looked at Alice and me, then looked up at Glenn. We were all quiet, eating, thinking, wondering what Glenn was going to do. He turned and faced my dad.

"So, Eric, do you have any ideas about this place?" He sat down on the other side of the fire.

"I do, but I think it would be a mistake to ignore what Sun Dancer said last night."

"I understand, but what can they do? They can’t stop me. I have the law on my side. If they try anything, I can call the police."

"The police? I thought you wanted to be independent. You said you don’t want to have anything to do with society and the first thing you’re going to do is bring the police into this."

"Good point," Glenn said. "I don’t want to have anything to do with the police."

"You’re between a rock and hard place," my dad said. "You have a deed, a legal document, but if the Abeneki say this is their land, and you say it’s your land, how is that going to get resolved unless you use the law and the courts."

"I don’t know, but what will Sun Dancer and his tribe do to stop us? What can he do... have a war?"

I was alarmed when he said that but realized it was just a question. I remembered Alice’s statement, "Not to worry. Everything will be alright," but could not imagine how she could think that. To me, it seemed pretty bad, but I also remembered how Sun Dancer looked at her when she mentioned the old ways.

"I don’t know what they will do to stop us," my dad said. "But I don’t want to find out."

"This is my land, Eric, and what I want to do is important. It could really be beautiful, a new way of living. I won't let anything stop me."

I had no idea what Glenn meant about a new way of living. He had not been specific about his plans and that’s why he wanted my dad to help design it, even though my dad didn’t know any more than I did. All he said was this would be a colony and independent of the United States. I understood his reasons but agreed with my dad when he said it was grandiose. How can you be an independent colony?

Alice stood up and turned to Tammy, "Thanks for the great breakfast," she said then looked down at me sitting on the log, "Let’s go." Then she turned to the others. "Alex and I are going to check out the woods and look around."

"Great idea," my dad said, looking up at us. "Have fun but don’t get lost."

"We won’t," I said.

"We’re just going up the hill," Alice said."We’ll be able to see the farm. We’ll be fine."

Before we left, we went over to Tammy’s canvas bag. "Can we take some of the trail mix and fill up our bottles with water."

"Sure," Tammy said. "And take a banana or an apple."

Alice put everything in her small backpack, and we took off. The sun was higher over the hill, the morning mist was gone, and we trampled through the high dew soaked grass in the pasture. The hill wasn’t too steep, but I turned back a few times and could see everyone around the fire. When we came to the stonewall half way up, I noticed half the rocks had fallen on the ground on both sides and realized when we climbed over the wall, we were no longer on Glenn’s property, and I wondered who owned these woods.

We weren’t sure where the Indians had walked. There was no path. The woods were thick, overgrown with fallen trees and broken branches. We had to be careful climbing over big trunks with their huge roots showing. We had to push branches aside as we made our way through the overgrown trees and heavy brush, not sure if we were going straight as we searched for openings in the woods. The hill was getting steeper, and we could still see the sun getting higher overhead. We stopped a few times to get our bearings and take a drink of water. We looked back to see if we could still see the farm, but now it was harder. The trees were too thick, and I began to wonder if we would find our way back.

"Maybe we should turn around," I said. "We could get lost."

"Maybe we should have done what Hansel and Gretel did and left bread crumbs," Alice said, then pointed. "We won’t get lost. The farm is over there."

All I saw were trees and hoped Alice had a better sense of direction than I did. We continued making our way up the hill through the trees and thick brush. At one point, I climbed over a fallen trunk and when I came down on the other side, twisted my ankle and felt a sharp pain, but knew I hadn’t broken it. I didn’t say anything but limped for awhile and had trouble keeping up with Alice. I tried keeping my eye on her and caught glimpses of her green vest through the trees. She stopped and looked back at me until I caught up.

"I think we’re almost to the top," I said, noticing the land seemed less steep. I could also see more of the sky ahead. I knew it wasn’t a real high hill, or, at least, it didn’t seem that high when we looked up at it from the farm, but I was glad we were almost at the top.

At last, we stood in a clearing and looked down the other side of the hill. The hillside was not nearly as thick with trees, and we noticed several well-worn paths winding down the hill. That’s when we saw smoke rising in the distance, but couldn’t tell from where.

"I wonder if that smoke is from the Indians," I said.

"It could be another farm," Alice responded, "but I have a feeling you’re right."

We were both silent, looking at the smoke, not sure what to say or do. We had been away from the farm for about forty or so minutes and knew we had time before we had to head back.

"Let’s keep going," Alice said. "I hope we can find Sun Dancer."

"Then what? Suppose he’s angry that we’re there?"

"I don’t know, but we’ll find out," Alice said and started walking down the hill. "Come on, Alex."

It was much easier going down the hillside because of the path. It twisted its way through the trees and was wide enough for two people to walk side by side. I could see that a lot of the brush had been cut. It looked like the path had been formed by people walking and trampling down the low plants that grew there. In one place, a large patch of moss glowed where the sun shone through an opening. We stopped to admire it, then continued until we reached the bottom of the hill. We followed the path through a field with high grass and lots of tall wildflowers on both sides and walked in the direction of the smoke. I could tell by the flattened grass that this was where people often walked to get to the woods and the hill.

Then we came to a bend, and that’s when we saw a circle of ten or so small round huts that looked like they were made of tree branches and bark or something. In the center of the circle was a fire with the smoke we had seen rising and nearby, a large garden with several women on their knees. Small children played nearby while six or seven young girls were working in the garden. In the distance, several men were building what looked like a long oval shaped structure, and everyone seemed busy.

As we got closer, the women in the garden, some in jeans, some in long colorful skirts, looked up and saw us wading through the waist-high grass. I couldn’t see their faces, but when they stood up and stared at us, I knew they were alarmed. One woman called to the men, and they stopped what they were doing, and then everyone turned to watch us walking towards them.

Alice was in front of me and turned around. Our eyes met. I wasn’t sure what Alice was feeling, but I thought we were making a huge mistake. What's going to happen to us...this is bad.

One of the men working on the building started walking towards us. As he got closer, I saw it was Sun Dancer. He glanced at the women as he walked past them. We stopped for a minute, watching him get closer. His green flannel shirt was unbuttoned revealing his bare chest, his long, dark hair fell below his shoulders, a wide red band was tied around his forehead and a necklace of bones hung from his neck. He was not smiling and kept his eyes focused on us.

Alice and I looked at each other. We were certain we were in trouble, but then when Sun Dancer stopped in front of us, he smiled then said, "Welcome to our home."

"Really," Alice said. "You’re not angry that we came here."

"I am surprised but not angry."

I didn’t know what to say but felt relieved that he greeted us so warmly.

"I wasn’t sure what you would think about our just showing up on your land. I mean, we weren’t invited," Alice said.

"It is our custom to welcome anyone who comes if they are peaceful," he said. "We are all travelers, but no one knows we are here. You're the first to come here."

"Really," I said.

"That’s a good custom," Alice said. "I like that. It’s not like that where we live. People keep their doors locked, and a lot of people I know have burglar alarms."

"I know, you live where people are afraid and want to protect their possessions from others," he said, then motioned for us to follow him, but then he stopped and turned to us. "Why did you come here?"

"I don’t know for sure," Alice said. "After I asked you about the old ways and you said you had heard stories about coming from a place in the ocean from you grandfather, I wanted to know more. I told you that Alex and I read these books about Atlantis, but what I didn't tell you was we met this old woman who said she has memories. Well, something strange is going on. That’s why I wanted to find you."

"I see," Sun Dancer said, nodding, narrowing his dark eyes, but didn’t say anything. He continued walking, taking long strides. We walked past the women getting back to work in the garden, and several of them waved. Still, I could tell by the way they looked at us, they were curious. We then walked around the circle of small huts made of thin tree branches, animal skins, and bark that were bent so that the roofs were round and arched. I remember seeing pictures of teepees, but these were different. The men working on the long building continued working. It looked like they were adding on to an already long oval shaped building using the same materials as the huts.

"This is my grandparent’s wigwam," Sun Dancer said as we entered one of the huts. I had to bend down slightly to get in, but then saw an old woman with many deep wrinkles on her face. Her dark, narrow eyes widened when she saw us. She wore a long, brown leather dress with red and green beads around her neck. Bright yellow strands of yarn were coming out of a straw basket beside her. Along one wall was a wide bed made from thin tree trunks and was built close to the ground. It was covered with a colorful blanket. I smelled something fragrant burning from a little red clay bowl set on a flat rock next to her. She narrowed her eyes when she looked at Alice and me and nodded, then looked up at Sun Dancer but didn’t say anything.

"This is my grandmother, Shining Star," he said.

She nodded again."So you are with the people who arrived yesterday on our land."

"Yes, except we didn’t know it was your land," I said. "We thought it was our friend, Glenn’s land. It used to be his grandfather’s farm."

"What’s that smell?" Alice asked, looking at the smoke rising from the small red bowl.

"It is white sage," she said. "I burn it every morning, but today it is because I know your people are nearby."

The old woman looked at Sun Dancer, then back at us. She put down the framed loom and took a deep breath before speaking. "I know it must be strange for you to learn our land has been returned to us after many centuries. Our people were here in the long ago. My ancestors learned we could not trust the white man. Many promises were broken. Treaties were ignored. We were forced to move to the North, to Canada, but we always prayed we could return to where our ancestors are buried. That is why we are here."

I tried to imagine what it must feel like to have your land taken from you and to feel helpless. I knew I would feel angry and bitter if that had happened to me, and now I understood why Sun Dancer, Wolf, and Strong Eagle warned Glenn that it would be wrong to do anything on his grandfather’s old farm.

Sun Dancer listened to his grandmother, then spoke. "Our people re-settled here eight years ago and have plans, as more of our people return, to begin another village on the other side of the hill though now it is part of our hunting ground. I returned because I knew I had to find my roots."

He stopped talking and looked up at the top of the wigwam and took a deep breath before continuing. "It’s been a hard journey for me. It was not enough to stop being Charles when I was in college. I wanted to use the name I was given before going to the orphanage."

"Orphanage?" Alice asked. "Are you an orphan? What happened to your parents?"

"It’s a long story, and I have tried to forget that horrible place I was taken to when I was a child. My father left my mother, and I don’t know where he went."

"My son, Sun Dancer's father, did what many men did, he turned to alcohol," Shining Star interrupted, looking at him then at us, "and after Sun Dancer’s sister was born, he disappeared because he had no way to support a family and said he had to go find work somewhere and never returned."

"So you lost your son," Alice said to Shining Star and turned to Sun Dancer, "And you lost your father."

"I never knew him, but I always felt cheated and like a part of me was missing."

"What happened to your mother?" I asked.

"The Bureau of Indian Affairs came and took my sister and me and put us in St. Alban’s in Quebec. They decided she couldn’t take care of us because she had no income. That’s where I became Charles, and my sister became Louise, and that’s where we went to school. It was a bad place. They gave us clothes and food, and we had to work hard on their farm, but they were mean. I hated it there and they liked punishing us. I could tell they didn’t like Indians, so when I was fifteen, I ran away and lived on the streets of Montreal and other cities. I tried to find my mother but had no idea where she was. She came to visit a few times in the beginning, but then stopped, and I never knew why."

"We wanted to raise our grandchildren," Shining Star said, "but the government people didn’t want them to grow up with Indians and know the old ways. We learned they were sterilizing the children so that they could not reproduce. It was their way of eliminating our people. We had a lawyer, but she didn’t do anything."

"That’s horrible," I said. "Where is your sister now?"

"She's here. Now she is Morning Star. Perhaps, you will meet her."

"I don’t know," Alice said. "I would like to, but we will have to go back soon. We are leaving later today." She then stopped, "It’s interesting that all of your names have something to do with stars."

"The stars are very important to our people."

"That’s interesting," I said, "I wish we had time to learn more," then remembered Alice’s reason for wanting to find Sun Dancer. "We came here because of what Shining Star just said about the old ways. She said the government and the orphanage did not want you and your sister to know the old ways."

"Right," Alice said, turning to Sun Dancer. "That’s why I wanted to come here. You said you were told stories from ancient memories about a land that disappeared. Is that where your people came from? You said your grandfather told you stories that were passed down, and we just read these books about Atlantis."

Sun Dancer nodded and looked at his grandmother then at us. "Would you like to meet my grandfather? He's not well, so if I take you to him, he may or may not want to tell you what he knows."

"He will," Shining Star said, looking at Alice, narrowing her eyes as if studying her and then glanced at me, but there was something about the way she looked at Alice. Why is she looking at her that way?

"Take them to him," Shining Star said. "If he is tired, he will say so."

"We don’t have much time," Alice said."But I want to meet him and see if he will tell us what he knows about where his people came from long ago. We want to know if there really was an Atlantis."

"I know the story, but it is best that he tell you," Shining Star said. She leaned over and picked up her loom and placed it on her lap. "Good-bye," she said, then looked at Alice. "Be careful."

"I will," Alice responded.

When we left and stood outside the wigwam, Alice looked at me. "I wonder what she meant by that."

I didn’t say anything, but also wondered, and then looked up at Sun Dancer. "Your tribe has had a hard time."

"Yes, but things are changing. There is a shift happening. A turning," he said, then started walking. "Come with me. I will introduce you to White Elk."

I didn’t know what he meant by a shift and a turning and wondered if it had to do with their belief that this land had been returned to them. While following him, I wondered what was happening on the farm, what ideas they were discussing, but I knew my father could not become part of Glenn’s vision if it meant a fight over his grandfather’s farm.

Alice walked alongside me as we followed Sun Dancer. We walked to the other side of the large, lush garden, and I noticed how many tall stalks of corn were growing on each of the round mounds with squash plants sprawling from the base of the corn and what looked like beans growing up the corn. There were many rows of mounds, but there were also long rows of carrots, onions, cabbages I recognized from my dad's garden, but there were several large green leafed plants I'd never seen before. Most women had baskets they were filling while a few stood, digging up weeds with long wooden poles.

When Sun Dancer stopped at a larger wigwam, he put his hand up for us to wait while he bent over to enter. "This is where our council meets. Let me see if my grandfather is able to talk to you."

"I can’t believe this is happening," Alice said when Sun Dancer went inside. "I hope we can find out something."

"Me, too. It's amazing that we're here. It's unbelievable. Wait 'till we tell Tim and Gabe."

A few minutes later, Sun Dancer leaned out of the entrance and waved us in. "Come, my grandfather is eager to meet you."

When we entered, a thin, old man with long white hair leaned against several cushions at the rear of the wigwam. His thin, bronzed-skin face was deeply lined with many wrinkles. He wore a bright red and black woven blouse and around his neck was a necklace of many bones. His legs were covered by a red, green and yellow blanket. Next to him was a small headdress with long feathers and many colorful beads, and, nearby, a long leather bag decorated with many colorful beads. It was beautiful, and I wondered what was in it. Several wax candles were lit on a small wooden table and next to them, a red clay bowl with fragrant smoke rising from it. I recognized the same smell that was burning in Shining Star’s wigwam.

"This is our Chief, White Elk," Sun Dancer said.

"Come, sit with me," he said, motioning to us. "Tell me why you are here."

We both sat in front of him. Alice was able to sit in the lotus position with her hands on her lap. I sat hunched on my knees. "I don’t know where to begin," Alice said. "Something strange has been happening." She paused. "By the way, I’m Alice, and this is my friend, Alex."

White Elk nodded but didn’t speak. His dark eyes focused on Alice. Sun Dancer sat down slightly behind us.

"We just read some books about Atlantis that got destroyed a long, long time ago. It disappeared in one day and night, and it talked about the old ways. Then we met an old woman named Elizabeth who had memories and knew things that were in the books but never read them, then last night, Sun Dancer said something about the old ways. He said you told him stories that were told to you by your grandfather about where your people might have come from, and that’s why we came here. We’re trying to find out if there really was a lost continent called Atlantis."

White Elk listened to Alice, his eyes looking into hers as she spoke. He closed his eyes, nodding as if remembering something. "Yes, my grandfather told me a story passed down to him from his grandfather, an ancient story about a land that disappeared. Some believed our people came here from that land many, many years ago while others went to other places far to the South to escape the flooding waters. It was very long ago, thousands of years ago, but it is said we brought to these shores memories of how to live, and they were called the old ways, but it has been hard to keep them alive on the reservations and for many other reasons. That is why we are here."

"Do you know what that land was called?" I asked.

"No, I do not know what it was called." White Elk said.

He looked at Sun Dancer sitting behind us, then closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes, he looked at Alice and me before continuing. "It is happening now."

"What’s happening now?" Alice asked. "What do you mean?"

"Waters are rising," he said, pausing and took a deep breath. "Land will be taken by the rising seas again. In many places, people will try to escape just as before. Some will survive. Many will not."

"Do you know about climate change?" I asked.

"Climates have always changed. Our Mother Earth has gone through many changes, but today it is different because of how people are living. Many of our nations warned the white man but were not listened to. They tried to change us to be like the white man, to live like them and even forced their religions on many of our nations."

White Elk stopped speaking and shook his head from side to side. "They never understood the ways of the Natives on this land, and I know they thought we were backward and foolish. Some called us savages.” He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. It looked like he was having difficulty breathing. "I have to rest," he said. "I have not been well."

"We should go," Sun Dancer said.

"Wait, my grandson told me about your arrival on our land," White Elk said. "He said your people want to live here."

"Yes, it belongs to a man named Glenn," I said. "The farm was his grandfather’s, and now it's his, and he wants to make it his own colony and not be part of America."

White Elk nodded.“He is mistaken. He is on sacred land and has been returned to us. More of our people will be coming to live here. It is Abeneki land."

"That’s what we found out last night," I said. "But Glenn thinks it’s his land."

White Elk nodded. Before he spoke, he looked at Alice and me, then took a deep breath."Your friend is wrong though I know he cannot understand that it has been returned to us."

"It’s really confusing," I said. "My father understands, but I don’t think Glenn does."

“You say your father understands.”

"Yes, he has studied the history and knows our country did horrible things to the Indians. He knows we never kept promises and that we spread disease and stole your land."

"Yet, he is going to help this man use our land for his colony," White Elk said, shaking his head, frowning. "How can he do that if he understands?"

"We should go," Sun Dancer said and stood up. "My grandfather must rest."

"My people do not believe in war," White Elk said. "But this person, Glenn is being foolish to think he can use our land for his colony."

I could see he was tired and upset by what was happening. "You must bring your friend, Glenn here," he said, then turned to me. "You must bring your father here. It is important that we meet." He then looked at Alice, narrowing his eyes and paused before speaking. "You know something the others do not."

"What do you mean I know something the others don’t know?"

White Elk did not respond to Alice’s question. "Please bring them to me," White Elk said.

"We’re leaving later today," Alice said. "I don’t know whether there will be time."

"We just came up yesterday so that my father could see the farm before making his plans," I said.

"Please, will you bring Glenn and your father to me?" White Elk asked. "It’s important."

"I’ll try," Alice said. "I don’t know if Glenn will want to come, but I will tell him you want to see him."

"I think my father will help."

"Let’s go," Sun Dancer said.

We said goodbye to White Elk and left his wigwam. Just as we left, another old Indian man was about to enter and looked surprised to see two teenage kids. He was taller and much thinner than Sun Dancer with long gray hair braided in a single strand that came halfway down his back with several orange and green ribbons tied to it. His hair was shaved on both sides of his head. He also wore several necklaces with many small white bones and what looked like teeth from an animal.

"Are you with the people on the other side of the hill?" he asked, looking at me then at Alice.

"Yes," I answered. "I'm Alex, and this is Alice."

"My name is Tall Tree. Welcome."

"Thank you," I said as he nodded and entered the wigwam.

"Tall Tree is a medicine man and is taking care of my grandfather," Sun Dancer said.

When we stood outside the wigwam, I knew Alice was as puzzled as I was with White Elk’s request that we bring Glenn and my father to meet him.

"What do you think he meant I know something the others don’t?" Alice asked.

"I can’t say," Sun Dancer said. "He often sees things. He has visions. You must listen to him."

Alice started to speak, then swallowed her words and took a deep, exasperated breath.

"Would you like me to show you the way back?" Sun Dancer asked.

"No, thanks, I think we can find our way,” Alice said.

"Good," Sun Dancer said. "I'm also surprised that my grandfather asked to see Glenn and your father. You should bring the cookie woman also. I know that my grandfather is upset that all of you have arrived, but he must have a reason. You should come back as soon as you can. It’s important."

When we left, we walked past the smoldering fire with smoke rising high into the blue sky, then past the women and children working in the garden. Neither of us spoke while we walked along the path with the high grass and wildflowers on each side of us. We turned around to look back at the circle of wigwams and the people working. Sun Dancer was walking to where he had been working on the long building. We looked at each other, eager to get back to the farm and tell the others that White Elk wanted to meet them.

"Let's hurry," Alice said.

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