A short, pot-bellied man walked towards us through the tall brown grass. Bald, except for a thin patch of gray hair above his ears, he had a small silver badge on his tan shirt, a holster with a black-handled gun on his hip. I’m not sure why he left his hat in the car.
Glenn stiffened and watched the sheriff approaching. "Uh-oh," my dad muttered. Alice swallowed and glanced at me. I knew she was thinking Bendula. Atticus pointed his finger."Who’s that man, Mommy?"
"I don’t know," Liz said, her eyes focused on him.
As the sheriff got closer, he glanced at the house, then at the tents, then at Sun Dancer and Morning Star, then at Glenn and Grace.
"I’m Sheriff Devereaux. Wally Deveraux. You must be the folks I read about in the paper."
"That’s right," Glenn said. "What can I do for you?"
"So, you must be Gene’s grandson."
"Yes," Glenn answered in a low voice and nodded.
"He was my father," Grace said.
"Nice man. Quiet, kept to himself, worked hard, people respected him," he said, glancing again at Sun Dancer and Morning Star. They stood stiffly and stared at him.
"Thank you. I grew up on this farm."
"Is that so? Interesting. I didn’t know him too well. I was much younger when he was farming. My father had the seed and feed store in town, and I remember him coming in when I was helping out. That had to be thirty-some years ago, maybe longer," he said, shaking his head, "Time sure flies." He glanced again at Sun Dancer and Morning Star, and though he was friendly, I knew he was curious about them and would ask a lot of questions when he stopped being friendly."
"So, is it true what I read in the paper? You’re going to start some kind of a colony here with some new ideas."
"Right, that’s the plan."
"Sounds interesting." He nodded, then turned to Sun Dancer. "Who are you?"
"I’m Sun Dancer."
"Nice meeting you." He glanced at Morning Star, but didn’t say anything to her, then continued talking to Sun Dancer, "Are you going to be part of this here colony Glenn’s making?" Why did he ignore her?
"Perhaps," Sun Dancer responded.
I could tell by Sun Dancer’s brief answers, he wasn't going to reveal much. Morning Star stared at the sheriff as she stood silently next to her brother.
"I read in the paper, a bunch of you Indians have been living on the old Fitzpatrick farm, is that true?"
"Yes, that’s true."
"For eight years? You've been there for eight years."
Sun Dancer didn’t say anything.
"I have to admit I was pretty shocked when I read that in the paper," the sheriff said, "Pretty damn shocked. I had no idea, and I usually know what’s going on around here. That’s my job, but that one got by me."
Sun Dancer continued to look at the sheriff with no reaction.
"That’s private property, you know."
Again, Sun Dancer just stared at the sheriff.
"I know it’s been empty there for a long time, but I might have to pay you folks a visit and see what you’re doing...just doing my job, you know."
He looked at the rest of us, then paused to look at Dan’s dreadlocks. He smiled at Atticus holding Liz’s hand, then looked at Alice and me, and then at my dad. After a deep sigh, he faced Glenn. "So, are you really going to do what I read in the paper?"
"I am. What you read is true."
The sheriff scratched his chin."Well, it’s a free country, but I think I should warn you, I got a call from a man named George Miller. He’s with the FBI in Montpelier and said I should keep an eye on you. Not sure why, but that’s why I’m here." He paused. "Can you tell me why the FBI is watching you?"
"I have no idea," Glenn said. "This is my land. I have a right to do what I want to here. I’m not breaking any laws."
"Well, we’re pretty live and let live 'round here, if you know what I mean," he said, "But I have to admit I got concerned when the FBI called. They must suspect something."
Grace stepped forward. "Glenn was part of the Occupy Wall Street encampment three years ago and helped the people after Hurricane Sandy hit," Grace said. "That’s probably why. They’ve been watching a lot of the people like Glenn."
"Is that so?" Wally kept his eyes on Glenn. "They really got hit down there on the coast. I heard lots of homes got washed away. I remember what happened around here when Irene hit. We’re still recovering."
"Well, that’s why I’m here," Glenn said. "And that’s probably why the FBI called you. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but the government passed legislation that they can arrest anyone they suspect might be a terrorist and put them in jail without a trial. A lot of money is being spent to militarize the police and break up demonstrations like Occupy Wall Street. I have friends who were beaten, and they didn’t do anything. Lots of us are being watched."
"Is that so? That doesn’t sound right to me, sounds unconstitutional."
"That’s because it is," Glenn said.
"Maybe. I don’t know." The sheriff shrugged his shoulders.
"Listen, what I’m planning to do here is to show there's another way of living on this planet. We have to adapt to climate change. We cannot continue to live as if nothing is happening."
The sheriff listened and nodded, indicating he understood.
"I know, I know," the sheriff said. "But I got to do my job, and I have to tell you, I’m going to keep my eye on what you’re doing. You might be right about the climate changing, believe me, I know from what I see happening around me, but you know, there are people bigger than me calling the shots."
Tim and Gabe listened, and I knew they remembered what Arianna and Elizabeth warned about the Bendula.
"Well, this is my land and if I want to share it with my Native American friends, or anyone from the Occupy movement, or people who want to make sure kids like Alice and Alex and Atticus know how to live in a changing climate, man, that’s what I’m going to do. The FBI or the police or the military can’t stop me."
"Liz and I want to be a part of this, that’s for sure," Dan said.
The sheriff looked at Dan and his dreadlocks but didn’t say anything. He faced Sun Dancer and Morning Star, then glanced at the two tents by the apple orchard. He rubbed his chin, then turned to Glenn.
"Well, guess I’ll be on my way. Just wanted to see what was going on." He looked at Sun Dancer and Morning Star. "I’ll be paying you folks a visit."
We were all quiet and watched him waddle back to his car through the high grass. Before getting in, he waved and shouted, "Good luck."
It was getting dark when the sheriff drove off. We had moved the clocks back an hour the previous Sunday, which meant, it was getting dark by four-thirty. My dad threw several logs on the fire before anyone mentioned anything about the sheriff’s visit. Everyone watched the flames getting higher and brighter.
"What do you think is going to happen with the FBI watching?" Dan asked, breaking the silence.
"Don’t know," Glenn answered. "All I know is I’m determined."
"We must all be warriors," Sun Dancer said.
"Warriors, do you mean fight?" Liz asked, her eyes widening.
"No, I mean to be brave," Sun Dancer said. "There are many ways to fight."
"Do you mean to fight the way Gandhi fought the British in India?" my dad asked.
"Exactly," Sun Dancer said. "Passive resistance can be powerful. Gandhi was a warrior."
"I agree," Grace said.
"I know we can make this work," Glenn said. "Eric has a great plan, and I've heard from several people who want to be part of this ... great, talented people who are excited about my idea. I’m inspired, and I’m not afraid of the FBI. They can’t stop us."
"They broke up Occupy Wall Street, didn’t they?" Gabe said.
"No, they broke up that encampment," Glenn said. "I saw what was possible after Hurricane Sandy when we brought food and clothing and relief to people who lost everything. Some of us stopped several foreclosures. It’s the rage and spirit that is still alive. I know people all over the country who are fighting for change, grassroots action. It's all bubbling up under the surface. What happened in Liberty Park was the spark, but the fire is smoldering and spreading. We’re not alone here on this land."
"Glenn, it’s easy to have an idea," my dad said. "Making it a reality is what counts."
"I know that. I agree with Sun Dancer. We must be brave and be warriors."
Tammy interrupted. "Well, warriors have to eat. I made hamburger patties from meat I bought from King Hill Farm just before we left and I think we should get it on the fire and have dinner."
"Wow, that sounds great," Dan said. "I’m hungry."
"I am too," I said, remembering Alice was a vegetarian and wondered what she would eat.
"I also have lots of veggies for a salad, and I brought my own special potato salad," Tammy said.
"I’ll help you," Liz said, handing Atticus to Dan.
"Great," Tammy said, then turned to Sun Dancer and Morning Star. "Please join us, there’s plenty. I just have to bring it up from the kitchen."
"Thank you, but we must get back before it gets too dark," Sun Dancer said.
"And I want to be with my grandmother," Morning Star said. "But thank you. I haven’t had hamburger for many years. Now I eat deer and rabbit."
"I want to visit Shining Star tomorrow," Grace said.
"I do too," Alice said, turning to me. "We should go see her tomorrow."
"That would be good," Morning Star said, "I know that would make her happy."
When Sun Dancer and Morning Star left, Tammy, Liz and Grace went to the house to get the hamburger and salad, Dan sat down on a log by the fire and held Atticus on his lap. Then Alice asked if she could take him for a walk. When Dan handed him to Alice, they walked past the two tents and to the apple orchard.
A few minutes later, all the food was brought to the fire. While the meat was cooking on the grating over the hot coals, Liz had the spatula, moving the patties and flipping them.
"It’s great that you brought locally raised meat," Liz said. "I won’t feed Atticus anything that’s not organically grown."
"Liz sure changed my eating style," Dan said. "I used to live on Big Macs."
Alice brought Atticus back and sat down next to me and watched Liz cooking. "Are you guys married," Alice asked. "Not that it’s any of my business, but I’m curious."
"Not legally," Liz said. "We don’t need to be married to be good parents, and we work hard at being a happy couple. It’s not always easy." She glanced at Dan.
"I know what you mean," Grace said. "I was married to Glenn’s father in Ireland, and it was good for the first three or four years, but that was over forty-five years ago."
"I was almost thirteen when we came back here to the farm," Glenn said.
"Patrick was my professor and a brilliant man but a terrible husband," Grace said. "He drank, and it was impossible for him to stay away from the pretty students who adored him. He broke my heart."
Glenn listened to her as if he was hearing something for the first time. "I didn’t know about that," Glenn said.
"It’s just as well," Grace said, "I didn’t want you to know a lot. He was a good man in a lot of ways, but had roving eyes, as they say. Now you know."
I watched Liz flipping over the burgers while Tammy put the hamburger buns on the end of the grating to toast. At the same time, it was getting windy, and I heard thunder and saw lightning in the distance.
"Looks like a storm is coming," Glenn said, looking up.
Another loud rumble of thunder and a bright crack of yellow lightning flashed. Alice took my hand when we heard what Grace had said about her marriage. The wind was picking up.
"They’re almost done," Liz said, flipping hamburgers. "I think we can beat the storm."
"They smell great," my dad said, then added, "We will need to have livestock here."
"Really," Liz said. "I hadn’t thought of that."
"Yes, animals are important. We’ve got a great barn, pastures that can be restored, a big field for growing hay. Having chickens, a dairy cow, goats, pigs, rabbits and bees are part of the scheme. It’s a symbiotic relationship. We need them, and they need us. We can produce a lot of food and the manure will be really important for the gardens."
The sky was getting darker, as the storm got closer. We were waiting for the burgers to be cooked before running to the house. This is going to be close. We should go in.
"I’ve been interested in alternative fuels like methane and growing algae," Dan said. "We can make biofuels for our cars and farm equipment."
My dad's eyes widened. "Wow! I didn’t know you were interested in that. I’m interested in biofuels too, but don’t know much."
The wind blew harder, and it would be a race to beat the rain.
"I’m just getting into it myself, but I’ve read a lot on the internet about raising algae to make fuel," Dan said. "It takes a lot less land than growing corn."
"Everything’s ready," Liz said. "Help yourself. Get a roll and a burger and there’s potato salad." She looked up. "But we better get inside."
Big fat raindrops came and then it started to pour. Thunder boomed over us followed by yellow, crackling flashes of lightning that lit up the sky. We rushed to pick up all the food and plates. Tammy took the bowl of potato salad and greens. Grace gathered the toasted rolls and tried covering them with her hat. Liz piled all of the hamburgers on a plate and handed them to Alice, then picked up Atticus and dashed to the house. A gust of wind blew Gabe's tent onto its side, and it started rolling away.
"Hey! Our tent," Gabe yelled, and he and Tim ran after it.
Finally, we were in the dark farmhouse, wet from the rain. Glenn had his flashlight and found the oil lamps he had brought and lit them, creating a warm glow. Tammy found the candles she had and within five minutes, we had light. My dad loaded up the wood stove and after several tries got a good fire going. "Damn, I should have started a fire before. It'll be warm soon."
The hamburgers were on the round oak table with the rolls and potato salad.
Our damp clothes clung to our skin. Grace’s long white hair hung straight, so did Alice’s and Tammy’s. Liz had been wearing her cabbie hat, but she took it off because it was soaked. Gabe and Tim were drenched after running after their tent and staking it down.
Soon, we were able to sit down at the table with one of the oil lamps in the center and began eating. Though we were wet, it was cozy in the small dining room. There weren’t enough chairs for everyone, so Gabe and Tim sat on the steps leading up to the second floor. Dan stood in back of Liz’s chair while Atticus sat on her lap. No one sat on the long green couch because we were wet, but it looked nice along the wall in front of empty bookshelves.
Every few minutes thunder boomed over us and made the house shake. The rain pounded against the porch roof and the kitchen windows.
"Wow, this is quite some storm," my dad said, after taking a bite of his sandwich.
"I remember many winters growing up when we were snowed in," Grace said. "Winter was hard and long, but my mom canned tomatoes, beans and we grew a lot of potatoes and butternut squash and bushels of apples. We had a dozen or so hens and a crazy rooster. My dad hunted and usually got one deer, and we had two pigs that got us through."
"I remember that," Glenn said to his mother. "I also remember going through the snow with Gramps to the barn to milk all the cows. The snow sometimes was up to our hips."
"How many cows did you have?" I asked.
"It varied but usually six to eight cows. It was a lot of work getting it ready for the milk company, and we had to be careful how we stored it until they came," Glenn said. "I was fourteen or fifteen."
"My brother Derrick worked with my dad," Grace said. "I was in charge of the chickens, and I remember one old mean rooster that used to run after me when I came through the chicken yard."
"I remember him waking me up at five in the morning with his crowing," Glenn said.
I enjoyed listening to Grace talking about growing up on the farm and Glenn remembering what it was like when he was a kid.
The rain was slowing down, the thunder now coming from a distance. Atticus slept on Liz’s shoulder, then she put him down on the couch and covered him with Dan’s jacket.
The wood stove warmed up the room, and Tammy filled up a pot with apple cider and put it on the stove while we continued talking. I ate two hamburgers, and so did my dad. Alice ate potato salad.
"How long have you been a vegetarian?" Liz asked her.
"Two years," Alice answered. "Ever since I learned how animals are raised. I saw a documentary when I was in tenth grade, and that was it for me and meat."
"That’s why, I only buy locally raised meat," Tammy said. "I saw a documentary at the library about the meat industry and I agree, it’s disgusting and cruel."
"Don’t get me started on agri-business," Glenn said. "That was one of the things I found out about at the Occupy Wall Street. I met a woman, Lisa Jane, who was a real activist and she and her boyfriend, Jacob said that next to cars, farms were the biggest causes of carbon emissions, not just in this country but in Europe also."
"Here’s something I just read in the New Yorker," my dad said. "Listen to this. I couldn’t believe it when I read it." He then took one of his annoying deep breaths before continuing which made everyone eager to hear what he was going to say.
"What?” Alice asked.
"The meat industry kills seventy-five million animals every day," he said.
"Everyday! Are you serious, seventy-five million animals, really?" Alice asked.
"Not only that, the major crop grown on those farms is corn and soybeans to be fed to livestock. Also, the pharmaceutical companies make ninety percent of their money making antibiotics for farm animals, not just farm animals but for fish being raised in the aquaculture industry."
"That’s what Lisa Jane told me," Glenn said. "She also said that it takes nine or ten pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat while millions of people around the world are hungry. What’s worse, it’s not their natural food. It just gets them fat fast."
"That’s why I like Eric’s ideas," Dan said, his blue eyes twinkling. "We can raise livestock in a healthy way. The manure can be used for compost and making bio-fuel. I love his plan. Liz and I really want to be part of what you’re doing here."
"Great," Glenn said. "There are several others, who would add a lot to this project. There’s a woman, Catherine, who is a nurse and becoming an acupuncturist that wants to move here in a year when she finishes her training."
"Wow, we met her at your meeting," Alice said.
"Also, this guy Roger Whitehead from England is a brilliant computer scientist. He says we are now in the ethereal age. We talked about how to use the internet here and create a network of people around the world working on many ideas. He thinks collaboration is essential, and he loves my idea. He wants to come here."
"Hmmmm, the ethereal age. I never heard that before," Dan said.
"I think Sun Dancer understands how important computers can be," Alice said.
Tammy got up to check the apple cider on the stove, "Almost ready," she said, then came back to the table. "I was telling a farmer I know about your idea. His name’s Paul, and I bet he would love to be the Farm Manager here. He’s working in the food co-op where I shop, and he was excited when I told him our plan. He’d be perfect. I want you to meet him, Glenn. He said he wanted to get back into farming."
Tammy went back to the wood stove and picked up a ladle, "Help yourself to some warm apple cider."
Liz went over to the couch in the living room where Atticus was sleeping and pulled the jacket up over his shoulders. Dan picked up a cup and stood next to my dad in front of the wood stove. Tammy and Grace picked up the empty plates and bowls and put them on the kitchen counter. She had a five-gallon container of water and poured some into another pot and put it on the wood stove to heat, "We’ll do the dishes later."
While Dan sipped his apple cider, he said, “I like the ideas of the Long House or the Commons building where everyone can eat together if they want to and gather."
"I like that idea, too," Gabe said. "On Atlantis people shared everything. I hope we can do that here."
"Atlantis?" Dan asked startled. "What do you mean on Atlantis?"
"I read these books," Gabe said, "So did Alex and Alice and Tim. You should read them, but they grew all of their food and shared it. There was no rich and poor."
My dad glanced at me when Gabe said that but didn’t say anything.
"We could live here the way they did in Atlantis," Gabe said.
"You make it sound like Atlantis was real," Dan said, narrowing his eyes. "What do you mean we could live here like they did in Atlantis? I don't get it."
"I think we should change the topic," my dad said.
The next morning, after a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, potatoes and coffee, Alice, Grace and I took the path through the woods. We were quiet and could hear the birds singing and chirping. I led the way with Alice and Grace slightly behind me. Then we walked through the high, dew covered grass towards Shining Star's wigwam. Wildflowers were everywhere sparkling in the morning sun. At least a dozen crows startled us when they suddenly flew out of the tall grass and into the woods. A few squirrels dashed across the well trampled path. The sky was blue without a cloud. Though it was a chilly autumn morning, I could tell the day would warm up in a few hours. I remembered people calling it Indian summer and wondered why they called it that.
I glanced back at Grace gripping the branch she used as a cane and noticed her long strides. Her white hair fell loosely around her shoulders. Alice’s hair was still braided in pigtails. Her green down vest was unzipped, and her snug faded jeans were wet around the cuffs from the wet grass. When I looked back her, she smiled.
We passed the large garden with brown, bent over corn stalks and many bright orange pumpkins at the far end along with drooping sunflowers. We waved at the women on their knees, spreading dried grass over the beds. Sun Dancer, saw us while talking to several men in front of the Long House. He waved but didn’t come to us. Just as we got to Shining Star’s wigwam, Morning Star stepped out and greeted us.
"Thank you for coming," she said. "My grandmother was happy to know you would be visiting."
When we entered, Shining Star sat by the fire, dressed in black, her white, braided hair draped over her shoulder. " Thank you for coming. It’s kind of you."
Her voice sounded tired, but her smile was warm, and her eyes brightened in the firelight.
"We were sorry to hear that White Elk died," Grace said.
"I understand," she said, nodding. "But he is where he belongs now. He was suffering with his illness and his concerns. He has worked hard to bring us to this land."
"I know," Grace said. "Sun Dancer told us how he received the sacred pipe many years ago and began finding his way back to his ancestor’s ways."
"It was a big struggle," Shining Star said and took a deep breath. "It's not easy being an Indian. We were always shoved aside, but receiving his grandfather’s pipe changed his life. He and others studied to learn the old ways so that they would not be forgotten. That is why we have built our homes the way our ancestors did, why we live with fire, why we hunt and fish and why some have learned to make our clothes and necklaces and preserve food. We have tried to leave the ways of the white world, but it has not been easy."
"I felt honored to meet him," Grace said, "and happy that we shared a vision for the future."
Shining Star looked at Alice and me. "You are becoming warriors," she said. "I knew you would when we first met."
"You did," Alice said, "Really."
Shining Star nodded, then turned to Grace. "We are fortunate that you wanted to keep the town away because of the taxes. We knew nothing about that. We would have lost everything we have built here."
I didn’t want, to say anything about the FBI and the sheriff, so I just listened.
"Still, the future will be hard," she said. "Just as our lives have been hard living in two worlds, the world of your people and the world of my people. The future will not be easy."
I wanted to know more about her life but was reluctant to ask. I didn’t want to awaken painful memories, especially now that her husband had died, but it seemed she wanted to remember.
"When I was a child I was told to say we do not have Indian blood. I was told to say I was French Canadian. I did not like having, to say that. I didn’t want to feel ashamed, but it was easier to lie."
Shining Star took a deep breath and looked at Morning Star, "I have told you my story and how I told you your name, the name you were given when you were a child."
"Yes, that was amazing. I will always be grateful that you told me," Morning Star said. "And how you told me about your great grandmother and the stories she told you."
Shining Star smiled, "Yes, I loved her and her stories. I remember when she said with tears in her eyes, 'our language is dying. We must remember our language.' She taught me Abeneki by teaching me the names of places, the names of lakes and streams, the names of plants and mountains and animals. The road we lived on was Organus Road. We lived near the river called Piscatagua. I learned Androscoggin and Norridgewock and the mountain in Maine where she was from called, Katahdin. The language was so musical and mystical."
Shining Star closed her eyes, took a deep, weary sigh, then stared into the small fire. I liked how warm it felt and was glad when Alice asked, "What was your great grandmother like?"
Shining Star smiled. "Thank you for asking. It is good for me to remember," she said, taking another deep breath, then closed her eyes, as if looking inside. "Her name was Eyes of the Moon, and she smoked a clay pipe at dinner. Abeneki women smoked in private, but we were told we must not talk about it."
While she was talking, I could see Alice looking at her, and knew she wanted to ask her the same question I wanted to ask.
"Did your great grandmother know where her people came from?" Alice asked.
Shining Star nodded, "Yes, she said she remembered a story about how her people came to this continent."
"Really, I would like to know that. Will you tell us?" Alice asked.
Before she spoke, Shining Star gazed into the fire, as if looking back and remembering, then faced us. "She told about how long ago after the great ice disappeared from the land, how rivers formed, how the maple, oak and spruce trees began to grow and the rocks along the shoreline became sand, and the high mountains came, and the fields and hills became green. Many, many years passed and the land began welcoming people from the West, who came from Canada and people from the South. We are told some came from ancient islands in the ocean that have disappeared, but little is known of that land. Many tribes lived along the beaches of what it is now Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Cape Cod where fish were abundant. Many tribes merged and became one, some did not. Our people lived in what is now Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont before the people came from far across the ocean--small people with strange clothing. They were welcomed, but they brought strange ways, alcohol and sickness to our people."
While she was speaking, Sun Dancer entered the wigwam and interrupted Shining Star. "What is it?" Morning Star asked.
Sun Dancer looked at Grace, and then at Alice and me. "Grey Fox knows you are here. He's not happy."
"Oh no," Shining Star said. "Grey Fox will bring trouble. He has always been angry that White Elk became Chief."
"Now, he is bitter that the orange sash and sacred pipe has been passed to me," Sun Dancer said.
Before standing up, Grace turned to Shining Star. "Thank you for sharing so much with us. I'm grateful," she said, then turned to Sun Dancer. "Where is he? I have something important to tell him."
"Be careful," Shining Star said.
"I'm not afraid of Grey Fox," Grace said. "I can see that he is a wounded man, not just physically but in his heart."
"You are right," Shining Star said, "but that can make him dangerous."
"I know," Grace said, nodding. She leaned forward and took the old woman’s hand. “Your husband was a beautiful man. I will do all I can to have his vision for your people live."
Shining Star gazed into Grace’s eyes. Alice and I watched and felt the bond that had grown between the two old women. "Thank you for coming to me."
Leaning on her branch, Grace stood up and faced Sun Dancer and Morning Star, "Let’s go."
When we left Shining Star, I glanced back to look at her sitting in her black mourning dress, the glow of the fire on her wrinkled face, her dark eyes, her mouth no longer smiling.
When we stepped outside into the bright sunlight, Grey Fox stood there with Wolf, Strong Eagle and Blue Lightning.
"Good morning," Grace said."We came to express our sorrow at White Elk’s passing."
Grey Fox nodded. "That was kind of you, but I have something to say to you and your son."
"What is it?" Grace asked, then added, "Because I have something to say to you, also."
When Grey Fox looked at Sun Dancer, I could see the anger in his dark eyes and the way his jaw tightened like he was grinding his teeth. He turned to Grace. "I am disturbed by your presence here, and though the council has voted to honor White Elk’s vision, I have my doubts that it is wise."
"Why do you say that?" Grace asked, looking directly into Grey Fox’s eyes.
"We don’t know you," he said. "White Elk was old and not as wise as some think."
"I can tell you’re unhappy and angry," Grace said.
"Yes, I am angry for many reasons," Grey Fox said, then faced Sun Dancer. "Though we were half brothers and had the same grandfather, I should have become the keeper of the sacred pipe, not White Elk."
I was surprised that Grey Fox would say anything so personal in front of us.
"You were not sober," Sun Dancer said. "You were always drunk."
Grey Fox glared at Sun Dancer but did not answer.
"I don't want to interfere with this issue," Grace said. "I'm here to warn you that if you decide not to share his vision and ours, you won't survive here. White Elk understood what I was saying about the old ways and the new ways merging to make it possible to adapt."
"Your people have betrayed us in the past, why should we trust you?” Grey Fox asked.
"Because we need each other now more than ever," Grace said.
Grey Fox glanced at the men standing behind him. They stood still, their mouths tight and listened with no expressions on their faces.
"We have much to learn from your people," Grace said, "but you have much to learn from us. It’s a different world than the days of your ancestors."
"Perhaps, but our trust had been broken many times when all the treaties we had signed had been tossed aside when your people wanted our land," Grey Fox said.
"I know that," Grace said. "But now we are sharing this land and building a new future with ideas and ways your people do not know." Grace turned to Sun Dancer. "White Elk made Sun Dancer Chief because he knew Sun Dancer understood the importance of cooperating, sharing and evolving as the only way to survive the coming years."
Grey Fox focused his dark eyes on Grace, then looked at Sun Dancer. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes as if looking deep inside for his thoughts and feelings. He looked at the ground and was silent.
"Listen to me," Grace said. "We're not only in danger because of what is happening to the climate, but because there are people who want to stop us and remove you from this land."
"We can take care of ourselves," Grey Fox said.
"No, you can’t. Not now. If I had not bought this land from the bank, you would have been forced to leave, or you would have been arrested. Then what would have happened to your people and your ways?" Grace paused, her eyes fixed on Grey Fox's eyes.
Grey Fox listened.
"My son and I have the financial resources to make how we live here independent of the global economy. Now, multi-national corporations run the world, not governments. That is why we're here. We want to live outside of the global economy, outside of the American society and show a new way to live, and that is why they will try to stop us. The FBI is watching us right now."
"The FBI? How do you know?" His eyes widened."Tell me how do you know that?"
"We met the sheriff last night, and he told us the FBI is here. A story was in the New York Times. They know you are here, and they know our plan. He has orders to watch us and report to them."
Alice surprised me when she stepped next to Grace. "They want to stop anyone who wants to live the old ways," Alice said. "They've been doing that for thousands of years in many places. Believe me, I know."
"Thousands of years? What do you mean, you know?"
"It’s a long story. I have been told by people who remember," Alice said.
Grey Fox looked at Alice and then at Grace. "I don’t understand what you are saying. How do you know people who remember from thousands of years ago?"
Grace placed her hand on Alice's shoulder to interrupt her. "Please, let me continue. I understand what you are saying."
"Okay. Sorry for interrupting," Alice said.
"I understand your resentment that Sun Dancer was made Chief, and I understand why you don’t trust white people," Grace said. "I don’t blame you for that, but if we don’t work together on this land and share what we know with each other, it will be hard for your children and for our children to survive the next decades when they are growing up. It will be different and more difficult than the world in which your ancestors and we lived. White Elk knew that."
Wolf stepped next to Grey Fox. "I think she’s right. Even when I was in graduate school, and many of us protested the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the police were trying to stop us. I had friends who were arrested and beaten. Then after the World Trade Center was blown up, they made the Patriot Act. I was working on my masters in Political Science and was preparing to go to law school and the whole Homeland Security thing to stop terrorists got started. More and more police in riot gear came to the protests. They became more brutal."
I was surprised to hear Wolf tell Grey Fox what he saw and remembered him saying how he met Sun Dancer and went through a big change and came with him to be with White Elk.
"It’s worse now," Grace said. "Now they have drones."
"What are drones?" Grey Fox asked. "I never heard of drones."
"I haven’t either," Wolf said. "They must be new."
"They are unmanned planes that are controlled by computers in this country and can find targets and kill terrorists and innocent people," Grace said. "They are used for surveillance. They will be watching us."
Grey Fox stared at Grace. "What do you mean planes without people? I don't understand."
"They can spy on people anywhere," Grace said. "And they’re looking for terrorists in many countries, even in this country and can attack."
Grey Fox listened, silently.
"The government has passed legislation that makes it legal to arrest anyone they suspect is a terrorist or a threat. That means they can spy on people in the Occupy Wall Street movement, people like Glenn, and put them in prison just on suspicion." Grace paused. “I didn’t know much about it until Glenn told me what was happening. We are now becoming a military state and not a civil state."
"That’s terrible," Wolf said. "I knew it was getting bad but not that bad."
Grey Fox looked at Wolf, then at Grace. He looked at Alice, then swallowed and shook his head. We were all silent.
Sun Dancer broke the silence and faced Grace. "I was not aware of drones either, but if what you’re saying is true, then I think we will see drones circling over us like vultures."
"Yes and believe me, they will try to stop us. We will have to be careful and strong."
Hearing what Grace said about drones and the FBI watching us made me realize more than ever how dangerous it could be to transform the land and live a new way. I don't believe this is happening. It's just like Atlantis.
Grey Fox listened to what Grace had said. He looked at Sun Dancer and Wolf, then at the others behind him. I stepped forward to stand next to Alice and Grace and faced Grey Fox and Wolf. As we stood in front of Shining Star’s wigwam, she opened the flap and came out. She was hunched over and leaned on her carved walking stick.
"I have heard what was being said," She spoke in a low voice. "Before White Elk died, he said to me, 'Help Grey Fox understand. He must understand the danger or our people will be doomed.'"
Grey Fox closed his eyes when he heard Shining Star. He nodded, then turned to Grace. "This is horrible. I now understand. Thank you." He looked at Alice and me as if seeing us for the first time. We were silent. Then he reached for Sun Dancer’s hand. "I understand why White Elk chose you, and I am grateful."
Tears swelled in my throat when Grey Fox gripped Sun Dancer's hand and gazed into his eyes. Alice took my hand and squeezed it. He turned to Grace. “You are right, we have work to do, and we must all work together.”
Grace nodded and smiled, then touched Shining Star's wrinkled hand as it gripped her walking stick. White Elk's final words had been heard.