Dreaming Bird of Inter Mountain

Eagle by Donnette Medicine Horse of Sitting Bull College
Eagle by Donnette Medicine Horse of Sitting Bull College

The morning light peeking from the horizon in Brigham City, Utah; a young woman with long midnight hair sitting on her bed staring outside the window of Inter Mountain Indian School, her brown eyes brightened to honey as the sun’s light shown in their reflection. Her dreams had been of a time when she would walk with her grandmother through the canyons leading the sheep to the natural spring that fed them clean water. She recalled walking on golden sand, staring up at the tall coral, russet, and beige gradient wall of the cliffs.

She watched as the sun rose higher into the sky, staring past the blazing light to the lands that stretched far before her small confinement in her gilded cage from the outside world. She was reminded of what she had to leave behind—her family, her culture, her life as a Native of the land she left who she was behind but not by choice.

Within this cage, the killing of her spirit was daily from being forced to speak a language that was not her own and to learn of a culture she was not born into. How she dreamed of the juniper trees that grew dotting the area of her home, the dot of the wild flowers that sprung forth from the sand that covered the canyon floor, the home she was born and raised in with its clay walls the color of mud with strands of faded grass.

She barely heard the sound of her alarm clock ringing throughout the room she shared with others like her; others who were pulled away from their families, lives, people; others who were forced to learn like her, to be something they are not, even forced to cut their hair that in the teachings of their elders was a sign of strength and wisdom, a link from them to the Creator. With a gentle caress, drops of tears cascading down her tan cheeks, she stared not seeing anything but seeing everything—her home, her mother with her salt and pepper hair, her gentle yet stern gaze, and her maroon blouses and skirt, tending to the garden patch.

She saw her grandmother with her grey hair in a bun with her waving wrinkles, her squash blossom necklace made of glittering silver and bright turquoise sitting in front of her weaving loom dressed in her dark green blouse and skirt. Next, she saw her father with his greying hair in the traditional bun, dressed in a blue flannel shirt with trousers with an old cowboy hat, driving his old red pick-up truck down the dirt road to town to sell the wool. Then she saw her little brother with his bright brown eyes. She saw him running around with his friends trying to catch the sheep to ride them, remembering how he used to sit with her while they listened to their grandmother tell their history and legends, even those about the ruins within the canyon walls that once belonged to our ancestors who disappeared.

As she felt the warm kiss from the sun’s light bringing her back from her dream of home, she closed her dark brown eyes, whispering the words of her people in silent prayer to one day go home to the towering canyon walls, the herd of sheep, and the warmth of the bonfire on a clear night of storytelling. How she dreamed to be free and fly high over the land to her birth home to be free from this confinement of order, numbers, forced words, and dying spirits.

Celine F. Guerro is a student at Navajo Technical University.

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