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The Story and Legend of the Heart War Shield"A Story That Needs To Be Told"
By Michael White Feather
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Michael White Feather
All right reserved.
Chapter One"WORDS TO DANCING VISIONS"
Dear "Dancing Visions",
A chain of events recently started to unfold. It turns out that the chain of events would become worthy enough for a story to be told about them. As this chain of events started to unfold I would drive into Woodward to a shop called "Flowers by Donna Jean" (a shop you are very familiar with because that is where you have picked up the flowers I bought you and the many dream catchers I made for you over the years).
Donna Jean's Lakota name is Makoblaye Wahca; meaning "Meadow Flower". I would share with Dave and Donna Jean, late afternoons at the shop after hours and with conversations as good friends do enjoy, the chain of events unfolding. We were good friends and we're about to become even closer friends because of this chain of events. As they listened, they both became excited, filled with enthusiasm would ask me to please share the rest of the story with them. I explained to them that I would continue to share the chain of events up to the point the actual story began. I said I would not share the rest of the story because the story would and was to become a gift to you Dancing Visions. I also explained to them that since it was a gift to you Dancing Visions it would be up to you to share the story with them. After all Dancing Visions, it is your Valentine gift from me.
As every story begins—is it not true that there has to be a beginning? And is it not true that each story begins with the first few words put down on paper as Grandmother said. Grandmother has much wisdom? If you stop and think about it I have already started the story with the words; "Dear Dancing Visions".
On, or about January 7th 2009, I was relieving another worksite. One of the staff there brought me a catalog she had picked up about five years ago in Rapid City South Dakota. Well, I was familiar with this shop, as I stop there every time I go to visit Bear Butte South Dakota. It is a very large shop filled with much beautiful Native American art work from many of the Seven Tribes of the Sioux Nation. Native American Indian hand carved and hand crafted art work, wall hangings, antiques and so much that it is hard to put into words.
It's not uncommon for me to spend about one and a half to two hours each time being mesmerized by the beauty I am looking at and studying. It is the same shop I bought a Dream Catcher for you about three years ago. It is the one that you have hanging from the rear view mirror in your car. I remember a long time back that you told me you had hung it there, and I also remember telling you that I was honored. Every time I see it hanging there it brings a smile to my face.
As I looked through the catalog an item that caught my eye, it was named The Shooting Star Shield; it was a wall hanging of a shield. It was made of leather stretched over an 18 inch diameter willow hoop. It had art work, leather lace and feathers, much like the dream catchers I create. There were many shown and they all had a story and legend to each and every on of them. From much that I have read, I recognized each one of the stories.
I studied them and thought to myself that I can do this, I have the materials and can go to the river to crop some river bottom willow for the hoop. I then remembered that Valentines Day was about a month and a half away, and that would be a nice simple gift I could make for you and put some simple words down on paper to present to you on Valentines Day. An easy task ... but I was soon to find out—it was to be a task that could not be more far from easy—and anything but simple. I was about to find out that I would even find myself standing toe to toe with the
"Grim Reaper," but I was no stranger to that ... All this started with an idea to make a simple gift for you, and a few simple words I hoped to find from my mind and heart to write down on paper for a Valentine's Day gift that would reach you.
I called Spotted Fawn the next day and asked her if there was a story and legend of a heart war shield. She proceeded to tell me that there was a story but no legend. The story had been lost nearly two hundred years ago except for a few bits and pieces. As she understood it, the historian of the Tribe was killed in battle and his recordings were not recovered or ever found ... no names, events and much of their life was lost because of this. I then asked her how a gift without a story and legend could be worthy of a gift, yet I knew in my mind and heart that there was a story and legend of the heart war shield. Spotted Fawn agreed with me and said she would check with Grandmother to see if perhaps she knew more.
I have to pause here Spotted Fawn and I go back when I traveled out near Bear Butte. That is when I had to put my trust into a complete stranger, to free me from the pain in my ankle I had a spiral fracture in several years ago; I only knew as Spotted Fawn's Grandmother at the time.
I remember coming over and visiting with you after I had returned. I shared several of the vision interpretations from Grandmother with you, and I remember telling you that there were two more ... but that I would share them at another time. I also remember telling you that ten out the twelve visions had come around and turned into fact ... and the other two would come around when they were ready to come around that was about four years ago.
I also remember, I think that next summer, sitting on your deck talking with you when your young neighbor, "The animal trainer" came over and shared some of his Great captures with us! He also told us great stories of how he endured everything he had to just to bring his prize home.
I never thought in this lifetime that I would see you holding a little bunny one moment in the palms of your hands, then—a snake—and then a big bull frog!! What a treat that was ... and the impression of that day is still with me ... and the smile you had on your face and in your eyes as we both laughed about it—as it was taking place—as well as later ... the Beauty of your smile was enough to shame "poetry in motion", but it did not ... because the two were as one, as I watched, and laughed with you!!
Sorry ... got a little off track there ... sure did feel good to experience that again though....
Chapter Two"GRANMOTHER'S INTERPETATIONS"
I shared Grandmother's interpretations of some of the visions I had, the twelve visions, with you. When Grandmother got the seventh vision—she told me that had been only one of many battles I had fought and one of many yet to come. She then said "but you will win and some day find yourself in front of Beauty, however you appear to be on bended knee with bowed head—and waiting for something ... I know not what for but you seem to be waiting with great patience—and I have no idea what a white castle is or means."
I also shared with you that Grandmother said she would have to go into my mind to find out whom the person was that she would heal, and that, I had to let her and feel her presence inside my mind while doing so. You and I were out on your deck that afternoon enjoying a cold beer and conversation; it was a wonderful spring afternoon. I remember telling you right before I left that I would love to be the man in your life.
I also remember your exact words while you looked into my eyes. "Well, you do have a very wonderful spirit". Then you gave me one of those beautiful smiles of yours and a long wonderful hug. I recall I was wearing that blue 2003 Sturgis Rally T-shirt you had given me a few days before I left to see Grandmother; you had bought it the year before. I remember how your gorgeous eyes seemed to change from blue to green and back with the ever changing sun light. It's kind of funny how I can remember exact details and words that took place so many years ago.
Whoops!! Sorry, got off track there, now let's get back to the story.
When I got to the eleventh vision Grandmother seemed to be listening more intensely. When I finished, she quickly asked me to continue right into the twelfth, then she would interpret the both. When I was finished, she said "Now, let's talk about the eleventh." Well, it was about that point in time that a look of love came in to her eyes and tone of voice, as well as, a big beautiful smile that even made me blush.
She said "My child, you have found your uncharted island. Your heart and soul, have reunited and your Spirit flows within you—you have defeated what will no longer inflict you. It took all the pure and true thoughts that you brought into this life to have accomplished all that you have—and are about to." Grandmother then explained that to me in great detail. She then described you to the tee, even your eyes. She then said "Is this not the woman you know as Dancing Visions?" I never spoke to her about you Dancing Visions, but she seemed to know a whole lot about you. She told me that both visions were filled with much fulfillment of love, happiness, peace and being able to endure everything in between. That when the eleventh unfolded the twelfth would willingly follow.
Now back to where we were headed to.
Spotted Fawn called late afternoon the next day. She said "I have words to give you from Grandmother. If you want to make this gift for Dancing Visions worthy—you must go back nearly two hundred years ago, and you must find where the story died. You must live and walk among the people endure even their hardships, bring the story back to present-day and finish it. If you do so, many will be honored and the story will then have a legend ... and then your gift will be worthy enough for Dancing Visions."
I said "how is that possible—it would take unheard of avenues and applied physics to do so?" There was silence over the phone for a moment and then I heard Grandmother's voice. She said; "Search deep inside of you, find who I found when I was there—prove to me what I saw was real and had that much strength. Is it not true that you must find where tomorrow lives—the tomorrow that lives way beyond the day before yesterday and that is where you must go?"
I hung up the phone and pondered over Grandmother's words. She is a person that is always in deep thought, and is the deepest person I have ever met in this lifetime. Her advice is always good and has always been true yet, she always answers my questions with a question. I knew inside of my mind and heart that it was time to start making your gift, and that as I was to create it, somehow the story would unfold, as well as, the few simple words that I wanted to put down on paper for you.
A few simple thoughts of mine that I wanted to put down on paper by my own hand, not a store bought card. Well Dancing Visions—that sure did turn into a very complex journey. A journey to get those words to where they were intended to be, return to a journey that would almost take my life, but put back even more life inside of me then I first set out with, a journey with new life, new friendship, new happiness, new laughter new pain, new tears, new death and new sorrow and sadness. It's amazing how a simple journey can contain a lifetime of traveling a great distance and of emotions.
Chapter Three"THE CREATION OF ART WORK"
I gathered the materials I had here at the house and started to layout a design for your gift. The next morning I got up early and went to the river bottom to cut willow for the hoop. I was looking for the right willow to be used. Winter willow is very brittle and hard to work with. I knew I would need several pieces to form and 18 inch diameter hoop. I have made a lot of hoops but never one that large.
I walked through the deep snow quite awhile until I found what I thought was all the right pieces. As I was cutting the last one, I heard some crunching behind me. I slowly turned around and about twelve feet from me sat a red tree squirrel gnawing on a walnut and watching me. It probably found me to be quite cheap entertainment!! I walked back through the deep snow and placed the willow in the back of my truck and headed home. When I got home I laid the willow by a heat vent and waited for it to come up to room temperature.
After, it I slowly started to bend each piece into an arch, inches at a time. This process is very time consuming, but that is how I make all of the hoops for my dream catchers. I have never bought a hoop, I always make my own. After all I create art work not trinkets. I finally wove six pieces into an 18 inch diameter hoop and I was pleased with my work.
It was now time to cut out the leather for the shield. My design was to weave about four inches of webbing then weave the webbing into the leather shield. So I cut out the leather shield and painted some art work on it. It was now time to do some weaving, and join the two into one. As I proceeded to do so I noticed that the hoop was a little out of round. As with my smaller hoops, this is just a simple matter of tweaking it back into round using a little TLC.
Unfortunately, snapped and broke into many pieces. I tossed everything off to the side. I salvaged what I could and through the rest away. I would start over. After all Dancing Visions, is it not true that in order for your gift to have meaning—it had to have a story and legend to it? I went into town to visit Dave and Donna Jean and shared this part of the chain of events with them Donna Jean knows all of my hoops are good sturdy hoops, so we just couldn't figure out what went wrong.
Sunrise the next day found me back out to the river bottom in even deeper snow. This time I would use many different generations of willow bottom to form the hoop. I kept thinking to myself that a family is formed of many generations. The circle I would form this time would be a very strong one, one that would endure. I was determined to do so and no road block or stumbling block would stand long in my way.
It was about that point in time that all those structural design, architectural design and art classes seemed to rise up out of me. So I calculated what I would need. I pulled out the broken willow pieces, ran tensile and shear strength tests on them looking for their week points. I tested them in various lengths. I found out discovered the force that would break them, one by one. Then I calculated the lengths and numbers of each one I would need. I would then need to apply the best architectural design for the geometrical shapes to blend in. Then I had to apply to design that art teaches. It had to be created to explode into vibrant colors that would have to be tamed down with earth tones and all blend into one. This was not going to be an easy feat, to do and would consume many, many hours of time to inlay about one hundred feathers one by one.
Dancing Visions, you have opened the doors inside me—that I thought had died or been sealed away years ago. This is a side of me that I had rarely shown to any human being, yet what is inside of me—flows freely when it comes to you Dancing Visions ... I have no control over that, I have tried. Oh!! Thanks a lot Dancing Visions, now I am way off track again!! How do I get us back to where this side track started?
Chapter Four"THE UNFOLDING OF A STORY"
I kept count of the lengths of willow for the hoop, the hemp twine I would use for the webbing and the leather lace I would be using as well. I added the totals up and they came to 169 linear feet. The story was already coming to me in bits and pieces, so I started taking notes as I created your gift.
I stopped in to visit with Dave and Donna Jean. I shared with them the linear footage of materials I would be using. As we were visiting it suddenly dawned on me—169 linear feet, this is the year 2009, and if you subtract 169 years from it you would be at 1840! I told them I was going to go home and call Grandmother to see if that would be about the year this story took place!
Grandmother didn't answer her phone so I called Spotted Fawn to see if she would ask Grandmother if that would have been about the time all this first took place. About an hour later Spotted Fawn called and said "You are good! Grandmother said that would be about right." I asked her how I was supposed to return to 1840 and find these people. Even if I can achieve doing so to get there I have no names, no places or events. She replied; "Grandmother said you would ask me that question and she wants to know why you keep asking her questions you already have answers to. She also said that I could help you out a little and gave me advice to do so."
Spotted Fawn asked me "Who and what, is Dancing Visions to you? And you must answer me with your mind and heart and in a Lakota way". I replied; Is it not true that Dancing Visions is the song in my heart and the inspiration that runs in my veins?" She then asked me; "What was last dream catcher you made for Dancing Visions, Also how much of yourself did you put into it and what color are the feathers you used?" I replied that I made her a Christmas Angel, is it not true that I put all of myself and all of my love into it? It was an Angel with the dream catcher suspended from it, it was an Angel holding her dreams and I used all white feathers.
Excerpted from The Story and Legend of the Heart War Shield by Michael White Feather Copyright © 2012 by Michael White Feather. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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