The Lament of the ‘Mahas

Wayne Tyndall
©1999 Wayne Tyndall
All rights reserved.

Take me back to the four hills of life
Where our ancestors, the Mahas lie buried.
A place where the four winds still whisper their names.
Let me stand barefoot atop Blackbird Hill,
For this ground has been consecrated.

The great Hu'thuga is broken,
No longer do we camp in the great circle.
The Earth and Sky people need healing.
The people of the ten clans,
Are scattered to the four directions.

Let me gaze at the Smoky waters,
with keen and searching eye,
As the waves call to the spirits nearby.

Take me to the Holy Fireplace,
Where the young men sought their vision quest,
When they went to fast and pray.
Did the sparrow hawk talk to them,
or were they instructed by the moon?

Let me hear the cry of the majestic eagle,
soaring loftily in the morning sky,
invoking the gods of thunder and rain.
As the drums roll a thunderous cadence,
across the open plain.

And witness the secret societies,
In ancient ritual and mystique.
With power from the cosmic forces --
the stars, moon, comets and sun,
They healed the sick and infirmed,
And with pleas to the gods of thunder,
rain and wind.
Who serve as mediators,
They could reach the Almighty Wako nda.

The Hethu'shka warriors have gone to battle,
Will they return in victory or defeat?
To perform the ancient “original Omaha grass dance."

Where our children went to the “house of teaching,"
Only traces of a burial mound remain,
Where our children once played in laughter,
A lone coyote now cries in vain.

Gone is the waving prairie,
Over which the buffalo once roamed.
Before the sod was broken,
the red Indian paint brush was aflame,
But awaits in hiding somewhere,
Down an empty lane.

The hereditary chieftain circle
Was deposed of its power to rule.
In its stead, were appointed (the "Paper Chiefs"),
Who acted haughty and cruel.
Proudly Wearing a great peace medal
Suspended from a ribbon around their necks,
They signed the great land cession treaties,
By dutifully drawing the letter "X."

The two sacred pipes of earth and sky;
Lie hidden down in mother earth.
No more does the sacred smoke reach skyward.
 Our messages fail to reach the Great Unseen Power,
Who dwells far above on high. 
The three holy tents stand empty,
The sacred symbols have been smitten from our midst—
The Tent of War; the Sacred Pole, and the White Buffalo Robe.
Alas, we must purify ourselves for their homecoming!

The sacred ceremonials for our children; 
are lost and forgotten.
Long ago, the children rubbed clay on their foreheads, 
Then they placed their hands on mother earth.
Lifting their hands skywards,
They cried aloud to Wakonda
“Here one stands, poor and needy. I am he,"

Our cries go unheeded, 
But our families are pitiful and weak,
Aho, Wakonda! Please hear us.
We have become confounded and driven from your reach. 
In sorrow Wakonda's tears fall as rain from father sky,
To join mother earth,
Revealing the seven prismatic color rainbow for us to see

Wakonda 's ethereal hand will wipe away our tears. 
We must make our offerings to him, 
Through the holy men and helpers, 
Some are called to serve as pipe carriers,

With humility we must enter the sacred sweat lodge,
 Take part in the sacred ceremonial Sundance,
Where great sacrifices are made;
Or find the ceremonial tipi in which to pray
And take our holy sacrament. 
With the pipe and our prayer offerings to the grandfathers,
Far away on high.
Our souls will be healed again.

Where are the sacred women chiefs, 
Who wore the blue mark of honor?
Those members of the Blessed Night Society.
 They who stood between the passing of night into day.
They who cared for the orphans and elders, 
Whose presence radiated the sunshine, 
And brought happiness into our hearts.

Where are the two principal chieftains, 
Representing the two halves of the tribal circle,
The seven hereditary clan chiefs, 
The priests, keepers, helpers and pipe carriers,
The pony boys, warriors and hunters, 
The women, children and elders?

These are the people of the great Hu'thuga
They once looked after our spiritual and material needs,
And settled our disputes and strife, 
And led us down the "good road," 
To travel beyond the four hills of life.

 


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