- Lenni Lenape- Meechgalanne- part 1
- Pischk and His People- Meechgalanne- part 2
- Tribes’s Journey North- Meechgalanne- part 3
- The Man- Meechgalanne- part 4
- His Vision- Meechgalanne- part 5
Once again please keep in mind that the details and story of Meechgalanne’s life and People are things I was directly told by Meechgalanne, Kikey Gawi, Nianque, Wipunxit Nanajunges Xkwe, Tatheleu, Lauchsoheen and a bit from Gunaquote Wulalowe (though he didn’t speak much).
After Meechgalanne returned, the tribe held a death ceremony for Machque Allanque. Two days later the proper ceremony was held for the completion of Meechgalanne’s vision quest. At the ceremony were Guhn Achgamhok, Tatheleu and Kikey Nachgohuman. Meechgalanne told of his vision. The Elders listened and thanked Meechgalanne for coming and for the vision he brought. Then he was asked to leave while they pondered his words. Meechgalanne was relieved to have told the Elders his vision even though he knew it was up to him to live and understand his own vision. The Elders would just take whatever knowledge would help the tribe and give Meechgalanne some helpful advice on how to go about understanding his vision. He was very confused and somewhat sad as he recalled the vision.
The Elder council called Meechgalanne back two days later. As Meechgalanne sat in the sacred wigwam by the fire he was offered the sacred smoke of the tobacco and white pine. Guhn Achgamhok spoke in a very slow and clear voice which was full of many winters experience and truth.
He said, “This vision you brought to us tells of possible future hope in living in peace with the whites and this is good. There is darkness there though as well and this also speaks of pain and sadness for all life. The connection and understanding is left for you to find. The white wolf and the Spirit World that lies in the realm beyond the four black curtains of the conscience may have the answer to your questions. It is up to you to find them.”
Tatheleu continued, “We see the races of the world in your vision and we see their responsibilities as well as what many have let go. Remember always the responsibilities of the earth’s people. Remember our people, the Red People have been given the responsibility of care-taking the Earth. If this knowledge is lost the earth’s people will become weak and die from sickness because it is within the plant people where the greatest medicines flow. We are entrusted the sacredness of the plant people and their medicine shared by all life on this planet. The White People were given the gift and responsibility of the fire. Fire can move and consume and create. If this knowledge is abused the earth will burn and be destroyed in mindless movement of destruction and waste. The Brown People were also given the knowledge of care-taking the earth, but in the form of growing and protecting the integrity of food. If this wisdom is lost then the people of the earth will starve and fall to diseases from foods without integrity. It is the Yellow People that carry the wisdom of the sky, of air and the movements of the winds. They hold the medicine of spiritual growth and its knowledge. If this is lost the people of the earth will be lost. The Black People were given the gift of water and emotion. They were to be the leaders of adaptation just as water will find a way to flow through anything. If this knowledge is lost people will die in their hearts.”
A pause ensued as the thick smoke curled in the air around them, like the very spirit of life itself surrounding them. Kikey Nachgohuman spoke and said, “It is seen in your vision that these four sacred races of people have been given another chance to unify, but the union is fragile and threatened by extinction. The rest is for you to find along your scared quest of life. Remember what we have said and carry it with you just as you carry yourself and your ancestors with you.”
Another deep pause as time was given to feel the richness of meaning and not just hear. Guhn Achgamhok spoke the final words. “After our tribe’s journey north, you will leave the tribe and make your own journey to search for these answers you seek. By then you will have completed your training here. Already you are better than most any warrior that has lived with us. Your skills and connection exceed all of our expectations and you will be missed, but you have no choice. You must and will go. Na ne le (it is so).”
After this was said, they all sat in meditation for a while before Meechgalanne was asked to leave.
One full moon had passed and the people were ready to start their journey north. The weather was warm and calm. All were in good health and ready for their move. The scouts had a path laid out for many days walking. Camp was struck and the tribe was on the move. The usual travel order was organized as the people walked north through the mountain ranges that ran west to east across this part of the country. Their route went from the Blue Ridge Mountains above what is now the town of Bethel, Pennsylvania to the Susquehanna River, north to the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York. Along their trip they had to avoid many white settlements that dotted the land. They slipped by undetected for many miles through mountains and valleys.
One night while resting in the rolling hills just west of the Catskill Mountains in southern New York, a scout brought back a sick woman and her daughter. They were found in the woods not far from a white camp. The woman was badly beaten and her daughter was emaciated and exhausted. Kikey Nachgohuman quickly took them both to a nearby stream and began gathering plants that would help them both in growing stronger and to help heal the woman’s wounds. The tribe stayed there until the two newcomers had returned to health. It did not take long. Apparently, the woman and her daughter were full-blooded Wawarsink. The Wawarsink Native Americans were part of the Munsee people in the Catskill Mountain area. The Munsee were the northern most kin of the Lenni Lenape tribal system. The woman’s husband, also a full blood, was sick with the white man’s firewater and treated her and her daughter very badly. He was killed by a white man’s gun and his wife and daughter fled into the forest. This is how they were found. They were accepted into the tribe and agreed to travel north and live with the tribe. A month later, they were given new names. The woman was called Lauchsoheen (One Who Makes Others Happy) because of her glowing personality. Her daughter, who was two winters younger than Kikey Gawi, was given the name Quekolistit (Little Whippoorwill) because she liked to hum a tune similar to that of the whippoorwill.
After three full moons of walking, the scouts led the tribe to their new home. It was deep in the North Mountains alongside a small lake. This land was so much different from their previous home, but nonetheless, it was beautiful. The land was lush and very fertile. There were no other people to be found for weeks of walking. The lakes and streams were filled with fish and water birds. The forest teemed with an abundance of wildlife. The flat area to the west of the lake was well sheltered by pines and boulders strewn about and the next week was dedicated to setting up their new home in this area.
About a month later Meechgalanne had finished his training. His father Pischk gave him the proper warrior ceremony and declared Meechgalanne Gegekhuntschik (Chosen One). This is the equivalent to a Grandmaster of today’s martial arts. This was a great honor for father and son. A celebration took place in the end of the New Growth Moon (August) to honor Meechgalanne and to honor the land which they now called home. This seemed like the most remote place left in the northeastern part of the country. A place forgotten by the whites because of its remote, secluded location. The people had a good feeling about their new home.
Meechgalanne was not as happy as the others, for he had a lot on his mind. He had to prepare himself to leave his family and tribe to journey out into the Great Turtle Island (North America). He needed to search for the answers to his vision which weighed heavily on his mind.
In the Leaf Falling Moon, Pischk’s mother became very ill with a strange disease and died suddenly. Nothing Kikey Nachgohuman or his son could do seemed to help her. She was very old and had a hard life, but she also lived a happy one. It was looked at as being good that she died before the hardships of winter came.
Meechgalanne had been getting along with Tschimalus very well over the last few moons. Kikey Gawi did not mind for he knew Meechgalanne would be good to his younger sister. No one in the tribe saw this relationship as bad either. Papesu Moskimus seemed very pleased that her daughter found happiness with this fine young warrior. Meechgalanne and Tschimalus saw a lot of each other that winter.
Meechgalanne continued training everyday on his own since he had a lot of information to keep fresh in his mind now that he was Gegekhuntschik. He also had a lot of frustration to get out of his heart. He was only 20 winters and leaving his tribe, the only people he had ever known, was going to be the hardest thing he had ever done. His best friend was still training hard under Kikey Nachgohuman. Kikey Gawi was very talented at being a medicine man. This was good because his father was old and it was hard to say just how much longer he would live.
The weather in the tribe’s new home was much harsher than down in the lower mountains of the Blue Ridge. The winter was very harsh to the people and they were struggling because they had not been in their new home long before the bitter winds came sweeping down from the cold land. The icy white snow from above fell heavily upon the land. It was much deeper and lasted much longer than they were accustomed to. The tribe made wide shoes to be able to travel more easily through the white powder which turned wet and heavy. It was hard to stalk quietly while hunting. Luckily, the animals could not move fast enough through this hard crust of slush to escape the hunter’s arrows. The deer were plentiful and provided a lot of good meat for their soups. The hides were large and kept the people sheltered and warm. The bones were used for many useful and necessary tools, which, when combined with the hard river stone and rawhide from the ground hog, lasted a good long while. The tallow waterproofed their shoes and hide hats as well as their clothes. Fires had to be kept going most of the winter to dry meat, clothes, wood and hair. The fire beings did not like the taste of wet, soggy wood which scattered the land so plentifully. The moss and excess fat from the hunts provided small lanterns but the fires provided most of the lighting.
One night as Meechgalanne lay in his deer hide bed, he heard a wind coming through the tree tops. It was telling of a blizzard not far behind. He woke Pischk and Wenamhok in their wigwam and told them what he had heard. Pischk said he too heard the warning and said the people must be warned. They quickly woke all the people and told them of the approaching storm. Everyone scattered in the dark, gathering all their wood and food along with anything else that would fit in the wigwams. The hot fire coals were gathered and brought into the huts as the wind picked up and snow began to fly.
The temperatures dropped as the front of the storm approached. Now all were inside their homes listening to the howling wind pounding heavy snow down on the roofs. Meechgalanne lay in his bed next to the warm fire drifting in and out of a dreamy state of consciousness. When he finally awoke it was daybreak but he couldn’t really tell. The blizzard was raging outside stronger than ever. As he and his mother and father stayed in their beds and stoked the fire, they ate small amounts of their food, for no one knew how long the storm would last. Meechgalanne could not help but wonder how the rest of the people were doing. He got up and peeked outside but only for a moment. The snow was blinding and the air was like icy knives stabbing at his skin. He couldn’t even see the other wigwams that stood right next to his.
As he sat and talked quietly with his parents about what had to be done to help the tribe when the storm stopped, he thought he heard something very faint. Pischk heard nothing but said he felt that someone not far outside their door was in trouble. The two warriors, father and son, quickly put on as many clothes as they had and smeared their skin around each eye with black coal to help keep down the glare of the snow. They rushed out the door into snow that was already up to the mid thigh. They could see almost nothing in the white empty landscape. They stuck close to each other and moved with caution so as to not get lost. They tripped over something or someone in the snow. They reached down and pulled Tschimalus out of the snow. She was not moving but she was alive.
Pischk and Meechgalanne quickly brought Tschimalus back to their wigwam. After clearing the snow from the door entrance they brought her inside. She was freezing and soaking wet. Wenamhok stripped all off Tschimalus’ clothes and put her into her own bed. Meechgalanne was cooking some snow with some of the bark from the birch and needles from the pine trees. Wenamhok got into bed with Tschimalus to help her get warm. Slowly Tshimalus started to wake up. Just as Meechgalanne was giving her some hot drink, someone fell onto the front of their wigwam. Pischk opened the door and found Kikey Gawi with news that his sister was missing. When he came inside he was so happy to find his sister safe in the home of Meechgalanne’s family.
After they all sat and warmed themselves by the fire for a while, Kikey Gawi said they should check the other huts to see if anyone needed anything. Meechgalanne said he would stay and watch Tschimalus but Pischk told him that he would stay with Tschimalus and Wenamhok.
Pischk said, “You two young men will go because I’m not as strong anymore.”
Pischk then reminded his son that he was now the head warrior and Kikey Gawi was a medicine man and together they should help anyone in trouble. So they headed out into the storm. They knew the huts were laid out in a circle and this would help them find their way in the blinding white light. They each had a few supplies of food and medicine just in case they found someone who was sick. It was more like swimming through the snow than walking. The snow was up to their stomachs. They found the first hut and yelled through the door asking if everyone inside was all right. Lauchsoheen and Quekolistit answered that they were both fine. Kikey Gawi was happy to hear this because he had been having good feelings toward Quekolistit the past full moon. Even though he was freezing he felt good just to hear her voice.
So far everything seemed good with the people. As Meechgalanne and Kikey Gawi reached the last wigwam, the door of the wigwam flew open and they were pulled inside by Tatheleu. Tatheleu said his father was not well and was dying. Meechgalanne and Kikey Gawi were freezing and temporarily blinded from the darkness inside the wigwam. They struggled to fight the cold and strained to see. As they looked at Guhn Achgamhok, they saw his face was pale and blue-gray like the snow clouds above. Kikey Gawi quickly mixed up the right proportions of hawthorn, lobelia, cedar and some other medicinal plants for a tea and warmed some buckskin in hot water. He placed the buckskin on Guhn Achgamhok’s bare chest and sang a medicine song that was followed by a sacred chant. Meechgalanne and Tatheleu watched in silence as the wind and snow howled outside. After what seemed like forever, Guhn Achgamhok slowly opened his eyes. Kikey Gawi quickly reheated the buckskin and placed it on the old man’s forehead. A few moments had passed and he gave him the medicinal tea to drink. They stayed awhile longer to make sure Guhn Achgamhok would be alright. Kikey Gawi left instructions for Tatheleu. As they left, Tatheleu began his prayer and spirit dream work to help strengthen his father.
As the two friends found the hut of Pischk, the snow had begun to lighten a little bit. They entered the hut to find a warm fire and Tschimalus sitting by the fire and eating some soup. Meechgalanne’s parents smiled at the two young men and listened to the results of their mission. They were happy to hear that all had turned out for the better. Kikey Gawi left to return to his father and mother.
Another night passed before the storm stopped. The skies cleared and the temperatures dropped some more. Some of the people who had not ventured out in the storm had to crawl out the smoke holes in the roofs of their wigwams to keep the snow from filling the hut when the door was opened. The land was beautiful. White, untouched snow billowed over everything around. It was as deep as a man’s lower ribs. However, everyone knew that this beauty could easily kill the whole tribe. It took a lot of hard work to clear the camp and get things together so the people could gather wood for fires and hunt for food. It was amazing that everyone survived this brutal storm.
During the Hunger Moon (February), the Elders called Meechgalanne to a council meeting. Meechgalanne entered the wigwam and sat down. He smoked the sacred smoke and a sacred song was sung by Guhn Achgamhok. An offering was made to the six directions and the sacred 12 prayers were made. Then Guhn Achgamhok spoke in his calm clear voice.
He said, “Meechgalanne son of Pischk, you have been a great asset to my tribal family. You have followed the footsteps of your father and his father very well. You have made us all very proud. You have learned the old ways and understood and accepted them as well as myself and this is good. I can see your heart is a good one and you are on the right path. Your vision has given you a duty and responsibility to yourself, the tribe and the spirits that live in all things. Your time here in my tribe must come to an end. When the Green Grass Moon grows in the sky, you will begin your journey of solitude for the answers you seek. This journey will not be easy. It will require all of your training. You will be missed by all the people but you must and you will go. So, go now and prepare yourself for your journey.”
Meechgalanne left the meeting not knowing what to feel. He went off in the woods for three days to think and to ask the spirits to help and guide him.
To be continued… Journey Begins- Meechgalanne- part 7