The Emergence - Episode 8
Welcome to the continuing fictional saga about the life of a young female Indian warrior. The story is told with each episode moving back in time. This backward movement was chosen for a specific purpose to have the reader ask the question; why?
We are each our history and so as the story progresses contemplate the whys and see if what you believe led to the events was in fact true.
The young warrior has been named Kisuhs Nicanol (Moon Child). This name comes from the Passamaquoddy tribe of Eastern Maine. The use of words, traditions, ceremonies, and folklore within the story are also representative of the Passamaquoddy tribe. But the story is not meant to be a historical depiction of tribal events or its people. This story should be viewed as a work of fiction only. The author does not guarantee the proper use of the tribe’s language as it is a very complicated language and is in danger of disappearing. I hope you enjoy the story of Kisuhs Nicanol.
The Emergence – Episode 8
Kisuhs Nicanol stretched under the warmth of her bearskin blanket. She slowly opened her eyes and watched the light dance on the upper planks of the ptoqikan (wigwam). Mihtaqsit (father) had built a fire before departing for the elder’s morning prayers. She wanted to lay there and enjoy the warmth and the light dance for a few moments before rising to face another lonely day.
Her thoughts returned, as they so often did, to that day two winters ago . Tears of sadness filled her eyes and she turned to look towards the fire. In past winters she would have seen her mother kneeling by the fire preparing the morning meal but now she was alone in the ptoqikan. Kisuhs Nicanol allowed the grief to wash over her and turned her face to cry silently into the soft bearskin bedding.
Each morning she allowed herself these few moments to grieve for her loss but would then rise and splash cold water on her face to remove any sign of her tears. She knew the loss had been just as great for mihtaqsit (father) and she didn’t want to add to his burden.
Before she could prepare herself for his return mihtaqsit (father) entered the ptoqikan. Kisuhs Nicanol turned her face away from the doorway and used the back of her hands to quickly wipe away her tears.
“Kisuhs Nicanol, it is time to rise” mihtaqsit (father) began brusquely, “and for you to bring an end your mourning”. Tears welled in her eyes and her throat tightened in emotion as she listened to the harsh words. She tried to speak but her father continued; “the kehcikotonecik (elders) have been discussing your isolation and they do not believe it is right that you should hide in your ptoqikan, afraid to face the world.” “Rise up Kisuhs Nicanol for soon you will begin your training to become a true somakonossusq (female warrior).”
He fell silent and she knew he expected her to speak. “But mihtaqsit (father) I cannot face the accusing eyes of the people”. “I cannot face Running Deer; she will never forgive me for what I have done”. “How can you ask me to do this?” Her voice quivered as she spoke. She could not do as he asked; she did not deserve to return to a normal life, he above all should understand.
Mihtaqsit (father) continued his lecture; “So nicanol (child), you expect others to continue to provide for us?” “Running Deer returned to the hunt and filled our food bin last winter”. “Is it fair that she should continue to perform the duties that are now yours?” “You are no longer a nicanol (child) and since your mother is no longer with us to fulfill the duties of a tribal woman, those duties now fall upon you”.
The bluntness of his words and the reminder of her mother’s death cut like a knife through the young somakonossusq heart. She couldn’t believe this was the kind mihtaqsit who had held her so many nights when her grief had threatened to overwhelm her. “Mihtaqsit”, she began, but he raised a hand to silence her protests.
“It is time Kisuhs Nicanol for you to take your place with the other somakonossusq of the tribe”. “Now rise up from your bed and put on your buckskins; you will join the other women in preparing the bride for her marriage”.
“Who is to marry father?” she asked quietly. Hearing of another’s marriage brought more sadness.
His answer startled her; and she quickly rose to her feet; “Running Deer is entering into another marriage and perhaps with the help of the spirits, she will once again be blessed with a child”.
This news couldn’t have surprised Kisuhs Nicanol more. “But who is she to marry father?” “All the men of the tribe are either already married or old”. “You are the only man of her age that has no wife”. Her voice rose higher; “It is not you is it mihtaqsit?” “Please tell me Running Deer is not to be my new mother!”
Mehtaqsit frowned in his displeasure at her words. “No Kisuhs Nicanol, I will not remarry”. “Running Deer will marry the kci-skicin (high elder)”. “He has been alone for many seasons and is lonely for the companionship of a woman”. “He asked Running Deer to be his wife and she agreed”.
The reminder of Running Deer’s lone status made Kisuhs Nicanol feel ashamed of her outburst. She should feel happiness that Running Deer would no longer face life alone. “That is wonderful news mihtaqsit and I’m happy for the kci-skicin (high elder) and Running Deer”.
“That is good my nicanol (child) because you will go to Running Deer’s ptoqikan (wigwam) and help the other women prepare her for the marriage ceremony which will be at sunset”.
“They are to marry today?” she asked in amazement. “Why is this to happen so quickly?”
“It was not quick Kisuhs Nicanol” her father replied. “They have been promised since before we left the summer encampment in the valley”. “I had hoped you would have rejoined life in the tribe by now. The kehcikotonecik (elders) helped me see that I must drag you from this life of mourning you have built for yourself”. “It is time to rejoin the living and say farewell to dead”.
His words stung but Kisuhs Nicanol knew he was right. “You are right mihtaqsit (father)”. “I will dress and go offer Running Deer my services in preparing for the ceremony”, she said calmly.
She went to a basket by her bedding and pulled the buckskins and moccasins she had made last winter. They hadn’t been worn but neatly stored away. In her darkest days of grief she had made them with the thought that they would be her death robes. She had then stored them where they could easily be found by her mihtaqsit when she threw herself off the cliffs. But she could not bring herself to take the cowards way out. After thinking about her plan she realized that it would not be fair to bring more grief to mihtaqsit. He had lost enough because of her. He and Running Deer had both suffered as a result of her poor judgement and childish games.
After dressing and sharing a morning meal with mihtaqsit Kisuhs Nicanol walked the short distance to Running Deer’s ptoqikan. She could hear the chatter of the tribes’ women and she nervously knocked on the wooden post of the doorway. After being given permission to enter she pushed aside the heavy bearskin covering on the doorway and stepped into the incense perfumed room.
Kisuhs Nicanol was surprised by the scene before her. The women weren’t gathered around Running Deer preparing her hair or rubbing herb infused oils into her skin. The women were seated in a circle holding hands. What she thought was the excited chatter when the women gathered for such celebrations was actually chanting. She wasn’t familiar with the ceremony she was witnessing. When Running Deer and the other women looked up and saw Kisuhs Nicanol standing in the doorway the chanting ceased. They were now all staring at her and in unison turned to look at Running Deer as if awaiting her reaction.
Running Deer slowly rose to her feet and walked the short distance between them. Her approach sent a shiver of fear down the young woman’s spine. She dropped her head to avoid the hatred she saw in the other woman’s eyes.
“So you came", the other woman said in a sneering voice. “It is good that you came so you can learn of the clan”.
“The clan?” Kisuhs Nicanol asked questioningly.
“Yes, the clan”, Running Deer replied. “The women decided that the tribal laws were too weak”. “Each of these somakonossusq has vowed to protect the members of the tribe so innocent lives are never again sacrificed”. “We know that we are disobeying the kehcikotonecik (elders) and tribal law by forming this clan but we believe we had no choice”. Running Deer paused a moment and then said; “look around you Kisuhs Nicanol and see what you have done”.
Kisuhs Nicanol looked at the circle of faces that were now turned towards her. All around her she saw anger. Young women that had once been her childhood playmates now looked upon her with hatred. She bowed her head and whispered softly; “I am sorry Running Deer, I never meant for anyone to be harmed”. “I was young and stupid”. “I do not expect you to forgive me; I only wanted to come and help you prepare for the ceremony”. “I will leave you to your preparations”.
Kisuhs Nicanol turned to leave but Running Deer grabbed her arm in a tight grip and said loud enough for the entire room to hear; “tomorrow I will be The Sakomasq (wife of the chief) and that is how you will address me from this day forward, do you understand?”
Kisuhs Nicanol answered simply: “Yes, Sakomasq”.
Satisfied with the answer the sakomasq continued; “You will speak of the clan to no one, not even your mihtaqsit.” “Because of his kindness and strength in my time of grief and our friendship since childhood, I have agreed to train you in the ways of the somakonossusq”. “Do not be mistaken that this is an act of kindness towards you or your weak mother”. “After I am done with you, you will wish that you had died with her that day”. “Do you understand?”
Again, Kisuhs Nicanol answered simply; “Yes, Sakomasq”.
The Sakomasq turned and returned to her place in the clan circle. Kisuhs Nicanol stood silently, not knowing if she should leave or stay. Her dilemma was solved when the Sakomasq said abruptly; “Leave my ptoqikan; your presence and services are not welcomed here”. “But have no doubt Kisuhs Nicanol, your service to the clan has only begun”. “Heed this warning; if you betray us or fail to follow our instructions your spirit will join your mother but your body will be left to feed the vultures”. “There will be no one that can protect or save you”. The young woman turned to leave but the Sakomasq finished with one final knife through Kisuhs Nicanol’s heart. “Just as no one saved my son”, the Sakomasq spat out with venomous anger.
When Kisuhs Nicanol left the ptoqikan, rather than return to mihtaqsit she turned towards the forest and began to run. She reached her and Little Bear’s special place and fell to her knees. Here her loud sobs could be heard only by the inhabitants of the forest. Her grief was so consuming she did not hear nor see the malsum (wolf) pack that was resting in the shadow of the trees nearby.
The Alpha malsum approached slowly and watched the young woman, puzzled by her sounds. She sniffed the air and then turned and looked towards the pack. They began to spread out through the forest until they were encircling the sobbing woman. In silence they laid upon the ground, each keeping a watchful eye on their charge. The Alpha had realized that this was the pup of their tall friend. Her scent was that of the human who kept the pack safe from the tall hunters and fed them in the cold winters when game was scarce. They would protect this pup from others of the forest who might look upon her as their next meal.
The saga of Kisuhs Nicanol is nearing its end. In the next episode the readers will learn the answers to their: Why? questions. Perhaps then they will understand the anger of Running Deer (The Sakomasq).
We are each our history. Suffering from grief, being unable to forgive, or being unable to accept a loss, can have devastating effects on who we are and how we live our lives.
Join me in Episode 9; The Shifting Tide where you'll find your answers. Perhaps you will gain some compassion for The Sakomasq and not judge her too harshly.
In Episode 10 (name undecided) I will finish the saga by returning to Episode 1 where Kisuhs Nicanol hangs precariously on the cliffs and the final question of; 'What happens next?' will be answered.
IMAGE: Indian girl with Spirit Wolf. Artist unknown; https://americanindianteapartynation.wordpress.com/
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If you missed the previous episodes they can be found through the links below in chronological order:
I would love to know what you think of my first fictional series! All comments and relevants are welcome!