The Strait : Chapter 4 : Miogwewe continues
(1934 - 1985)
Fredy Perlman (August 20, 1934 – July 26, 1985) was an American author, publisher, professor, and activist. His most popular work, the book Against His-Story, Against Leviathan!, details the rise of state domination with a retelling of history through the Hobbesian metaphor of the Leviathan. Though Perlman detested ideology and claimed that the only "-ist" he would respond to was "cellist," his work as an author and publisher has been influential on modern anarchist thought. (From : Wikipedia.org.)
The leaves have fallen forty-two times since the day Shutaha ran up the embankment of Bison Prairie convinced that we had reached the place her father had sought?! didn’t know what Shutaha saw. When Nopshinga and I left Bison Prairie and reached Chacapwe’s lodge on the Strait, I knew Shutaha had found her center, but I didn’t feel it as mine. When I returned to Bison Prairie with Sagikwe, I felt even further from my center. Yet now, as we bank our canoes on Kekionga’s tree-lined shore, I see as Shutaha must have seen. I recognize Kekionga as the place I’m seeking. The carryingplace between tKe eastern Lakes and the sunset, between the Strait and the valleys of the Wabash is the center where I want to remain.
As soon as we arrive, my Nopshinga’s niece, fatherless Ubankiko, asks me to arrange a founding ceremony and guides me to the lodges of her village. Pyerwa beams to me. Their Mani, already turning into a woman, immediately adopts my granddaughter Menoko. Ubankiko takes me to lodges of Prairiekin from every valley between the Peninsula’s wrist and the Long River. And she takes me to lodges of guests from east and south, men who dress like Invaders and speak like Winamek. They’re Rootkin of the ancient Eastbranch and Southbranch.
I immediately ask the question Wedasi asked Winamek: do they remember themselves as Rootkin? And they do! A man of the Southbranch remembers the embroilments and the wanderings. And a man of the Eastbranch, Lenapi, enters his lodge and reemerges with a scroll. I beg him to untie the scroll. My heart misses a beat. It’s like the fragment in Ozagi’s bundle, but it’s complete. It’s what Wedasi spent his life seeking, a scroll from the old times. I recognize the edge of the first water, the path followed by the first Neshnabek, the land of ice, the arrival in Kichigami, the first meeting with Tellegwi and Talamatun. There I stop. Lenapi tells me the rest. I see his ancestors after Wiske’s great embroilment, moving eastward with Talamatun. At the scroll’s end I see Lenapi’s Eastbranch ancestors reaching their center on the Oceanshore.
I dance with abandon at the founding ceremony. Kukamigokwe’s ghost has not followed me to Ubankiko’s village. Every omen is good.
I want to share my joy with my Mangashko, to dry the tears she still sheds for her dead Eagle. But Mangashko continues to see with Sagikwe’s eyes. She sees only the scars. To her, the guests are Rootkin only in speech. Mangashko sees that what draws Ubankiko to the guests is not the scroll or the memory of ancient days.
Ubankiko, like Pyerwa, is drawn to the objects the guests bring from the Eastern River. She stretches to the world of objects Shutaha’s dream of transplanting healthy shoots. Ubankiko has adopted not only Pyerwa but also beads, pots, hatchets, knives, kettles, awls, blankets, clothing, and poisons made from grapes and grains.
Mangashko knows that these are not earth’s gifts but the Invaders’. She knows that the Invaders do not give lovingly, as earth does. She sees our hunters depopulating forests of their living beings to satisfy the Invaders’ insatiable hunger for dead animals. She sees that Ubankiko and Lenapi, like the Scabeaters, no longer know the use of stone, bark, bones or quills. Mangashko, like Yahatase, keeps the disabling objects out of our lodge. She longs to repeat Shutaha’s feat of feeding all the unearthly gifts to a great fire.
Ubankiko regards the Invaders’ gifts as the very ground on which her village can grow. She doesn’t regret losing the ancient knowledge and ways. Her main fear is that she’ll lose access to the new things.
Word comes that the Strait’s headman intends to plunder those who gather furs without his permission. Ubankiko and Pyerwa hurry to the Strait to seek that permission. Man! goes with them to visit her grandmothers.
I seem to have moved beyond Winamek’s reach, but not beyond that of his allies. The Strait’s long-membered Scabeaters can’t bear to leave Kekionga alone. They want their enemies to be ours. They want Pyerwa not only to seek permission. They want Pyerwa to carry all his furs to the Strait and give none to Southbranch or Eastbranch or Redearth kin who carry them to Serpents and Oceanshore Invaders.
Pyerwa returns from Tiosa Rondion shackled with a friend, a young Scabeater called Shen. Permission is granted to the friends, but only so long as they remain friends. The Scabeaters know what strengthens their ways. The friends are to act on each other like the armed men in their enclosures. They are to keep each other inside.
It’s Mani who gives me an account of the visit to Tiosa Rondion. She comes to me with Shen’s sister Manyan, a child halfway between Mani and Menoko in age. While Man! speaks, I hear things my Mangashko seems deaf to. Mani, barely a woman, speaks not as a Scabeater’s daughter nor even as Chacapwe’s granddaughter. She speaks as Shutaha’s child and Yahatase’s grandchild. She scattered seeds alongside Shutaha as I once did alongside Yahatase. She learned Shutaha’s songs and dreamed in Shutaha’s fasting lodge. She looks back to Yahatase the way I look back to the Neshnabek of the fourth age. She has no more use for her mother’s objects than Wedasi or Yahatase did. To Mani the objects are scabs that form on wounds. She’s unhappy about the changes brought to her Tiosa Rondion by the Scabeaters. She tells me the coast of the Strait is lined with square lodges. The vines and fruit trees are destroyed. The fields behind the lodges are divided by ugly pickets. Deer and bear can no longer be seen. Cows and horses eat all the grass. On beautiful Rattlesnake Isle, pigs eat everything. Fish Isle is full of Scabeaters’ refuse. Only the Isle of Fruit Trees and the Isle of White Trees remain as she remembers them.
When Manfs young friend Manyan speaks, I hear things that make Shutaha dream. Manyan wants me to build her a fasting lodge. She’s as much a Neshnabek child as Mangashko’s daughter Menoko. Yet Manyan and her older brother Shen were born to Scabeaters of Hochelaga. Her mother died soon after Manyan’s birth. Her traveler father took the youth and the girlchild to Tiosa Rondion. One day she heard an owl’s screech and a dog’s howl and saw a canoe with twelve men in the northern sky. She knew her father would not return. While her brother, as fluent as she in Rootspeech, mingled with Scabeaters, Manyan grew up in Chacapwe’s lodge. She speaks of Black- robes as clowns. She wears a cross but considers it nothing more than an ornament. She describes the armed men of the enclosure as dogs who pull Stadacona’s travois, and she tells me her view is shared by most of the Strait’s Scabeaters. Tears come to my eyes when I listen to this child. I realize that Shutaha was not demented when she dreamed of Scabeaters turning into Turtles. While Ubankiko reaches for the Invaders’ things and ways, the children of Scabeaters are recovering the dreams and ways of Turtlefolk and Rootkin.
Sagikwe’s son arrives in Kekionga with his friend Mota and a band of young carriers. Ozagi, a fat and cheerful youth who continues to act and look like Chebansi, tells us Bison Prairie has become insupportable even to Nangisi. Wabskeni returned from Mishilimakina with a crosswearing wife and a son who bears a Scabeater’s name, something like Nagmo. Wabskeni arrived with numerous Scabeaters, some of them manhunters, others Winamek’s allies from the Hochelaga fur gang. The manhunters were invited by Wabskeni to protect him from reprisals by Lamina. Wabskeni and his Scabeater army are bent on eliminating the Redearth kin from the western Lakes. The manhunters are fed by Winamek and the fur gang Scabeaters. Winamek expects all hunters and carriers to give him all the furs they gather. He even expects Kekionga hunters to take their furs to him, out of loyalty toward the three fires and enmity toward the Serpents of the other shore.
Winamek expects as much as he ever did. But his newly enlarged league consists only of the enlargements; it has no core. When Sagikwe spat in his face five springs ago, Winamek’s admirer became his foe. Sagikwe, never a lover of the Scabeaters’ gifts, went among the wives of carriers and shamed them for abandoning earthen bowls, stone knives, quills and roots. She shared her secrets of herb-gathering, quilling and canoe- shaping with girls whose mothers had forgotten them. She showed that earth was ornamented by flowers, leaves and quills, not by glass beads and metal crosses. The Rootwomen of Bison Prairie heard Sagikwe, and they avoided Winamek and rejected his gifts. Bison Prairie’s Rootkin soon had so little to do with Winamek, one would have thought the two camps lay on opposite ends of the Peninsula.
When Rootkin abandoned Winamek, Nangisi and his carriers had no choice but to abandon him. Nangisi was given little for his furs. The fur gang even skimped on its poisoned water. And thanks to Sagikwe, Nangisi found few who were grateful for the little he could give. So he finally decided to let Kukamigokwe’s big man and her son play their games with each other. Nangisi and his carriers went to Tiosa Rondion, whose Scabeaters treat manhunters and the fur gang as obstacles to circumvent. There Nangisi found free-flowing poison water as well as beads, knives, hatchets and firesticks. He intended to take these gifts toward the sunset, to bison hunters who roast a bear in its skin, singe the fur off animal skins and use pelts only for winter clothes. He wanted to carry his and his uncle’s ways to people who still remember his grandmother’s.
Mota and Ozagi accompanied Nangisi to the Strait. But they stayed only long enough to learn that Tiosa Rondion’s armed Scabeaters had plundered a band of carriers returning with gifts from the Eastern River. Mota remembered that Ken- dawa had been similarly plundered. Mota vowed to return to the Strait only with war paint. Like his idol Kendawa, Mota thinks free men carry their furs wherever they please. He brought his friend to Kekionga to seek the Redearth kin who make paths toward the sunrise. He and Ozagi are enchanted to sweat and smoke with Kekionga’s Eastbranch and Southbranch Rootkin, and eager to join their caravan to the Eastern River.
Ozagi moved from his aunt’s adoption to his mother’s rejection of Scabeaters during his childhood in Tiosa Rondion. As a boy in Bison Prairie, he was exposed to Sagikwe’s admiration and my antipathy toward Wiske and Nangisi and Winamek. Although nearly killed by Winamek’s son, Ozagi did not turn his back on carriers when his mother set out to shame them. He moved between Sagikwe and Nangisi, impersonating each to the other, as Chebansi had done so well. Quicker than Chebansi and more independent, he has a trait his father lacked, a trait he shares with Nangisi. Ozagi is ever ready to absolve himself of responsibility. Like his grandfather Wedasi, he refuses to use firesticks. But he’s willing to carry them to those who use them. How else could he gather furs, he asks with a self-justifying twinkle.
Mani notices her young uncle’s twinkle. The two children of Tiosa Rondion are drawn to each other. But their view of each other is brief. The eastbound caravan leaves Kekionga accompanied by the two youths and their band.
The Scabeaters have long, restless members which they seem unable to keep from prowling into every tree hollow. A band of uniformed manhunters arrives in Kekionga, headed by a Scabeater called Lekomanda Shak, a member of the Hochelaga fur gang. They raise a large square lodge and surround it with a picketed enclosure. Lekomanda Shak spreads the word that he’s come to protect us from invasion by eastern Serpents.
Man! and Manyan tell me the armed men are here to stop Kekiongans from carrying furs to the Eastern River. Mani tells me the Scabeaters’ headman called her father dissipated and revoked his permission to gather furs. Pyerwa drinks eastern poisons. Pyerwa shares his gifts with his kin, unlike Manyan’s brother Shen, who hoards gifts. The armed men are here to attack Shutaha’s dream, to make Pyerwa a hoarder like the other Scabeaters. Their enclosure exists to protect the hoards from angry kin.
Manyan says the Scabeaters are recruiting Rootkin for a war against Lamina and the Redearth kin who still keep Scabeaters from landing on the sunset shore of Mishigami.
Pyerwa’s former friend Shen rushes to ingratiate himself with the uniformed fur league member.
I judge that it’s best to do like Sagikwe: ignore them, isolate them, if possible starve them out of Kekionga. I show my quiet granddaughter the secrets of pelt dressing. I build her a fasting lodge. In the midst of all the alarms and apprehensions, Menoko dreams of deer, beaver and muskrats calling her to enjoy the clear water of a stream, the peaceful sunset, the rustle of leaves in the wind. The child of Mangashko and Kendawa has none of their rage. She’s like a butterfly who sees only flowers. I can think of no one like her. Perhaps my mother or Yahatase’s sister Mani were such peaceful spirits.
Outside of Menoko there is no peace. Lekomanda Shak’s armed men ambush and plunder the caravan returning from the Eastern River. The Eastbranch and Southbranch kin are forced to move elsewhere. Mota and Ozagi are maltreated and taken to the enclosure.
Mangashko rages against the murderers of Ahsepona and the Redearth kin. She calls Prairiekin to a council. There’s talk of sending warbelts to Lamina and to Prairiekin of the western valleys.
Ubankiko urges Pyerwa to talk to his friend Shen. But Shen is deaf to Pyerwa; he has a new friend now. Ubankiko turns to Manyan, but the girl refuses to talk to her brother. Manyan says she’ll welcome the Redearth warrior Lamina into Kekionga, and she’ll take him to her mat if he’ll have her.
Menoko, who has been crying since she learned of the maltreatment of Mota and Ozagi, takes her tears to Manyan. She begs. She abhors the thought of war. Fratricidal war in Kekionga is inconceivable to her.
Manyan cannot but bend to her young friend’s entreaties. She speaks to her brother. Shen goes to Lekomanda Shak. The two Scabeaters council for a whole afternoon.
Suddenly there’s a flurry of activity. Shen rushes to Pyer- wa’s lodge. Ubankiko emerges with him and says their friendship will resume. Pyerwa doesn’t emerge.
Mota and Ozagi are released from the enclosure. Their plundered gifts are returned.
Ozagi invites all Kekionga to a feast. He shares poisoned water with everyone, even the armed Scabeaters who enclosed him. He says the Oceanshore Invaders call their drink Wiske. It waters dry fields and reconciles enemies. And it seems to do just that. Kekionga fills with laughter. Mangashko drinks alongside Ubankiko.
Mota carries blankets, cloth and beads to his deliverer, Menoko. The girl wears her emotions like outer garments. Before the release she was all gloom. Now she’s all rapture. Menoko accepts the gifts with such radiant joy that she makes all the rage and apprehension seem like no more than a preparation for this moment of bliss. Mota had not noticed Menoko before he had learned of her tears. Now he notices nothing else.
Ozagi gives an amulet to his niece Mani and a packet of cloth to Manyan. Mani is ready to welcome Ozagi to her lodge.
But Ozagi is eager for more adventure. He wants to carry his gifts into the monster’s very jaws, into Winamek’s Bison Prairie. No Mota will save him from the murderous Wabskeni this time. But Ozagi insists there’s nothing to fear. He says he wants to express his gratitude to Winamek and Wabskeni, just as he’s thanking Lekomanda Shak. He says the Oceanshore Invaders on the Eastern River do not give much to their allies. But when they learned that Mota and Ozagi were enemies, they couldn’t give them enough. It was their fear of Lekomanda’s and Wabskeni’s manhunters that made them so generous.
Shutaha’s nephew thinks he can slip the eastern gifts into Bison Prairie under the very noses of Winamek and Wabskeni. He says all the carriers will welcome the gifts. The enclosed Scabeaters, who hate Winamek’s stinginess, will beg the carriers for poisoned water. If Wabskeni tries to pounce, no one will join him. His own manhunters will beg Ozagi to go east and return with more.
We hear no word from Ozagi. We begin to fear he wasn’t able to keep the jaws from closing. Mani is often in tears.
Mota leaves Kekionga to seek Lenapi, hoping to find Ozagi with him.
Menoko makes a cloth and bead animal, a beaver or a bear, with Mota’s gift to her. Just as Shutaha left me her pendant when she left Bison Prairie, Menoko intends to give the animal to Mani when the friends separate.
Pyerwa and Ubankiko avoid me. Ubankiko behaves strangely. She seems to be hiding something. The Scabeater Shen visits her lodge frequently, but not to visit Pyerwa. It seems almost as if Shen resumed his friendship, not with Pyerwa, but with Ubankiko.
Mota returns from the east with Lenapi and with more gifts, but without Ozagi. Mota thinks Wabskeni may have killed Ozagi for his audacity. Mani despairs.
Mota tells us Ozagi underestimated the ferocity of the monster he wanted to play with. With Lenapi’s help, Mota counciled with Oceanshore Invaders. He found them to know more than he about the Scabeaters’ movements and strengths, and much more than Ozagi knew. The Invaders moved their post from the Eastern River to a Turtlefolk village called Shuagan the shore of the Easternmost Lake. From this new post they have a clear view of the Scabeaters’ movements on the Lakes. They knew how many Scabeaters came to Kekionga with Lekomanda Shak three springs ago. They told Mota the same number of armed men had been placed at the Great Falls to keep our carriers from reaching the Eastern River. Four times that number had been placed in Bison Prairie, which the Scabeaters regard as their power center on the Lakes. Mota cannot believe that Ozagi safely carried his eastern gifts into the very center of this grasping power. Apparently the Scabeaters did not send more armed men to Tiosa Rondion. They must fear dissipation in Shutaha’s village.
Manyan says she dreamed that Lamina and his warriors were on their way to Kekionga. She has ceased to be close to Menoko and Mani. She’s contemptuous of their dread of war. She says that if Ozagi has any sense, then he’s not dead in Bison Prairie, but sharpening his arrows alongside Lamina.
Menoko is too taken up with Mota to notice Manyan’s distance. She accepts Mota’s gift. Her love is so great, it fills the body of everyone who looks at her. Life itself, when it first emerged from the water, couldn’t have been more exuberant. Mangashko tells me she feels her whole life has been moving toward this happy climax, the linking of her daughter with Mota.
Suddenly Ubankiko bursts through the happiness like a thunderstorm on a cloudless day. She announces she will make arrangements for the celebration to be a double one. She says Mani has consented to share her mat with the Scabeater Shen.
Manyan must have known this was coming. I begin to see why Ubankiko behaved so strangely.
Mani doesn’t come to consult me, so I go seek her.
My grandniece tells me she’s decided to do what Shutaha would have done. She’s sacrificing herself for Ubankiko’s village. She’ll make a Turtle out of Shen and out of all the Scabeaters who dare to come to Kekionga. She’ll transplant healthy shoots from their poisonous surroundings and place them in fertile soil. She wants Kekionga to be a gatheringplace of peoples from the four directions, like Shutaha’s Tiosa Rondion. She says she loves Ozagi but is convinced he’s dead.
I have nothing to say to Mani. I don’t believe Ozagi is dead. But I cannot insist, as Manyan does, that he’s with Lamina’s warriors. If he’s as much like Chebansi as I think him, he’ll go to battle only to avenge his mother’s death. He doesn’t even like to hunt.
Ubankiko makes her celebration coincide with the spring planting. It is not a happy event. The only joy comes from Mota and Menoko, and from the spring air. Ubankiko beams, but Pyerwa and Mani look miserable. Mani obviously dislikes Shen, and she misses Manyan. Shen misses Lekomanda Shak. I’m told the uniformed Scabeater thinks a linking ceremony can be held only in the idol-lodge of Tiosa Rondion’s Blackrobes. Man- gashko’s absence is felt by everyone. She already celebrated Menoko’s linking, and she refuses to celebrate Mam’s. She regards Shen a member of the clan who murdered Ubankiko’s father, Mam’s grandfather, Ahsepona.
While Mota prepares to accompany another caravan to the eastern post called Shuagan, several of Lenapi’s kinsmen from the Oceanshore arrive in Kekionga. Lekomanda Shak is now as generous to the men from the east as the other Invaders were to Mota and Ozagi. The Scabeater welcomes them and showers them with gifts.
The Eastbranch kin are fleeing from the Invaders to whom Mota carries furs. The Invaders strangled a peacemaker by hanging him from a tree with a rope around his neck. The peacemaker’s kin abandoned their ancestral home on the coastal river and fled to the Sunrise Mountains. Some of them continued westward in search of the Southbranch Rootkin in the Beautiful River’s valleys. There they learned of Lenapi’s presence among us.
Lenapi says Ozagi underestimated the ferocity of the Scabeaters. But Mota underestimates the Oceanshore Invaders, whom Lenapi considers still fiercer. Menoko joins me in listening to Lenapi’s every word.
Lenapi tells us his kinsmen keep the scrolls that remind them of the first Neshnabek and the journey to the Oceanshore. But they don’t need scrolls like those of our medicine lodges to remind them of the coming of the Invaders and their diseases. The invasion is inscribed on all their memories. He says the Invaders do not grow big by swallowing things they bring with them across the Ocean. They grow big by swallowing the world of the Rootkin.
Lenapi’s words remind me of those I heard Winamek deliver in the same quaint tongue when I was a girl. Lenapi tells that the Invaders were small and weak when they first disembarked on our Oceanshore. They begged for gifts. They begged to be taken by the hand as brothers. Rootkin gave the Invaders corn and squashes for their feasts, wood for their lodges, furs for warmth. The Invaders grew big from the Rootkin’s gifts. And the bigger they grew, the more they were able to swallow. Like their own cows and pigs, they take from earth every berry, shrub and blade. They take corn, animals, trees, and they leave their excrement—but only a small portion of that. The Invaders themselves swallow the biggest portion. Lenapi says their gifts are the excrement that they form out of all they swallow. He smiles when I tell him the gifts are scabs that form on earth’s wounds, and that the Invaders become voracious from eating the scabs. He says the Invaders’ gifts affect Rootkin the same way. After their world becomes depleted, Rootkin become small and weak. Now it’s the Rootkin who go to the Invaders to beg. But now the Invaders, surrounded by their excrement, have none to spare. The fleshless Rootkin are depleted to their bones. The Invaders give presents for the scalps of powerful people and the skins of lively animals, but not for bones. They remove the bones from view.
Lenapi says the Invaders in Shuagan are generous because we’re strong. He forecasts that they’ll turn mean when they swallow and deplete the world of the Great Lakes Rootkin.
Lenapi’s kinsmen think the Kekionga Scabeaters are altogether different birds. They seek to council with Lekomanda Shak and to give him a belt from their kin.
While the Eastbranch Rootkin smoke with the head Scabeater, Manyan announces she intends to take him to her mat. The girl hasn’t spoken to me and I assume she’s playing a prank. I cannot imagine her accepting the Scabeater merely to spite Mani.
I still haven’t learned Manyan’s secret when Ozagi turns up in Kekionga. No one expects him. The joy of seeing him is dampened by sadness for Mani. He brings numerous gifts. Mota sweats, smokes, drinks and councils with him to keep him from seeking out his niece.
Ozagi comes with horses from the Plains beyond the Long River, with barrels of liquid poison and with various ornaments and cloth. He tells us he returned to Bison Prairie and, as he had expected, the carriers welcomed his gifts. Wabskeni’s armed men drank most of his liquid poison and urged him to seek more. Ozagi intended to return to the Eastern River by way of Kekionga. He intended to bring eastern gifts to Mani.
But Nangisi was in Bison Prairie guiding a blackrobed traveler through the lakes and valleys. Nangisi invited his grandnephew and the two accompanied the Blackrobe as far as Cahokia, where the Great River of the Plains flows into the Long River. They were welcomed by Prairiekin and by Invaders who hail neither from the north nor the east but from the south. These are the Invaders who were ousted by the Stonelodge people at the time Nopshina and I celebrated our love. They’ve apparently returned. Nangisi, laden with gifts, returned to Tiosa Rondion.
Ozagi carried his gifts to Bison Prairie and once again walked proudly past Wabskeni. It was Sagikwe who stepped into her son’s path. Sagikwe said Rootkin grew strong by depending on earth’s gifts, not on the contrivances of distant sorcerers. Ozagi heard only her words. In his understanding, all gifts are earth’s gifts, and Rootkin always gathered all that earth generously offered them. He thinks earth is particularly generous now, when three clans of Invaders war against each other from three corners of the world. Each Invader gives more to his enemy’s allies than to his own. Ozagi has Chebansi’s ability to appear to each as the other’s ally. He’s riding on waves from crest to crest, just as his father did until Wabskeni murdered Shutaha’s son.
His gifts depleted, Ozagi intended for the second time to greet Mani in Kekionga. But my father once again turned up in Bison Prairie and invited Ozagi to join his caravan. They again went to Cahokia, but this time they separated.
Nangisi and his small band crossed the Long River with steel knives, firesticks, cloth, beads and poisoned water. They set out to cross the endless Plains in search of people who have not seen Invaders or their gifts. The ancient carrier still hasn’t heard his brother’s words. Of the earlier days he knows only Wiske. For Nangisi, the Beginning was not when life emerged from the sunrise, but when death emerged in disease-laden ships. His fourth age began when he started carrying the Invaders’ gifts to the people gathered around three fires. I imagine him lighting three fires at the foot of the Sunset Mountains. Nangisi is the host. Around the fires sit men who appear to be Stonelodge people, Turtlefolk of Earthlodges, bison-hunting Tellegwi. But none of them are what they appear. They’re all carriers.
Ozagi thinks Nangisi set out on his last journey.
Ozagi came directly to Kekionga.
Mani listens to Ozagi. She stands behind him, leaning on Menoko, visibly pregnant. In her eyes I see the sorrow of a broken heart mingling with rage at the ease with which her beloved excuses himself for not returning sooner.
Menoko cries. She sheds tears for her trapped friend. She also sheds tears for Ozagi. Earth is so generous, so ready to reciprocate love with love, she cannot understand Ozagi’s fondness for enmity.
Ozagi hears Menoko’s sob. He turns and sees pregnant Mani. His humor leaves him for an instant, only long enough to let him tell himself he’s not the one who failed her. She failed him. He’s absolved. He turns back toward the fire and acts as if he hadn’t seen her. He says he would lose his powers if he allied himself with one or the other enemy. To the Invaders, he’s hostile Winamek’s kinsman. To Winamek, he’s hostile Sagi- kwe’s son.
Ozagi’s words hurt Mani. If he had returned in time, Mani would not be allied to one of the enemies. But Ozagi isn’t remembering this. He’s seeking reasons that will rub away the pain of broken love. He ends his visit quickly and sets out toward Sagikwe.
I cannot bring myself to say anything to heartbroken Mani. I feel partly responsible. I said nothing before it was too late. Now I long to learn if Many an intends something equally foolish.
Suddenly both are out of reach. Ubankiko announces they’re leaving to celebrate the double linking ceremony in the Blackrobes’ idol-lodge in Tiosa Rondion. I’m left with Man- gashko, Menoko and Mota.
Man! returns from the Strait with a boychild, but without the joy that comes from new life. She seems miserable. Shen beams with pride, but he’s alone in his joy. Pyerwa smiles only to return his new grandson’s smile. Ubankiko’s face seems longer and older than it did when she left.
Lekomanda Shak and his uniformed Scabeaters return a moon later. Manyan confines herself to the picketed enclosure.
I notice Manx heading toward the enclosure. She doesn’t return to Ubankiko’s lodge until dark. That very night she comes to my lodge with her son, her blanket, and the amulet Ozagi gave her. There’s a frightening look in her eyes, something like Yahatase’s.
Menoko is all love. She embraces her older cousin as she would embrace her own child. My mother must have been such a sister to Yahatase. Unlike Menoko, it was Binesikwe who left her carrier’s lodge and took me to Yahatase’s. Menoko installs Mani on the spot where the bead and cloth animal perches on a shelf, Menoko’s own spot. She and Mota move to my corner. I don’t know if Menoko acts from the simple generosity of her own loving soul, or if my young granddaughter actually grasps all that tears Mani. Mangashko’s hostility toward our guest for sharing the Scabeater’s mat is softened by Menoko’s love, and by Mam’s condition.
At sunrise there’s a great commotion on the village coun- cilground. Shen threatens Lekomanda Shak with a firestick. All the enclosure’s Scabeaters surround the two men and shout to them in their tongue. Lekomanda and his men retreat into their enclosure and close the enraged Shen out.
Soon there’s word that Lekomanda Shak will go to the Strait to seek placement at a different post.
Vexed by my ignorance, I beg solicitious Menoko to grant Mani to me for a day.
Mani sobs uncontrollably. Between sobs she tells me she’s too ashamed to talk to me, ashamed of herself, of Ubankiko, of Ozagi.
Pretending to be angry, I tell her the time for shame is long past.
I learn from Mani that the embroilments began at the time when the armed Scabeaters plundered Mota and Ozagi. Shen counciled with Lekomanda Shak for an afternoon. The two reached an agreement. Then the uniformed Scabeater released Mota and Ozagi from the enclosure.
Mani knew nothing of the Scabeaters’ agreement. She assumed, as I did, that Shen had urged Lekomanda Shak to release our two youths instead of trying his strength against the angry Prairiekin counciling around Mangashko’s fire.
For Mani the troubles began with her mother’s strange behavior. Ubankiko repeatedly invited Shen to their lodge. She insisted Ozagi was dead and urged Man! to forget him. She said Rootkin would survive only by taking Invaders’ gifts to their lodges.
Ubankiko knew of the two Scabeaters’ agreement. Pyerwa knew nothing. He liked Ozagi, and he resented his former friend Shen’s frequent presence in his lodge.
When Mota returned from Shuagan and echoed Ubankiko’s guess of Ozagi’s fate, Mani gave in to her mother. She felt only bitter rage toward Ozagi when at last she saw him, six moons too late. Her young friend’s cold distance further embittered Mani. Manyan’s sudden resolve to accept the aging Scabeater was incomprehensible to Mani.
Having accepted the linking, Mani also accepted Shen’s invitation to a second ceremony in the idol-lodge on the Strait. A Blackrobe poured water and chanted, pretending to join Mani to Shen and Manyan to Lekomanda Shak. After the ceremony, Mani and Manyan separated, saying nothing to each other. Manyan accompanied Lekomanda Shak to the Scabeaters’ council of big men and their women, a council Manf calls Lemond.
Mani carried her weight to Chacapwe’s lodge. She was left with Chacapwe and Shutaha when Pyerwa and Ubankiko accompanied Shen to seek admission to Lemond.
Mani was giving early birth to her child when Pyerwa and Ubankiko returned from Lemond. Mani named her tiny son Mini. But the birth did not dispell the gloom. Pyerwa was like a beaten dog. Ubankiko was in tears. Lemond accepted Shen and Pyerwa and Manyan. It did not accept Ubankiko.
Chacapwe tried to console Ubankiko. Shutaha responded to Ubankiko’s tears with anger. Shutaha said many of the Scabeaters adopted by her and Chacapwe’s kin had changed their ways. They had learned the songs, dances and games of the original people. They could see the earth, sun, moon and sky, and enjoy what they saw. Their enjoyment was so great that they shed former skins which had kept them from seeing, feeling and moving freely. Young Invaders were turning into Turtlefolk and RootkinJShutaha said the Scabeaters’ headman in Stadacona and across the Ocean were alarmed by this transformation. Tiosa Rondion was the largest camp of Scabeaters on the western Lakes. Yet their armed men could not raise war parties as large as Bison Prairie’s, and their Blackrobes could not feed their idols as amply as the Blackrobes who had returned to Mishilimakina. Shutaha said Lemond was the Invaders’ arm for stopping this transformation. Lemond’s Scabeaters cultivated ignorance of our languages and songs. They did not exist to enjoy earth but to bind and break her, to make a cow of her, to make her yield milk and meat. They saw only what they could turn into food and loot. They saw trees as wood-bearers, animals as meat- and fur-bearers, earth herself as a grain-bearer, and other people as loot-bearers.
Shutaha said Ubankiko did not need to hover like a moth around Lemond’s fire. Ubankiko was Kekionga’s Lemond. She was turning Turtles and Roots into Scabeaters. Mani heard Shutaha’s words with intense shame. She insisted on returning to Kekionga immediately, with or without Shen.
As soon as Manyan returned to Kekionga, Mani threw Shutaha’s words at her friend. She asked why Manyan, who had been devoted to the Rootkin’s warrior, had accepted a warrior bent on destroying Rootkin.
Manyan was enraged. She said Mani and Ubankiko had done all the accepting, and the children of the linkings would all be theirs. In her rage, Manyan told everything. She said Ubankiko was a Scabeater, Menoko a frail flower who feared every breeze. She had thought her older guide Mani a human being. She couldn’t swallow her disappointment. When Ubankiko had entreated her to beg for Mota’s and Ozagi’s release, Manyan had refused. She had bent to Menoko’s entreaties. Her brother went to Lekomanda Shak and the two came to an agreement. The armed man released our youths because he liked the agreement, not because he heard the songs being sung at Mangashko’s fire. Lekomanda Shak had not known a woman during his forty and some winters. He had learned that Shen’s sister had not known a man during her seventeen springs. The Scabeater offered himself. Shen agreed to arrange a union between them, provided Lekomanda Shak restored Pyerwa’s permission to gather furs. Shen was not interested in Pyerwa’s permission, but in his daughter. And he knew he could not dangle the permission before Pyerwa’s eyes. He would dangle it before Ubankiko’s.
When Shen told his sister the conditions of the release, Manyan spat in his face and laughed. She said Mani would die before sharing her mat with Shen. She said Shen and Lekomanda Shak would encounter Lamina’s arrows. She wagered that if Man! ever gave Shen as much as a kind word, Manyan would turn against all she loved and accept the Scab- eater as her companion.
Mani cried that she hadn’t pushed Manyan to entreat her brother. She didn’t share Menoko’s fear of war. She would never have accepted Shen if Manyan had told her of the agreement.
Manyan said she wasn’t a cheat. She had made a wager and she would hold by it. She had always been guided by Mani. She would be guided by her one more time. Mam’s resolve arrived too late.
Mani was driven to distraction by her friend’s words. She said she would never stop loving Ozagi. She had agreed to sacrifice her love only when she thought Ozagi was dead, and then only because she thought Shutaha would have made such a sacrifice. But capitulation to the Scabeaters’ agreement wasn’t sacrifice. It was worse than cowardice. Mani rushed out of the enclosure determined to undo what she had done.
She abandoned her Scabeater’s lodge.
Shen thought Mani was enraged by Lemond’s treatment of her kin. He accused Lekomanda Shak of breaking the agreement, and challenged him. The headman of the enclosure had to choose between confronting his wife’s brother or leaving Kekionga.
The day she left, Manyan told Mani she had laughed in her brother’s face for the second time. She had told Shen that Mani hadn’t left him because of Lemond’s insults, but because she wasn’t linked to him. Mani was and would always be Ozagi’s bride. Manyan had won the wager.
Another armed man arrives in Kekionga to replace Man- yan’s Lekomanda Shak, a Lekomanda Darno. The Scabeater promptly invites Pyerwa to the enclosure and presents himself as Pyerwa’s new friend. Pyerwa tells me the friendship means that Lekomanda wants half the gifts Pyerwa receives for his furs. While demanding such generosity toward himself, Lekomanda urged Pyerwa to be less generous with his kin and to keep a hoard, like other Scabeaters.
Pyerwa acquires a friend, but Shen loses his permission to gather furs. The enraged Shen struts out of Pyerwa’s and Ubankiko’s lodge. Shen shouts into my lodge, vowing to prove himself a greater warrior than all the Laminas and Ozagis. Mangashko and Mota rush out to meet his challenge. But Shen has already set out to join a band of uniformed manhunters.
There’s a moment of peace, of undisturbed joy. Menoko gives birth to my great-grandson. She names him Oashi. Menoko gleams like the midsummer sun in a forest clearing. Even Mam’s eyes recover some of their lost mirth. Her Mini has acquired a cousin even smaller than himself. While the infant cousins reach for each other’s tiny hands, Menoko takes her cousin’s hand and guides her toward the sugar in the trees and the honey and corn in the fields. Mani knew where she could find shelter. Menoko sees the color of flowers and hears the humming of bees. She’s blind to all the struttings and deaf to all the noise.
More armed Scabeaters arrive in Kekionga’s enclosure. Neither Mangashko nor I can keep ourselves from seeing them. And Menoko’s Mota watches every move like an eagle. The eyes and claws of Menoko’s father seem to have gone to her child’s father.
Then Shen returns, uniformed like the rest of his band. He gathers listeners to boast of his feats. The only person he wants at his council stays beyond his voice’s reach. He does well to hold his council near the enclosure’s gate. All his listeners are hostile to what he tells.
When Shen reached the Strait, he learned that the armed Scabeaters had suffered their first major defeat. In the sunset land beyond the Long River, Redearth kin allied with horse- riding Tellegwi had routed a camp of armed Scabeaters and demolished their enclosure. The Scabeaters’ Sun, sitting in his lodge across the Ocean, declared war against the western Serpents. Three armies set out. The first was guided by Wabskeni, the second by Winamek. The third, headed by Lekomanda Shak, included Scabeaters from Hochelaga and descendants of Prairiekin who had hunted for Panis with Falsetongue.
Shen rushed to the third army to seek reconciliation with his former friend. He tells us the Redearth kin blocked every path between Mishigami and the Long River. Their strongest warriors were camped with Lamina at the Lakebottom, in the very village where Nopshinga and I stayed when Wedasi and Shutaha went on their peace mission. Shen says the Scabeater armies besieged the Redearth kin until their arms were depleted and then proceeded to massacre them.
This time I do fear for Ozagi’s fate, and for that of many others.
Mota asks Shen what part he played in the massacre.
Shen, suddenly aware of the hostility surrounding him, admits that Lekomanda Shak’s army arrived in time to celebrate the victory. The listeners laugh. Shen is strong only in cunning. He’s weak in courage.
Mota is enraged by the news. He breaks loose from pleading Menoko and accompanies Prairiekin to Shuagan, for arms.
Mangashko councils with angry Prairiekin. She thinks the Scabeaters’ war against the Redearth kin of the other shore is the beginning of their war against Rootkin of this shore. Today they say the Redearth kin block their path to the Long River. Tomorrow they’ll say we block their path to Mishigami. Yesterday they excluded Ubankiko from Lemond. Tomorrow they’ll exclude Ubankiko’s kin from Tiosa Rondion.
When Mota and the carriers return with firesticks from Shuagan, Kekionga’s youth are ready to remove the Scabeaters and their enclosure. But Mota intends to relieve those who still survive at the Lakebottom. He takes gifts to Menoko, but doesn’t remain in the lodge long enough to hear her pleas.
Mota gives Mani a blanket. She cares only for news of Ozagi. Mota has none to give her. He doesn’t repeat his earlier guess, but Mani knows he thinks it. After distributing gifts and poisoned water to the villagers, Mota and the carriers and many youths set out toward the sunset.
There’s something frightfully familiar to me in Kekionga. It doesn’t take me long to recognize the swellings. Twenty-seven winters have passed since Chebansi and Nopshinga died of smallpox on the Strait.
I rush to my lodge. Mani has the terrible swellings. Yet she looks almost happy. She tells me she can now join Ozagi in the ghost lodge.
Menoko, holding her cousin’s hand, sits as still as a rock. Either she cannot grasp what is happening, or she grasps it more profoundly than the rest of us. Her eyes, fixed on something visible only to her, express neither sorrow nor pain. They’re like a dead person’s.
Mani weakly removes Ozagi’s gift from around her neck and places it around Menoko’s. She tells Menoko to give the amulet to their childhood friend Manyan.
I begin to ask Mangashko to help me arrange the renewal ceremony we had enacted for her father and Chebansi. But Menoko’s eyes stop me. Menoko has never seen the plague. Yet she seems to know it is beyond the reach of our four ages.
Instead of trying to heal, I go seek Ubankiko and Pyerwa. I’m terrified when I cross the village. People are dying everywhere.
Ubankiko is hysterical. She pleads and begs to the daughter she so cruelly misled. Pyerwa fetches the headman of the enclosure. Lekomanda Darno places his bundle of medicine beside Mani. He’s angry about the crowd in the lodge. Pyerwa carries the children, Mini and Oashi, to his lodge. Mangashko and I separate Menoko from her dying cousin. Menoko begs us to help Mani find Ozagi.
I follow Ubankiko when she carries a caged bird to the top of a mound. When the bird sings, she caresses and then frees it. The bird flies toward the sunset, carrying the soul of Ubankiko’s daughter.
Pyerwa comes to tell me Ubankiko and Lekomanda Darno are nursing my Mangashko. He says the uniformed man urges the rest of us to leave Kekionga. The headman told him the smallpox is a children’s disease and is spread by afflicted people, not by sorcerers. He didn’t know why the children’s disease , attacked Pyerwa’s Mani and my Mangashko. He told Pyerwa it ^ could be carried in gifts, like blankets from Shuagan.
With my granddaughter, great-grandson and Manfs son, I accompany Kekiongans fleeing toward their kin in Bison Prairie. The dead look has left Menoko’s eyes. She’s frightened. She’s thinking of her Mota. She cries like a child.
Mota’s scouts told him we were approaching Bison Prairie. Mota intercepts us and guides us to a lodge on the other side of the river. He says one out of every four people has swellings. Many are already dead. Sagikwe is ill. Ozagi is alive. Menoko doesn’t know whether to greet the news with relief or sorrow. Mani will not meet her beloved in the ghost lodge.
Leaving Menoko and the children with Mota, I make my way to Sagikwe’s lodge.
A young Redearth woman from the other shore greets me with the hostility of a trapped animal. She has kindness only toward Ozagi’s ailing mother.
Ozagi tells me the woman shares his mat. He says his new life began the day he returned to Bison Prairie with the horses from the Plains and the other gifts from Cahokia. He found Sagikwe counciling with angry Firekeepers and Prairiekin. The Scabeaters had just suffered the defeat Shen had told us of.
Ozagi says the Scabeaters used to be guided by Nangisi, but are now guided by Wabskeni. They sent to the Plains, not Blackrobes or a Falsetongue, who knew how to make allies before they made enemies. They sent a band of Hochelaga armed men,, who knew only how to make enemies. They were so thoroughly routed by Redearth kin allied with Plains Tellegwi that not a trace of their enclosure or camp remained. Instead of admitting that their old ways had served them better, they let themselves be guided further along their foolish path. Wabskeni named the attackers Serpents, and the Scabeaters declared war on the western Serpents. Winamek revived his ancient league and dispatched runners with the story that Serpents were bent on exterminating the Rootkin of the Peninsula. Winamek then went to Greenbay to recruit youths whose grandfathers had raided with Falsetongue. Wabskeni gathered pillagers and manhunters in Bison Prairie. Youths who didn’t know sunrise from sunset enlarged both armies, but not adequately. Armed Scabeaters set out from Hochelaga to reinforce both armies, and also a third, which was to attack from the valleys.
Sagikwe was not only enraged. She was as convinced as Mangashko that the three armies intended to exterminate the Peninsula’s Rootkin. She said people who let themselves be turned into ants could not bear to let free human beings exist. She urged Ozagi to go to the other shore and warn Redearth kin of the Scabeaters’ preparations.
Ozagi could not find the western warriors as quickly as he could find poisoned water. He started out toward Greenbay. By the time he found Lamina’s warriors at the Lakebottom, they already knew what he had to tell them. Wabskeni’s army was moving toward them from the east. Lamina’s warriors, armed with firesticks from Shuagan, beat back Wabskeni’s army. But they were out of powder when Winamek’s army approached from the north.
Ozagi realized he didn’t have a warrior’s stomach. He kept his eye on the only direction from which no army approached. He joined warriors who were retreating very rapidly westward toward the Long River. They were followed by Wabskeni’s scouts. Ozagi was spotted by a scout he recognized as Wabskeni’s son Nagmo. But Ozagi escaped unharmed. He and the other survivors reached Cahokia and sought more arms for the resisting Redearth warriors.
Ozagi did not return to the battleground as quickly as he had left it. He found time to drink with Prairiekin and bearded men, and time to learn that a Scabeater enclosure near the mouth of the Long River had been devastated by the Nache moundpeople of the south. He thought the news would please Lamina’s warriors. But by the time he reached the Lakebottom with his arms and news, Lamina and most of his warriors had been massacred by Winamek’s and Wabskeni’s armies.
Sagikwe’s strength returns as she tells me that the news of Lamina’s death traveled in every direction. While Wabskeni and Winamek celebrated their victory in Bison Prairie, Redearth kin and their allies on both shores of Mishigami converged at the Lakebottom. They were not numerous, but they were determined to fight in a way Rootkin had never fought before. They built a picketed enclosure. All but those too young or too old vowed to fight until they fell.
Sagikwe says earth herself was rising up against the Invaders. The lakes, woodlands and prairies were defending themselves in the warriors on the Lakebottom.
Winamek was annoyed by the news that his three armies had not exterminated all western Serpents. He was annoyed by the interruption of his victory celebration. Refusing to believe his own scouts’ report of the warriors’ strength, he set out against them with part of his own army. His followers were routed. Winamek was killed, perhaps on the very spot where Wedasi had been murdered. Ahsepona and Kendawa were avenged. The great embroiler had stuck his long member into his last tree-hollow.
Wabskeni did not make his father’s mistake. He waited until his and the head Scabeater’s men recovered from the celebration. Then he waited until yet more men and arms arrived from Hochelaga. At last he pitted his entire force against the last stronghold of the Redearth kin. The warriors he confronted were no longer the people who had asked Scabeaters what they wanted on the Strait. They were no longer Rootkin who had not shed a drop of Scabeaters’ blood. They had been warring for a generation. Reduced to bows and arrows against firesticks, they fought until the last of four hundred warriors fell.
Wabskeni, enraged by his father’s death, turned all his force against grandmothers, mothers with children, girls. His army hunted them as if they were beaver.
Wabskeni’s own pillagers stopped the carnage. They rounded upthe five hundred survivors. A hundred were taken to Hochelaga by uniformed Scabeaters. The rest were brought to Bison Prairie. Wabskeni wanted them all killed. The head Scabeater wanted them sent to Hochelaga to be reduced to Panis.
Sagikwe and the Firekeepers and Prairiekin stepped between the captors and the captives. Even carriers rose to their feet. They knew it was Lamina’s intransigence that had made the Scabeaters generous with gifts.
That was when Ozagi returned to Bison Prairie with arms from the southern Invaders.
Firekeepers and Prairiekin promptly took charge of the captives.
Ozagi, no longer on the battlefield, regained all his humor. Chebansi’s son took a gift to the fiercest captive he could find. Shutaha's nephew would make the captives inviolable by adopting them. If his aunt could turn Scabeaters into Turtles, Ozagi would turn a fierce Serpent into a Firekeeper.
The girl greeted Ozagi’s gift by spitting in his face.
The mutilator of Shutaha’s son moved to stop her nephew, but not before Mota arrived with carriers and firesticks from Shuagan. Wabskeni strutted and raged. But his allies, the Scabeaters, were not ready to unleash a war in their own stronghold. The uniformed men retreated to Greenbay and the Northern Straits. Wabskeni, surrounded by armed hostility after his two victories, accompanied Blackrobes and crosswearers to Mishilimakina.
The fierce girl, whom Sagikwe named Wagoshkwe, accepted Ozagi’s gift when she was told Ozagi’s cousin had been murdered by Wabskeni. Wagoshkwe wanted the Firekeepers and Prairiekin to pursue retreating Wabskeni as he had pursued her kin.
Ozagi’s mother was among the few who heard Wagoshkwe. Sagikwe was trying to shame Mota’s carriers for their readiness to be Lamina’s allies in distant Shuagan but not in the face of Lamina’s enemies.
But the carriers were fit neither to fight nor to travel. Many of them were swelled with the smallpox. Soon Sagikwe herself was confined to her mat.
Mota learned of our approach and hurried to stop his Menoko and Oashi from entering Bison Prairie.
Sagikwe says the mere presence of the ant-men is the plague. She says Rootkin will regain their strength only by chasing the Invaders and their diseases back to the salt sea. Like Yahatase, she accepts fratricide, perpetual war, sacrifice.
Young Wagoshkwe is of the same mind. Sagikwe gives the girl Wedasi’s arrowhead. The girl must assume it came from someone like Lamina. With her last breath, Sagikwe urges the young bride to fight the plague with plague.
Wagoshkwe begs her kin to help her arrange the burial ceremony for Ozagi’s mother. They raise an earthen mound. The girl seems to retain a dim memory of a Tellegwi festival of bones, but not of its meaning. Her mother’s kin are bison hunters in the Plains, perhaps descendants of the Tellegwi who once raised great mounds in the Beautiful River’s valleys.
Ozagi senses himself an outsider at his mother’s death ceremony. He too has dim memories of things whose meaning he never learned. His dreams have given him little guidance. Wedasi’s grandson empties his bundle before me and asks me to sing to him of the objects in it. I take up the fishbones and sing of ancestors who came from the Ocean. Sagikwe thought only Invaders and their diseases came from the salt sea. I take up the feather. My mother Binesikwe could fly like a bird before she was weighed down by a cross. The shell, like the otterskin bundle itself, comes from a distant grandmother who dreamed of new life coming from the salt sea. The scroll fragment sings of the four ages of our ancestors. The herbs were gathered by Ozagi’s great-grandmother. Their songs are lost.
The villagers of Bison Prairie are still mourning their dead when Menoko entreats me to return to Kekionga.
We return to a half depopulated Kekionga.
Pyerwa and Shen have just returned from Tiosa Rondion. Pyerwa is distraught. He lost his daughter, wife and mother. He gives Menoko the bead and cloth animal that had rested above Mam’s mat in our former lodge. Menoko gives it to Mam’s and Shen’s son. Pyerwa gives Mangashko’s pendant, the one Shutaha made for me, to Menoko’s Oashi. Mangashko had wanted her grandson to wear it.
Pyerwa tells us Ubankiko as well as Lekomanda Darno died nursing my Mangashko.
Pyerwa accompanied Shen and other survivors to the Strait. But Tiosa Rondion was not a refuge from the plague. Chacapwe, like her dead kin, like Lekomanda Darno, died of what he had called a children’s disease. Chacapwe died nursing half her village.
I cannot accept, any more than Menoko, that earth is not replacing the fallen, that she’s blind, even hostile.
Manyan and Lekomanda Shak return to Kekionga from Uiatanon on the Wabash. Their two small children, Magda and Jozes, are quickly adopted by Oashi and Mini.
Manyan tells us that her plague was the news of the massacre of Lamina and his warriors. The smallpox did not visit Uiatanon.
Pyerwa and Shen insist that the plague didn’t reach the Wabash because Mota failed to reach it. Pyerwa was convinced by Lekomanda Darno that the smallpox came in the blankets from Shuagan. Shen encourages Pyerwa in this view.
The two men are friends again. Shen wants Pyerwa to restrict his gift-giving to his grandson, Shen’s son Mini, and not to share gifts with Mota’s kin. Shen pretends that earth’s creatures exist for people acceptable to Lemond.
Menoko’s pleading eyes keep Mota in fields and forest, away from caravans of furs and gifts. Menoko and Manyan help me arrange ceremonies of planting, of peace, of renewal.
When Kekionga’s meager renewal is disrupted again, so soon after its depopulation, I dream Yahatase’s dreams.
Wabskeni struts in, followed by his pillagers and manhunt- ers and with new Scabeaters to people Kekionga’s enclosure.
Wabskeni is recruiting yet another army to hunt down Redearth fugitives in plains and prairies beyond the Long River,
With Shen’s aid, Wabskeni recognizes Mota as an ally of eastern Serpents. Then he remembers Mota as the man who gave strength to Ozagi’s adoption of a Redearth captive. Looking closely, he recognizes in Mota the boy who exposed Wabskeni’s murder of Kendawa. Wabskeni’s men take Mota into the enclosure.
Menoko, who persists in believing earth is as generous as she is, cannot grasp the hostility.
I realize how incomplete Kekionga is without my Man- gashko.
I remember Nopshinga’s angry dance after the murder of Shutaha’s son. I gather Kekionga’s Prairiekin and carriers to a council. I encourage youths to paint themselves and sing loudly.
Menoko begs me to stop. She says she’ll give herself if that gift will end the hostility. I see that I’m not Sagikwe or Yahatase. I’m Wedasi’s adopted daughter, a Firekeeper, a peacemaker. I can accept fratricide, war and sacrifice no more than Menoko.
I beg Manyan to repeat the errand that embittered her life. Lekomanda Shak promptly releases Mota and comes with propitiatory gifts. The capture has been carried out without his knowledge.
When peace comes, it’s flawed. Wabskeni’s army leaves. Pyerwa leaves with it. To me, this is news of something as bad as plague. I hope Shutaha never hears of it. Manyan tells me the Scabeaters pressured Pyerwa to prove himself their kinsman and not Mota’s. She says her brother urged Pyerwa to avenge the death of all his beloved by striking the plague-bringers. She thinks Shen inflamed Pyerwa against Mota and then sent him to confront Mota in the shape of distant warriors of the Plains.
I think Pyerwa sensed himself a stranger in dead Uban- kiko’s half-populated village. He had never felt close to me, and he had no close kin left except his grandson. Mini rejected Pyerwa’s and Shen’s gifts and spent his days with Menoko’s Oashi. Pyerwa returned to the vessel that brought him, a Scabeater army.
The release of Mota and the departure of W abskeni does not disband the council I called into being. Its flames are fed by news of more Scabeater victories, and by Mota’s hostility to his two- time captors.
Shen, after Pyerwa’s departure, openly expresses his hostility toward Mota’s kin.
Yet the children are at peace. They enjoy each other as their mothers did a generation earlier. Shen’s Mini and Mota’s Oashi are not only cousins but each other’s closest friends, and they are gentle guides to Lekomanda Shak’s Jozes and Magda. All four consider themselves Firekeepers. Magda wears the amulet Ozagi once gave to her aunt Manf.
The arrival of Ozagi and several Firekeepers drives Shen completely out of sight. Manyan probably told her brother that Ozagi had come to avenge the massacre of Lamina. Ozagi’s Wagoshkwe might give Shen reasons to hide behind the enclosure’s pickets. But Wedasi’s grandson set out from Bison Prairie to try to calm Wagoshkwe.
Ozagi proudly tells us his son Nanikibi was born shortly before Wabskeni’s army returned to Bison Prairie. As soon as Wabskeni’s pillagers joined forces with the Scabeaters who had returned to Bison Prairie’s enclosure, Wagoshkwe and other adopted Redearth kin sent runners with warnings to the other shore. The enclosure’s headman led his army toward Greenbay with the intention of converging with Wabskeni’s beyond the Long River. Pyerwa joined this army.
Ozagi asks me what Pyerwa had against the Redearth kin. Nothing, I tell him; no more than he had against us when he first came with Boatmaker’s army. Perhaps he seeks another new start.
Ozagi says neither the headman nor Pyerwa got beyond Greenbay. Warned by the runners, the few remaining Redearth kin on the other shore resisted the Scabeaters fiercely. Pyerwa was among the first to fall.
Wabskeni’s army turned toward Greenbay on hearing the news. His massacre of the last Redearth kin on the other shore was horrifying even to his own followers. Then Wabskeni continued toward the sunset.
Bison Prairie’s Redearth kin formed a council. Wagoshkwe called for the elimination of the Scabeaters’ enclosure. Ozagi advised holding off until Peninsulakin had the strength to eliminate the enclosures in Mishilimakina, on the Strait and in Kekionga as well. He said he would set out in search of such strength. Most agreed with Ozagi.
Wagoshkwe saw through him. She knew he was setting out, not to prepare war parties, but to prepare a peace council. Ozagi and other Firekeepers left Bison Prairie quickly and headed in the four directions.
Ozagi’s lifelong friend Mota is hostile to the peace mission. But Ozagi knows that Mota wants to eliminate, not the Invaders, but their enclosures. Mota wants to take his furs where he pleases. Ozagi says that if we force the Scabeaters to make peace with the Redearth kin, we’ll force them to empty the enclosures. They’ll no longer need them.
Mota says no number of peace councils will force the Scabeaters to close their enclosures. Warring against Serpents is part of the Scabeaters’ character. They’ll find new Serpents in all four directions.
Kekionga’s Scabeaters echo the disagreement among Root- kin. Shen, who is still uniformed, seeks revenge against the killers of Pyerwa and Mani. He struts and rages like a long- membered world-embroiler. Manyan ridicules him. She says Shen, like the Scabeaters’ headman in Hochelaga and their Sun in his great lodge across the Ocean, is eager to celebrate victories over enemies who are distant.
Lekomanda Shak seeks peace. It’s a mystery to me how the Scabeaters choose the men who head their war parties. Lekomanda Shak is no more of a warrior than Ozagi. His sole concern is to gather furs and hoard gifts. He would accompany the caravans to Shuagan if he could do so without losing his post and his permission to gather furs.
I stop dressing pelts. Few of my skins remain on the backs of Rootkin. They enlarge the hoards of Lekomanda Shak and his likes in Shuagan.
Menoko and Manyan and their children, as well as Shen’s Mini, look forward to the council. I initiate my granddaughter and Manyan into the rituals of the ceremony of the three fires.
When we set out for Tiosa Rondion, Mota says Ozagi has prepared a council of women. Mota nevertheless accompanies the hundred or more Prairiekin from Kekionga.
We are not the first to reach the Strait’s shore. Shutaha and more than two hundred Turtlefolk welcome us. Rootkin from Greenbay and the Lakebottom, Peninsulakin from Mishili- makina and Bison Prairie, are already counciling.
Even Ozagi’s fierce Wagoshkwe is in Tiosa Rondion with her two sons and a daughter named Tinami, and she’s pregnant with a fourth. Perhaps her children are turning her into a Firekeeper. Mota seeks a place near Wagoshkwe and her adopted Redearth kin.
All are gathered on a spot where, it is said, a split tree and a round rock once stood, the spot of the first Wiske’s village.
Seventeen armed and uniformed Scabeaters stand like a grove of unnatural trees. Behind them, Blackrobes, the enclosure’s headman, his scrollkeepers, Lekomanda Shak and the Strait’s Lemond view the councilground from a distance. Manyan and Mini translate their pronouncements for Rootkin. Other Scabeaters, the hoarders, haulers and runners, mingle with Rootkin and Turtlefolk in Shutaha’s village.
After many mutual welcomes and several harangues, Shutaha shows the belts which speak of Lekomanda Kadyak’s binding himself in kinship with the people of the Strait. Shutaha says to the Scabeaters that all the original people on the Lakes are Redearth kin. She reminds the Scabeaters that kin do not war against kin, either here or in the world across the salt sea.
The' Scabeaters’ headman, Lekomanda Boarnoa, announces his agreement with the council’s demands. He says the Scabeaters are ready to send peace belts to the Redearth kin on the other shore and even to those beyond the Long River.
But before the rejoicing, before the ceremony of the three fires and the expulsion of Wiske, before any belts are sent, Kukamigokwe’s ghost arrives in Tiosa Rondion. The council is disrupted.
Wabskeni’s son Nagmo comes from Mishilimakina with Blackrobes and uniformed Scabeaters. He seeks reinforcements for his father’s army. Nagmo is told of the council and the agreement. He laughs. He says Wabskeni doesn’t need reinforcements to fight Redearth kin. There are too few of them left. He says Wabskeni is fighting people of a different tongue who ride horses and attack with iron hatchets.
I wonder if it’s Nangisi who carries the iron hatchets from southern Invaders of a different tongue to the horse-riders. My father would now be seeing his hundredth winter. He couldn’t live without carrying. His grandson can’t live without warring. Wabskeni matters to the Scabeaters only so long as there are enemies. Menoko shudders.
Shutaha and I remind Ozagi that the Scabeaters bound themselves to all of Tiosa Rondion’s kin. The people Nagmo describes are not strangers but cousins. They’re descendants of Beautiful River moundbuilders who once counciled at Tiosa Rondion’s second fire.
Ozagi tells the Scabeaters that the horse-riders are embraced by the agreement.
Nagmo sarcastically asks if Tiosa Rondion’s council embraces all of the Scabeaters’ enemies, even the Nache and Chicasa people of the south. Lekomanda Boarnoa says the Turtle council does not have hegemony over all the tribes, as he calls them, of the west and south.
I tell Nagmo that the southerners are also distant kin of Beautiful River Tellegwi. The Scabeaters laugh. My grand- nephew Nagmo is as much a Scabeater as Boatmaker or Falsetongue or this Lekomanda Boarnoa. I learned in Lekomanda Kadyak’s day that Scabeaters make agreements only so as to put people to sleep.
Wabskeni will pursue this war. Few from Tiosa Rondion join Nagmo, who returns to Mishilimakina to wait for reinforcements from Hochelaga.
While Nagmo waits, Wagoshkwe and her kin dispatch scouts to warn their western kin. Mota sets out with the scouts.
Wagoshkwe gives birth to her fourth, a girl named Namakwe.
Shen moves in with Lemond. He takes the sister of a Scabeater as companion and becomes the headman’s interpreter. He invites Mini to the celebration.
But Mini keeps his distance. He stays with Shutaha and seeks the company of Mota’s Oashi and Wagoshkwe’s oldest, Nanikibi.
The three boys are the first to learn the news from Mota and the scouts who return from the Plains. The horse-riders destroyed the Scabeater army. The grc-it mutilator, the murderer of Shutaha’s son, of Menoko’s father, of Manyan’s warrior, of so many of Wagoshkwe’s kin, is dead. Mota says Wabskeni died slowly and badly. He refused to pass his mantle to his son. He begged to be revived. I remember what Wedasi told me about his uncle. He thought death came only to his singing, dreaming, bow-armed kin. He thought a fire-spitter who gave his life to the Invaders was invulnerable.
Wabskeni’s son enters Tiosa Rondion on the heels of Mota. He’s in a rage because the Plains warriors had been warned. His father had obviously preferred to attack unsuspecting victims. Nagmo mourns for his father by calling for war against those who betrayed him.
Mota and numerous Prairiekin are armed. Wagoshkwe’s kin are ready to strike for their revenge. The Turtle council is destroyed.
In the face of impending fratricide, Shutaha leaves Tiosa Rondion. The unity Shutaha dreamed of is rupturing into fragments, and the fragments are flying apart. She tells me to nurse the great Turtle back to life in Kekionga. She seems to think we will not meet again. Crosswearing Turtlefolk make space for their Tiosa Rondion kin on the Isle of White Trees at the Strait’s mouth.
Lekomanda Shak with several armed men accompany the retreating Turtlefolk. Kekionga’s headman pretends to be protecting the Turtlefolk from Mota and the hostile warriors. Actually this Scabeater is getting himself out of the tension. He wants the fratricide no more than Shutaha.
Mota and the warriors distance themselves from the Strait’s enclosure and wait for Nagmo’s attack.
But Nagmo doesn’t stir from the Strait’s enclosure. The son, it seems, is not like the father. Perhaps he’s more like the great-grandfather. Nangisi wanted people from all four directions to gather around his three fires. But he was satisfied with people from his own band of carriers. Nangisi’s great-grandson wanted to eliminate all those who had betrayed his father. But he seems satisfied when he can no longer see them on the Strait’s shore. He prepares no pursuit.
Menoko and I ready the canoes for our return to Kekionga. Mota and the other warriors tire of waiting, and they don’t feel themselves strong enough to storm the enclosure.
When we’re about to leave, we hear a message from Lekomanda Boarnoa. He has sent peace belts to the Redearth kin.
Ozagi, lip-biting Wagoshkwe and their four children leave the Strait’s shore alongside us.
At the Strait’s mouth, we pause at the Isle of White Trees. Oashi takes leave of his closest friend, who remains beside Shutaha. Mini tells me the island’s Turtlefolk have resolved to stop sharing their corn with the Strait’s armed men. This is undoubtedly the best way to remove the enclosure from Tiosa Rondion. It’s the first time in forty winters that the Turtlefolk have moved to starve their Scabeating kin out. Mini tells me Shutaha is drinking poisoned water with crosswearers. I leave her, happy with the thought that the island’s Blackrobes are about to lose their followers.
As soon as we reach Kekionga we learn that the Scabeaters’ southern army destroyed the village of the Nache. The Scabeaters massacred all the warriors. They bound women and children and shipped them to islands in the Ocean. They left no one. I suppose the Scabeaters will now send peace belts to the Nache people.
I stay close to Ozagi’s Wagoshkwe, although I still fear she’ll spit in my face. There’s something of earth in her, something I lack, something of earth defending herself from brutal assault.
More Eastbranch Rootkin seeking refuge from Oceanshore Invaders arrive in Kekionga. Lenapi’s kinsmen come laden with eastern gifts.
Wagoshkwe greets the Eastbranch kin as allies who once guided her Redearth kin to the sources of the Oceanshore Invaders’ weapons. But her gratitude isn’t warm. She knows that in a world without the Invaders’ firesticks or powder, her kin could not have been massacred.
Menoko’s gift to me is a great-granddaughter. Mota proudly tells the Eastbranch kin they came in time to celebrate his daughter’s naming. Menoko recruits Manyan to help with the arrangements.
Manyan is changed. She lost her fierceness when Lamina was massacred. She worries for her children. She has become a peacemaker. She’s committed to reviving Ubankiko’s village.
Wagoshkwe considers Manyan an enemy, a uniformed headman’s woman and no more.
Menoko and Manyan complain to me of Wagoshkwe’s hostility. Manyan asks me how I can be close to Shutaha and also to Wagoshkwe. Shutaha knows anyone can be either a Turtle or a crosswearer. People can wear each other’s skins because they are kin, they’re all each other’s cousins, they’re all children of the same great-grandmother. But Wagoshkwe seems to think only Redearth kin are real people. She thinks others are children of a beast.
I tell Manyan that the mother, the first parent, was a beast who ate her children. Some of her children acquired her voracious appetite. I start to tell about those who ate scabs, but I stop. Manyan hears only an old woman’s story. But Menoko is in tears. I realize that Menoko, who cannot easily grasp what a beast is, feels my story more profoundly than I do, and her delicate frame has no room for what she feels. I’m afraid for my granddaughter.
I name her child Binesikwe, after the bird who flew out of Wiske’s and into the Firekeeper’s lodge. Wagoshkwe calls out the name Katabwe, warrior. Menoko’s Oashi and Wagoshkwe’s Nanikibi smile knowingly to each other. The two boys already know the peacebelts to Redearth kin will not bring peace to Kekionga. Menoko shudders. She carries her Binesikwe to her lodge, away from Wagoshkwe.
The gifts and liquid poison brought by Lenapi’s kinsmen pull Mota away from forests and fields. Mota and Ozagi examine the cloth, the iron knives and hatchets, the pots and firesticks, as if they were spirit-powers. They repeatedly express wonder at the quantity given by the Invaders. Ozagi says Bison Prairie’s carriers would give their arms to return from Shuagan with so many gifts.
Lenapi tries to dampen their enthusiasm, but Nangisi’s heirs are deaf to his warnings. Mota and Ozagi gather the furs of every pelt dresser in Kekionga. They’re determined to go east.
Lenapi is not inclined to accompany the carriers’ caravan. He places himself alongside Manyan’s son when Oashi and Nanikibi initiate Jozes into the mystery of shaping stone. Lenapi is intent on learning to make an arrowhead.
Wagoshkwe sees the Eastbranch man learning from the boys. She doesn’t find the situation humorous. She doesn’t admire the man for his openness. Wagoshkwe is repelled by what she sees. She finds Ozagi and pulls him to the spot. She asks if Ozagi wants his children to grow to such helplessness. She says Lenapi and his kin are unlike any of the creatures that share the world. The Eastbranch kin are unable to decorate themselves, feed themselves, or keep themselves warm. They depend on distant Invaders for their ornaments, for the weapons to hunt with and the pots to cook in, for the very coverings on their backs. They’re incomplete people.
Ozagi hears Wagoshkwe with the same ears with which he heard Sagikwe: a hare’s ears. Long-eared Wiske, the world- changer, is in Nangisi’s grandnephew when he speaks to his children’s mother, so like his own mother. He says the original people grew strong because they accepted earth’s gifts. They knew the preparations needed to receive the gifts, and they knew how to use what they received. He says only the preparations have changed. Instead of doing a bone ritual, Rootkin now carry beaver pelts to Invaders. And the beaver brings everything. The beaver brings food, warmth, health and joy.
Wagoshkwe sees through Ozagi as if he were transparent. She says he and the Eastbranch kin are strong only from the smell of poisoned water. She says she can see them at a winter camp when all their gifts wear out. They starve and freeze like no other creatures that make earth their home. They sit on earth but cannot shape her clay into vessels. They’re surrounded by stone but cannot shape arrowheads. Wagoshkwe says all living beings depend on earth’s gifts. Only dogs depend on men’s gifts. She says Ozagi fills himself with poisoned water to forget how weak he is. And then he puts the blame on the poisoned water.
Ozagi hears Wagoshkwe, perhaps more clearly than he ever heard his mother. But he does act like someone filled with poisoned water, someone who can’t help himself. He says he’s already part of the way to Shuagan, as if that explained why he had to go the rest of the way. And he returns to Mota and the carriers preparing the caravan.
Wagoshkwe readies her four children for the journey to Bison Prairie. She’s pregnant with a fifth. She’s intent on repopulating Kichigami without adopting Invaders or any of their gifts. Her Ozagi accompanies Mota and the carriers to Shuagan.
My great-grandson is already on the threshold of manhood. After his friends and his father leave, Oashi retreats to the fasting tent Menoko and Lenapi build for him.
While her son dreams, Menoko has me listen to Lenapi. She tells me he helped her hear Wagoshkwe’s words to Ozagi. Menoko says Wagoshkwe is the only one among us who is looking up; the rest of us have our eyes turned to the ground.
Lenapi says many of his kin see with Wagoshkwe’s eyes. But their hands no longer know how to shape stone, clay or bone. They are no longer able to accept earth’s gifts.
Lenapi says the Invaders’ gifts are not made by people as we know them. He once saw the makers of cloth in a large village of Oceanshore Invaders. He says the place in which he saw them was more like a hive than a lodge. Inside it, women and children were dwarfed by enormous metal and wood contrivances. They were enmeshed in a web of ropes and threads. They breathed steam. Each stayed fixed to a spot and endlessly repeated the same motions. Their faces expressed neither joy nor will nor pride.
Lenapi says those people were not kept inside the hive by armed men, but by a very powerful sorcery. They had been turned into something other than people. They were limbs of contrivances.
He says the Invaders’ villages teem with such mutilated people. They have neither dreams of their own nor a will of their own. They are wielded, the way the Invaders’ firesticks and other contrivances are wielded. They are made to burrow into earth’s bowels for stones. They are made to stand in ovens wringing liquid metal out of stones. They are made to stay in steamy hives spinning thread and weaving cloth. The will to do these things is not in the people who do them. The entire hive is nothing but a contrivance for the making of cloth. The will is in the wielder of the contrivance.
Those who bring us the cloth and the pots, the Invaders in Shuagan, are no more able to make those things than we are. They are neither the wielders of the contrivances nor the mutilated limbs of the contrivances. They are hunters and carriers like the Rootkin whose pelts they take. Most of them are also hoarders. Each of these hopes to accumulate a hoard which will make him powerful enough to wield a contrivance made up of mutilated human beings.
Lenapi says the wielders of the contrivances, the masters of the hives, are not mere Scabeaters. He says we have no names for such beings because our stories do not encompass them. He names them shitmakers. He says the hives are enormous stomachs. They turn earth’s substance into excrement. With each meal, the stomachs grow larger, earth’s substance smaller. Once earth’s substance is depleted, earth’s creatures have nowhere to turn. They go to the shitmakers and beg for their substance. And when they eat this substance, they become addicted, like the Invaders themselves.
Lenapi tells me a great deal more, but it’s beyond my grasp. Menoko is frightened. I ask myself if she hears more than I do. I hear Lenapi confirming the story of the Scabeater.
I see that a shadow has fallen across the world, and it’s not our shadow. Yahatase thought the shadow was cast by the Blackrobes. Sagikwe thought it was cast by the ant-men. I thought it was cast by Kukamigokwe and Wiske’s heirs. Wa- goshkwe thinks it’s cast by all the Invaders. But Lenapi says not all the Invaders cast shadows. He confirms what I told Manyan. Not all the monster’s children acquired the parent’s voracious appetite. Many of them are healthy shoots stunted in sunless hives. Shutaha knows how to cultivate a field where they can grow. I wonder if she knows how to make the sun’s warm rays reach her field.
Mota returns from Shuagan with heavily laden canoes. Ozagi goes on to Bison Prairie without stopping.
Mota tells us the Oceanshore Invaders and their helpers stumble over each other to greet carriers from the western Lakes. More than twenty Invaders keep their gift-laden lodges open day and night. Each tries to outdo the nineteen others in generosity.
Lenapi tells us these givers are not as generous as they seem. They take our furs to the Oceanshore, where they receive many times more gifts for them than they give our carriers.
Mota shows us objects that look like blankets, shirts, needles, kettles, firesticks, thread, cloth, timekeepers and shells for belts.
Menoko keeps away from the gifts. After what I heard from Lenapi, I see that the objects are not what they seem. They have an aura of unreality. Each blanket is identical. Each shirt is the twin of another. These objects were not made by human hands. They are creations of contrivances.
Mota is proud. He thinks he’s enhancing Kekionga with things everyone needs. But he tries to hide his pride. He suspects a wasp in the bush. He gives the things away without ceremony. He frowns at any mention of Wiske.
While the strange gifts are being passed from hand to hand, Mini and his father arrive in Kekionga.
Shen prevailed on his son to help him repair his relations with the kin of the youth’s mother. But Mini knows that Shen’s sudden concern for Manf s kin is only a pretext for his return to Kekionga.
Mini tells me the Invaders are at war on the other side of the Ocean. The war keeps ships from reaching the Northern River.
The Scabeaters have no access to gifts, and they’ve gathered such a sea of furs that they’re drowning in them. Their Sun across the water removed their permission to gather more. Each dreams only of disposing of his furs and getting his hands on gifts, any gifts. The only Scabeater on the Strait who has their Sun’s permission is the headman of the enclosure, and he gives less tjian a trifle for a canoe full of furs. Word of Mota’s caravan to Shuagan reached Tiosa Rondion. Shen and his new wife’s brother, a Scabeater named Kampo, suddenly remembered Shen’s kin in Kekionga.
Shen has never spoken to us with such kindness. He tells us of the hardships the war is causing Shutaha and the Strait’s Turtlefolk. He councils with Lekomanda Shak. The two Scabeaters then send Manyan as their emissary to Mota—she who once pleaded for him to them. She’s better suited for her present mission than she was for her earlier one. Manyan now dreams of reconstituting Ubankiko’s village, of reconciling Mota with her brother and even Wagoshkwe with Lekomanda Shak.
Mota is not happy to let Shen carry his eastern gifts to Tiosa Rondion, even if Shen gives more furs than other gatherers. But he gives in to Manyan’s entreaties.
After Shen and Mini leave, Oashi tells me he and his friend made a blood pact never to turn against one another. Oashi tells me that Mini has no sympathy for Shen’s hardships. Shutaha urged Mini to accompany his father to Kekionga. Shutaha thinks that when Scabeaters take their furs where they please, they become loosened from their Sun, their headmen and their Blackrobes. While loose, they hear our songs, take part in our ceremonies, and seek adoption in our lodges.
Ozagi is back in Kekionga before the season ends. If he had returned as quickly twenty springs ago, Mam’s life would have been happier.
Many of the carriers with Ozagi are nephews of Wabskeni’s pillagers. Ozagi says Wabskeni’s own son is anxious for more gifts from Shuagan. It seems that Nagmo, who once spared Ozagi’s life, is more like his great-grandfather than like his father.
Ozagi tells me that after the peace with the Redearth kin, Nagmo and the remnants of Wabskeni’s army moved to the Leaning Tree village near Mishilimakina. Like Nangisi, Nagmo took as companion a crosswearing Rootwoman who remembered the Rootkin’s ways better than Nagmo. The war among the Invaders brought Nagmo the same hardships it brought Shen. Like those in Wagoshkwe’s vision, the Leaning Tree villagers were no longer able to live without the Scabeaters’ firesticks, cloth or food. Nagmo remembered his kin in Bison Prairie. He told his Katwyn about Bison Prairie’s three fires and about the fourth age. Nagmo referred, not to the days of the old scrolls, but to the days of his great-grandfather Naan- gisi’s youth.
Nagmo and the other remnants of Wabskeni’s army were too much like Scabeaters to endear themselves to Bison Prairie’s Firekeepers.
Nagmo’s Katwyn was welcomed in most of Bison Prairie’s lodges, though not in Wagoshkwe’s.
While Ozagi was in Shuagan, Katwyn gave birth to a dead child. Wagoshkwe’s eight-spring Tinami adopted herself into Nagmo’s lodge to replace the dead child.
When Ozagi returned from Shuagan, he found the Leaning Tree people eager to accompany him in search of yet more eastern gifts. He found Wagoshkwe in a rage. She wanted Ozagi to implement her son’s dream. Nanikibi had dreamed he had seen a wounded fox in a field of dead animals. The fox begged Nanikibi to avenge all the dead.
Wagoshkwe said those from the Leaning Tree village had murdered her kin and were now kidnapping her children. She wanted Ozagi to arm against them. Ozagi hastily left Bison Prairie with the former pillagers from the Leaning Tree village.
Mota and his carriers prepare to accompany Ozagi to Shuagan even though they’ve just returned. This time even Lenapi sets out with the caravan that carries furs and gifts from one Invader to the other.
When Mota is gone, Menoko comes to tell me what her son dreamed. His dream was similar to his friend Nanikibi’s. Oashi saw himself on a trail lined with flowers. He was following a procession of animals, large and small, all wearing Shuagan cloth, all of them fat and awkward. They came to where the trail was covered by corpses of emaciated animals. The fat animals walked over the corpses. Oashi stopped. He woke.
Menoko cries when she tells me. She thinks the flowers are earth’s ornaments. The fat animals are Shen and Lekomanda Shak who cannot see the ornaments, Manyan and her children Jozes and Magda who no longer comb earth’s hair, Ozagi and Menoko’s own Mota who cannot see the emaciated corpses on the trail. The corpses are little Binesikwe, Menoko and I.
The caravans move between the Peninsula and the Easternmost Lake like migrating birds, only more frequently.
Mota stays lean. Ozagi grows fatter. The fattest of all are Lekomanda Shak, Shen, and the brother of Shen’s wife, Kampo. It is said these three are becoming the fattest Scabeaters west of Hochelaga.
The war among the Invaders has ended, and the Scabeaters again have access to their own gifts. But the Scabeaters’ gifts are made by human beings and are not as plentiful as the eastern gifts. The Strait’s Scabeaters look with greedy eyes at the size of their three cousins’ hoards. Their greed moves them to treat Lekomanda Shak as their grandfathers treated Lekomanda Kadyak. Their headman summons Lekomanda Shak to Tiosa Rondion.
Manyan takes leave of me with tears of rage. She tells me she dreamed of a new Lamina leading his warriors eastward from the other shore. Magda sadly embraces her five-spring cousin Binesikwe. Jozes promises to carry Oashi’s greeting to Mini.
A Lekomanda Sentanj arrives. It is said he’s a kinsman of Tiosa Rondion’s and Bison Prairie’s headman. This Scabeater’s first act is to mutilate the forest behind the enclosure. Armed men turn the living trees into pickets and a scouting box. The Scabeater’s second act is to pillage Mota’s and Lenapi’s returning caravan. He sends part of the loot to kindred headmen who stayed lean while Shen and Kampo grew fat. The rest of the loot turns up among the gifts Lekomanda Sentanj offers Kekionga’s hunters for their furs.
Mota and the other carriers paint themselves and sing.
Mota seeks allies intent on destroying the Peninsula’s enclosures. He finds a band, the warriors of Manyan’s dream. Only the warriors he finds are not from the other shore. They’re from the village of the Leaning Tree. They’re former allies of the Scabeaters, nephews of Wabskeni’s pillagers, crosswearing cousins of Nagmo’s Katwyn. Kekionga’s councilground is alive with war dances.
Lenapi leaves us. He tells us he’ll spend his last days in Pickawillany in the valley of the Beautiful River, a village of Southbranch Rootkin beyond the reach of the Scabeaters’ grasping arms.
Menoko despairs. There’s a look in her eyes that hasn’t been there since the smallpox killed Mani. It’s the look I often saw in Yahatase’s eyes. I try to draw her eyes away from the council ground. Her children help me arrange the old ceremonies.
Menoko’s youthful Oashi, always in thought, always peaceful, helps me imagine Wedasi as a youth. Oashi’s little sister helps me see myself when I had six springs. Perhaps she’ll take my name instead of my mother’s when I pass. Menoko’s love for the two makes the terror leave her eyes. But I cannot keep it away. Its cause is beyond my reach.
The fat Scabeaters have lean spirits. The pettiest dreams guide them. They’re cutting down Shutaha’s tall tree, a tree that weathered forty-five harsh winters. They’re not content with the tree, which most of them despised. The greed of a few is leading the Scabeaters to put out the three fires Nangisi lit in Greenbay ninety winters ago, fires which had burnt for them.
Ozagi arrives in Kekionga with his oldest son Nanikibi, not to join another Shuagan-bound caravan, but to seek peace. Bison Prairie too has divided into armed camps.
Ozagi tells us the enclosure’s headman behaved the same way as the Invaders in Shuagan. When Nagmo started to accept Ozagi’s eastern gifts, the headman suddenly became generous. He showered Nagmo with firesticks, powder, knives, red paint and much else. He gave nothing to carriers from the Leaning Tree village who refused to accept Ozagi’s gifts.
The headman was generous only to those turning toward the enemy. He filled Nagmo, not only with gifts, but also with stories of raids and massacres perpetrated by eastern Serpents. He reminded Nagmo of his grandfather’s league. And Winamek’s grandson responded to all this sudden attention like an erection. He and many of the former pillagers were renewed. Rootkin used to be renewed by plantings, harvests, births. Nag- mo’s men are renewed by war, plunder, death. Nagmo entered the enclosure, reemerged wearing a uniform, and led an army to the eastern Woodlands.
As soon as the army left Bison Prairie, the headman’s generosity ended. Nagmo’s Katwyn and her kin from the Leaning Tree village grumbled. Katwyn grew so angry that when Wagoshkwe and her Redearth kin arranged a war council, Katwyn joined them. Wagoshkwe considered Katwyn a Scabeater and did not welcome her. Yet two of Wagoshkwe’s children, Tinami and Kittihawa, were more at home in their aunt Kat- wyn’s lodge than in their own. Wagoshkwe’s Sigenak and her Namakwe saw with their mother’s eyes. Nanikibi, the oldest, who had dreamed himself an avenger, tried to make peace.
Ozagi feared that the war dances would blind the dancers. He feared that, like Lamina in Tiosa Rondion, the enraged would strike at kin as well as enemies. He feared his children would face each other across a battlefield. He and Nanikibi set out to arrange another peace council on the Strait, to let the Scabeaters know that their tightness and haughtiness was poisoning their kinship with all the Peninsula’s peoples.
Mota listens to his friend without sympathy. He’s angry at Ozagi for arriving with talk of peace while Kekionga’s warriors prepare for war. He’s angry at Ozagi for still thinking he can council with the Scabeaters. He says Ozagi’s wavering walk between the two Invaders is not the stride of an independent man but the gait of one who has drunk too much poisoned water. Such drunken peacemaking is not a sign of strength but of weakness. Mota says everyone who is awake has abandoned the Scabeaters. Only Nagmo and Ozagi remain asleep.
I urge Ozagi to seek Shutaha’s help on the Strait. Ozagi expects help from Shen and Lekomanda Shak and other Scabeaters who have lost favor with Lemond. Oashi urges his friend Nanikibi to seek Mini.
Mota has not revealed his intentions to Ozagi. He accompanies Kekionga’s painted men to the shore of the Lake of the Ehryes. They are to council with Turtlefolk from the eastern Woodlands, crosswearers from the Leaning Tree village, and some Turtlefolk who abandoned Shutaha’s Tiosa Rondion. There’s talk of removing all the hoarding cousins from the Peninsula, of destroying the enclosures, of burning the kinship belts that withstood forty-six winters.
Runners come to warn us. We leave our lodges and set up a camp in the forest.
Mota and carriers from the Ehrye shore surround Kekionga’s enclosure. There’s no resistance. The warriors enter the enclosure, seize eight uniformed Scabeaters, take the remaining gifts, and burn down the pickets and scouting box. They disarm Lekomanda Sentanj and his friends and send them scavenging.
Mota tells me a larger number of warriors set out to perform the same deed in Tiosa Rondion.
It’s the first war between Scabeaters and Peninsulakin. Yahatase had wanted to cut off the first Scabeaters who reached the western Lakes. Sagikwe had known this war would come. But both would look with disbelief at the Peninsulakin engaged against the Scabeaters. They’re mainly crosswearers, carriers, pillagers, those most like the Scabeaters, once their most loyal allies.
Menoko’s Binesikwe, unlike her brother or her terrified mother, dances with joy, proud of her victorious father. She’s not like the peaceful soul I named her after, and she’s not a Fire- keeper.
We return from our forest camp to Kekionga, only to find ourselves surrounded by the largest Scabeater army I’ve seen. The Strait’s headman, flanked by Lekomanda Sentanj and a Hochelaga headman, lead all their uniformed men to Kekionga’s councilground.
The attack on Tiosa Rondion failed to take place. The Strait was not embroiled in fratricide. Shutaha’s tree did not fall. Only Menoko’s terror-stricken expression keeps me from laughing.
Mota thinks Ozagi betrayed the Ehrye warriors’ intentions to the Strait’s Scabeaters.
Lekomanda Sentanj wants to retake Mota’s gifts once again, but Mota no longer has them; they are in the bundles of Prairiekin who are leaving Kekionga. The Scabeaters want to disarm Mota and the warriors. But the warriors hold firm, and the Scabeaters, with all their armed men, are not ready to do to Mota what they did to Lamina. The headman boasts that his is the only army between the Sunrise Mountains and the Long River. Mota promises to return with an army that will disabuse the Scabeater of his illusion.
We leave Kekionga to the armed men. They can feed themselves, hunt and dress their own pelts, give their gifts to each other. That’s Shutaha’s way.
We make our way toward Lenapi’s refuge among the South- branch kin of Pickawillany. Kekionga was my center for thirty- four springs. But Kekionga has stopped being a refuge to people from the four corners.
Oashi supports his mother, who shakes from sorrow. Menoko’s heart is broken. Earth is not returning Menoko’s love. Her village is dead.
Even Winamek’s league of Scabeaters with Rootkin is finally dead. Carrion birds are eating its remains.
Mota hopes to find in Pickawillany another league, with the other Invaders. Oashi tries to make his father hear Lenapi’s warning. The Invaders will aid us until we’re depleted. Then they’ll remove our bones and swallow our world.
Menoko’s children have no sympathy for Mota’s alliance. Oashi is a peacemaker. Binesikwe likes the Invaders of one tongue no more than those of the other.
Our Southbranch hosts are of the same mind. They asked no one’s permission to camp by the Beautiful River. Their council fire is independent of Scabeaters, Oceanshore Invaders, southerh Invaders, eastern Turtlefolk. They welcome Eastbranch Rootkin from the Oceanshore, Firekeepers from every corner of the Peninsula, Prairiekin from Kekionga and from every valley. They remember the ancient Riverpeople’s festival of bones. They know the mounds of this valley hold bones of ancestors of all the cousins gathering at Pickawillany.
Oashi and I stay close to Menoko. I feel my strength leaving me. I can no longer support my granddaughter. Menoko’s joy is gone. She remembers the fields and forests of Kekionga, not the Riverpeople or their festival of bones. She’s like a picked flower.
Lenapi builds a dream lodge for our lively Binesikwe. The girl brings her dream to me. Menoko listens to distant sounds and cannot hear her daughter.
My great-grandchildren have been dreaming of battlefields, corpses, wars. Binesikwe dreamed of an eagle swooping down on a serpent. The serpent offered to guide the girl, if she could ward off the eagle.
I am unable to interpret the entire dream for the child. I tell her the serpent is Yahatase and Shutaha. The serpent is the child’s ancient Talamatun grandmother and her Tellegwi grandmother. The serpent is earth, who holds the grandmothers’ bones in the valley’s mounds. But I cannot speak of her dream’s eagle. This eagle is not the child’s namesake, my winged mother, whom only Y ahatase thought capable of swooping down. My mother’s descendants, Nangisi’s heirs, swooped down, but as buzzards, not as eagles. Nor is the eagle the child’s grandfather, who bore only the name. I urge Binesikwe to consult Lenapi. Her dream’s eagle swoops down from the sky above his world.
Ozagi arrives with his five children, Yahatase’s greatgrandchildren, all beautiful, healthy and unscarred. Their coming completes the circle. Pickawillany is the refuge Kekionga once was, a gatheringplace of kin from the four directions.
But the joy is restrained. Ozagi comes without his fierce Wagoshkwe. And he tells us Shutaha is dead.
Ozagi seeks peace with his friend Mota. Nanikibi tells Oashi and me that neither he nor his father knew”of the intentions of the Ehrye shore warriors, and could not have betrayed them. Mota’s secret was known to everyone on the Strait. Ozagi and Nanikibi learned it from dying Shutaha.
Carriers of the Leaning Tree village had come from the Ehrye shore to council with the Strait’s Turtlefolk. Their voices had reached everyone. They had asked the Turtlefolk to bury grievances that had been alive since Wabskeni’s first attack on Tiosa Rondion. They had urged the Turtlefolk to help them destroy Tiosa Rondion’s enclosure and remove the Invaders from the Strait.
To Shutaha, Wabskeni’s heirs were no more attractive as the Scabeaters’ enemies than they had been as the Scabeaters’ loyal army. She knew that kin as well as foes would look like enemies from the Ehrye shore, as they had to Lamina.
Many Turtlefolk nursed the same grievances as the Leaning Tree carriers. When some among them joined the warriors on the Ehrye shore, Shutaha fell ill. She didn’t want to see the fratricide that tore her village apart.
Ozagi and Nanikibi found Shutaha being nursed by Chacapwe’s great-grandson Mini and surrounded by those she’d transplanted, nursed, adopted: Mini’s aunt Manyan with Lekomanda Shak and her Jozes and Magda, Mini’s father Shen and his wife and her brother Kampo, and the many whose names are strange to me. Manyan’s fourteen-spring Magda regretted that Oashi had not come with a gift; Lekomanda Shak wanted her to take Kampo as her companion.
Nagmo and the Scabeaters’ western army arrived in Tiosa Rondion from their eastern raids. They were immediately recruited to help defend the Strait’s enclosure.
A few days later the Ehrye shore warriors camped on the Strait’s other shore.
Shutaha was already dead. She had seen eighty-four winters. She did not live to see her tree stand through another storm.
The attackers sent emissaries to Turtlefolk and Rootkin. They were joined by no one in Tiosa Rondion. The emissaries re-crossed the Strait with the news that the armed men in the enclosure were not those the attackers had expected, they were not the few untried uniformed men who had been sitting on their firesticks drinking poisoned water with Shutaha’s kin.
The attackers dispersed. Some returned to the Leaning Tree village, others to their camp on the Ehrye shore.
The Scabeaters didn’t follow them. They learned of Mota’s victory and headed toward Kekionga to undo it.
The uniformed men were not strengthened by Shutaha’s kin. Even Nagmo didn’t accompany them against near kin. He promptly set out to Bison Prairie.
When Ozagi and Nanikibi returned to Bison Prairie, they found only Sigenak and Namakwe in their lodge. Wagoshkwe’s oldest and youngest daughters, Tinami and Kittihawa, had moved their mats to Nagmo’s lodge, and both wore Katwyn’s crosses. Wagoshkwe was gone. She had hoped the murderers of her kin would be removed from the western Lakes. She had danced with that hope until Nagmo returned from the Strait with the news that the attack on the Strait’s enclosure had failed.
Wagoshkwe gave Sigenak her arrowhead and begged him to protect her children from traitors. She was convinced Ozagi had gone to the Strait to warn the Scabeaters. She and other Redearth kin of Bison Prairie set out toward the Long River and the Plains beyond, in search of survivors from the other shore who had learned to hunt bison on horseback. She went to live with kin who were not poisoned by the Invaders’ gifts nor surrounded by picketed enclosures. It pained Ozagi to know that Wagoshkwe had left thinking he had betrayed her battle.
Ozagi was not in Bison Prairie long before the enclosure’s Scabeaters again spoke of depradations committed by Serpents. They said Kekionga’s Prairiekin had stepped into the Serpent’s jaws. They described Pickawillany as a trap planted by Oceanshore Invaders. They said Pickawillany blocked their paths to the Long and Beautiful Rivers’ valleys. Nagmo once again grew rigid.
Ozagi knew that the Scabeaters were already preparing another war, and he suspected they would send Nagmo against the kin in Pickawillany. Ozagi told Nagmo he would go to Pickawillany to warn his kin of the trap and urge them to return to Kekionga.
Sigenak and Namakwe were eager to join those they considered Wagoshkwe’s allies, but Sigenak refused to leave Bison Prairie unless all of Wagoshkwe’s children left. Nanikibi convinced Tinami and Kittihawa to leave Katwyn by telling them the Scabeaters were preparing to war against their father.
Nagmo, with the enclosure’s headman and a Blackrobe and scouts, left Bison Prairie shortly before Ozagi. Nagmo and his band are said to be planting metal plaques in the Beautiful River’s valleys, from the Sunrise Mountains to the other side of Pickawillany. Mangashko had known that the Scabeaters’ war on Redearth kin was only the beginning of their war on all Rootkin.
Ozagi no longer wavers between Invaders like a drunken man. His last departure from Bison Prairie transforms him, as it transformed his father. Ozagi now understands Wagoshkwe—too late, as always. He scoffs at Mota for wanting to use the arms of one Invader against the other. He says the Oceanshore Invaders are waiting for Mota, eager to make of him what the others made of Nagmo. He says every metal button, every beaverhat, every ornamented coat they give so generously is a plea for murder, a scalping, a maiming of a kinsman.
I keep away from the strangers who come and go, bearing gifts from the Oceanshore. Menoko’s children help me arrange my last ceremony. Ozagi agrees to impersonate the hare. Oashi lights the fires. I place a bear’s head over mine. The dancers of the outer circle form themselves into the shape of a hand surrounding those around the fires. The chanting, dancing and whirling grow ever more frenzied. All at once the circles become a shapeless multitude. A hare chases the group at the first fire, then moves to extinguish the other fires. I block his path. He tries to chase me with a stick. But bears from every circle—my great-grandchildren, Wagoshkwe’s children, Eastbranch and Southbranch kin—encircle the hare. We follow the fleeing hare to the fringe of the forest, poking him with our sticks.
I’ve given all my songs and stories to Oashi and Binesikwe.
I’m as frightened for them as Menoko. I sense that another guest has arrived in Pickawillany. It’s the guest I saw in Green- bay as a child, in Tiosa Rondion as a mother, in Kekionga and Bison Prairie as a great-grandmother. I do not want to see this guest a fourth time.
I have seen many beautiful things. I concentrate on them. Maybe this is what Menoko does when she looks so distant.
I want to lie down by my Tellegwi ancestors in the valley of the mounds. I long to be re-adopted by Yahatase and Wedasi. I long to rejoin Shutaha.
I remove the mask of the ancient woman with the long white hair.
From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org
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