Traveling Lightly to the Blackfeet Nation

Traveling Light has officially begun. Helena, Montana the aim.   It was merely the first stop in Big Sky Country but it’s still two thousand four hundred and ninety-eight miles from home.  The urgency was such to get here that I drove the whole thing just under three days as soon as I had enough money to make it.  Until now, I’ve felt the need to keep my reasons for Montana being the first bit of the Traveling Light adventure close to my chest.  I needed to protect one person’s anonymity, to evaluate the calling to engage with a particular organization and its place on the planet, and to keep looky-loos, nosey Nancies & hokey healers from creating interference for the ultimate reason I’m here.

Although this apparent connection to Montana began the morning of January 12 this year, it really began for me in May 2008.  On a date I can’t quite remember, I had my first vision as an adult (I talked a little about the childhood one here). In a period of time where I felt physically threatened and unsafe on a multitude of levels, two years before the healing gift and work with spirit as I know it now began, this trip to Montana truly began.  While driving to a therapist appointment of all things, a male Native American face appeared before me on my left for several minutes. His visage was stern and ferociously protective and, in that moment, I felt safer than I had in months.  He didn’t say a word but didn’t need to for me to know his presence wasn’t a figure of my imagination or stress-response to a threat.  I later thought (or hoped, maybe) that I could find who he was in the historical record.  I could not, though, discern who it was at the time. I did, though, find my protector on the afternoon of January 12, 2014, as I tried to put the pieces of this mystery together. Complete with the hat I saw him wearing was this man: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aatsista-Mahkan.

Not entirely unlike the vision that led me to Connecticut, this calling (and connection to 2008) began with a non-mystical or -metaphorical call as I was making this year’s first trip across the country  helping my best friend move from New Joisey to Seattle.  A person, another healer dude, reached out for help on January 10.  Our initial interactions were first limited to texting and the decision on both our parts that in-person work was necessary.   However, on Sunday the 12th, things changed course with a remote session to address an immediate need.

During that couple of hours I was ‘plugged into’ this other sensitive soul, the sensations that flooded through me opened the avenues that took me to Helena, Feathered Pipe Ranch, and, now to the heart of the Blackfeet Nation.  The lovely man, another super-sensitive empath, who initiated the rolling-across-the-country-in-a-blizzard-of-blowing-snow was being directly effected by an energy mass that was ground-based but human-related (and, y’all, you don’t have to believe it for it to be true). They spoke (by not speaking, actually) clearly enough for me to know without any other information exactly who and where they were and why I was reached in the wild way I was.  And, one of their brothers settled in beside me.  Although I didn’t know who he was at the moment of contact–it was hard to miss him getting comfortable as he sat down beside me.  An hour or so later, I learned that he was Pat Kennedy, a Cree elder with distinct connections to the Feathered Pipe, the healer I was connecting with, and the Blackfeet Nation.  My discomfort in the travels of the past couple of weeks has been mitigated by knowing he has not left my side since that day.

Part of an article from the January 27, 2014 Great Falls Tribune will fill in part of the blank:

On the morning of Jan. 23, 1870, a combined force of 347 U.S. Army regulars and civilian volunteers attacked the winter camp of Chief Heavy Runner. The operation’s commander, Col. Eugene Baker, had been ordered to find a different band of Blackfeet, led by Mountain Chief, to “strike them hard” and to arrest five Piegan warriors wanted for murder.

Baker’s scout told the commander he had the wrong camp, but it made no difference. His men had made a hard four-day march in subzero temperatures and were ready for blood…

Baker’s official report listed 173 Blackfeet killed and 140 captured. Other witnesses placed the number of dead closer to 220, the vast majority being old men, women and children, many sick with small pox.

After the killing was over, the soldiers burned the tribe’s belongings, then left the survivors behind with a small supply of Army hardtack and bacon.

More Blackfeet died in the following days, either succumbing to their injuries or freezing to death in the bitter cold.“It was our 9/11,” said Mike LaFromboise, culture/language chairman for Blackfeet Community College. “It’s the same traumatic experience we experienced today as they did back then.”

So, 144 years later I am in Browning, Montana, in the Going to the Sun Inn not-so-eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s 40+ mph winds and the blowing snow that slashes at your face in the same.  I’m going to go to the place where I’ve actually been called for quite some time and I’m going to listen to their hearts.

Any time I have any doubt about why I am where I am, I’m reminded to stay the course in some fashion.  In Saturday’s sweat, that was the message—“Patience.  Stay the Course.”  Sometimes, though, when I feel alone in all this or I think things are quite clear enough, I get pissed.  Royally so.  Yesterday, while frightened about what laid ahead and experiencing emotions not entirely my own, I yelled at the rafters (seriously, the rafters), “”SHOW ME!! Just fucking show me something I can understand!!!” Then I got in the car and drove the three hours from Helena to Browning. And, no, the rafters didn’t respond.

And while I moved up the highway, riding parallel to the Rocky Mountains majesty, I wept. I wept a lot.  I cried for me because I’ve no  idea what this is about, only that I must.  I cried because I don’t understand why I’m not frightened when by all measures of grown-up sanity, I should be quaking in my boots. I cried some more for me–what the fuck is happening in my world, why am I going, what if I’m wrong, how can I be wrong, why do I have to do this alone?  I cried for those who no longer can cry for themselves or others.  I cried for those who have been beating the drum in my heart.  I cried for a healer who is afraid to reclaim his power & is holding onto fear like a lifeline.  For a people  I’ve never known but always known.  And, over and over again I said out loud: “I’m coming.  I’m coming. I love you. I’m coming” to no one and everyone in particular.

The tears only lasted 30 miles or so.   When a reassuring hand laid on my head (Pat’s, I like to think) and I no longer felt alone and anguish morphed to stillness, the sobbing subsided.  Three hours later I landed in Browning, the home of the Blackfeet reservation.  I  made a stop at the local community college’s library, got the data I needed and asked for a cheap place to stay.

There’s not much of a seque here but I need to backtrack a month to January 18.  I had an appointment with a friend who ‘just knows’ in a way I highly respect.  (Simon‘s a cool dude who works the magic and plays with spirit in his own unique way.  You might want to check him out.).   He, without having any information beforehand, confirmed everything I’ve written above and also told me to be on the look out for a dude with a scar across his face.  He described the scar in detail.  Guess who is the proprietor at the warm & toasty Going to the Sun Inn?  Ayup–the man with the scar.  I asked to be shown.  I was.

And, I’m here.  Maybe to do nothing in particular.  Maybe to do something specific.  I don’t know.  They only thing I do know is that they called and I came.  So tomorrow, I head 60 miles east if Mother Nature will open the way and I will respond to their call.  Lao Tzu reportedly said, “loving someone deeply gives you courage.”  It is this love, the deepest, the love for which there is no real emotional definition in the way we think we know it,  the kind that needs no other explanation and requires no return that has given me the courage to come this far.  To them and theirs that have come before and after:  I’ve come.  I love you.

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