Dylan Walking Bear is an important character in my series of books subtitled “Life in the Shadows.”
I think the address (see below) he recently gave to his University students is appropriate to todays challenges. This passage is from my most recent novel “Beyond the Black Stump”
Walking Bear is Blackfoot.
Walking Bear works undercover for Mi6 while holding a full time position as a Professor at the University of Warwick in Coventry.
Though raised in England he is steeped in his culture. The following address is given when he accepts an award from the University students.
During a visit to his people in Montana he met “Glances Twice” a Blackfoot lawyer who decides to leave her firm in NY and work back on the reservation. Unbeknownst to Walking Bear she has been brought in as a surprise by Jack, Mick, Mahaney and FBI Agent Wolf Plume.
“…He was left alone which gave him the opportunity to glance at his note cards.
After flipping through the cards he walked to the door that led to the hall so he could hear what was being said to the audience. “…we have been very fortunate to have on our faculty one of the most knowledgeable, talented, generous scholars who constantly offers our students a new vision for the future. Ladies and gentleman please rise to welcome Dr. Daniel Bear, our professor of the year…”
Walking Bear took a deep breath and entered the room. He walked directly to the Chancellor shaking his hand. Before turning to the audience he shook his dean’s hand and those of the department directors and board members in attendance.
The crowd that was on its feet applauding.
When he turned to address the audience he was slightly blinded by the lights that had been set up by the students, and the local television stations, covering the evening. The press releases had made him out to be “exotic” which explained the TV coverage. Those releases had given his unique background.
Out of the ordinary gave TV and print editors a story that didn’t hit the same old tunes.
The glaring lights only allowed him to view the first few rows of guests.
As the applause died down and the audience took their seats Walking Bear scanned the rows he could see. When he spotted Glances Twice and Wolf Plume sitting alongside Henry and Sara, Jack and Holly and Mick and someone he didn’t know he was frozen in time for a few seconds.
For a flash he thought he was seeing a wish, not reality.
His heart picked up beats as he looked directly at Glances Twice. He couldn’t help but share a grin that came straight from the heart.
The heart that had the arrow in it-
She returned the smile.
These seconds seemed like minutes.
He knew he was bordering on staying silent for too long. Preceded by taking in a lung full of air he looked at Wolf and Glances Twice saying.
“Oki Ni-kso-ko wa. Iiksoka’pii kitsinohsi.” (Greetings, its very good to see you.)
Bear immediately realized that the focus of his talk on the invisibility of people was not what he wanted to speak about anymore.
After thanking the students, the deans, the Chancellor and esteemed guests he put down his notes and began his talk.
“My dear friends, I want to share with you that we are all connected through the spirit that lives in each of us.
We are not alone on separate paths but linked together in a journey that is as great as any journey ever taken.
Often we forget that we are linked together, as we rush from one place to another worrying about one thing or another.
That I am standing here addressing you, could not have been imagined by my ancestors. The decision taken by my family to stay in Britain, rather than returning to the states, has linked me to two vastly different societies. Societies, because of their pace, can often make one feel as if they are completely alone.
We are not alone.
We are the heartbeat that brought these stones, to this place, to build this magnificent structure.
We are the heartbeat that drove the great scientists, poets, explorers, and leaders here, and across America.
We, you and me, are one.
We can gather our hopes, dreams, and fears around the campfire of our heart. We just need to remember that we always have that option.
Students interrupted him with applause. He nodded his thanks before continuing.
I could pick a quote emphasizing this for you from many who have preceded us here, but let me share from that part of me that still looks out to the spine of the world and hears the wind blowing across our land.
Tashunca-uitco, Oglala Lakota Sioux, known as Crazy Horse, four days before his death in 1877, at the hands of soldiers, sat smoking the Sacred Pipe with Tatanka-Iyotanka, Hunkpapa Lakota chief and holy man, known to you as Sitting Bull. After moments of silence he spoke to those gathered.
“…The Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world; a world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations; a world longing for light again.
I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again.
In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom.
I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be one.”
Though much of his dream has escaped us, his insight into what we can be and what we strive for, is alive and well within the hearts of the students here at Warwick University. I hear their questions as they look for a basic understanding to what this journey is all about.
I hear their hearts asking for a safe place where they can feel all that is available without the fears that so often hold the spirit in check.
Hold on to what is good,
Even is it’s a handful of earth. Hold on to what you believe, Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, Even if it’s a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it’s easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I’ll be gone away from you.
I am proud of these students, my fellow teachers, the administration and all who give us the opportunity to search, and find, what so often looks so illusive.
We are one.
Thank you students for this honor.
I hold you in my heart for all time.
He received loud applause, particularly from the large contingent of students in attendance. He saw Glances Twice looking at him as if she’d seen him for the first time. He wasn’t quite sure how to read her before the audience moving forward to shake his hand and share their thoughts blocked her from his view. Bear was trying to be polite as he responded to each person who took the time to speak with him. What he wanted to do was ask them all to leave so he could join his friends…”
The following video was produced for the Blackfeet Nation