Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Coming Home by Paty Jager

Rituals are the established rites or acts that are observed for specific ceremonies whether they are religious or an observance. These rituals are customs of the people who use them to unite their emotions and show their good will.

I had the good fortune to attend a Nez Perce Celebration recently. It was the Tamkaliks(from where you can see the mountains) at Wallowa, Oregon.  Wallowa is the Nez Perce word for a tripod used to support fishing nets.  The Wallowa Valley was home to the Wallowa band of Nez Perce who became world known for their chief Young Joseph and the flight the non-treaty Nez Perce and several other bands from neighboring tribes attempted to remain off the reservation. They exodus took the U.S. Army on a four month, (some accounts say 1200 miles and others say 1400 mile) chase.

Flag Ceremony

The Tamkaliks Celebration celebrates the return of a presence of the Wallowa Band in the valley. When the army captured Young Joseph, he and his people band who were still alive, were shipped to Oklahoma and not allowed to return to the valley. Even after eight years of exile, they were not allowed back in the valley or even the Idaho country. Many of the local whites feared for their lives and petitioned the government to not allow them back in the land they knew. Most, including Joseph were sent to the Colville reservation in Washington state.

Joseph made several trips to Washington D.C. and continued until his death in 1904 to try and regain a piece of the valley that held the bodies of their ancestors. He never gave up trying to get his people back to the valley.
Flag Ceremony
Today, the Wallowa band is working with the Wallowa Land Trust, located in Enterprise, to set up seasonal camps on land that they have secured in trust - one of which is the traditional summer camp at the confluence of the Lostine and Wallowa rivers. They have hopes of also getting acreage in the Joseph Canyon where their ancestors camped in the winter.  

When the camps are re-established, the plan is to have elders come to the valley and teach the people the old ways of living and doing things- and all people are invited.

After so many years of bitterness on both sides it was wonderful to see Nez Perce and non-Nez Perce come together at the celebration and dance the Friendship dance and hear the songs and prayers of the past. Hopefully one day soon the mountains will again echo the sounds of the past for more than one weekend a year. 

The third book of my Spirit Trilogy, Spirit of the Sky, is set during the Nez Perce flight to Canada.
Blurb Spirit of the Sky:
To save her from oppression, he must save her whole tribe. To give her his heart, he must desert his career…
When the US Army forces the Nimiipuu from their land, Sa-qan, the eagle spirit entrusted with watching over her tribe, steps in to save her mortal niece. Challenging the restrictions of the spirit world, Sa-qan assumes human form and finds an unexpected ally in a handsome cavalry officer.
Certain she is a captive, Lt. Wade Watts, a Civil War veteran, tries to help the blonde woman he finds sheltering a Nez Perce child. While her intelligent eyes reveal she understands his language, she refuses his help. But when Wade is wounded, it is the beautiful Sa-qan who tends him. Wade wishes to stop the killing—Sa-qan will do anything to save her people.
Can their differences save her tribe? Or will their love spell the end of the Nimiipuu?

    She smiled and his heart leapt into his throat. Wade thought her beautiful from the first moment he saw her standing in the river fiercely protecting the child, but watching her tense face relax and smile, he was smitten. A light and pleasing calm washed over him for the first time in a very long time. He could only bask in the moment briefly.
     They were enemies.
     “I am from the sky, and I watch over the Nimiipuu.” She nodded her head and flashed him with yet another smile. “You may call me Angel.”
     “Only if you call me Wade.”
     She nodded. “Let me check your wounds. You have moved around.”
     “Why are you taking such good care of me when your warriors left me for dead?”
     Her sunshine gaze peered straight into his eyes. “You saved my niece at the village and the wounded from the Bannock scout. You do not have the thirst to kill like the other soldiers.” She bowed her head and removed the blood encrusted bandage from his shoulder. “The Nimiipuu need you.”
     Her touch warmed his body, tingling the areas around his wounds. He glanced at her small, delicate hands hovering over his injuries. He shut his eyes, and then opened them. Her hands shimmered as if in a fog. His pain subsided, in fact, his body felt well rested. A soft lyrical chant rose from her lips as she continued to hover her hands over his wounds. Her eyes remained closed, her light lashes resting on her sun-kissed cheeks. He’d never seen a woman as beautiful as this. He had to learn her true origins
and return her to her family.


Caroline Clemmons said...

Paty, such a sad part of our history. I am glad they have recovered a part of the valley, at least. Great post. Loved the photos.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Caroline. Reading back through this I have several oops! Dang! I thought I had it perfect before I posted. I guess my emotions run too high when I write about this topic.

Beth Trissel said...

Love this post Paty. How interesting. Wonderful pics. You and I share a deep love of Native Americans. Spirit of the Sky sounds wonderful.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful post, Paty. I loved the excerpt...gotta have it for my ever-growing TBR pile, but of course, I always move those that really touch me to the top. :) The pictures are beautiful, and harkened me back to the recent movie I watched about Chief Joseph and his people. How touching.

Meg said...

Great post, Paty! Inspirational!

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Beth. Yes, I may not have NA blood but I feel connected to this tribe.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Ginger. What was the movie?

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Meg.

Lyn Horner said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Paty. Enjoyed reading about the celebration and love your excerpt!

Paty Jager said...

Lyn, You're most welcome. It was a wonderful experience I plan to visit again.

Devon Matthews said...

Love the pictures, Paty, and very nice excerpt. I've never been to a powwow, but they do have them here where I live. Don't know the tribe. My youngest brother's girlfriend is Hopi. She and her family came here from Arizona and they participate in the local powwow every year. Her mother was a storyteller, until she passed away a couple of years ago.

Paty Jager said...

Devon, How wonderful for you to have someone you can visit with about NA storytelling. I think anyone who writes NA needs to go to a powwow. From reading and researching I had a feeling for "the people" but actually witnessing their songs, dances and prayers shows even more of their culture.

DMS said...

What a fascinating post. My students study the Nez Perce in social studies. I can't wait to share this celebration with them. It is wonderful that progress is being made and people are uniting. :)


Paty Jager said...

Stephanie, that's wonderful that you study the Nez Perce. I am happy that the two are uniting after so long.

Jacquie Rogers said...

I've been to a few of these (not this tribe) and they're always so interesting, and so very different. Thanks for the post!

Paty Jager said...

Thanks for stopping in, Jacquie!