This story was inspired by a concert I went to last night by a contemporary Native American group named Brule lead by keyboardist Paul LaRoche.
Pauls tale is truly inspiring. Born on the Lower Brule reservation in South Dakota, he was adopted and raised in Worthington Minnesota. He had always thought his heritage was French Canadian, only finding out the truth after the death of his adoptive parents in 1986.
Since then he has embraced his heritage and incorporated this into his music, passing this on to his flutist daughter with whom he established the group Brule seven years ago.
Check the group at http://www.soundofamerica.com/index.ivnu
Disclaimer: As usual, I dont own Vin, or any of the seven, although I wish I did. My thanks go out to the actors, writers and creators that brought the Seven into our lives.
And to Paul LaRoche and Brule for bring such wonderful and inspirational entertainment to us.
Please forgive me for the Lakota words. If Ive misspelled them or used them improperly I apologize. I tried to remember the exact words from the concert and find them in my Lakota language book.
Vin stood under the trees, letting the music flow over him, washing away the stress, the pent up feelings that he had been holding in till he was near the breaking point.
Two weeks prior he had found himself in Omaha Nebraska, sent there to help train the local ATF team in a series of new weapons just out on the market. He felt this was more a disciplinary action on AD Travis part than any real need for Tanner to be there. Or maybe it was precautionary. He had been riding pretty close to the edge lately, the temper that was usually so firmly in check surfacing with uncanny regularity.
No one knew what was causing the normally calm and sensible sharpshooter to react so strongly. Vin didnt understand it himself. Hed been through this date, the very one that found him standing in a forest in Nebraska listening to music, numerous times before with no problem. Twenty-five times as a matter of fact. Although in fairness, he hadnt known the exact date for thirteen of those twenty-five.
But this was the anniversary of his mothers death.
What he hadnt remembered for many, many years was that the anniversary of her death was also his birthday. And today was his thirtieth.
But he had shared none of this with his six friends as the date drew near. Instead he had kept the strange feelings inside, allowing them to eat at him little by little.
And the last two weeks had been the hardest of all, away from the six men he called family perhaps when he needed them the very most, and thrust amongst a group of strangers. Like he had been so often in his life.
But tonight, with the powerful music of contemporary Native America group Brule surrounding him and the forest and night sky cocooning him, the angriness, the feeling of being lost, began to leave him.
He took another step back into the shadows, away from the lights of the visitors center and the patio where the group played and he tuned out the crowd. All that was visible to him were the musicians and the sky and trees.
Dancers came out and joined the music, their graceful moves full of meaning and purpose. The female dancer used her green shawl with its multicolored fringe, twirling and moving, a blur of color. The male dancer was bedecked in a feathered headdress and a ring of feathers on his back. He carried a ring symbolizing the four directions and a wing of some type of hawk or owl. He used both in his dance.
Vin found himself moving slightly with the music and dancers, the drum beat invading his chest and matching that of his heart, the keyboard and guitar making sounds he had never heard before from either instrument, the flute floating across as if borne on a breeze.
One song floated into another and the music became everything.
The keyboardist and lead of Brule announced a song from their first album called "Ancient Ones" and soon an eagle dancer was before them and Vin saw the eagle in his head, soaring high. And he felt them. The ancient ones.
As the concert came to an end under a star filled sky Vin came back to reality slowly. He watched as the dancers took one final pass through the audience, listened to the musicians wrap up their mystical last song, and hung back as the crowd moved out of their folding chairs and to the doors of the visitors center. Reluctantly, he took a step out of the shadows, not wanting to end the evening.
"You feel them, dont you?"
Vin should have been startled by the voice, but he wasnt. Instead he turned to find the source of the voice. It was the male dancer, still dressed in costume, his long black hair shining in the moonlight.
Vin nodded. "Yes."
"She is here. With you," the man said and started to move away.
"Who?" Vin asked softly, almost afraid of the answer.
"The one you grieve for. The one you lost so many years ago." And he started to turn away again, but stopped. "But there are some in the here and now that are here with you also. Their spirits are connected to you. Let them help you." And with that he moved swiftly away.
Vin waited just a few moments, letting the mans words sink in, then moved across the patio, weaving through chairs to the aisle then down past the small stage.
"Takuye ociwasin, my friend," Paul LaRoche, leader of Brule said from where he was dismantling his equipment. "We are all relatives."
Vin stopped. "Thank you. More than you will know," he said softly. And he made his way through the visitors center and out to the street where he had parked his rental Jeep.
As he approached he saw someone hanging around his car. As he drew nearer that someone became two, then three, then more, until six distinct men could be seen. With a lighter heart than hed had in many weeks, he approached them.
"Boys, the drinks are on me," he said as he climbed into the Jeep. Chris climbed in beside him and the others got into the van they had rented upon arrival at the airport that evening. With a smile of contentment, Vin drove off, with family once more.