HerStory

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Chapter 3 – Is She the Outsider

Later that day, the men returned to the village. An eight-year-old boy named Little Sparrow ran up to the men and said, “The sick slave woman came out,” as he pointed at Ayira’s teepee.

“Where did she go?” asked Yellow Feather. Tall and very handsome, he was Little Sparrow’s uncle and the nephew of Chief Coyote, the chief of the village.

Yellow Feather dismounted his horse and walked over to Little Sparrow. Little Sparrow looked worried as he continued; “She came and stared at the trees. She did not look well.”

Yellow Feather nodded, and they walked over to the rest of the men, who surrounded Great Eagle and Chief Coyote.

“So the sick slave woman finally came out,” said White Hawk, who was Chief Coyote’s son and Yellow Feather’s cousin.

“The women and children are scared of that slave woman,” said a man in the crowd. “What did she do that scared the others?” asked Chief Coyote.

“She did nothing – all she did was walk up to those trees and stare at them,” said Great Eagle. “What was in the trees?” asked White Hawk.

“Nothing,” said another man in the crowd.

“Then there is nothing to be scared of – tell them to be scared of winter for winter will sneak up on them soon,” said White Hawk smirking.

“Do you still want to see her?” asked Chief Coyote.

“Yes, bring her. There is much to talk about,” said Great Eagle.

The men agreed and walked away. Little Sparrow looked at Yellow Feather, concerned, and said, “Mother is not feeling well. She wants to see you.”

Yellow Feather looked down, nodded yes, then patted the boy’s back before he asked, “Did you catch anything today?”

Little Sparrow excitedly said, “We almost killed a deer, but it ran off before we could shoot it. We caught fish and two hares.”

“Good – good,” said Yellow Feather as they walked away.

White Hawk entered Ayira’s teepee. Imani sat across from where Ayira lay staring at the fire. “How is she?” asked White Hawk.

Imani struggled to speak his language as she said, “She has not spoken at all.” “Great Eagle would like to see her.”

“Why?”

“He wants to see how she is doing – tell her to come with me.” Imani crawled over to Ayira and whispered, “Ayira, they want to...” “I know – I will go,” said Ayira.

Imani, stunned at her response, nervously looked down. White Hawk analyzed Ayira as she slowly stood up.

“Good, I will wait outside.”

He stepped outside the teepee as Imani stood up. “Are you sure you want to speak to them?”

“I have no choice – do I?” replied Ayira.

Imani worriedly followed Ayira out of the teepee.

Chief Coyote, Great Eagle, and three elders were sitting in another teepee, waiting when White Hawk and the two women entered. Ayira looked weary as she stared at the ground. White Hawk gestured to her to sit in front of Great Eagle and Chief Coyote. Yellow Feather entered abruptly and was surprised when everyone turned to stare at him, but Ayira quickly turned away, looking nervous.

“Who invited you?” White Hawk asked Yellow Feather.

“Great Eagle, please forgive me – Red Sun is sick,” said Yellow Feather. Annoyed, Great Eagle said, “I am sure she is – bring her to me when we are done.” Yellow Feather nodded and Great Eagle continued, “Yellow Feather, please sit.”

White Hawk looked annoyed as Yellow Feather stared at Ayira as she kept her back toward him, and then quickly nodded. Ayira cast her eyes down as she sadly sat in front of Great Eagle.

“Chief Coyote, remember what I told you about what was to come as your time as chief?” asked Great Eagle.

“There were many things,” said Chief Coyote.

“Remember when I said a big change will come if a stranger is accepted as one of our people?” Chief Coyote nodded.

White Hawk, sounding disgusted, said, “You cannot accept her as one of our own?” “And that outsider will be surrounded by darkness, but it will be the light for us.” “Yes – yes I remember. Is she the outsider?”

“I also said the stranger will play a big part in your son’s time as chief.” Coyote nodded yes.

Confusion in his voice, White Hawk asked, “You spoke of her before, I do not understand. You said the outsider will be surrounded by darkness. That means she is evil.

Imani watched Ayira as she kept staring at the ground. “Look at her,” said White Hawk.

“I thought that also, but I also said the stranger’s darkness will be our light. Chief Coyote, I see many spirits around her, but I do not see darkness, only sadness in her eyes,” said Great Eagle.

Imani glanced at Great Eagle in relief, but White Hawk appeared confused. Yellow Feather noticed the scars on Ayira’s back and sadly looked down as he thought to himself. Ayira looked up at Great Eagle, who smiled at her, but then she quickly looked away. Leaning over to Imani, she whispered, “They want to give us back to the white men.”

Stunned, Imani stared at Ayira as Great Eagle said, “Tell her we are her friends, we will not bring her harm.”

Imani translated his words for Ayira.

She replied, “Then ask them why they brought us here. Why can’t we go back to our land? Show us the way back.” Her voice trembled anxiously. Embarrassed, Imani looked down and continued translating.

“We brought you here, to save you from the white men,” said Chief Coyote. “Why?” asked Ayira as her eyes began to fill with tears.

“We have been fighting with the white men for many years. We have been fighting to keep our land.”

“You still have your land, your people, your village. I long to see my sisters and brother – I wish this was all a dream,” said Ayira as she sobbed; Imani’s eyes also started to tear.

“You do not understand that we are the same. Most of our people were killed trying to protect our land

and the rest of us were forced to move. When white men are not satisfied, we suffer.”

Ayira looked down, embarrassed, and Chief Coyote continued, “We must move when they want more land, but we do not move without a fight. Many of my people have been butchered, taken as prisoners, used, and lied too. They did not lie to your people. They went to your land and they told your people they wanted slaves.”

Ayira looked up angrily as Chief Coyote continued, “When they came to our land, they lied to us. They told us we can help each other, we can learn from each other. Once they learned how we lived and survived, they used our weaknesses and strengths against us. They killed our women and children. They raped our women and, if we were not killed by war, we were killed by sickness that the white men gave us.”

Ayira sadly turned away.

“Tell her that I see many spirits around her. She is lost and angry. I want to help her if she lets me,” said Great Eagle.

Ayira stared at Great Eagle in disgust and said, “No one can help me.” “You need guidance,” said Great Eagle.

“I need everyone to leave me alone.”

“Believe me – Great Eagle can guide you. He has helped many people,” said Chief Coyote. “I need to be guided back to my people – no one can help me,” said Ayira.

Ayira pounded on her chest and continued, “I am nothing without my tribe. I cannot be helped. I don’t want to be helped. I want to go back...”

White Hawk said, sounding frustrated, “It is not possible. We have our own wars with white men.

When we win our land back, then you can go back to your land. We cannot do anything now.”

“Then I will help myself,” said Ayira. She turned to stare at Imani and asked, “Why do you accept them as if they are your people? Why do you speak their language? Why do you accept that we will never go back?”

“There is nowhere else to go,” said Imani, sounding disappointed.

“You must try to accept that we want to help you. Please understand. Look deep inside yourself and understand there is a reason why we have crossed paths,” said Great Eagle.

Ayira sadly said, “You cannot help me. Ayira was lost when she got on that ship.” She angrily got up and walked out. Yellow Feather stared at the entrance.

Great Eagle looked at Imani and said, “Please watch her and keep her from doing harm to herself.” Imani sadly nodded and left the teepee.

“What should we do?” asked White Hawk.

“I cannot help her if she does not want to be helped. She is very lost,” said Great Eagle.

“Why – why, Father, do you help these slaves? They are not our problem. Let them fend for themselves,” said White Hawk.

Yellow Feather sadly looked down.

“Why do you speak that way?” asked Chief Coyote.

“Because we are already the white man’s enemy, and these slaves will bring harm to our village.” “And what about the slaves; do they not deserve a chance?” said Chief Coyote.

“It is not my problem, Father.”

“It is not your problem? Do you not see what they have been through? Do you not see what they are going through?”

“Our people are what matters – Father, we must look after our own; the slaves will bring us down. What about us? What we have been through and what we are going through? What about us?”

“Yes – we are the same as those slaves. We are slaves ourselves, but on our own land.”

“Father, we will be slaves. We will be just like them if we keep them here. Those white men that bought them could return looking for them, and if we lose we will be just like them.”

“My son, we made that choice when we attacked those boats. We knew what was going to happen. To see them fed and beaten like animals, just as our people have been treated… They are not slaves to me. They are our brothers and sisters. We must help each other to survive, to conquer, to be free.”

“All I see is a never-ending battle,” said White Hawk, as he angrily stood up and left the teepee. Chief Coyote looked down sadly. Great Eagle put his hand on Chief Coyote’s shoulder.

“I would like to speak to Yellow Feather alone,” said Great Eagle. The rest of the men nodded and left.

“I wanted to talk to you about the slave girl. Remember the talk we had after your brother died?” Yellow Feather quickly looked down and nodded.

“It has come true. She has a strong spirit. The great spirits have led her to us.”

“What should we do? She does not look well; she hardly eats – her body has many scars. She listens to no one – and she does not come out of her tee-pee.”

“Bring Imani back.”

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