“What are you men willing to die for?”
Posted by rezinate on March 9, 2011
I received the below in an email and wanted to share it also-the internet is rife with excuses for the issues addressed in this story-and that’s all they are-excuses. Warriors don’t wilt under pressure-they don’t run off and get drunk, do drugs, or abuse women and children- they fight what is wrong, protect, and provide. This title warrior was an earned one-now it has become a form of freeware for any to download and apply to themselves.
“Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend the Ontario Native Men’s Wellness Conference in Toronto. Each morning began with individual clan meetings to start the day.
My clan meeting was led by a Grandfather from the Wintu Tribe in California. One morning he shared this story. I loved it so much that I asked if I could keep it and share it, and he said yes. With gratitude I share it now, it is a story from the Wintu People.
The Wintu are also known as the Eagle People. Their Ancestral lands include the slopes and high peaks of Mt. Shasta. Each year the adults gather on the mountain for a meeting. After the ceremony has been finished on the first day, they divide up and the men go one way, thewomen remain at the firepit. While they are in their meetings they talk about the issues of the Tribe. At the end of the day’s meetings the women will sing a song, and the men return and join them at the fire. Together they discuss their concerns.
The reason they are known as the Eagle People is because of the many, many eagles who nest on the rocky crags of Mt. Shasta. Eagles mate for life, the female’s choice, and here in the land of the Wintu the female eagle has a test that she uses to pick her life companion.
She will fly down to the valley floor, sometimes as much as a half mile below, and pick up the largest log of wood that she can carry in her talons. Flying back up into the sky she drops the log, and as it hurtles down toward the valley floor she screams….her shrill cries echo outward and down into the canyon.
Young male eagles, just entering their prime, hear her cries and come racing toward the hurtling log. They hit at it with their sharp talons as it falls, until one catches it and carries it upward where she waits on a narrow ledge, and drops it at her feet. She repeats this several times, watching to see who catches it most often and returns it again to her. This is the mate she chooses; the one she will never leave.
She and her mate build their nest together on the same ledge she has chosen for the test. Time passes, and soon there are eggs. One by one the eggs hatch, and the little eaglets become the responsibility of both parents. One day, a little eaglet decides that its time to leave his nest. There is no test drive, no practice run on the narrow ledge, and whether his tail feathers or wing feathers are strong or not – he leaps…. And if he isn’t mature enough he loses his balance and like the log, hurtles downward toward the valley floor hundreds or even thousands of feet below……and his mother screams.
The father Eagle hears her cries and remembers them from before. He races toward the hurtling eaglet and catching it in his talons, returns it to their nest.
Earlier in the same summer of this Toronto Gathering the Tribe had gathered for their annual meeting on the slopes of Mt. Shasta. When the women’s song called the men back to the fire, the Headwoman, a Grandmother, stepped into the light.
“What are you men willing to die for?” she asked as she faced them across the fire. “We see you dying for drugs, and alcohol, and all manner of violence, or throwing your lives away behind prison bars.
Our children are falling, they are crashing against the rocks…..the women scream for you now…..will you come?”
A good day to die has become something of a cliche following the all too frequent and free handed use of such words to adorn book titles and romanticize rhetoric by those who would also make a cliche of our traditions and ceremonies in marketing them.
Everyday isn’t a good to die, it depends on the circumstances.
One could hardly say it would be a good day to die if they fell off a ladder and broke their neck, or stumbled into the street in a drunken stupor and were run over.
Dying isn’t required to address a great many of the issues the nations face – what is required is sense of responsibility, a desire for things to be better, and a true native pride.
What it requires is to live our lives as something more than an internet video – to forgo the expectations that come with that and instead look to the expectations of our own – our women, children, elders, and communities….those are worth dying for, not drugs or alcohol.