One of the continual battles throughout the ages, has always been human leaders going to war. The need for more land and power, causes such leaders to decimate and conquer whole areas and peoples. It never seems to end.
In that process, whole villages and towns are razed to the ground. Original inhabitants are evicted from unlivable homes and culture, histories and customs are destroyed or merged with the new conqueror’s ideals. It seems, that in all that happens, no-one really wins.
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This painting by renowned artist, Mykey, inspired me to tell the following story.
I stood quietly next to my horse and gazed around at the beautiful view. On the horizon lay the verdant hills of my homeland. I placed my hand on Honehe* and the softness of his neck calmed me. The plain in front of me was covered in yellow grass, and the breeze sent shivers along the valley. The swirls of the grass reminded me of the beauty of nature.
The hunt this morning had been successful, and the family would not go hungry for a while. I hoped we would be able to store some meat for when the snows came.
I stood for a while longer, soaking in the silence. My brothers would be waiting in the village to butcher the buffalo and section it out according to our customs.
I turned to go, ready to leap upon the back of Honehe when I saw the dust in the distance. Was it a whirlwind? Was it a war-party? I strained my eyes to search for the answer before I raced off to warn the tribe.
“Oh, do slow down,” Sarah Martin said to her husband, John. “Just look at this valley! Isn’t it beautiful?”
Two tousled heads popped out of the wagon and looked around, but Hannah and George didn’t seem to be interested and they disappeared back into the comfort of their beds.
“The children don’t yet understand the importance of what we are doing,” John said, when Sarah frowned at the children. “We have made this journey to find a better life.”
“Yes,” Sarah said. “I just hope that we don’t get set upon by the savages that are out here.”
Just at that moment, Joseph Williams, their guide came gallpoing up.
“There are Indians coming!” he shouted at them. “Get armed and hide your wife and children,” he shouted to John as he continued towards the other wagons to give the same message.
Many months later, at a small gathering in the town they were settling into, Sarah said to Martha, at the general store.
“It happened so quickly, that I’m not sure if it was the Indians who shot the first arrow, or one of our party who fired their gun, but I lost my husband in the ruckus, and I hear the Indians were rounded up and sent off to a reservation. All we wanted was a better life.” She shook her head and Martha tutted in sympathy.
I bowed my head and trudged on. The tribe were dispirited and lonely. All I had now were the clothes upon my back, and one brother beside me. Everything else had been lost in the bloody battle that had followed. We had only wanted to welcome the newcomers to our land. Where we were going was unknown, but now my homeland was gone.
*Honehe is the Cheyenne word for Wolf.
I write children’s picture books, as well as chapter books. The two following books are about lonliness. ‘Giddy the Galah’ is a picture book about a bird looking for his family, while ‘Petey’ is about a bird unfortunately forced out of home and finding himself in a hostile environment. Both books are AU$18 plus postage, so if you would like one, please contact me throught a direct message. (https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia or https://www.facebook.com/Sweetfields-Publisher )