Click on the above image of Minniehaha feeding the birds to watch a meditative youtube with beautiful images and music by Yanni, put online by winterstorm2.
Merge with Hiawatha: these were words I heard in a dream last night spoken by a man. Was this the voice of a dream guide? I saw nothing just heard the words repeated. It made me laugh: Hiawatha! I vaguely remembered the name as one of a Native American, but didn’t know if he was a real person, or a myth, or someone on a TV show?
I asked my husband this morning and he knew immediately that Hiawatha was a popular epic poem written back in the 1800s.
Here is a Wikipedia comment: “The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring an Indian hero. It is loosely based on the legends and ethnography of the Ojibwe (Chippewa, Anishinaabeg) and other Native American peoples as contained in Algic Researches (1839) and additional writings by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, an ethnographer and United States. In sentiment, scope, overall conception, and many particulars, Longfellow’s poem is very much a work of American Romantic literature, not a representation of Native American oral tradition. Longfellow insisted, “I can give chapter and verse for these legends. Their chief value is that they are Indian legends.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_Hiawatha
It turns out the poem is not literal and not a true but a fictional work of the imagination based on Longfellow’s imaginings and understanding.
I found myself wondering just what did “merge with Hiawatha” from my dream mean? It sounded very much like an instruction to me personally. I once heard dream voices from my parents telling me (before a major event that I had no control over) “everything will be all right,” so I suspect this is guidance. But like all myth and wisdom literature, such a direction seems to have many connotations.
It could mean I should forget about becoming a chaplain (something I am currently exploring) and stay home with my husband, who reputedly has some Native American ancestry. But I cannot say I am keen on the idea of merging with any person, including the man I love most–but in reality when we live with people, associate with them day in day out, we do become like them, and they become like us.
It could mean delve deeply into mythology which I love. When Joseph Campbell said years ago, Follow your Bliss, I took him seriously, as we all should, and changed my life completely–beginning upon the road of the writer.
Perhaps it was about my novel, Unexpected Journey: Gishuk, one of the main characters, is a native American of my creation, whose name in Lenni Lenape means spirit rising. I always intended to write a second novel exploring his life, but have not because the first book has not sold many copies. Unlike Longfellow’s poem which is an American classic.
I learned on Wiki that: “The poem closes with the approach of a birch canoe to Hiawatha’s village, containing “the Priest of Prayer, the Pale-face.” Hiawatha welcomes him joyously; and the “Black-Robe chief” brings word of Jesus Christ. Hiawatha and the chiefs accept the Christian message. Hiawatha bids farewell to Nokomis, the warriors, and the young men, giving them this charge: “But my guests I leave behind me/ Listen to their words of wisdom,/ Listen to the truth they tell you.” Having endorsed the Christian missionaries, he launches his canoe for the last time westward toward the sunset, and departs forever.”
I found a Longfellow reading of one stanza on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI1Lp15cfRI
I liked it but the image of the baby on the video who I assume is supposed to be Hiawatha looks very white to me and I imagine an Ojibwe infant is brown-skinned. I suspect the intent of this baby image is to point to the image of the birth of Christ. He wasn’t white either but has in the West in many many paintings and liturgical tools always been seen as white. But that’s what people do–our gods look like us.
In my story, Unexpected Journey, Gishuk is enamored of white people and falls in love with a white girl with hair the color of Autumn leaves. White people are not shown as saviors but as interlopers. Quakers get featured too and they are not all peaceful and beatific–but a mix of emotions, of dark and light like the rest of us–the Quaker story is imaginary, by the way, and not based on any particular historical events.
Far better, it seems to me, to embrace other cultures than annihilate them. We might have much to give, but how might we receive the wisdom of other groups who are distinct from us?
You can buy my novel on Kindle from Amazon for $5.99:
It’s also available in print from the publisher for a discount of $12.99. http://shop.roguephoenixpress.ieasysite.com/productinfo.aspx?productid=UNEXPECTEDJOURNEYPOD
Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars Perils of Life in the New World, a Surprising Villain, November 6, 2011 by Edwina Pendarvis (Huntington, WV)
slow start for me, because of Native American words that were unfamiliar; but
within just a few pages I was hooked. The action picked me up and carried me all
through the book at a pace that should satisfy even the most impatient escapist
reader. This tale is melodrama at its best, with a spunky street-waif heroine,
Anna, who downs a pint of ale every now and then; her best friend, Rachel, a
rich girl fallen on hard times; and, the “noble savage,” Gishuk. Their story has
lots of surprises. The Lenni-Lenape hero–sort of a “last of the Mohicans” (in
this case the Delawares)–is a pacifist, for one thing. The Quakers aren’t for
another. Well, the Quakers in this story may be pacifists, but they’re often
narrow-minded and cruel–very different from today’s stereotype (at least my
stereotype) of Quakers as always wise and gentle. Not being a historian, I can’t
vouch for the accuracy of the social and physical details, but the novel seems
well researched, and it certainly delivers a fascinating, multi-layered portrait
of life aboard ship crossing the Atlantic (the poor apparently endured
circumstances almost as bad as those of African slaves in this regard, though of
course the white passengers, no matter how poor, fared better if they made it to
the “new world” alive) and of life on the streets and in the houses of Colonial
Philadelphia. The wild, surrounding woods are both threatening and sheltering,
and Anna’s house is, fittingly, on the border between woods and town. St.
Clair’s written a wonderful yarn, and I’m looking forward to her next one.