She came on the waters, traveling many miles and many moons on a wooden raft bound with sinew and vines. Attentive
to every sound and sight and smell, she searched along the shore for
signs of the villages she'd seen in her dreams. Grandmother knew the
people were hungry. She'd seen the rippling effects of their fears.
Guided by her visions, Grandmother followed the currents of the wild
waters, carrying bundles of ancient medicines for those calling to her
from these faraway lands.
Drawn to the laughter bubbling up from
beneath a canopy of trees, she came upon a group of children playing
where the river meets the land. Grandmother drifted into the cove,
chanting her Greeting Song. With wide-eyed curiosity, the children
waded into the waters, giggling and holding each other's hands. They
pulled the raft into shore, staring at the old woman who'd come from
Upriver. With her long silvery hair, wrinkled dark skin and green eyes
shining like stars, she was unlike anyone they'd ever seen.
old woman and the young ones were soon playing together like long-lost
friends, splashing in the waters, painting their faces with mud. The
children drank in Grandmother's love as if they were famished. They
breathed in her joy, filling themselves up. They devoured her stories
and songs. When the sun began to soften the late afternoon sky,
Grandmother waded into the river, listening to the currents pulling at
gathered up a bundle from the raft, her every move followed by a circle
of curious young eyes. Sitting on a boulder, the old woman cradled an
emerald green turtle shell in her lap. The children gathered around,
trying to get a closer look. Humming softly, the grandmother lifted up
layers of furs to reveal a mound of woven pouches tied with ribbons of
vine, all tucked inside the bowl of the turtle shell.
them each by name, Grandmother handed every child a pouch. She told
them stories about the sacred bundles of corn they held in their hands.
The children listened intently to the instructions for planting.
Grandmother taught them the old ways of blessing the soil, of calling
in the sun and the rains, of making offerings to the Spirit of the
Corn. The children danced in celebration, feeling the abundance take
root and come alive inside their own knowing. With the gifts of the
corn, they would always be fed--all the people, all the land, would
forever be fed. With Grandmother's corn, even their dreams would have
space to grow. No more empty bellies and hungry hearts.
holding the pouches, the children ran back to the village and
exuberantly shared all they had learned. Doubts and suspicion instantly
erupted. Fears infiltrated the village, rolling like shockwaves through
every dwelling on the land. The children were chastised for being
gullible, for speaking nonsense, for telling lies. They were
reprimanded for breaking the rules and talking to an Outsider. They
were punished for carrying something so dangerous in their hands.
village leader demanded that all the pouches be collected and
immediately brought to him. Everyone in the village was required to
watch as the corn bundles, one by one, were thrown into the fire and
the children, one by one, were threatened into silence. The corn was
never to be spoken of again. There was not to be another word, not even
a whisper, about the old woman who came from Upriver. None of that was
real. It never even happened. It was simply to be forgotten. That's
what the children were told.
Grandmother heard it all in the
winds and knew the time had come to continue on her way, though she'd
keep watching over the village for many generations to come. She
drifted downriver, moving farther out from land, until she heard
someone humming beneath the canopy of trees. Drawn back by the song,
Grandmother floated into the secluded cove.
was Wakena, a child from the village, barefoot in the rippling waters,
digging a hole in the mud. Sensing somebody's presence, Wakena glanced
over her shoulder, fearful she'd been discovered in this now forbidden
place. Seeing the old woman on the raft, Wakena took a deep breath, her
body flooded with relief and delight. A greeting passed silently
between the old woman and the girl, the warmth of their welcoming held
quiet inside the instinctual protection of the unexpected crossing of
Wakena reached into her basket and waded in the
river toward the raft, her arms outstretched, carrying something for
Grandmother to see. Nestled in the girl's small muddy hands was a
bundle of corn, still wrapped in the colorful weaving and tied with a
ribbon of vine. The eyes of the elder and the eyes of the young one met
in a steadfast embrace beyond time and space and words. Their
deeply-felt trust, the alliance of their ageless wisdoms, held the
sacred promise of the remembering to come.
watching over, Wakena walked back to shore to finish her digging in the
place where the river meets the land. She set the corn pouch deep in
the muddy hole, burying the bundle beneath handfuls of pebbles and
leaves. She filled in the hole and patted down the mud, securing the
corn's safekeeping. Wakena pressed both hands palm-down into the clay,
leaving her print, sealing