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VISION by John Brengle


Eo Tsupa meticulously worked on the sand painting that lay before his Ceremonial lodge. He meditated on the design and the sacred colors of red, white, black and yellow as he did so. He did not want to anger the Spirits by being imprecise in his design or by being in an impure frame of mind. The Spirits could be harsh on such men who would attempt to journey into their realm. Now satisfied with his work, he found small rocks in the immediate area, and denoted the six sacred directions: North, East, South, West, Sky and Earth. Softly singing the power song that had been given to him by the Spirits for the purpose, he moved in the manner of a sacred person, dancing, making his movements as precisely as he had made the sand painted representation of the Great Wheel. For this, too, was necessary. The Spirits would only accept the best a good man had to offer if they were to allow him into their worlds and communicate with him. Eo Tsupa had traveled too far for this to be anything but his best effort. He could sense the great importance of this ceremony. Even so, he did not know if he would be let in to the realms of the Spirits, much less if they would deem him worthy of their time.

VISION by John Brengle

Nonetheless, he was determined to continue. He could do nothing else, for this had been revealed to him in a vision, and he could not but carry out what his vision had directed. The old shaman danced around the whole of the ceremonial lodge, the path from the Lodge to the mound, and the fire, where the stones were placed to be heated for the sweat. As he danced he took care not to disturb the sand painting or to cross over the path he had dug from the mound in front of the fire to the door of the lodge. To do so would be to invite disaster for the quest he was then entering upon. Eo Tsupa had come northwest, to what the Lahkota tribes called the Paha Sapa, the Black Hills. To the Shoshone, this place, in the northwest corner of the Paha Sapa, was called Aguay-ha-Guy-uh, Bear Lodge. He had been at the Bo-uh na-vo-hunt, the sacred place that the Ninimbeah, or Little People, had constructed as the end place for the Shoshone people when they had migrated from the South. This ancient set of great stone circles and spokes was a very powerful place and was held in great esteem by all of the Shoshone nations. It was this Great Wheel that he had used as a model for the sand painting he had just finished. Just as he had started to prepare himself for his vision quest at the Great Stone Wheel, he was immediately overcome by as powerful a vision as had ever been foisted upon him at any time in any place. Eo Tsupa was knocked to the ground and taken over by the Spirits who gave him the powerful message. So overcome was he by this revelation that he had taken no more time in seeking his vision quest, but gathered his few, mostly ceremonial, effects and started out for the East and the Bear Lodge. His vision at the Bo-uh na-vo-hunt had spurred him on with the assurance that he would be given essential information, vital to the future of all the peoples of these lands and of

VISION by John Brengle

other lands, not just the 28 tribes of the Shoshone. He did not understand this vision, but he knew that he must go. So he had come, walking as fast as he could to get to this sacred place by the river that wound at the foot of the Bear Lodge. Using his best rites, his most sanctified, most holy rituals and movements, he had created a sacred space from which to commune with the Spirit community. Once he completed the sand painting in the shadow of the great rock, and on the edge of the river, Eo Tsupa moved to the fire, which had been burning for some time, now and, using two green, forked sticks he removed the largest of the red-hot rocks that had been heated by the fire, and toted it back inside the lodge, placing it in a hole dug in the center of the Lodge. This hole was called the altar. The lodge was now ready for Eo Tsupa to start the ceremony of the first door. First purifying himself again with smoke, Eo Tsupa bent low and entered the lodge muttering the traditional, All my relations as he crossed the threshold from outside to inside. Once inside, he blessed the hot rock by placing a bit of sage on it, which imbued the inside of the lodge with a pungent, yet pleasant aroma. Then he rattled and prayed to the Great Spirit to guide him on this journey and to assist him in understanding any messages sent to him by any of the Spirits. As the temperature rose in the hut, he became aware of another presence. He looked around the close confines and saw nothing, but he could certainly feel a presence. Eo Tsupa called out Is It You, oh Spirit Who Calls Me to this Place? He rattled and prayed with renewed vigor, sensing that this was what was required. The temperature

VISION by John Brengle continued to rise and the sweat rolled off his face, arms, legs, and back. He heard nothing from the mysterious presence. Yet he felt it was still with him, just silent. Soon, it was time for the ceremony of the second door, and Eo Tsupa crawled

counter clockwise around the altar hole and emerged from the sweat lodge, again uttering the phrase, All my relations, as he passed over the threshold. He gathered the two green sticks, moved to the fire and fished out two more large stones to add to the altar inside the lodge and carried them along the path, one at a time and deposited them within the hut. When he had crawled back in using the usual ceremonial words, he placed a dab of sage on the new rocks, blessing them, as he had done with the first door rock. The redolent smoke from the sage gathered with the issuing heat. Eo Tsupa picked his rattle up once again and the prayers continued as he rattled on. The heat within the hut increased and he knew that he would have to take a plunge in the river when this ceremony was over. But for now, the heat must be endured, for this was how he could access the realms needed to divine what the Spirits at the Great Wheel were trying to tell him. On and on he rattled and sang and prayed, offering himself up to the Spirits, as well as prayers for their benefit. Just as he was about to rattle the end of this door ceremony, he heard a voice come from within the lodge. Again, he looked around for a sight of the being making the voice. But again, as before, the Spirit was absent from his sight. There will come a time, began the voice, when your tribes and the tribes toward the rising sun and the tribes toward the setting sun will be fewer than the pebbles in a hands breadth of a stream. When a great set of tribes from across the Greatest of Waters will come and drive the People from this land. There will be great battles and

VISION by John Brengle

many men, women and children will die. The new people will ruin all of this sacred land, and all the lands Men have known. The streams shall become barren. The trees will sicken and die. And yet more and more of the newcomers shall come and further bring death to the land. And the land itself will be broken up into small parcels that will be claimed by the new tribes as their own. No longer will the Peoples belong to the land, but the land will belong to the people. As Eo Tsupa heard these words spoken to him, he also saw visions of what the Spirit voice was intoning. He saw great hordes of people in wheeled vehicles being pulled by animals encroaching upon the land. Then he saw lines upon lines of horsemen dressed in blue ride into the sacred Paha Sapa and decimate whole tribes. They brought with them men who dug in the ground and poured poison into the creeks and rivers. They brought sickness to all of the Tribes of the People and to the Tribes that they traded with and warred with and against. Then he saw roads spring up over the land, though he thought of them as great trails and there were more wheeled vehicles on these roads, but these were not drawn by animals as the first were, but were propelled along by magic. They traveled from one huge village to another. Villages made up of huts that were vast and many. With lodges that were huge beyond his imagination. Villages that would take days to ride through. And there were huge, fantastic birds in the air that gave out a great roar, so great that it hurt his ears. And then he saw the forests start to sicken and die. And the plains, which had held more bounty that any set of tribes could ever eat up, went barren and turned to dust. All these things he saw and more, such that he could no longer comprehend and turned from this vision. But he could not turn from the voice.

VISION by John Brengle You must bring these words to the People and tell them that they must prepare and pass these visions on to their children and their childrens children, and their childrens childrens children, so that the People can help to avert this disaster. Or the world will surely be lost and all the peoples within it shall perish, as well. Eo Tsupa sat within the sweat lodge, stunned by what had just been revealed to him. He did not notice the sweat rolling off all the parts of his body. He did not notice the passage of time, when the hut began to cool. He did not notice the fall of night, for within the hut, all was black as night, anyway. But he did eventually come out of his

stupor brought about by the revelation given him by the Spirit of this place. And when he did, he set about purifying this place in preparation for his leaving. For he did not wish to anger any Spirit by being sloppy in his ceremony, and ritual purification after a ceremony was paramount to the ways of a Shaman. Then, Eo Tsupa, the greatest of all Shoshone Shamans, set off to return to his People and tell them of the great vision that had been given to him by the Spirits of Aguay-ha Guy-uh, the Bear Lodge. And the story of his vision would be carried down through history, though it would be changed in the telling.