WHEN THE WHITE FACES arrived on the shores of The River, beaching their longboats on the sand, and staring to the deep thickets of woods where they knew not that we were hiding, we were not surprised. Had the great Okeus not foretold us of their coming? Did we not make offerings of blood, deer suet, and tobacco to protect us from this tide?
We watched from our woods as the white faces eagerly made their camp, hauling out long, black tubes which, when ignited with a spark, caused great explosions that cracked open the silent nature of the river and forest. We watched as they used these black tubes to hunt, with small, hard and dark balls for arrows. We laughed as these small, round arrows did not seem to go where the White Faces wanted them to. Why do they not use the bow? Or the spear? These were much better tools for hunting.
We watched from our perches in the trees and vines, faces painted dark and red with puccoon, blending into the harvest season leaves. We watched the White Faces steal from our land. We watched them long before we spoke to them. We watched them push their longboats into the wide water, watched them cast their nets and harvest more Shad than they needed. We watched them laugh.
We watched from afar as the White Faces spat upon the land of Okeus, the god of justice, of reward and punishment. We watched and waited for the Okeus to act. We watched the White Faces move about the river without offerings of blood, suet, and tobacco. Okeus watched them, too, we were assured by his priests, who made offerings to hold the White Faces at bay.
We watched as a solitary White Face departed into the woods, we snatched him in the name of Okeus and took him to the kwiocosuk where the priests and Okeus slept. For two days we watched the priests performing the ritual of the laying of corn, asking Okeus if there were more White Faces to arrive, and if they brought animosity upon our green shores.
We watched the priest circle the White Face three times, watched him divide the corn with a stick, watched the priests’ feast at the end of each long day. We watched as they received their answer. Yes, more White Faces would arrive. No, they wouldn’t be a threat. They were to be allies, friends, to be brought into the tribe.
We watched, in the wide open plains along the river, as they White Faces slowly emerged more from the waters. We watched them plant their seeds with no respect to the great Ahone, who had created this land along with the Great Hare. We waited for Okeus to show himself.
For decades we watched the White Faces tear upon this land a scar that cannot be removed. We waited for Okeus, he who sent us the rains for our crops. Okeus remained silent about the White Faces. We watched as the White Faces took our children, took our land, and forced us into a pen.
Decades turned to centuries, and we watched from beyond the living lands. We watched The People dwindle and almost disappear. We watched as the pen we were placed in shrunk further and further until it was a small fraction of what it once was. We watched, alongside the other spirits and ancestors, as our people migrated north, to Pennsylvania, to survive. Indians living in the great city, working great city jobs amongst the White Faces, enslaved to their religion “Capitalism”, and forgetting our own.
We still watch, we watch as the land disappears beneath the Great River. We will watch as the sea consumes the land Ahone gathered for us. The punishment of the White Faces will have taken centuries, but Okeus will not be denied. The land they stole will be reclaimed by the water, by the earth, by Okeus and Ahone and the rest of the pantheon of greater and lesser gods and spirits, and by the blood of the ancestors.