Hello again! I'm so glad to introduce my favorite obsession: Native American culture! I have long studied various tribes, and I will have the chance to visit a Cheyenne Reservation this summer! I don't think I have ever been more excited and nervous about a trip before. I've been taking classes in both language and custom, as the area my team will be in a traditional tribe, rather than one that has become more 'modern'. As it is traditional, I have to tread softly, because to breach a custom or law too carelessly will mean dismissal from the reservation. The Cheyenne have been incredibly gracious in their allowing my team in for a few months to observe, excavate, and learn their illustrious culture. I am honored to be allowed to even set foot among the tribe. It is an honor I do not take lightly.
In accordance to the impending visit, I wanted to write a story that coincides with a different version of Pocahontas. Because she is part of the Algonquin tribes, Pocahontas was likely a Cheyenne native, regardless of what Disney has to say about anything. I wanted to incorporate the knowledge that Pocahontas was actually married to Kocoum long before she met John Smith, but still stay mostly in the Disney realm. In short, it is a Kocoum/Pocahontas story taking place two years after the events of the first movie. The second movie is disregarded. As it stands, John Smith and Pocahontas were very likely NOT lovers, but I decided that a mix of the real legend and the Disney could be fun. So I have added to the depth of various characters and taken out others. Sadly Meeko, Percy, and Flit will not be appearing, but Grandmother Willow is in here, because I felt she was too important a role to take out. And Kekata's name has been replaced with Tomocomo, because this was the name of Chief Powhaton's real-life shaman. I have also included more of the Native American culture by telling parts of some traditional stories and using bits of the language to make it more realistic. Though Pocahontas (in real life) could speak some English, it should be assumed that everyone is speaking Tsėhesenėstsestotse (the native Cheyenne language) unless they are talking with a white person. I will post the meaning of the interspersed Cheyenne words at the end of each chapter.
This fic has a lot of "mood music" to go with it, much of it from the album "Heart of the Wind: Music for Native American Flute and Drum" by Robert Tree Cody and Will Clipman. It is an amazing group of songs, and many of them fit with the story. I encourage you all to listen to it.
Disclaimer: I do not own the legend of Pocahontas, the characters of Disney, or the Cheyenne tradition/stories/language. And if I have anything to say about it, NO ONE but the natives themselves ever will!
"…and Malsum's spirit went underground and became a wicked wolf-spirit that still occasionally torments humans and animals, but fears the light of day, my little ones," spoke the crackling and soft voice of Tomocomo, the shaman of the village. A sly smile came to his face and he leaned in conspiratorially to the young ones gathered around him. "And may you never be caught sneaking roti from your mothers, or else Malsum will sneak into your home and snatch you away!"
The children gasped and squealed at the horrible thought of being spirited away by the wicked Malsum. Pocahontas looked on with a fond smile at the elder of the tribe and at his wily grin, she laughed and asked, "Ah, my dear ma'háhkéso, using fear to instill morality into our children? Surely that cannot be considered ethical?"
The shaman's face drew down into a mock scowl. "Of course! I seem to have failed with you, but hopefully I will not make the same mistake twice!" he retorted. She put on a wounded façade and he chuckled at her pout. "Oh, Little Wanton, stop looking at me like that. You know very well the high regard I have for you."
Pocahontas sniffed at the Wise One and quipped in a nonchalant manner, "Oh yes, I can see your regard clearly every time you belittle me in front of the children and give me menial chores when I should be given more meaningful tasks now that I am to be a Seer."
Though she had meant it as a joke, Tomocomo's smile faded, and he stood to shoo the little ones who were watching intently on their way. When they had scampered off, he turned to face his apprentice again.
"Pocahontas, you know why I give you the 'menial chores'. Your talents are extensive, but you must learn to keep them within your power before we can begin interpreting visions. You must gain steadiness."
The young woman simply smiled and put a hand on the elder's arm. "I know this, Tomocomo. I merely meant to joke with you. I know that I am not yet ready for visions. The spirits know what happened after my last one." At this, her eyes clouded with pain at her remembrance of the events two years before. Thoughts did not come in a crystal stream, but in a muddy whirl pool, trying to pull her under.
Dreams. Ships. White Men. War. Life as she knew it, ended.
She had fallen into a deep despair for several months after John Smith had been ripped from her by the morning tide and a boat with sails as white as clouds. She knew then that it would be unlikely that they would ever meet again. But, as was her nature, she had been able to heal eventually. The ache seemed duller with each passing day, and though she missed John greatly, she felt as though he were near when she visited the settlement of Jamestown. It was more frequent now that she went, what with winter's chill drawing in to nip at her toes and the settlement barely ready for the time of sleep.
The men and women of the town were friendly with her, though relations sometimes were still strained between the Indians and the white men. All of the people in Jamestown knew they could depend on beloved Pocahontas to keep them safe and fed, should the need arise.
The shaman watched the display of emotions cavort across his charge's face, and said, "It heals each day, does it not? The pain recedes and the hope is allowed to regrow." She was brought back to the clearing by his words and nodded, feeling better for having let the memories loose, rather than try to keep them in a clay jar for another day.
"I feel that you will find a new path. A path that will bring your two families together," he said wisely, and Pocahontas stared as he moved slowly away. Her two families? Never before had she heard the Wise One refer to the white men as any kind of family. A small smile crept onto her face as she considered that.
She walked through the clearing, waving to Nakoma as she passed. Nakoma quickly stood and ran over to her friend with a smile. "Pocahontas! How are you? I saw the shaman walk away with a silly grin. Did you finally gain the upper hand on him with your wit?" she asked giggling.
"No, Nakoma. He has gotten the better of me once again," was Pocahontas's cryptic answer.
The usually stoic woman tugged on her arm. "Come, let us paddle out to the lake! It is nearly time for it to freeze, and it may be our last chance," the older girl pleaded. Nothing in nature pleased her more than the water.
Pocahontas shook her head with regret. "Actually, Nakoma, I need to be alone for a while. Tomocomo has given me some things to ponder, and I wish to seek solace in the trees."
Nakoma looked at her dearest friend for a long moment, then relented, understanding Pocahontas's need for solitude lately. A voice bade her return to the cabin, and her younger friend grinned and winked at her. A tall, pale, and redheaded figure emerged from one of the lodges, and called to Nakoma.
"Hoy, Naki! If you don't return, I'm afraid the kids will eat us out of house and home!" Thomas called playfully. Thomas had stayed behind in Jamestown, rather than return to England. Eventually, he had come to live as a part of the tribe when he and Nakoma became friends and—eventually—lovers. They had been blessed with three children: a girl and two boys. Over time, the man had become much more self-confident, and took a high standing in the tribe as a delegate between Jamestown and the tribe. A clatter could be heard within, and Thomas's eyes begged his wife to come quickly, before chaos broke out.
Laughing, Nakoma hugged Pocahontas and gracefully ran back to the house, where she kissed her husband and disappeared inside with him. Pocahontas watched them with mixed feelings. On the one hand, she felt overjoyed for her friend's obvious happiness. She could not imagine anyone better suited for the one who was like a sister to her.
But on the other hand, she felt deeply saddened. She had not moved on from John Smith, despite the many offers of marriage that had come her way. She didn't know if she ever would.
She strode from the clearing with purpose: to see Grandmother Willow. The ancient tree had always been a great help when her feelings became muddled. She stepped into a canoe and paddled towards the far shore, where the oldest of trees resided.
"My dear child, it has been too long. It gets terribly boring without you here," was Grandmother Willow's greeting. Her adopted 'grandchild' smiled and apologized for not coming more often, though both knew she came at least once a week.
"I have been having another strange dream, Grandmother. And I am afraid to even speak it. The last time I did, it came true, and my heart broke because of it," she trailed off into a whisper at the end.
"Child, perhaps the telling of this dream will lead to the path that will mend it," the tree spoke softly, not pressing her, simply offering counsel. Pocahontas stared at her hands for a while, before raising her head and looking into the hollow eyes of her Grandmother.
"I am standing in the woods, and I hold the spinning arrow. I now know that the arrow is a compass from the last dream. I look down, and there are boot prints, like the ones the white men wear, in the snow. As I follow them, something strange happens…"
"What happens, Child?"
"Well, the prints become different. They start out as boot prints, but for some reason they become bare feet tracks, and when I look up, the arrow points to a tall tree, where a proud eagle sits at the top, with its mate, their heads turned towards the sun," she explained to the patient willow. "It's as if…as if they are watching the sunrise of their future together. And I don't know how that could be a vision of anything in my future."
Grandmother Willow was silent for a long while. Then, she finally spoke with a barely suppressed smile in her voice.
"I think it has everything to do with your future path, and I think part of the answer is pacing outside the curtain of my branches."
Read and Review my friends! I look forward to whatever praise or complaints you have.
Things to Know:
Malsum's spirit- the story of Mother Earth's two sons: Malsum and Glooskap. Look it up to see full story.
Shaman- A wise man or (occasionally) woman, or healer of the tribe. It is a very esteemed position, second only to the chief.
Roti- sweet bread.
ma'háhkéso- An affectionate way to say "Old Man"
Little Wanton- this is the translated form of the name Pocahontas. Can also be read "Little Mischief"
Hoy- A standard greeting of the English, or a "cry of either needfulness or indignation."