Do you have any books that you re read often? Maybe it’s a seasonal read. Like my friend Paul says, “these books are my friends, why wouldn’t I want to visit them often”. There is a book by Kent Nerburn called “Neither Wolf Nor Dog”, that reconnects me to a very grounded thought process; a connection to the things in life that really matter. It’s a beautiful view into a way of living in this world in a way that our culture doesn’t really embrace or teach. I think our children are missing out on these lessons and views.
So at least annually I travel the back roads of Indian Land with Nerburn, Dan and Grover. I listen in on their conversations, and the range of emotions swing high and dip low and close to home and heart. Reminders of how the late comers treated the Indigenous peoples of this land bring pain and embarrassment. The elder in this story, Dan, speaks very direct, but in the end he is looking into a person’s heart, all in hopes of helping his people navigate the rough terrain of living between two cultures. Dan speaks to the wannabe Indians, which make up a large portion of the readership of this book. Those of us with Indian blood, the ones that feel we truly feel a connection with that culture, are no matter whatever percentage of blood, are wannabes. Unless you were raised in that culture, fighting and struggling, against the ever-present prejudices in our world, then it’s honestly hard to speak to it. All the rest of us with good hearts can really do is to draw attention to the continual problems.
Neither Wolf Nor Dog is a true gem and world chalk full of zirconium. It reminds us some things that are simply the truth. The connection to the land. You can call it your Mother or if you are more comfortable just knowing it is our provider then that’s fine. But as we spiral into a vortex of stuff, i phones, computers, Facebook, zip codes, vacation homes, and all of the other things that separate us or medicate us, we need to re remember some basic truths. Many truths are found in simpler things, like the land. It’s found in quiet moments with the ones we love, sitting with the garage door open as a thunderstorm moves across the sky or listening, really listening to someones heart.
Give this book a try, it may open your eyes to things that you didn’t know existed. There may be a unsettledness in your spirit that you can’t even identify, that some simple, clear words could help. Maybe that’s why I read and re read Kent Nerburn’s “Neither Wolf Nor Dog”. This book could become an old friend !
“The Wolf At Twilight” has Nerburn returning to the Pine Ridge Reservation at the request of Dan to help him find his sister. Problem is, he hasn’t seen or heard from her in about 80 years, since she was abducted and sent off to boarding school.
So we travel on with Dan, Grover, and Nerburn, learning about Indian culture, as well as the despicable acts committed by the U.S. government as well as the church.
What I marvel most about Dan is his constant connection with God. In every breath the Creator is present. While that’s true for all of us, Dan is aware of it!
Through that awareness comes his thankfulness. His reverence.
In the end of all things, Dan is looking for all cultures to connect and respect each other under the Creators spirit. Dan believed that God gave every culture a specific gift; a way of understanding and interpreting Him. In that, we should reach out to other cultures to learn more about the One God that created all of us.
Indian culture has been largely forgotten in our culture. Sure they are remembered with painted horses and war bonnets. They are remembered for Tipis and eloquent speeches, but they are rarely thought of a present day people. People with ipods, t shirt and jeans, sending children off to school. They are largely though of as charactures.
If non Indian cultures are ever to grow to their full potential and receive the gifts the Creator gave to Indian then they must be seen as real people. People of today. To do that in part we will have to face the atrocities that were committed, but atrocities that we can’t reverse. We can’t give back their land. We’d have to give back the entire United States! My people, the Lower Creeks, were here thousands of years before Don Tristan DeLuna “discovered” the area now known as Pensacola. So what can we do? We can open our hearts and minds to their culture. Allow their voices to be heard and say a prayer for the way they have been treated and continue to be treated. Make no mistake, it is still going on. Once the government wanted their land and now they want what’s under their land, the uranium.
Ok, this post is about Nerburn’s great book, The Wolf At Twilight. If you haven’t read “Neither Wolf Nor Dog”, then you are in a wonderful place as you have two books that will warm your heart, bring a tear, and help you see the wonder of the Creator in beautiful new ways.