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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Shayfer

Land of the Chiricahua

I've always tried to seek out the sacred places of America. Sacred that is to the First Nations people who have lived there for countless generations. He Sapa (the Black Hills) or the Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, they convey a sense of mystery and reverence.

I was at Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona and decided to walk up to the plateau summit, a place revered by the Apache and in past times, frequented by the likes of Geronimo (Goyathlay) and medicine men seeking wisdom and visions with prayers to the Creator or Usen.

As I arrived at the summit and immersed myself in the power of the place and its extraordinary grandeur, I saw a native man two hundred yards away. He was dressed in jeans, check shirt and boots. He waved at me and started to walk towards me.

Now I'm not a wannabee. I don't dress up and play Indians or live in a rose tinted past or pretend that I was a famous warrior in another life. But....but there is still a part of me that lives within the waking dreams of a different life where all existence grew around the land and the creatures within it and nothing broke the light of the sun. They are an ancient people whose lifeways and resourcefulness I admire. I have a profound respect for their surviving against all the odds.

As the man drew nearer, I could see he was a full blood native with skin burned by perhaps fifty summers. He wore his long black hair loose with streaks of silver. Despite myself, I felt my imagination run away with me. Would I be blessed and honoured with the wisdom of the ancients? Would I learn something intrinsic to the cultural life of the Apache (Indeh) people? Was I even worthy?

He approached me, this full blood Chiricahua whose great-grandfathers would have fought to protect their people's heritage, lands and communities.

He smiled, shook my hand firmly and said "Hi, can I talk to you about Jesus?"

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