The Indians and The Savannah River
I've had an unusual affinity for "Indians" my entire life. For some reason I had been pretty darned sure I was a "Cherokee Indian" until an elementary school classmate burst my bubble with a genealogy lesson I couldn't dispute because we went to the same church and he knew both my parents and grandparents.
That sense of kinship faded a little after that only to return a few years later as friends and I began to make daily use of an old trail we discovered in the woods running behind our houses. The narrow path spanned the entire neighborhood and meandered through the forest alongside a little creek reaching an embankment where the creek spilled into the Savannah River and the trail took a sharp left following the Carolina bank. Just before the trail turned seaward, an ancient Indian mound stood sentinal over the cluster of rapids below.
It was there on The Mound that a motley group of teenagers from all walks of life became "family" and were transformed into the region's newest tribe, The River Rats, and where we staked our unofficial claim to The Rapids where, for many years it would be our near-exclusive swimming hole, perpetual campground and, for some, a sanctuary from an ever-growing number of broken homes. The forest and the River consoled and took its care with us and we, in turn, took care if it. And for a while, it really was ours.
A sublime air of the sacred permeated that sizeable patch of old-growth forest that connected our homes to the River and we felt protected within its bounds. It was the kind of place that could give a lost kid the first inkling that perhaps there was a benevolent, higher-presence that might actually exist after all.
"The long fight to save wild beauty represents democracy at its best. It requires citizens to practice the hardest of virtues—self-restraint."
--Edwin Way Teale (1899 - 1980)
Let us greet the dawn of a new day when all can live as one with nature and peace reigns everywhere. Oh Great Spirit, bring to our brothers the wisdom of Nature and the knowledge that if her laws are obeyed
this land will again flourish and grasses and trees will grow as before.
Guide those that through their council seek to spread the wisdom of their leaders to all people.
Heal the raw wounds of the earth and restore to our soul the richness which strengthens men's bodies and makes them wise in their councils. Bring to all the knowledge that great cities live only through the bounty of the good earth beyond their paved streets and towers of stone and steel.
~Jasper Saunkeah, Cherokee~