I realize that few, if any, are familiar with my mother’s language, indigenous to north eastern California, on the sunrise side of Ako Yet (Mt Shasta). My mother’s people are Itam Is (First People), and ever since earth began turning around the sun, we have dwelled beside It Ajuma (the big river). A modern name for this river now is, Pit River, but that name is not in our original history, since it came to our homeland with colonizers, not long ago. Within the language are many narratives concerning creation. I will show how hay’dutsi’la functions within our lives by using one narrative, or parts of that narrative, while maintaining the way my precious Elders used the “new” language, English.
Around the dancing campfire, deep in the silence of a sugar pine forest, during the season psukitok (spring), an Elder, older than time, stood and softly spoke to the gathering of young warriors. He spoke to the darkness and the stars, and to the Great Powers assembled to witness this passing of history. In the silence of his heart he talked again with the Great Powers then turned to us.
“Hisnawa, listen with the ears you heart and you will hear legend of our origin as told by father’s father when I small boy, long ago. It true, and you hear many times before, but listen one more.
“It is said, before there was something there was nothing. There was vast, no end vast, no stars, nothing. Then thought (hay’dutsi) come. Nobody know where thought come from or when come. It just there in vast. Thought, thought and thought for long, long time. Maybe million year maybe more. Nobody know.
“A dream come. Thought want become something. Thought, thought itself into voice. Voice all alone in vast, just thought and voice. Voice want be pretty so thought, thought voice into song. Song he live vast long, long time, maybe million year maybe more, just sing. Then star appear in vast. Then another. Soon vast filled with many, many star. Good, very good. It dream.
“Today someone say, ‘Where from?’ Say ‘Haydutsi star.’ ‘When?’ say,’Song.’ ‘How?’ Say ‘Haydutsila’ (by thought, by thinking). Then they know you have wa’tu (spiritual umbilical cord, beginning) among star. We must talk more, tomorrow, but not now.”
Elder shuffled towards his dwelling leaving us there under the starry sky, pondering hay’dutsi, dream, song, and our beginning long ago. We had many questions for ancient Elder but we must wait until he was prepared and spoke first. Hadutsi wrapped softly around our world. We slept and dreamed dreams.
In my dream hisnawa (young warriors) gathered in the early darkness of dawn singing songs to Mother Earth, to our people and to the world. Later Ancient Elder stood at the speaking fire and continued.
“Hisnawa (young warrior), it good greet dawn song. Earth know you heart, look, see good live there. That way since begin. Long ago Elders say we must look with eyes of heart, see. Look with eyes only, just look, sometime no see. Same listen. Always listen. Ears of heart, hear best.
Wa’tu you must know, and ahlo. Ahlo connect you see, touch. Ahlo connect to mother, Mother Earth, homeland. Everyone everywhere same. Wa’tu, can no see, no touch. Connect spirit-power special, begin in land beyond star. Cannot see, cannot touch. Wa’tu there always. No always same everyone.
“Hisnawa (young warriors) you must listen carefully, with heart. Hay’dutsi he make dance. Sing long, long time, maybe million years maybe more. Then mist appear far over there….”
My spirit shook my body awake and we lay there deep in thought about wa’tu, smelling the smoldering fire as it silently mixed with the darkness. We watched the red and blue stars move slowly through branches of the tall trees and waited for dawn, listening for the fire-keeper to stir the embers to flame and softly sing to the fire.