Harvest Gatherings

~ Mellody Gotwalt

It is the time of color as leaves change across

our northern continent. Families gather to

celebrate their harvests, and give gratitude to

the Creator for the kindness of good crops at

the end of growing seasons.

Many tribes have special ceremonies for these times. A harvest festival and a time for families. We have many memories to share with each other.

As a child, I grew up in these rural woodlands, living on a hill above Fishing Creek, about two miles southwest of where the village of Canooge once stood. Just 4 miles east is the great river of the muddy waters, which is still called today by its original name, Susquehanna. As you gaze across the river, you can see Turkey Hill standing tall on the eastern bank. Once it was the home of the largest wild turkeys’ any humans had ever seen. One of these great birds could give meat to a family of four throughout the winter. These turkeys grew their families, traveling about their hill side exploring nearby streams.

Today, the turkeys no longer flock there, but instead tubs of ice cream and iced teas are born there and travel far across our continent. The smaller versions of turkey still abound along the eastern banks of the river. My son-in-law, a strong hunter, always brings good supply and my daughter has no fear of hunger. Our larger family usually gathers at their home, where my daughter prepares savory meats from her husbands skilled hunting.

It is a time of joy, but also a time of sadness. Like a pottery bowl with a hole in its side, one cannot overlook the empty space each year at the table. For myself, it is a son who is absent.

Across our continent, too many families bear the cold breeze of the empty spaces. Women, missing and murdered in great numbers, and too many families have plates which wait on the shelf in hope of their return. It is the battle of our space in history, and one we should not neglect.

As we gather again this year, we will express both gratitude and pleas for strength to fight this battle. May all our families with empty spaces find comfort in knowing our hearts and resolve are with you in this recent battle. Together, united we shall win and continue to survive.