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~ G MariJo Moore

Suda sat for a long time around the

storyteller’s ceremonial fire,
listening and gathering. Listening to

learn, gathering to remember. Close to
the center of the night she returned

home, and began to comb from her
long, thick, crow-black hair the words of the tribal stories she had gathered.

Suda watched as the words fell, releasing themselves from their
nestled resting places. Watched as the age-old words hit the earth,
bounced lightly, then settled into a pile of colorful dances. Purple circling
words of laughter, silver coating words of wisdom, green twirling
words of healing, blue floating words of gratitude, and yellow
stomping words of hope. All the words necessary and magnificent.

Combing her dark smooth hair softly so as not to cause any erasure
of the remaining words, Suda watched them falling, one by one, then two
by two, quietly bumping into one another. But something was not right! The
words had no order! There could be no meaning to these stories for her!
The revered words were too jumbled, too meshed, too together!

As she began to weep, Suda suddenly remembered something very
important. She touched the tiny braid of hair near her left ear. The tiny braid
her grandmother had woven into her hair just a few days before. She
knows It is here she will find what she needs. Here is where the heart of the
tribal stories are hiding.

As Suda slowly and carefully unwound the braid, out, out, and down
drifted four red words as sacred and important as life. Words that gave a
deeper meaning to the purple, silver, green, blue and yellow words that 
circled and danced around her. Words that made the tribal stories real,
made them whole. From the tiny braid in her hair the gifted red words
respect, share, remember and persevere softly fell. Suda watched
gratefully as these words carefully joined with the others, making colorful
sense of all the stories.

The tribal stories were now in order, complete within themselves.
Suda scooped them up, word by word, and placed them inside her open
heart. After performing a ceremony of gratitude to the Spirits of the stories,
and offering a sweet prayer of gratitude to her grandmother, Suda allowed
a deep sleep to visit her shining dark eyes, bringing a welcomed restful

And for a long time – because of this gift from her grandmother and
all the grandmothers before – Suda carried the stories of her people within
easy reach inside the protected sanctuary of her heart.

Then one day Suda braided these stories into the hair of her
granddaughter. When it was time, Suda’s granddaughter shared them with
her children, who shared them with their children, and on and on, until the
memories of the stories, breathing and growing in the lives of many, kept
strong, even when they became mixed with the blood of other races.

Today, the stories Suda gathered so long ago bleed and mix and
blend and renew and grow and sing and dance and weave themselves into
the lives of all of Suda’s descendants. These stories will continue
multiplying, gathering new ways of survival to live inside the old ways of
learning, as long as Indigenous blood runs through the veins of those who
respect, share, remember and persevere. Which could be forever.

MariJo Moore is a poet/writer/anthologist/publisher of Cherokee/Irish
descent. She has authored over 27 books (the newest is 11 CONJURED
STORIES) including novels, poetry, books of short stories, books of
quotes, and compiled and edited various anthologies of Indigenous writings
such as Genocide of the Mind, Unraveling the Spreading Cloth of Time -
Indigenous Thoughts Concerning the Universe, and Power of the Storm:
Indigenous Voices, Visions, and Determination. The recipient of various
literary and publishing awards, her essays, poems, artwork and editorial
commentaries have appeared in many magazines, anthologies,
newspapers and online. She resides in Asheville, NC.