How Can I Call This Home

These words came through me on behalf of the Nisenan people, those indigenous to the lands of the Yuba River. They apply to all land though, that once loved the bare feet of their children who ran across it.

How can I call this home.
My root begins to drop but hovers just above the blood soaked, tear soaked ground.
I have lived here for years now.
My body roars alongside the rushing river as she howls for winter rain droplets to merge with her.
I surrender beneath her shallow warmed waters that become darker and darker as life grows from sun beamed nourishment.
And as my hands graze ancient rocks at the bottom of her full belly, I hear the wells of sorrow again.
Were these the stones that you once swallowed between your legs so that you could protect the one aspect of yourself that you could call your own?
This land is cracked with massacre, with perversion, with greed.
There is an everlasting tremble, the reverberating trauma of the people whose home this was before.
Don’t be fooled by the concrete, the roads, the houses, the glitter of the Nevada City lights.
There was life underneath it all.
There was life erased.
As our people plowed into this land of rushing river, set up camp, eager for gold.
You were plowed over.
Could you catch a breath?
Did it happen quicker than you could blink?
Was it a surprise or did you know, have a foreboding or warning, that everything was about to change?
A tsunami of invaders, looking past you, you were a mere obstacle in the way, no longer seen as a human being at all.
My mind fast forwards and rewinds as dominance silences fear.
As ugly white hands force tanned ones into a corner.
Gold piles grow as edible earth is devoured by carefully constructed explosions.
How many children were killed?
If the people that built this very town, built it over your former home,
Then how, I ask, how can I call this home?
My heart aches, tears leak to meet yours in the soil.
You had to go to sleep so that no one would know you were still breathing.
Where did all the others go?
Tell me.
Are they still moaning beneath my feet as I walk within my life?
Are they whispering prayers in the wind so that they won’t be forgotten?
Perhaps I tend the soil and grow the food so that I can hear their song, so I can remember.
Please, keep singing.
I am listening.
Let us remove our shoes so that we remember that we walk on holy ground.

Gavrila Nikhila

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