TC1S

TC1S1-SETTLERS

It is not a small thing for nine Pennsylvania families to just pick up and move west. The Savitt family and Brannen family, in fact, elect not to follow Mark Lange.It takes two years for Lange, together with the Hillings, Bergins, Zinters, Krauses, Porters and Wustners, to scrimp and save the two hundred dollars each family needs to provision themselves for the pilgrimage. They are fortunate that half their journey takes place by rail, over Government Bridge, which in 1865 is the only railroad span over the Mississippi. The train leaves all of them on the platform in Davenport. There they purchase the wagons, animals, food, and sundries they need to cross Iowa and half the Nebraska territory. As they journey west, at first they encounter farms, and trade their silver for fresh food, but one day they trundle on out past the last settlement and have to live on their stores.

On Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings they arrange their ten wagons into a circle, light a fire, and enter into joyful worship, led by Pastor Lange, who speaks of how he had been caught up into the Third Heaven like the Apostle Paul and conversed with the Lord. And he reads from the Holy Buron the words Yeshua had commanded him to put into print.

The wagon train of the die-hards of Five Corners Free Congregation continues to move slowly west. Babies are born, but some of these die. The seven families are fortunate not to be attacked by Indians, for the Civil War is over, and many elements the Union Army have been reassigned on the frontier to protect settlers such as they, and more often than not the pilgrims dash from the cover of one fort to another.

One Wednesday night out under the stars many miles between two of these army forts, after the hymns are sung, Mark Lange opens the Buron and continues to read about the time of the Deluge on Barbelo. He goes on to explain how a garbled version of the story filtered into Sumeria and became part of the Gilgamesh epic, and later a garbled version of that story became the tale of Noah in Genesis. And none of the people are shocked at would be considered heresy in any other congregation.

* * * * *

Wanica and Yuha sit alone in their tipi, but they are silent. Yuha is sobbing quietly, and Wanica is trying his best to comfort her. YUHA Two moons have passed since we have seen our son. Does the test of manhood ever take this long?

WANICA
I will not lie to my own wife. Ten nights the test was for me, and no more.

Hearing this, Yuha lets the full force of her grief wash over her.

YUHA
The worst part is that Shy Bear’s last memory of us was that even his mother had a stony heart.

WANICA
A heart of stone is part of the ceremony. There must be a…cutting off. There is no way to avoid it.

Chief Tatanka barges into the tipi unannounced and points a finger at Wanica.

TATANKA
You have brought no food into this camp for two moons, Hole in Cheek!

WANICA
It is the fire. It still burns the grasslands to the south. The animals are on the other side of it.

TATANKA
Then take your hunters and go around the fire or you will be Hole in Neck.

WANICA
It will take two days’ ride to find the animals, a day to kill and field-dress them, and two days’ ride to bring the carcass back. The meat will go bad.

TATANKA
The nights are cold now. The meat will keep. I grow tired of eating jerky. Go! Before the Chief leaves the tipi he lets his eyes wander over Yuha’s legs, and Wanica notes that. She tucks them under her bison-hair blanket.

When Tatanka has gone, Wanica unpacks the Golden Gift he received from the Sky Father, which he has shown to no one, not even Yuha. Then he kisses his wife tenderly and departs from the tipi to gather his men together. Wanica and his hunters have prepared their horses for the journey. Wanica mounts his own horse and leads the hunting party away south toward the Island in the Sky. The party crosses over to the grasslands that were burned. They ascend the Island in the Sky, which is still seared black, until they reach the summit. The stone cairn is still there. Wanica sees that his son Shy Bear is restoring the last stone that will seal the cairn once more. A tame bison stands next to him, wondering if there is anything around to eat.

Wanica is so overjoyed to see his son that he forgets he took away his name and turned him out into the night. He calls out the name he gave him as a boy and runs to embrace him. But Jashen is having none of that. His body language halts his father at a single pace. He extends his hand, grips his father’s lower arm near his elbow.

JASHEN
Greetings, Father. I am now to be called Jashen Two Pricks.

Wanica is temporarily rendered speechless by Jashen’s words, but he is not displeased.

WANICA
Yuha will be overjoyed to see you again, son. It has been more than two moons since you left.

JASHEN (puzzled)
Two moons? How strange I find that to be. When I was on my vision quest and in the spirit world, it seemed that only ten days passed.

All of the hunters, including his father, are astonished at Jashen’s words. And Jashen sees that Wanica’s eyes are drifting to the animal that is accompanying him.

JASHEN
This is a gift of Yeshua, the son of the Sky Father, for he knows of the fire.

Wanica’s hunters draw back their bows to kill the bison

WANICA
Hold! Jashen says this animal is the gift of the son of the Sky Father. If we kill it and take it back to camp, Chief Bad Heart Bull will add the horns of this animal to all his other stolen trophies and disfigure the gift. There is another way.

And so, that evening, when the People are sharing their communal meal once more, the Chief wonders why his women do not bring the horns of the bison to add to his war regalia as before. He grows more and more angry and flat out accuses Wanica of hiding the bison’s head.

Wanica says nothing in reply, but he does not take his eyes away from the Chief. Tatanka grows infuriated at the defiance. The leader of the People takes out his knife once more, an actual steel blade he claims he took as war booty from a white trapper, but it was whispered that he really took it from a corpse he had stumbled upon by mere chance. It was, at any rate, the only such blade among the People.

TATANKA
This will loosen your tongue, Hole In Heart!

He moves toward Wanica expecting the hunter to run as usual.But Wanica knows he has the favor of the Sky Father and stands his ground, which unnerves the Chief. Everyone sees him hesitate. The Chief loses ‘face’ with each passing heartbeat. Wanica reachs into a hidden pocket in his raiment and withdraws the Golden Gift. When he squeezes it, the dark shaft grows to a certain length. On the Island in the Sky he only took the animals head, offering it to the Sky Father rather than allowing it to be dishonored by Tatanka. But now he takes away the Chief, the whole Chief, and nothing but the Chief, all the way down to his moccasins, leaving the very ground he stood upon untouched.

The People are in a state of shock, and they greatly fear Wanica. Other than the group of men who had been with Wanica on both hunts, the People have never seen such an obvious and deadly display of real magic. Even his own squaw Yuha is afraid, but she comes to stand at his side anyway, knowing this is what her man wants.

WANICA (in a loud voice)
I sent the Chief to the Great Spirit. I will lead the People now.

And he crosses his arms regally, leaving the Golden Gift cradled in one of his hands. No one doubts that he had done exactly what he said. One by one the other hunters and warriors sink to their knees before him, with hands open to show they carry no blade.

Wanica gives his first command as the new Chief.WANICA In the morning we will decamp and dwell at the Island in the Sky, near the place where the Great Spirit came and made himself known to us.

A bison gets thirsty eating grass all day out on the Great Plains and Indian River is a reliable source of water. A herd has come to drink near the source at the Island in the Sky where the stream is still fairly narrow. When the herd is taking drink, Wanica strikes with the Golden Gift, taking just one of them according to the needs of the Kaleetan People. It is done in such a stealthy way the rest of the herd barely notices.

One day the People see the first wagon trains of white skin settlers use the ford at the river. The white skins use their fire sticks to drop some of the animals merely to clear the way and do not even take the animals for food. Fair enough, Wanica thinks, there is plenty for all.

But two years go by and the herds grow thinner, and many of the People remember the fire sticks. The year after that no large game animals are seen at all. The People have to scratch a living from small game, or from the scrawny solitary black-tail deer they sometimes chance upon. A few of the hunters murmured openly, recalling with glowing fondness the time of Chief Bad Heart Bull, perhaps forgetting that even during that lost Golden Age it was still Wanica who led the hunts.

The army of the whites set up an outpost six land miles (and twelve river miles) away they call Fort Shiprock after an unusual rock outcropping hard by. Captain John Smalley commands the fort, and despite his bitter hatred for the dead-end post he had been assigned snack in the middle of the biggest zone of nothing in the American West, Smalley maintains good relations with Chief Wanica and the Kaleetan, who somehow all speak excellent English. He considers the People to be relatively peaceful, but contacts are necessarily limited because the People are so poor they have almost nothing to trade. This fort ain’t exactly a charity outfit, he was often heard to say.

The fall of that third year of Wanica’s chiefdom the Northern Raiders pay their last visit to the People. When Wanica confronts them he uses a gradually tightening squeeze so the black spear of wind emerges from the Golden Gift at a visible rate. At full extension the beam balloons out like an umbrella. The enemy sees that it is Chief Wanica’s magic which absorbs arrows fired at him. They see it is Chief Wanica’s magic that slices their leader in half, both he and the horse he rode in on.Wanica knows the Northern Raiders operate like pack animals with no stomach for sticking around once they lose their own Chief. And sure enough they flee into the grasslands north, never to return to the river ford at the foot of the Island in the Sky claimed by the People, although they still lurk nearby.

A few days after that the People see a bizarre sight coming from the south. Eight white skins ride mounted on horses, cracking whips, two on Point, two on Flank, and two on Drag, a cook with his own wagon in the rear and a man riding way out front picking the best way. These men are driving possibly five hundred animals that are bulkier than any game animal save the bison. The Whites drive their animals over the small islets dotting the ford without even the basic courtesy of offering the People one or two head as a toll. This is the first cattle drive ever to cross these grasslands to move a herd to Montana.

When about half of the herd is across the ford and they are piling up because they all want a drink Wanica sends some of his hunters in to raise general calumny with whoops and hollers and a few well-placed arrows. Meanwhile, he finds a good position to take out one of the animals. He wonders what they taste like. Unfortunately the whites fight back fiercely with small fire sticks they hold and shoot in one hand even while their horses are moving at full gallop. Two good hunters from among the People are killed. Chief Wanica pulls his men back to the safety of the Island in the Sky, and from there he continues to watch the scene below.

Seven of the men and most of the cattle are across the river. The leader of the party of whites is a Mr. Paul Morrison. He remains on the south side of the river with only about thirty cows.MORRISON Boys, take what you got and try to make it toward Lusk. I’m gonna take this bunch over to Fort Shiprock and see if we can get some help with our red skin problem.

Captain John Smalley wakes up from his mid-morning nap and ducks outside the fort stockade to see what was making an infernal racket and such a horrible smell. When Paul Morrison sees him he takes off his hat.

MORRISON
Twenty-eight free range cows for the United States Army Cavalry, sir, compliments of their owner, yours truly, Paul Morrison.

This is indeed the way things are done out west, palms greased with money and goods in return for other favors.

SMALLEY
Well, the Cavalry is much obliged, Mr. Morrison. I’m Captain John Smalley, commanding Fort Shiprock here. And if there’s ever a favor we could do for you in return, please don’t hesitate to ask.

MORRISON
There is the trifling matter of the red skins over there at Green Dome. Sneaky bastards ambushed us when we were halfway across the river ford.

Captain Smalley takes his pipe out in his hand and squints in disbelief. His handlebar mustache dances.

SMALLEY
Dakota?

MORRISON (shaking his head)
Wrong markings, Captain. I figure these are locals.

The Captain puts his pipe back in his mouth.

MORRISON
That can’t be right. The local Indians are real peaceful. Their chief is smart as a whip and even speaks good American. They all do.

SMALLEY
These Indians didn’t look like the kind to give up, Captain. We had to kill some of ’em. They’re probably harassing the rest of my herd right now on the north bank. If you hurry you can catch ’em before sunset.

Captain Smalley agrees with a sigh, and he gives the appropriate orders to gear up the fort for action. A bugle call is soon heard. Soon thereafter Smalley, Morrison, and about forty mounted soldiers ride up the little tributaries and lime-silt islets of the river.

They find a small group of the People’s hunters rendering a fallen cow down for steaks. Smalley recognizes the battle dress of Chief Wanica and steers a course for his little group. Presently he and his men form a circle around the chief and a handful of his hunters. Smalley tells another officer, Lieutenant Lambert Wells, to take most of the unit north to engage the rest of the Indians, and hand-picked four soldiers to stay behind with him. The lieutenant salutes and rides off with his thirty-four men.Smalley and Morrison move closer to Chief Wanica while the four soldiers supporting the Captain orbit the scene at a stately trot.
SMALLEY
God damn it Chief, you know better than to start acting like the Northern Raiders.

MORRISON
What are you going to do to him?

SMALLEY
Take him into custody for cattle rustling. That’ll have to do. The rest of these red fellows here were just following orders. They got families to feed. I’m going to let them go so they can pick themselves a new chief.

Wanica, thanks to the English lessons of his son Jashen, understands perfectly what Smalley wants to do to him, and he decides not to go peacefully. He has the Golden Gift in his hand and points it right at Smalley. The black shaft leaps out with its hideous sucking sound and slices the head of Smalley’s horse clean off. And then Smalley himself is rendered in two. That black line remains there, drinking in light and air, while five more orbiting horses and men ran right into it, including Paul Morrison.

After that Wanica uses the Golden Gift to get rid of the bodies of the men and the horses he had slain, but he knows the killing range of the Golden Gift was not much longer than a spear. Against a troop of whites armed with firesticks he would be helpless. They would kill him, and his son, and his warriors, and no doubt all of the women and children and old men in the camp of the People as well in retribution for him killing the white chief. There were rumors of such atrocities happening before. Then the army of the whites would have the Golden Gift. Wanica needs to think fast.

* * * * *

It is not a small thing for nine Pennsylvania families to just pick up and move west. The Savitt family and Brannen family, in fact, elect not to follow Mark Lange.

It takes two years for Lange, together with the Hillings, Bergins, Zinters, Krauses, Porters and Wustners, to scrimp and save the two hundred dollars each family needs to provision themselves for the pilgrimage. They are fortunate that more than half their journey takes place by rail, over Government Bridge, which in 1865 is the only railroad span over the Mississippi. The train leaves all of them on the platform in Davenport.

There they purchase the wagons, animals, food, and sundries they need to cross Iowa and half the Nebraska territory.As they journey west, at first they encounter farms, and trade their silver for fresh food, but one day they trundle on out past the last settlement and have to live on their stores.

On Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings they arrange their ten wagons into a circle, light a fire, and enter into joyful worship, led by Pastor Lange, who speaks of how he had been caught up into the Third Heaven and conversed with the Lord.And he reads from the Holy Buron the words Yeshua had commanded him to put into print.

The wagon train of the die-hards of Five Corners Free Congregation continues to move slowly west. Babies are born, and some these die. The seven families are fortunate not to be attacked by Indians, for the Civil War is over, and many elements the Union Army have been reassigned on the frontier to protect settlers such as they, and more often than not the pilgrims dash from the cover of one fort to another.

One Wednesday night out under the stars many miles between two of these army forts, after the hymns are sung, Mark Lange opens the Buron and continues to read about the time of the Deluge on Barbelo. He goes on to explain how a garbled version of the story filtered into Sumeria and became part of the Gilgamesh epic, and later a garbled version of that story became the tale of Noah in Genesis. And none of the people are shocked at would be considered heresy in any other congregation.

* * * * *

Jashen Two Pricks follows hyz father’s command to harry the bulk of Paul Morrison’s cattle herd, knowing it will keep the men driving them from doubling back while Wanica and his men prepare the carcass of the downed cow for transport.But the herd is driven far and fast to the northwest and Jashen deems they will not return. Also there are stray cattle left behind that he thought should be gathered together and brought back to the People as surety against lean times. Hy and all the hunters with hym brandish whips.

But soon they are discovered by the main body of the Fort Shiprock cavalry under Lieutenant Welles, who have followed the hoofprints of Morrison’s herd. Jashen and hyz hunters abandon their little group of salvaged cows and flee singly or in pairs to the four winds.Lt. Welles looks through his binoculars and sees the main herd is safe.WELLES These locals aren’t going anywhere, gentlemen. We have time to mete out justice on them one after the other. So he does not order his thirty cavalrymen to split up and ride after each man, but instead they all ride hell-for-leather after just one pair fleeing to the northeast, into the badlands.

Jashen Two Pricks flees alone to the southeast, witnessed only by passing pronghorns and badgers and coyotes and prairie dogs jumping up to check out the passing hoofbeats. Then Jashen begins to smell something funny. After a time Two Pricks grows filled with wonder when hy sees the ten wagons of the pilgrims of the Five Corners Free Congregation plodding west along the north bank of the Indian River.

“It’s not a respectable wilderness anymore!” he mutters to hymself using the English hy learned to use in a mere instant when hy was taken to the Land We Know.

The settlers see Jashen approach and point rifles at him, but then Jashen sees the lead wagon is driven by a man hy recognizes from his vision quest three years prior. Jashen takes off hyz headdress and hy is recognized in turn.

JASHEN
We meet at last, Pastor Mark Lange, just as Chief Yeshua prophesied.The settlers are thrilled by hyz words, the first third-party confirmation of Lange’s personal Road to Damascus experience.

LANGE
Jashen?

Mark Lange brings his wagon to a halt and jumps down to slowly advance, and finally embrace the young yeng. The two young men have never actually met before. The rifles are all lowered and put out of sight. Lange points to the prominent butte a few miles upriver to the west.

LANGE
Is that Green Dome?

JASHEN
Green Dome, yes. That’s what the white settlers call it. My father has named it the Island in the Sky.

LANGE (triumphantly)
Then we have reached our destination! God be praised!

JASHEN
As fate would have it, Mark Lange, we are in plenty trouble right now. The United States Army is hunting the hunters of the People. How this came to be is a long story. Can you hide me for a short time?

Lange doesn’t hesitate for an instant.

LANGE
Crawl into the back of my wagon.

Lt. Welles pushes his men and horses to exhaustion as they ride through the dunes and dry ravines of the badlands, thinking all the time they are drawing nearer to their prey, but they are chasing a phantom, and as dusk settles in the cavalry itself becomes the prey. In an arroyo they come to a halt, having found the bodies of the two Kaleetan hunters they were chasing bristling with arrow shafts like a pair of cacti, and their horses gone.

A rock slide of curious origin blocks any further advance, and another rock slide cuts off any escape. Then arrows sing out from hidden nooks among the boulders and from behind sharp ridge lines, answered by gun-fire as the cavalry shoots wildly at any perceived movement.

The battle seems to go too easy for the Northern Raiders, and at first they suspect treachery, but in truth the Dakota are fighting in land they know intimately while Welles, his other men and all their horses are blind, exhausted, lost, frightened, and in no condition to put up much of a fight. Only the five men who were left behind to hold Fort Shiprock remain alive of the entire company.A few weeks later a sergeant arrives with orders cabled from the War Department to break up the fort and cart the essentials away to Fort Robinson using the dozen or so remaining draft horses. Night falls and still the soldiers do not come looking for hym, Jashen begins to relax a bit. The wagons are set in the traditional circle, and Jashen relates as much as hy can of the People’s history to Lange and his congregation using their own language, which they find flawless, though perhaps with a touch of snootiness from back East.

In the morning the wagons arrived at the base of Green Dome. Jashen is reunited with hyz parents, Wanica and Yuha, and hy is filled with joy to see them alive. But the four fallen warriors of the People, Left Hand, Half Yellow Face, Kill Eagle, and Hairy Moccasin, are lying on a bier of branches taken from woody shrubs. And it is on this solemn occasion when the Kaleetan People and the settlers of Mark Lange’s group are first gathered all together.

In full view of everyone Wanica lights off the Golden Gift and makes the bodies of his dead men disappear. Lange and the other whites are struck speechless. Coming as they did from a religious background, such a display could be nothing other than the power of God made manifest. This is a sign! they all exclaim. They recognize the Golden Gift as the same weapon wielded by Prince Melchizedek when he first encountered father Abraham.

LANGE
God has brought us together. White man and Red man alike, in this land of His choosing, flowing with milk and honey.

All the people look around and take in the barren, mostly tree-less grasslands.

LANGE (clearing his throat)
Here we all shall remain, and prosper with God’s blessings!