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For room 6

Down the River

By: Toby Fantl

 

Drip, drop, drip, drop. A drop of dew from a leaf hits the pond. The drop creates ripples, as a man sees the ripple but not taking  the beauty of it in stumbling through the forest. He does not care about nature anymore. The man's name is Hiawatha. He has suffered the loss of his family. As Hawatha stumbles through the forest. Reckless and leaving a path of wreckage, he stumbles on and on through the forest. In this man’s mind he only sees hatred and revenge. He runs and trips, his broken body on the ground. He weeps and falls into a deep slumber. The next day he wakes up to find he’s on a beach. The damp sand is soothing on the skin.


He gets up and sits crying. In the distance there is an iota of someone or something but Hiawatha does not notice. He gathers his bearings and sits down, looking at the iota. The iota seems to be on a silver boat. The glint from it is blinding so Hiawatha goes back. Without notice the shimmering iota takes the shape of a human. The human is clothed and looks well rested. Then the shiny boat hits the shore loudly. The figure is small but has a some kind of glow. This strange figure walks on the beach, reaching out his soft hand. In the hand is wampum and a lot of it. Hiawatha wonders, ‘wampum is the sign of peace’, he takes the wampum and looks quizzically and the figure. This figure looks back and then lets out a laugh. Hiawatha backs away but the laugh is nice and peaceful. This figure does not appear to be a man or a woman and just lets out a sigh. The figure then speaks quietly. He or she says he knows about Hiawatha and his losses. They call themselves the Peacemaker. Hiawatha listens intently. Then the Peacemaker speaks of a land of peace and one nation. The Peacemaker says he can unite all the nation with talk and he is on a journey around the tribes. Hiawatha asks the Peacemaker his real name but he says it is for another time. Peacemaker then makes a decision, he asks Hiawatha to join him on the journey to make peace in the world. Hiawatha then thinks about fires, screams and blackness. He remembers the terrible black burnt forest he lets out a yell and dashes off.
 

The next day he sees the Peacemaker whittling away at a burnt twig. Hiawatha goes forward and what he sees next is amazing. The twig is in a shape of him. But not just him, his family. The were together in a circle. Tears brink the top of his eye and he weeps quietly. The Peacemaker puts a hand on his shoulder. Than as if it was magic a warmth comes over Hiawatha. This warmth was felt once before, in his grandmother's arms she sang him the lullaby called hush little owl. It was a song of high notes and low notes just no quiet one. He stood up and stared and the Peacemaker. Peacemaker asked again if he will come with him and Hiawatha accepts pushing the thought of Tadodaho fire his family out of his head and slowly he and the Peacemaker walk across the beach towards the boat. They sat in the boat and the river splashed against it. They left the dock and traveled slowly through the river on a journey that would change their lives.

 

The boat still flowing down stream went with surprising agility. On the river the sights Hiawatha saw were amazing. The morning steams engulfed the boat but he could still see towering mountains. The boat passed a waterfall spraying both Hiawatha and The Peacemaker on board. Hiawatha saw greenery and beaches. Then the boat went down stream fast. The boat rocked and moved making him sick.

The days that followed in the boat went slow. Stale bread and only a sip of water for food and drink. And in the long nights there was a tattered blanket in the windy air. Not eating or sleeping for days Hiawatha was refreshed as the conditions before were much worse.

It was day 6 when it happened. The air was nice and it was raining. As if there was a scissor that cut a rope in a split second a wolf like creature leapt at the boat. Hiawatha screamed but the Peacemaker lifted a stick and rubbed it on the boat. A fire spread on the wood and fended the wolf off. Hiawatha stood there then said “how did you do that”. The Peacemaker said, “ I only make a fire with the wood and the wolf is scared away. It is very easy”. The rest of the day was silent. The travelers traveled for a week and two days, before coming to a stop at shore with a thump.

 

Reet, Reet, the birds that Hiawatha heard were terrible and loud. The Peacemaker ignored Hiawatha's questions about the birds but answered them with a you will know soon. They gathered at a large stone plaque and the Peacemaker said “Mohawk leader come out.” This hits Hiawatha hard. He remembered he came from Mohawk. Has he been roaming and running the woods for that much time, and that far? He thought about this and then looked around. It was dead silent and he was in a grass circle. He then noticed fear in the people's eyes he stared and noticed most looked beaten and tired. The Peacemaker broke the silence and said Hiawatha was a Peacemaker as well here to bring the news of the Great Law. He gazed at Hiawatha. The gaze was soft but had meaning. Automatically Hiawatha new what to say. He spoke of Tadodaho the evil lord. How he can start fires like a dragon. Then the Mohawk leader then said “Tadodaho will kill us!” “Peace will lose”. Then Hiawatha said no. But stopped. He realized what he has been saying. Did he want to make peace with Tadodaho? No, he was to strong. He sat just motionless. He then said it was all he could say, and left with the Mohawks more angry than before.

The Peacemaker stared at Hiawatha for a while and then said “you are scared, aren’t you”? Hiawatha looked agast. “I am not scared”, he said. But then he realized, he was scared. He was scared for the people who got beaten, scared for himself, and scared of their journey. Hiawatha then nodded. The group looked at the beach being engulfed in the fog and the two figures journeyed off once again.

The rickety boat creaked and soon it was in a storm. The boat curved up and down. The Hiawatha in the boat held on as the boat flipped on it’s side. The Peacemaker and Hiawatha drenched in cold water got on the boat. They sailed and the storm left. The Peacemaker stared at the sun and said “Hiawatha, I have a story for you.” He then sat down and begun

“once long ago there was an owl. This owl was old and gave birth to 20 young. The young flew off looking at the nations. What a lovely sight they saw. Peace and hope, and trades. Then an evil force called Tadodaho came. He wanted to control the nation. He built what he called the four walls separating the nation from each other. The owls glided down to observe, only Tadodaho had put a terrible snake in each sector that bit the owls making them never fly from the sector again. The snake bit everyone but humans developed eventually a fair amount of immunity to the snake. The one effect the snakes had was making people angry. The people felt revenge and evil.


Tadodaho can start fires easily. But people could have blown them out. But they didn’t and that made the difference. This is true, but you, Hiawatha, have been bitten by the snake before. But you can overcome them and that made a difference.” Hiawatha took it in. He felt odd, like the Peacemaker just dropped a bomb. He got interrupted as they bumped on the sand floor. This was the home of the Oneida.

When they get to the Oneida tribe gates the oneida leader lookes at them. She askes, “are you here to see anyone?” When this was going on Hiawatha took in the surrounding land. It was beautiful. Big green palm trees with huge juicy coconuts. A flat sand floor with the occasional hermit crab. And the bluest ocean. The ocean reflected the sun making it glimmer. It was shallow enough to see the coral reef blossoming with fish and colour. It was the most beautiful place Hiawatha had ever seen. As they walked through the gates the Oneida greeted them. They sat in a triangle. The Oneida chieftain is kind. She did want to fight back against Tadodaho however, Hiawatha still did speak his law. He spoke about a land of peace and happiness. He spoke about a large meadow. The Oneida chieftain listened intently. When they finished their speech the chieftain considered it. She then asked a few questions and with a lot of bickering with the crowd she agreed. Just on the condition of a day's packing.

The bed Hiawatha slept in were luxurious. With big fluffy pillows and a cushiony sheet. The next morning was a treat. They served fish. . They strung a tough rope with a worm on the hook to lure the fish. The batch was huge. Then they put it over a pot with water with spices inside. The fish burned and the warm, salty meat smell wafted into the room making Hiawatha’s mouth water. When the fish was cooked the meat was salty and juicy. It was served with a red sauce, making the taste more vibrant. Hiawatha ate 7 helpings before he was full and 10 more after that. They set off again as one group all the people sailing across the ocean. They were all Peacemakers.

 

They arrived at the Seneca at dawn. They get out of the boat and walk on land. It was forest as far as the eyes could see which was not far with the trees. Hiawatha looked around and sees a tree. He did not see the rope in the tree first, he first saw the food. A big meat slab in the tree. Hiawatha decided to take the luscious meat. He gestured to the group and they followed. He was about to touch the meat when he heard a scream. The net fell over him and the others and they were trapped. Straining at the rope Hiawatha sees the Seneca leader walking towards them laughing. Hiawatha saw this man was armed and was smirking at the group. Hiawatha thought this was going to end badly. But the Seneca leader let them go. He said he learned of Hiawatha’s message and was here to celebrate it. The rope was just a trick. The Peacemaker stared at this man. He was big, around six feet. He took them in the town where they see laughing and dancing. But when the Seneca chief raised his gloved hand the crowd stopped and became serious. He then bellowed, “People of Seneca, our lives have been miserable with Tadodaho destroying our homes. Hundreds of our people, gone. We have been living in fear and treachery.” Hiawatha looked around at the people. The kids looked sick and sagged. The men and women had faces of sadness. But through the sagging unhappy faces Hiawatha saw hope. This hope was strong and happy and as the chief ended his speech. Hiawatha looked at the Peacemaker who was beaming as if he could see Hiawatha’s idea. Hiawatha looked at the crowd cleared his throat and said “All of my family has gone, hopefully to a better place. Watching your town burn is a wound that you cannot forget. But in the past month I have seen hope in the faces of hungry, hope in the faces of sick, and hope in the faces of injured. This hope may be nothing at first. But look what we have done. With me, tired angry and sick. This man has gave me hope. And I have given hope to him pointing at a Seneca husband. And her pointing at his wife.” He pointed at everyone in the crowd and then said. ”And that is what hope can do.” He stood up and with a massive crowd he strode to the boats and the entire group got on, as one nation.

 

The next journey took three weeks. Hiawatha told no one where they were going. On day 8 Hiawatha faced a problem. Warriors were coming across the banks. They had spears and were armed with bows. Through the frosty lake each of the warriors jumped from iceberg to iceberg. Two soldiers fell in but bobbed up swimming toward the boat. The crowd looked horrified but Hiawatha paddled faster. The warriors kept up. The frosty waters were getting to be waves. In the distance Hiawatha saw a grey storm with rain colder than ice. Hiawatha was getting worried. But the Peacemaker showed no sign of fear. In a gesture he walked up to the stern of the boat and jumped in. As he hit the water he felt the icy cold tendrils penetrate him and the soldiers swam after him. The Peacemaker swam and swam even after he was past eyesight. Hiawatha weeped and weeped. He cried and started getting reckless. He started jumping off the boat and feeling the icy cold water wanting this to all end. He got pulled up. And just weeped and thought: The Peacemaker was his only family. He remembered his wife and remembered his daughters. For days he slept trying to forget everything. One morning he rose. It was sunny. He was in a grass cot. The grass was nice and soft. He then realized he was on a sandy bank with daffodils and a cottage of straw in the distance. He saw his daughters playing in the water. He saw his wife collecting flowers. He walked to his daughter and his daughter in a strange voice said, “Hiawatha you need to be a leader.” He looked at his daughter and looked at her eyes, they were green not pale blue. He then realized it was the Peacemaker and woke up with a start.

Hiawatha looked. He was on a cold dank boat. He saw a sick group and freezing water. He stood up got the ore and paddled, he paddled past mountain, past grassland, and past waterfalls. He kept on paddling until his boat went thump against the land of the Mohawk. He stared at the wood and heard the birds. He loved the huge forest and the trees. He stared a a big oak with enough branches for him to come up to see the sky. He stood at the plaque until the leader came out. He said “what do want?” Hiawatha replied, “to have a talk”. The leader said gruffly “I will let you in but make it quick”. Hiawatha got in the big mossy stone circle. He smiled at the people and spoke. He talked about the boat rides. He spoke about the people he met. And he spoke of the Peacemaker. “He was more than a friend” He said. The crowd then went silent. They then stood up and clapped about Hiawatha. They said they would come with him and applauded and applauded. Hiawatha stood there beaming. He looked at the sick faces and saw happiness. He was happy.

That night Hiawatha woke. He was not tired so he decided to go down to the shore to listen to the water. As he was walking down the sandy slope he saw fire light. He stared and ventured closer. The human next to the fire was a man, Hiawatha looked more and gasped. He did not gasp at the meal this man was cooking of rabbit vegetables and potatoes. He did not gasp at how low the fire was. He gasped at the figure sitting there, who was the Peacemaker, Hiawatha ran towards the figure yelling, “how did you get here?” The figure said “what do you mean? I got out of the water and walked here”. Hiawatha was to amazed to listen to the response he ran towards the man sobbing, with tears dampening the sand. He thought about how much he missed him, he thought about where he would be without him. He was tired so he did not linger on the thought long. Hiawatha then took the Peacemaker up the beach to his home.

Hiawatha woke with the loud screech of the birds. He woke with the feeling of happiness. He walked to the Peacemakers cabin. The Peacemaker was there. He looked like he was packing in a large duffel bag made of leaves. Hiawatha wondered why the Peacemaker was packing. The Peacemaker did not notice Hiawatha. Hiawatha did not want to go on another boat ride. Then Hiawatha got it, they were going to Tadodaho. And Tadodaho lived far past when the lake ended. They were going to have to walk through the heat and the sand to a witch. The Peacemaker looked at Hiawatha and said “You finally learned what I wanted to achieve in this journey”. And he took one look at Hiawatha's white face and howled happily with laughter.

The next day the sun rose brightly. Every single person in the tribe knew today was the day of taking back their rights. After they all hunted and got water from the nearby pond the group was ready. A sandstorm arose but the tribes kept walking. The walked for hours and felt the sun beat down on them. Hiawatha knew that they would all have to keep walking. In the distance Hiawatha could see black towers. The Peacemaker was silent the entire journey. Slowly as the day wore on the travelers got more and more weary. And finally the nation arrived at the tower. After the sandstorm the tower looked like a ruin.

The black gate had spikes of an unnatural size. The air felt dark and clogged to the throat. Even as Hiawatha walked up to knock on the door her felt like he could not breath. Just as he knocked the door swung open. As it opened Hiawatha screamed. He heard all the things he did not ever want to hear again. He heard the screams of people he loved and the screams of people he hated. Even the Peacemaker let out a gasp as the sickening noises infected the soul. Hiawatha ignored the noises and pushed through. Ten of the group could not go through the door, five of them fainted. The noises in Hiawatha’s ear kept going until sweat was pouring from him and he was about to turn back when the sounds abruptly stopped. Hiawatha walked on through the dank tunnel. There was water that splashed as his boots hit the liquid. Hiawatha walked and walked and then he saw a door. He opened the door revealing a huge rock domed meadow.

Hiawatha in the distance saw a few figures walking towards him. It was his family. He gasped and walked towards them. His family stopped and talked in a strange voice “YYyyou Haave failled uus”. They repeated this over and over again. Hiawatha started weeping but the figures kept on talking. When he woke Hiawatha was on the ground of a large dome. The Peacemaker was saying to him, “it was a hallucination, it was a hallucination” Hiawatha got up fast. He walked around shouting, “where are they”. The Peacemaker replied “in your mind”. Hiawatha got up, “what was that” he yelled. The Peacemaker said, “it was just your imagination, that is how Tadodaho hurts you.” Hiawatha hoped the Peacemaker was right so he got up. Hiawatha thought and then it hit him. Hiawatha did see his village burn but some places had a glow to them that was not real. He thought about his lava infested house and realized that Tadadaho just played his many tricks on him. Hiawatha then went into a sprint. He just wanted to find Tadodaho he ran and ran and burst through the opening of the dome. And there he was, a tall green creature.

 

Tadodaho bent and turned around. Hiawatha gasped at his terrible features. Tadodaho had hair of swarming snakes, a forked tongue, and was scaled. He was bent over and spewed a green liquid where he went. Hiawatha stood back shielding his eyes. Tadodaho walked up closer and asked in an unpleasant hiss, “what do you want”. Hiawatha replied “We want you back”. Tadodaho was not being cooperative. Hiawatha decided a new approach and then made a nice warm liquid of medicine. Tadodaho drank it day after day and then Hiawatha noticed Tadodaho’s scales were coming off. Hiawatha decided to make a ceremonie on Tadodaho. And two days before this ceremonie Hiawatha decided to cut down a big white oak. Then as the two days passed Hiawatha got the people to throw their weapons under the large roots of the tree. On the day of the ceremonie Tadadaho was chosen to replant the tree. Tadodaho did not know what is under the tree so as the weapons got broken up Tadodaho screamed and all the bad magic around him bursts into the ground. And before Hiawatha laid a small man. He had brown eyes looking bewildered. The clans looked at Hiawatha and he said “People of the nation, we have made peace around. This tree we will call the peace tree and we will bury Tadodaho, when he passes, at the foot of it. As long as this tree lives we will live as a nation called the Haudenosaunee this nation we will have laws and will make peace throughout the years.” After that the clans clapped the group walked away to their own homes, they all have a sense of peace in them. They strolled away as one nation.

In 1722 a boy of the Tuscarora nation walked up to a grave. The grave was embed with a strange name. This boy has only been to this nation for a few months and has no idea about the relationship between the tribes. The boy decides to go back to his house and leaves the graveyard, walking away from a grave with the messy name scrawled Hiawatha.