IT WAS a cold  and windy day in the high desert. Cold rain pelts the ground relentlessly.  We huddle in  a man made caver where white men once mined for cold or silver, quartz or some other mineral.  it does not matter. the cave is deep and dark but dry. Our voices can echo throughout the cave, so we whisper to one another.

There are three of us left, out of a Shoshonean group of many.  I cannot count as high as the number of people we once had in our tribe. Some grew old and died. some became diseased with white man’s illnesses. A few of our women decided to marry white men soldiers. it was during one of those raids that the three of us joined hands as we hid deep inside our cave, inhabited only  by bats, which, curiously, the white soldiers fear. We do not fear the bats; they warn of us of the approach of white men.

We three have special skills–perhaps you might call it a talent.  If the three of us join hands and form a circle, we can be transported to another place and time–but only one of us make the actual physical journey–it is the three of us in one body; we see everything with one pair of very important for us that we remain in a circle, joined together.   If the circle were broken, the sister on the journey would be unable to find the portal to bring her back to us.

It is mostly Kimama, eldest sister, who makes the journey into time and space.  when she is away, her body  that remains is an empty  shell–like the cocoon from which her name comes.

Kimama’s name means “butterfly”.  Yougest sister is Haiwee, which in the Shoshone language means “Dove”.  Haiwee can sometimes make the journey into time and space but all the signs must be favorable.  Haiwee must make her journey  after a rainstorm, when a rainbow is most likely  visible.

and MY name is Amitola which in Shoshone means “rainbow”–I do not make the journey into time and space–I am the rainbow that brings them home again.  But, as Kimama and Haiwee travel into the spiral of time and space, I  see everything they see.  sometimes my grip on their hands becomes very strong and tight, as I begin sensing grave danger.  At any  time I can send them a mental message to turn back.

We have learned the importance of obeying messages  Once, Kimama found herself in the Middle of a huge battle between white men–white men in gray uniforms and white men in blue Uniforms slaughtering each other. I did not know where this was taking place, but I sensed grave Danger to my  sister Kimama and I sent her a message to return home.  The blood of so many  Dead white men was not a safe place for a butterfly. Many moons later we began hearing of a Great war between the white men of the north and white men of the south. Many men perished; It was, we perceived, a senseless battle.  It would not do to lose Kimama in  a place such as this.

Time passes. We protect ourselves by sending Kimama into the future to search for danger.  When she would see a white man stealthily approaching our cave, she would return to the circle  an d we would go deep into the recesses of our cave, deep underground, until the danger passed.

This is how we lived our lives until Kimama and Haiwee became too feeble to travel in time and space any longer.  We made a small fire and into it, I sprinkled the herbs of our forefathers into the flames.   it was then we took hands in a circle one last time.  Now we all three were flying and spinning into a great space.  The last thing I remember thinking is “so this is how it feels to fly !”


Sandra Lee Smith

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