Something strange, but wonderful happened on our trip this weekend. History introduced itself to me in a very personal and innovative way. Through blurry, tear filled eyes, I looked at all the excited faces in the audience, and could not help but wonder if I was the only one that experienced the reality of the show. I will never know.
We took a mini vacation to Branson. Excitement was thick as granny’s molasses in the winter time and accompanied our entourage of children and grandchildren to our hotel. We had tickets to go to one of the shows. My excitement was different from that of the children. I could not wait to see all the different emotions that my grandchildren would experience as they watched a piece of history performed by actors at the Dixie Stampede. I had been there before so, though the show had changed, I figured it was still the same. I did not take into account, I had.
We sat down to our meal and our gracious waiter started bringing our food. Suddenly, the movie screen behind the trees, showed horses running in every direction. Soon, the scene changed to tepees and Native American villages. The music ramped up while the furtive music of Native warriors, dressed in all their colorful regalia, beat their drums until it reverberated through the air. The medicine man, threw something into the fire, that sizzled like a fourth of July sparkler. I felt the music pulse through my veins as the chanting permeated my ears. Each ritual had its own meaning and told the stories of old. Stories of power and famine and the prayer for food. I reveled in the story and then, the gates opened. My jaw went slack. Coming through the gates, were about 6 smallish buffalos whose hoof prints barely disturbed the sand. I could not tear my eyes away from them. I couldn’t know what anyone else understood, but I understood. My heart started racing and tears filled my eyes. Those few buffalo would not feed a village. I mourned for a people who were lost. I paid homage to a time when the buffalo herds were so many that it sounded like thunder when they ran and the dust rose into the air like an orange cloud, covering the world. I remembered when the people prayed and it seemed their prayers were not answered.
Of course, my research into these matters had filled my head with knowledge and helped understanding to take root. Who could have known, it had filled my heart as well. This brought me to the knowledge that the only thing that is as old as time, is change.
There was a time, the air was clean, the buffalo were plenteous, streams and rivers were pure. Change intruded. Sickness struck. Disease ran rampant. Famine starved. The old ways died. Time wept .