This is a precursor conversation — with myself — to the actual story I want to post, the meat of this post if you will. Read it … or not and just scroll to the picture.
Before I share about my wild hair of a weekend, I have one thing to say first, I drafted this blog several days before the terrorist attacks on Paris.
I was devastated like the rest of the world and suddenly my weekend adventure became an extremely small thing to blog about in view of current affairs.
My finger hovered over the publish button and I began to doubt myself and the post. Maybe I should change the title, take out the pun, and just do it all over. Maybe I should rant on the terrorists, and the lack of humanity in the world.
My thoughts began to splinter in all directions of politically correct and incorrect possibilities like shrapnel.
Yes, I should scrap the whole post. Give homage to the recently fallen and first defenders. Or maybe write about fear itself, the fear the Daesh have instilled world-wide. Yes, I need to write about that.
I mean, I could post about my crazy good weekend another time. Right?
Then my mind screamed, NO! There’s no more appropriate time than now. If you don’t do this as originally planned, they win, making everything all about them, their evil plots and atrocious actions.
But wait. Wouldn’t that make me look unsympathetic and narcissistic?
No, it doesn’t. You would be doing what the terrorists, the Daesh, ultimately want, so don’t let them dictate or change as much as one single word of this blog. Don’t feed their hatred by giving them the time of day, the media does enough of that.
Senseless killing and war and hate has been going on since the beginning of time. The inhumane monsters are still killing and innocents are still dying. It will always hurt. It will always devastate. It will always leave blood-soaked questions.
This one thing you can control.
Okay. But, maybe I’ll just take out all the fun I had playing the slot machines at Hard Rock Cherokee Resort and Casino?
Oh alright, take that out.
And the fantastic seafood warehouse that stunk to high heaven while selling their wares on one end and we ate their awesome cooked wares in the open cafe on the other end?
Sure, if you must.
And maybe the incident where I woke up the sleeping couple next to my room by trying to repeatedly open their room with my key card mistakenly instead of mine? And for sure leave out their justified cussing?
And what about at the airport terminal I didn’t recognize my own luggage? It was the last one left and I asked for help because the single brown suitcase circling the baggage belt had a subtle grosgrain stripe (that I’d never noticed before) and was not mine. Except that it was.
Um, yeah. I’d have left that out for sure.
And what about the action going on in the hotel the second night of my stay? You know, someone’s big wedding reception and a Marine Ball? I really wanted to crash both.
Oh for Pete’s sake! Just get on with it, already.
Okay, okay! The reason behind my wild hair of a weekend was the Cherokee woman called, Nanye-hi. And her life spent in peace efforts . . .
First thing you have to understand is, I love the theater; the atmosphere, the expectations, the excitement. All of it. It’s like a book coming to life and I could go to one every night for the rest of my life and never get tired.
This particular play that came out last year in Tallequah and I missed seeing it. It shows once a year. I was about to miss it for the second time. It was at this time my brain quit working and my wild hair took over. I had to work fast.
It was already Thursday, November 5th and day one of the three-day performance. Saturday, the seventh, was already sold out. That left Friday, the sixth. On the theater map, I could count the scattered seats remaining on my hand.
There were still a few seats!
This play was out-of-state and I knew would require a wing and a prayer from the invisible reservation gods to make it happen.
Sometimes my wild hair doesn’t work out, but when does, it’s like . . .booyah! it was suppose to happen, ya know? Like a magical intervention. . . or something.
Anyway, I burned up the internet for an hour praying a seat was available for the flights, — of which I was able to use my rewards (fist pump) — and a hotel room was available, since I’d just purchased three will-call tickets.
I held my breath, and watched the magic happen. I was booked for the weekend, cutting the flight so close, I could even check-in for the flight already.
Tulsa, here I come.
It’s fanstinkingtastic when the cosmos aligns with my wild hairs.
I jumped on the plane to Tulsa, Oklahoma, checked in to the hotel, met my parents who live forty minutes away in Bartlesville, had a seafoodlicious dinner together, and by golly, with three of those five remaining will-call tickets in hand, we stood in line ready to see the musical Nanye-hi, Nancy Ward, Beloved Woman of the Cherokee just hours from sitting in my house earlier. Ah, the convienience of technology!
Dad, mom, and I took our seats. I felt the excitement in the air; the low rumbling chatter from the audience; the smell of popcorn filtering in from the lobby; the aisles full of shuffling feet to get to their seat, as we waited for the lights to dim and the curtain to rise.
I was squeeing inside, not quite believing I pulled this off!
It makes no difference to me if the plays have magnificent props and an award-winning cast, or are more simple with less adorned costumes and small aspiring actors playing multiple rolls.
The butterflys-in-the-stomach anticipation is always the same. And hidden inside the entertainment is sometimes a message to take away and reflect on. Sometimes not. Sometimes humor, or life drama, or history,
I knew this smaller play was to have meaning for me, a meatier story I was anxious to know about.
The program, produced by David Webb, and co-written, directed, and composed by Becky Hobbs and Nick Sweet, while arranged by Hobbs’ husband, Duane Sciacqua. Michele Honaker, a Native American New Yorker, plays the lead role beautifully. Her voice proudly resonates with the music and lyrics written by the newest member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame — as of October 16, 2015 — Becky Hobbs.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I see plays, they stick with me for several days. The whole shoot-n-shebang; the ambiance, and the emotion, the actors. It filters its way down into my gut and soul to snuggle (or prick) me for a few days.
This play took us on a journey back in time, from Nanye-hi’s (pronounced Nan Yeh Hee) birth in 1738 into the French and Indian War, to the Revolutionary War and beyond to her death in 1822.
As a child, her name was Wild Rose, daughter of War Chief of the Overhill Cherokees, and niece to Attakullakulla, Peace Chief of the Cherokee. She had a destiny, a dangerous one, to fulfill for her people and her ancestral spirits.
When she came of age, her birth-name alone, Nanye-hi, attested to the responsibility she felt for the future as it means ‘she who walks with the spirits’. She had big moccasins to fill, but more than fill them she did. The spirit of the sacred lone white wolf visited her on her birthday and throughout her life guiding her on the paths she was to take.
She married her first love, a warrior named Kingfisher, and together had two beautiful children, first a daughter, Ka-ti (Kaytee), then Young Little Fellow who later became the warrior, Fivekiller.
The Creeks were fierce enemies of the Cherokee. She went with her husband into battle against them to aid her warriors in loading muskets and chewing bullets to make them more harmful.
The death of her beloved Kingfisher came all too soon in her young life at that battle. She took up his rifle and participated in battle, killing many enemies.
She was elevated to a Warrior Woman and sat at the head of the women’s council, and given the only female position on the men’s council.
She used her status to speak peace as the magnitude of loss and death hit her personally, and instead of hating and grieving, she understood that everyone on all sides of the war were affected horribly by war. Life was breathed into everyone for a purpose and death was mourned always by someone, perhaps not enough, though, to be felt by all beating hearts. Nanye-hi intended to change that perspective of battle.
As the Native Americans battled the French, she diligently inserted her presence and peacemaking words wherever she could. She faced down commanders and ruling laws, defending both the red man and the white, down to the very last male, female, and child.
It was during the chaos that was the Revolutionary War, after the English arrived, that her life took another turn. One she was ridiculed for by her own people.
Her peace efforts doubled and she was constantly at Fort Gibson dealing with the Whites, helping where she could that she met a certain Irishman.
Bryant Ward saw her determination to make a difference, listening with the crowd to one of the many speeches on peace she made. He fell in love with her at first sight. It took him a while to soften her, as she had to deal with the ridicule from her own people. But she fell in love with him and his persistence.
She married him, and he gave her the white name of Nancy Ward. He also gave her a third child, Elizabeth (Betsy) Ward.Her names, Nanye-hi and Nancy Ward, became interchangeable during the era, but the white name began to spread like wildfire amongst the English and her peace efforts escalated, so much so that she garnered the respect of Thomas Jefferson as he would send dispatchers for her advisement.
She lived a long life, into her nineties, loved and honored by her people as well the whites. She taught her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren about believing in the power of peace.
As I watched her ascend elaborately into the darkness of the star-filled sky on stage, the widespread wings of a dove, I encountered something I’d never encountered before. It all felt so surreal. Almost as it I was back in time. As if I could almost visualize in my mind the sun on my face, the gurgling of a brook, hear the night crickets through her eyes. It was weird. Chill bumps rose as I listened to the beautiful fluted music to the soft words spoken about her death.
I looked around and saw white, red, black and yellow faces mesmerized as I was by the message of peace. Did they feel it too? I wondered if they were wondering what I was wondering: the political world today could sure use an injection of her wise words, how we all could benefit, learn, and survive each other from her.
The audience. Were they feeling what I was feeling?
As I pondered this, another thought occured to me: could we all actually be related in this theater? Are we not all descendants, blood mingling with various nationalities, intertwined from many generations ago. Do we not all have threads of long-reaching branches in our history trees and deep-embedded roots?
As the years and centuries float by, I figure most people don’t know their linage, their paternal and maternal ancestral roots. The importance is lost in this fast-paced world.
But what if everyone did know. What if searching it out were required of each of us?
I am alive because of each ancestor existed. I am Irish, English, Native American, and not sure what else. Maybe German, I dunno. But, just think if everyone were required by law to know their roots –– I know, but hang with me for a second –– Would we all be so ready to go to war, to take up arms, to hate, to kill, if we were facing a relative, even if distant? What a horrible thing; to hate so much, that dying matters more than living and certainly more that loving.
The Descendents of Nancy Ward, a closed Facebook group, has over eight hundred people –– so far –– with solidly presented lineages tracing back to being a descendent of Nanye-hi. It is suspected as many as twenty thousand unaccounted for. Maybe more. Virtual strangers, yet connected, related –– by blood.
Bill John Baker, the present Chief of the Cherokee Nation, was sitting a few rows in front of me. He is Nancy Ward’s descendent. As is the talented Becky Hobbs.
As is my dad.
As am I.
We are all cousins with even just one drop of shared blood. But more than that, we are all the same; Native Americans, Americans, Irish, German, Japanese, African . . . We all bleed, we have beating hearts, we eat, we breathe, we feel, we love, and . . . we will all die.
Here is my Cherokee lineage. As you can see, I am a seventh generation great-granddaughter.
Me(Ronda Hoffman Holland Reed)-
Dad( Jack W. Hoffman)–>
grandfather (Homer T. Hoffman)->
great-grandfather (Allen Hoffman)–>
gr-gr. grandmother (Ruth Gilbert Hoffman)–>
gr.x 3 grandmother (Kiamitia West Gilbert) –>
gr. x 4 grandfather (John W. West) –>
gr.x 5 grandmother (Sarah Harlan)–>
gr. x 6 grandmother (Ka-ti) –>
gr. x 7 grandmother Nancy Ward(Nanye-hi)
Are we not a fantastic melting pot of combinations on this soon-to-be eight billion strong ball of life we live on? We are all different and yet the same. We are humans.
Why is it so hard for everyone to understand: Respecting and loving, watching out and caring for each other, living life and just . . . being together?
Wishing everyone in my part of the world a very Happy Year of Giving Thanks.
More about BECKY HOBBS, my cousin, the singer-songwriter responsible for writing the play and lyrics.