09 walk the yard - crop1



          Hesutu was a man of the Native American Indian Miwok tribe.  Hesutu was known as “Mike” by those who had not lived in these lands 50,000 years.  Hesutu had killed a rival in a bar fight.  Hesutu now stood and faced his first day of Life Without Parole.  He began to walk in the exercise yard.  The gangs of white, black, and brown inmates had his scent already.

          A year ago Hesutu and his rival Honon had argued in the Molimo bar about the disputed Tribal Election to decide power over the Miwok Gold Resort and Casino.

          Honon, whose name means “bear”, pounded the bar, asking Hesutu, “Who then is rightfully Miwok?”

          Hesutu, whose name means “yellow jacket nest rising out of the ground”, replied bitterly, “You have expelled dozens of my friends from the tribe, saying they had never been Miwok but you and your followers do not care who is rightfully Miwok!  It is just that you do not want to share Casino profits with so many others!”

          Honon finished his drink and turned to Hesutu, “You call me a liar?”

          Honon’s entourage rose menacingly from their tables.  Hesutu’s friends rose in kind.

          Honon challenged, “Do you end this ‘mediation’, Hesutu?”

          Hesutu stood three feet away from Honon.  Hesutu could have ended the dispute by taking two steps and embracing Honon.  But Honon had his hand on his hunting knife and Hesutu’s mind was a hornet’s nest.  Hesutu clenched his beer bottle and shattered it in Honon’s face.  Honon, stunned, drew his knife and slashed at Hesutu, and both groups charged each other and began to fight.  Hesutu thrust the broken beer bottle into Honon’s wrist and Honon screamed, opening his palm as if to offer Hesutu the knife.  In a self-righteous fury, Hesutu took the knife and plunged it into Honon’s chest.

          Because it was a case of murder, the trial was held by Federal Court under the Major Crimes Act and not by Tribal Council.  Hesutu received Life Without Parole because he was judged to have created the deadly situation and knew his action was likely to result in death.

          The violent disputes continued among the Tribe.

          Hesutu was startled from his bitter reverie as he walked the yard.  An arm had been thrown around his shoulder.  But it was another Native American, an old man.

          The old man was grim but his voice was gentle, “Son, I am Cheveyo, ‘Spirit Warrior’, but these others call me Pastor Chevy.  I am not a pastor.  You must understand me quickly.  The white, black, and brown gangs are danger to us.  But no one will touch a devout Christian here.  You must join us.  You will learn quickly.  However, the gangs will test your knowledge and if you are just hiding without knowledge you will be alone and fair game for their cruelty.  I will teach you everything quickly.  Request to go to the chapel as soon as you can.  I will be there.”

          Hesutu blinked at this onslaught of revelation, “How…?  Why…?”

          Cheveyo pointed quickly above without looking, “I saw your Spirit Bird circling over you.  He has gone to the oak tree there beyond the fence,” and Cheveyo pointed quickly again, “He is waiting for you.  He told me to help you,” Cheveyo winked without smiling.

          Hesutu could only say to Cheveyo, “I am called ‘Mike’, but my name is Hesutu.”

          Cheveyo pointed and said cryptically as he walked away, “Your name is Hesutu, but you are the White Crow.”

          Hesutu turned and gazed at the distant oak tree and there he discerned a white bird in the foliage.

          Hesutu was soon granted permission to attend the prison chapel services.  As soon as he entered, Hesutu liked this room that was so softly colored by the stained glass partitions.  He was struck suddenly that up front, oddly, in the peaceful center was a bloodied warrior hanging, with arms outstretched, upon a cross.

          The services were supervised by Pastor Wesley, who said to Hesutu, “Welcome to wisdom, Mike,” then Pastor Wesley turned to Cheveyo and said, “Thank you, as always, Chris”.  Cheveyo winked surreptitiously at Hesutu.

          There were always several others attending the services, white, black, and brown.  There were also three other Native Americans at various times.  Hesutu, with Chevoyo’s constant interpretation, learned about the ancient tribes called Hebrews.

          Hesutu memorized the Spirit Fathers, “Avraham, Yitzchak, Jaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Eliyahu…”

          Hesutu learned mostly about the Great Spirit Warrior, “Yeshua…,” but Hesutu had trouble understanding how his bloody defeat and disgrace upon that wooden cross was a cause for joy.

          Pastor Wesley patiently and happily tried to explain, “True joy is something deeper, quieter, more lasting, than this fleeting, exciting, deceptive thing which we call enjoyment or pleasure. It is that peace of the soul, that contentment of heart, that deep enduring satisfaction which comes to us only because of Yeshua.”

          Cheveyo helped, “Hesutu, Yeshua chose death because the Great Spirit made a bargain with him, promising that when he died all his people could choose to live in peace.  He was the Great Spirit Warrior and he died like a hero going home.”

          Pastor Wesley was accepting, “Well, if that helps…”

          Hesutu dutifully memorized everything so that he could repeat it and not die at the hands of the prison gangs like a rabbit.

          One day as he walked the exercise yard, Hesutu began to feel agitated.  There was lightning in his stomach.  Hesutu could no longer stand the sensation and he felt like he had to run.  He began to jog around the yard weaving between the clots of gang members.

          “What the fuck is up, Tonto?” growled one inmate.

          “Hey, fucker, where’s the warpath?” taunted another inmate as he tried to trip Hesutu.

          Hesutu jogged faster and faster, around and around.  The guards in the towers became nervous.  A loudspeaker commanded, “No running in the yard.”

          Hesutu suddenly saw the White Crow alight upon the barbed wire atop the towering chain-link fence at the other end of the yard.  Hesutu was not thinking, he just knew, and he dashed for the other end of the yard as fast as he could run.  He then impulsively held his arms outstretched.  When he hit the fence he began to claw his way up to the White Crow crying, “Tupi! (Pull me up!)”.  There was now uproar in the yard.  A siren wailed.

          The lightning left his stomach and it pulled Hesutu into the sky.

          Hesutu came to himself again, blinking, but he was at the Molimo bar and Honon was asking him, “Who then is rightfully Miwok?

          Hesutu was hearing himself say, “You have expelled dozens of my friends from the tribe, saying they had never been Miwok but you and your followers do not care who is rightfully Miwok!  It is just that you do not want to share Casino profits with so many others!”

          Honon finished his drink and turned to Hesutu, “You call me a liar?”

          Honon had his hand on his hunting knife.  Honon challenged, “Do you end this ‘mediation’, Hesutu?”

          Hesutu’s mind was a hornet’s nest, but this time his watching Spirit was calm and knew what to do without thinking.

          Hesutu stood three feet away from Honon.  Hesutu, still holding his beer bottle, stretched out his arms and took the two steps, one yard, toward Honan to embrace him, saying, “I love you, my brother,” but Honon was alarmed and he drew his knife and thrust it up into Hesutu’s side.

          The sound of the world stopped.  Both feuding factions in the bar froze.  Hesutu turned and stumbled out the door without a word.  He made it a few more yards and then he collapsed onto his back.  In a brilliant painless awareness he saw above himself upon the highest tree branch the White Crow.

          From that highest tree branch Hesutu was then looking down at himself and watching all the brothers of his Tribe gather around together as Hesutu died inside a peaceful smile.






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