My story begins in a deep, dark forest on the edge of what was a Native American tribe’s land. It was the spring, and all the beautiful flowers were opening their petals and releasing their sweet aroma.
“Ina?” asked a small child, who goes by Dowanhowee. She had the most beautiful voice in the tribe at just six years old, hence her name, meaning singing voice. Leaves and sticks were trapped in her long, braided hair. “Why must we plant this tree? We have many others in this wood.”
“Cincala, I am planting this tree here for you,” replied her mother, who the girl calls Ina. “Because you are the most precious thing in my life.”
The girl smiled. “Thank you, Ina.”
Her mother nodded and buried the seed. The two returned to the village.
Many years later, in the harvest season, I saw men unlike any I’d seen before trampling through the forest speaking a different language. They had pale, pasty skin and colorful clothing. I stood and observed. What are these strange men doing here in the wood? I thought to myself. They continued their march through the forest, walking around me. You see, I had grown larger than the small seed. I had become a sturdy tree who could not be walked upon. I watched and listened intently until the crunching of the leaves faded into silence.
Nightfall came soon after. I could see the glow of a bonfire in the starry sky and the faint sound of the worshipping dance. It was a beautiful sight, these rituals. With the dancing and the drumming and the village singing. Every time, out of all the music, I could only truly listen to the girl’s voice, Dowanhowee. It was clear and lovely, every note rang gracefully like an angel. Oh, how I had wished to see her yet again. Shortly, I would.