By Ralph Moisa Jr.
His mother and I taught him for over 19 years. Until the day he left to walk his own road. he was always tugging at the strings wanting to go just a little further than we thought he should. But the day came, and he left.
I wondered at what kind of man he would become. I saw the things he was doing and was proud for most of them. I accepted what I did not understand as his own ways of using the thoughts and tools given to him by his Elders.
Even in the face of oppression he stood tall in his Indian pride and would not be silenced by his teachers or his school. I saw him stand up to two car loads of young men shouting obscenities at our race and our family.
I saw his anger as someone drove by our home and shot out the window of our car. I thought “I should have taught my young son better.” He needed to know that being an Indian in the city had a strong responsibility. But that being one of only a handful will make us a target for any idiot.
We hoped that he would grow to understand and be a leader among our people. Then to perhaps one day teach the ignorant, and in so doing, protect our very old from the ignorance of unbridled racism.
I do not know what thoughts were going through his head when he made his morning walk. Maybe he remembered his mother nursing young animals that were found disturbed from their nests. Giving them life and then returning them to their homes in nature.
Maybe he remembered our talks in the sacredness of our winged family members, the hawk and the eagle. Whatever the reason, when he saw a hawk in need he tried to help his winged brother. He climbed the power pole to do what he could.
Did he know the danger? Yes. He climbed and worked on them for a living. he knew the power surging through the transformers and through the wires. Although I will never know why he did not ask for help. Perhaps he thought there was no time.
December 5th, 1995
The coroner said, “they both died at the same moment. It looks like he was working the hawk’s foot to free it, when the bird became startled and spread his wings. The tips of the wings made contact with the bare lines and shot thousands of volts through them both.”
I’ll always remember the service. We put the hawk on our son’s chest with his wings spread in an embrace. Hundreds came that day whom we did not know. It seems our hopes and dreams for him were met, as he walks in places we can not yet go. He had taught many.