*pic by my sisYesterday my friend Bobby took me out to Sharp's corner to pick up a Western Union from my mom and some presents from my dad. It was a relatively quiet trip for both of us who always seem to talk non stop. We turned around at Sharps and went up Goose Neck Road to my dad's. The sun was starting it's downward descent in the west. It made me realize I forgot my camera.
After filling Bobby's trunk with presents we started home, both of us a little more talkative. Then we got quiet again south of Porcupine Butte. the reason I became quiet again was because as the sun dipped more towards the horizon, the more brilliant the colors became. It's not like I haven't seen a million sunsets but this one was different.
This is why. When I left the reservation at age 18, I pretty much thought there was no turning back. Nope, I am going to go where there are more opportunities for my children and I. That is how I used to think. I lived in different cities across a tri-state area, the largest being St. Paul, Minnesota. I used to look at the skyscrapers and traffic in amazement. This is where it's at and where I need to be, is how i thought. I wanted my children to learn about other cultures, see other things. I wanted them to see more of the world than just the reservation. I wanted them to be more diversified, all the while I struggled to live in St. Paul.
When I made the decision to move home was when I had my daughter and realized nobody ever got to see her. My kids loved coming home to the rez, but they hardly knew their family and culture. While I was out trying to make them live and learn amongst other cultures, they were growing up without theirs.
I thought of this as I watched the sun go down while driving on the hills between Wounded Knee and Pine Ridge. The clouds were dark purple around the sun and the sun was a brilliant red as it stood on the western edge of the Earth. It looked as if the sun lit the whole horizon on fire and as the clouds hung further in the air they became different shades of sunset. It was a beautiful Christmas Eve Sunset.
As we neared into Pine Ridge I saw the trail of two jets. One was headed east and one was headed west. I have no idea where they were going, who was on them, who was going where for Christmas or how long it had been since the pilot had watched a sunset. I did know one thing, that directly below them in the vast openness of the prairie, that at that moment, Pine Ridge Reservation was the most beautiful place in the world. A place where my children will know who they are and where they came from.
The sun was down by the time we reached my house, even though there were mud puddles everywhere and dirty snow, I knew I was home and I was indeed grateful. That thought alone made for a wonderful Christmas this year.