The lose of a childhood hero and a great man.
Friday I lost my Great Grandfather MatoSapa (Black bear). I remember so many things of this man. Most importantly his gentleness. Mato used to say “A man discovers not all things require violence to solve when a mosquito lands on his privates.” He was always funny like that.
I remember the laughs and good times he’s given me. The first time he taught me to clean a fish. Eewww, I remember it was gross. But when I was done he showed me how to smoke fish and that made up for the gross part. Oh how yummy that fish was caught in the Cheyenne River.
I remember him teaching me to shoot a bow and my first deer I ever got was with Mato. I was 10 when I nabbed my first deer. I didn’t know at the time but Mato actually shoot it and I missed by a mile. He still let me think I got it and made a huge deal about it with the tribe. That deer was so good and I shared it with all. The wolf would become my name and my great grandfather was instrumental in forming what would become my native name.
I remember his stories about his grand parents, life on the reservation and God. He was a man long on words, short on temper and infinite in patience. He told me so many stories about the old days and how mad he was when Grandfather left the reservation. How proud he was that we kept our traditions even separate from the tribe.
I remember so many things of Mato and he certainly was a bear. Strong and fierce and yet loving and protective. I remember how soft his lap was and how warm his hugs. I have lost a great deal on an earthly level. But he’s with the great father in heaven now and he is with his parents. I’m sure they’ve missed him while they waited.
I will have to write his stories down so I never forget them. I have to remember he was old, lived well and is now with his heavenly father. He died as we all should at home and in peace. ‘ll devote some time to his stories and already have.
He used to say things like “These are things I know.” and then proceed to a story with some moral. Some of the morals I learned were.
Peace and happiness are available in every moment, peace can be found in every step and happiness in every breath.
When I asked him once how he kept faith in this nation where so many years it said he wasn’t even human. His answer was “No nation can solve it’s problems through politics where the solution is spiritual in nature. Where they are blind because the spirit isn’t found with their choices.”
He believed the nation “under god” had lost it’s spiritual center and hence could treat man in such a way. I’ve always been fascinated by Mato and how he kept his faith in man even when man had none in him. He would say “One mans disbelief doesn’t blind my belief. There is only one solution to any problem and that is truth undeniable.”
In recent months he wrote me a letter as I began my journey back to faith. He closed it with these words I will hold to my heart until I die.
He said “Kitayel, kiksuye ehatas ki tunkasila egnake ye heci, ca ye mahel ki hecetu oyanke. Ki nagi sni gluha wigmuke ki ista yuha sni istamnihapi. Which in english means: “Remember Kitayel, if the creator put it there, it’s in the right place. The soul would have no rainbows if the eyes had no tears.”
Kitayel is what my family calls me it means little one and yes Mato had a hand in that name as well.
I celebrate the life of a man who touched so many with kindness and love. A man who protected those he loved with the fierceness of the bear. He loved with all the passion and power of his namesake as well. He was and will forever be a bear among men and stand taller and fiercer than any before him.
He is the bear as it teaches the cub the ways of the world. His knowledge will be passed down for generations to come. He loved the outdoors and instilled in me a passion for it as well. I will remember his kindness, his heart and his spirit all the days I live.
I remember one of his greatest lessons was to love all because all things belong to the same spirit father. All things within his circle weather they know it or not. What’s important is I know it. We must treat all we meet with the same love our father gives to us. That is why he can not hate even when others hate him. Because they are brothers even if one doesn’t remember he is a brother.
So my final letter to a great man.
I will wait and see you again in the next life. We will be reunited in peace and love forever when I am called home and you will be among those to greet me. I remember it is a think promise by our spirit father and this is how I know it shall be.
I was promised I will see my ancestors again in the next life. I will once more know your hand upon my cheek, your wise words and your bear like love. Until then your cub will honor all you’ve taught me. I will treat others as brothers and remember all is in Gods circle.
I will tell your stories and teach my son the same love of nature you taught me. I will remember your life and wait for our reunion. Today and forever I will celebrate the time we had and be thankful for every moment.
I will seek happiness in every moment and peace in every step. I will seek to impart love in my words and wisdom in what I share. I will attempt to be the bear fierce and loyal in all things.
I will try to live as you’ve taught me seeing rainbows in my soul when my eyes have tears.
I will miss you and love you until we meet again,
~Kuwa Sumanitu Taka (pursuing wolf) aka Michelle Styles – March 16, 2014
~Kitayel (little one) aka Michelle Styles – March 16, 2014