Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Prophet's Rock 2012

Last fall, Jamie and I found ourselves standing on the battleground of the Battle of Tippecanoe in Prophetstown, Indiana. Just a little over a week ago, we found ourselves driving back near the location, and I felt drawn to visit again. It was a great time for a short break from our drive back east, and it was an absolutely beautiful day as well.

There’s something magnetic about knowing something of the history of a place, and knowing that perhaps a distant relative also walked along the same piece of land. I believe this is especially true, when one lives a great distance from that land, but can also be said of longstanding stomping grounds. For instance, I try to regularly carve out time to sit along the confluence of the Ohio and Little Kanawha Rivers in Parkersburg just like my dad and his brothers did, and just like my grandpa, and great-grandpa did. It’s a magical place, pregnant with histories untold.

Prophet’s Rock itself holds a geographic kinship connection for me in the contemporary era as well. My brother Chuck made the journey to Prophetstown and stood atop Prophet’s Rock in the spring of this year. I couldn’t help but think of him as I returned to this site.

My family is Shawnee.  Both my mom and my dad are Shawnee. And as much as I know that Shawnee people inhabited many places, there is something about this rock and this space in Indiana that is different. Maybe it is because I know the history of what happened at this site. Maybe its because I know that over 200 years ago, Shawnee people prayed from the top of this rock. Maybe its because I know that events in this place in many ways have shaped the history of Shawnee people from that day to now. And maybe it is because after all that has happened, nobody would have dreamed that Shawnee people would return to the rock, and maybe that offers me a unique act of defiance, resistance, and connectedness to generations past.

The rock rises along a steep hillside and cliff amid surrounding flatlands. It is a special place, and one that I hope to visit as often as I have opportunity.

I imagine everyone has a place or places to which they feel connected. Maybe yours isn’t Prophet’s Rock, but whatever it is, I hope you can visit it soon. And if you can’t physically go there, maybe you can take a moment right now to reminisce and reacquaint yourself with the memories, sights, sounds, and smells of that place.

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