A man and an eagle were flying one day, the man’s hair caught up in the flow and rhythm of the eagle’s vibrant wings as they flapped. The eagle and the man, together, seemed to make one whole spirit. For the man’s spirit was incomplete without the eagle’s surplus spirit to complete him. It filled him, encircled his heart, caused him to leap and run for joy.
This is how the man felt when he spoke his Native language. Though he could subsist without it, his existence became whole when he spoke the words of his ancestors. Once, men with sharpened flint knives came to cut his tongue from him, but they did not escape with it. They only thought they did, but he tricked them. He had not been carrying his true tongue in his mouth.
He carried it in his heart.
Special Thanks: Misty Lynn Ellingburg (Shoalwater Bay) is a student at Seattle Pacific University, majoring in English (concentration Literature) and minoring in Professional Writing. She has two brothers and two sisters–Brandt, Shana, Hope, and Hunter. Her mom, Lory, is a Tribal artist, and her dad, Todd, is becoming fluent in Salish, a local Tribal language. Her favorite Native writers are Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, and Sherman Alexie.