I, like Nathaniel Hawthorne, have ancestors who have committed atrocities. I don't know of any who directly killed a Native American, but they were settlers in the area and time period of the Blackhawk war in central Utah. The current conditions of tribes forced to live on reservations breaks my heart. I have often avoided thinking or learning about what has happened to these people as a result of my ancestors because it is just too painful to me. The following story was inspired by Hawthorne's stories dealing with his guilt over his ancestors actions.
My truck rolled across the dusty two acres that were finally mine.
“Twenty nine years,” I said to myself thinking of the graveyard shift that I'd worked at the steel mill for the better part of my life. I left the reservation when I was eighteen. I had hopes of going to college, but fell victim to the bottle instead. It was hard to be a dark in a town where dark meant Mexican and lazy. When I turned things around the steel mill was the only place that would hire a guy like me. I didn't mind working nights. It was dark and gave me time to think.
Night work also gave me time to sell beaded leather at craft fairs on weekends. During my breaks in the middle of the ebony night each bead was hand-sewn onto moccasins, bracelets, belts, purses, anything the rich housewives could find a need for. I can't complain too much, all that cash went to buy my land.
“Not much,” I muttered to myself after surveying each direction for the fence, “but it's mine.” I stopped the old Ford suddenly to avoid a rock in the middle of my path.
“Well, she needs work, but that's to be expected,” I said as I got out of the truck to roll the rock to the side. As I bent down to move the stone, my beaded belt unexpectedly popped loose and flew under a giant, gray sagebrush.
“Aw shucks, that's never happened,” I murmured as I went to retrieve it. Stooping down, a small sliver of bumpy crimson caught my eye. Right next to my beaded belt, there were more beads.
“I'll be,” I whispered with spiritual awe as I stood up and dusted off the beads. I held the token in my right hand and lifted it next to the belt in my left. The leather was brittle and cracked. It was translucent enough to be buckskin. But nobody used buckskin anymore. Turning it round and round, I stared at the ancient beauty that I had discovered. That's when it hit me. The crimson diamond pattern on the medallion mimicked the sacred pattern of my tribe. No, it didn't mimic the pattern, it was the original. This was my land all along.