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Searching for words to review this biography, Sarah Winnemucca (2001), written by the political historian Sally Zanjani, was hard, due to my superficial grasp of the Native American plight.

Born around 1844 within the Paiute in western Nevada, she was named Thocmentony, meaning Shell Flower. During her early years, she thrived upon the four-thousand-year mythology, traditions, and customs of this desert tribe, roaming in bands, ever in search of food: its focus led to their peaceful and generous nature.

What gives depth to this narrative is the author’s use of primary materials that activated my imagination. I was privy to the dismemberment of an ancient spiritual culture with the encroachment of Anglo-American settlers, of prospectors searching for gold, and agents from the government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. Bloody skirmishes abound. Even Thocmentony was renamed Sarah because no one could not pronounce her name, a name, however that gave her access to the white world.

Fluent in English, Spanish, and three native dialects, the Paiutes, the U. S. Army, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs sought Sarah’s services as interpreter and as messenger. But her interventions did not curtail continuous bloodshed among the Paiutes and the settlers, a lei-motif of this tragic story. Occasional glimpses of Sarah’s notorious sharp tongue and wit and her love of performance as a circuit speaker in the northeast did afford me breathing space.

This biography, Sarah Winnemucca, has roused my compassion for the Native Americans who used to roam the hills and woodlands and waterways of Missouri where I was born. It’s time I learned about them.

At 6:35 A.M., I awoke with this disconcerting dream:

After a long absence, I discover that my doctor has moved his office to a high-tech clinic in the city. As I follow a nurse to an examining room, I see a former friend sitting on the floor of another examining room, looking disgruntled, her shapely legs stretched before her upon the hardwood floor. My heart sank. I hoped she had not seen me.

This glimpse into my psyche reveals more of my shadow. My need to see my doctor suggests regaining control of my health rather than allow the continuing diminishment of my body under hospice supervision. I’m determined to fix myself—And only the best will do: a high-tech clinic in the city.

The former friend mirrors my stinginess of heart, resentments, whining and demanding and sulking behaviors, deeply entrenched in my psyche, still rooted within the recesses of my shadow, despite decades of Twelve Step work.

And my former way of handling conflict— I hoped she had not seen me. —was to flee the scene or ignore what had occurred. Such pretense had thwarted development.

The dream reminds me of the critical practice of emotional honesty, with God, myself, and others. I still have a terminal illness.

It was a brilliant Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, and, sleepy-eyed, I met my friend at the airport for our flight to Gloucester, Massachusetts, for our annual retreat—Everything as usual, or so I thought.

Only airborne a short while, the intercom clicked on. “This is your Captain speaking—Air Traffic Control is delaying our arrival at Boston. Some difficulties, they’re having. We’ll keep you posted.” I buckled my seat-belt, intuiting that something was very wrong. My friend didn’t agree and our conversation about terrorism continued until interrupted.

It was the Captain again. “There’s been another change. Air Traffic Control directs us to land at the nearest airport. Since we’re closest to Indianapolis, that’s where will land. They’re expecting us, as well as other planes ordered to clear the skies.” Only while deplaning did the Captain inform us of the terrorist bombings in Manhattan.

Slowly, the ghoulish pieces of the nightmare begin to coalesce while listening to the car rental’s radio on the way to Gloucester: a series of suicide planes had crashed into and leveled the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center; another crashed into the side of the Pentagon; and still another, intended for the U. S. Capitol or The White House, crashed-landed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, thanks to Todd Beamer and other passengers who almost subdued their four hijackers.

Panic, fire, dense smoke, mangled and burnt bodies, shocking injuries, lingering deaths, families decimated, destruction of symbolic edifices, disruption of the economy and much more scarred America’s psyche—an emotional scarring it still bears, despite the media’s sanitized coverage, twenty years later.

Only later did Osama bin Laden, founder of the pan-Islamic militant organization, al-Qaeda, take responsibility for this atrocity, his choice of the date to avenge the September 11, 1683 Christian victory over the Turks at the battle of Vienna.

Prayer and Memorials help, but the scar of 9/11 remains: No one has forgiven anyone—the war continues.

Available on Amazon

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