For those of you who are new to the Beams, last year we wrote a five-part series about comparing the plight of the Cherokees in the USA and the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif. The series, entitled The Trail of Tears, won a silver medal from the Jewish and Israeli Best Blog 2005 awards Best Series division, an earned me an honorary Indian name from the Cherokee Nation as Wa ya Udo, or "Wolf Brother". Since then, I've been in contact with quite a few native Americans, mostly Cherokees, but also Navajo, Nez Perce, Sioux, and Blackfoot. In addition to the mounting evidence, I firmly believe that many American Indians are descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. My very close friend Yonatan Sofer, a brilliant analyst and researcher and brother of Abir Aluf Yehoshua Sofer, thinks so too.
"Calming Waters" is one of my favorite Blackfoot friends. Recently, I received a beautiful letter from him that's very appropriate for the week of Breshis, when the Torah tells the story of creation. Calming Waters is also digging into his roots, and is receiving help from esteemed Cherokee elder and our highly respected friend, Grandmother White Eagle.
Here's what Calming Waters writes:
Shalom Wolf Brother!
May the Creator's blessings fill your day with gladness! Thank you so very much for the message you sent me on 9-28; it was such a blessing to me. Your words mean so much because they are spoken with genuine sincerity from the heart of one who loves the Creator. Your words are poetry. They remind me of words I have read in the Hebrew Scriptures (translated into English). This has always been my favorite Book, most precious of my earthly possessions.
Speaking of the Hebrew Scriptures, I found something very encouraging recently in my searching for Jewish roots in our tribe. I just finished reading an account of creation as told by Blackfoot. These Blackfoot stories were passed down generation to generation, and though there were some inaccuracies in this written one (the author was not Blackfoot), within this story there are clear connections to the account given in the first book of Moses. The Blackfoot story spoke of water everywhere, dry land was made, humans were formed of clay and the Creator breathed life into them, woman was the first human to make a bad decision thus bringing sorrow and the law of death instead of following the Creator's way to life everlasting. Humans wanted to change things back to the way the Creator had originally had things before, yet they could not of themselves regain what the Creator had intended for them. The Creator did not give up on them; He cared much for them and guided them, showing them the way to life.
This also drew my attention: within this story I read, it told of the creation of humans, then later it tells of another group of people being created from the earth, He breathed life into them and they became a people. They asked the Creator what they were to eat and He brought forth certain animals for them and told them this was their food. He also gave directions on how to collect this food. The story goes on to tell that later, the Creator marked off a piece of land for the tribes. He also told them to protect this land from those who would come unbidden into their land, for if the intruders gained a footing here, trouble for the tribes would follow. It occurred to me that this might very well be the story of Israel. Don't you think so, Wolf Brother?
My search for roots is becoming very exciting. The more I learn about the noble Israelite nation, the more I long to be connected to them.
I am honored that you take the time to stay in touch with me, and appreciate your kindness and wisdom. Your blessing ("May The Almighty bless you with all your heart's wishes for the very best.") brought such gladness to my heart; words fail to convey my gratitude.
May all your paths lead to peace, Wolf Brother. Most sincerely, Calming Waters
Thank you so much, Calming Waters. The earnest search of the dispersed and the exiled for their Jewish roots is a surefire sign of the imminent redemption of our people, speedily and in our time, amen.
"Holy Man of the Blackfoot", by Howard Terpning. Terpning, known as the artistic storyteller of the Native American, shows this aged Blackfoot in devout personal prayer to the Great Spirit. Notice how his sidecurls are untouched and his garments are fringed. There's more than a hint of Israelite roots in the Blackfoot; Moshiach will remove all doubt - speedily, amen.