The Passed Note Issue 8 October 2018 - Page 22

The Gara have a perpetual stream of people writers, or anthropologists, visit. However, Whitman is the only one who has been truly accepted into our inner folds. It may be because he has come to visit six times, or that he has mastered the canoe craft, but most likely, it is because he is the only visitor who has ever learned to speak our words in the song way.

No, he is not typical of our visitors at all. Upon his very first visit, Whitman’s intimate knowledge of the Gara’s language helped him make an immediate connection with our shaman, Cav. They have been kinsmen ever since. Cav and Whitman pass many nights talking and laughing and crying, playing with the hand-held recording device and welcoming the sun back around.

I’ve spent many hours, sometimes having to pretend comprehension, listening to the thoughts of our beloved Whitman. He spends hours writing in his notebook. The pages are full of poetry, quotes, facts, and daily observations. The days he goes fishing with my father, I sway in his hammock, smell his sleep scent, and I read his words.

The living Gara will banish those who publicly display disbelief of the spirits’ powers. The word for banishment is the same word the Gara use for death.