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Stone by Stone

for Gkisedtanamoogk and Miigam'agan, Cjegkitoonuppa, Manitonquat and my brothers in the Open Circle at Somers (now Osborne) Prison
Written June 1, 1993 - May 6, 1994

Cjegkitoonuppa (Slow Turtle) and Manitonquat (Medicine Story), two Wampanoag elders, lead sweat lodges and medicine circles for the inmates of several New England prisons. As a member of Beechtree Medicine Circle, a group which supports their work, I have had the privilege of participating several times in the medicine circle in one Connecticut prison. It has been a profoundly moving experience for me to hear the men speak in the circle and to share my own truth with them. In the spring of 1993, members of Beechtree gathered at our home, where we were led in ceremony by Gkisedtanamoogk, another Wampanoag elder, who came with his Miqmaq wife Miigam'agan and their two children. A council fire burned throughout four days, and we celebrated First Light ceremonies each morning, along with holding numerous councils. The stones for our sweat lodge were carried from old stone walls and set into the fire.

According to Gkisedtanamoogk, at one time all of our ancestors knew the circle, knew the fire, and lived in sacred connection to the Earth and all of her creatures. Some of us have forgotten our origins. There are those, such as the Wampanoags, who still remember and who reverentially hold the memory for all, until such a time as we may return to that place of respect and connection with all our relations.

Since writing this song, my awareness of the travesties done to aboriginal nations all over the world by "civilized" nations has grown, so that I now understand that the shame is not relegated to "so long ago," but continues to this day. I urge you to read Jerry Mander's book In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations.

Lui - lead and background vocals, Martin guitar (EADGBD)
David - cello, background vocals
Frank - bass
Joan - background vocals
Rob - percussion

I'd met only briefly this wise humble stranger
Who soon with his family would visit my land
I awaited their coming with some hesitation
For feelings may surface in ways never planned.

Would they accept me despite what my people
Had done to their forefathers so long ago?
Could I cleanse in the sweat lodge the shame I had carried
And reaching 'cross cultures some common ground know?

Could we take down the wall, stone by stone by stone
What once divided now shall unite, in the fire we are transformed.

My ancestors landed on shores of abundance
to shamelessly claim them as true rightful heirs
They were met by a people who welcomed and gifted them
honored the land, and shared what was theirs.

But my ancestors sadly neglected their duties
The sacred was lost in the misuse of will
In betrayal of trust and the land raped and pillaged
The heart is soon empty, the prisons are filled

Take down the wall, stone by stone by stone
What once divided now shall unite, in the fire we are transformed.

Now the elders come weekly to sit in the circle
where inmate and visitor join hand in hand
I hear each one speak as the talking stick passes
The truth falls unhindered from the mouth of each man.

Your pain reflects mine, as you speak in the circle
though my prison is one that I carry inside
Unlike yours which holds you in obvious bondage
I endure mine in secret, but it can't be denied.
And when later I walk free through gate and locked doorway
I feel in my heart the depth of your care
For there in the circle with hands and heart open
brother to brother I've seen your love shared.

The love that connects us, the truth of our being
Its strength is the power to move mind and will
And joining together in sacred communion
Our mutual gift is the love that can heal.

As we take down the wall, stone by stone by stone
What once divided now shall unite, in the fire we are transformed.

In support of the circle that meets in the prison
We gathered to honor Creator and Earth
We gathered for council and ceremony
To honor each sister's and each brother's worth.

Each came with an old wound, or burden of grief
Some pain from our past, some need to be healed
Grace came in the sweat lodge, sacred release
As we lay down our armor, we lay down our shield.

Take down the wall, stone by stone by stone...
What once divided now shall unite, in the fire we are transformed.

Now I sit by the council fire, burned down to ashes
So carefully tended these four sacred days
The heart of our gathering, now carried within us
The promise of love in the joining of ways.

For we are the captives here on Turtle Island
Our captors the people of the old sovereign states
And one day, no matter how much we resist it
Our path will return us to the Longhouse again.

As we take down the wall, stone by stone by stone
What once divided now shall unite, in the fire we are transformed.

©1994 Molly Gamblin Music (BMI)