Saturday, November 22, 2008

(2) The Shield

Gleaning through a myriad of library books about the American
Indian's symbol of the eagle, I found somewhat of a common
descriptive representing many tribes. They viewed the eagle as
a spirit bird, in the sense that it soared higher than other birds,
moving closest to the heavens or to Father Sky. Indians, too,
felt that eagle feathers could be seen as prayers. However, the
eagle was not to be mistaken for the Thunderbird.

Beyond this, I had to consider that this special shield was given to
me--as the young Indian brave--therefore I had to inject my own
interpretation into the depiction, the drawings, painted on the shield.

Studying this issue for quite awhile, I began to consolidate my
thoughts. The eagle was a representative of the Great Spirit, an
observer perhaps--even perhaps the eye of God. It's sun streaked
feathers lent a cosmic dimension to this particular eagle. As for the
eagle hovering over the globe, apt with attention, was it representative
of "protection" or at least "concern."

As for the shield itself, from what I could tell an Indian's shield served
as his protection. For myself, I had to take all this a step further. In
time I decided that the painting on the shield indeed represented
"protection," but it was about protecting the Earth. The green globe
on the shield's painting was a no-brainer, in that it obviously
represented the Earth--our beautiful blue-green planet.

Need I say that I waxed poetic in all this symbolism. Yet I had to
boil it all down to my present life! Looking back at my career with
the National Park Service, yes I could see myself as a protector of
sorts when it came to the good Earth. But why did I have this special
vision, now that I had *retired* from the park service? I got the
feeling that this shield vision was about the here and now, also the
future, and not only my past.

Deep-down I knew this special vision meant that I was once again
to move into a new situation, maybe into a different direction. Earlier
my Indian spirit guide had pointed the way, throughout all my career
changes; and now, once again, I had to seek, to try to find my way as
this special vision points. At least I was smart enough to not push
myself into this very much, but rather let any new circumstances flow
more naturally into my life.

To backtrack some, during my time at Cabrillo National Monument
I had taken these adult extension courses about the Kumeyaay
Indians. I developed a friendship with the professor, a cultural
anthropologist, and we kept in touch. And one day I met him for
lunch, and we talked about what I might want to do now that I had
retired. I was still "young-ish," and with any luck I had time for a
fairly extended lifetime. So why not pursue another career?

My friend knew of my abiding interest in the American Indian. So!
Why not academically concentrate on the subject? He suggested
that I might look into the field of cultural anthropology. He noted that
the University of San Diego (USD), a small private college, offered
advanced degree programs in its Anthropology Department that
focused on Native American Studies. My heart jumped, my head
followed, and with my friend's help I was accepted into a Master's
Degree program at USD.

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