How God Helped Me Forgive

by Bertha Limberhand of Lame Deer, Montana


(This was told in Cheyenne July 1989 at Crazyhead Springs Campground, on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, Montana; the English translation follows the Cheyenne text.)

Nato'seva'neeetöÍöke'me'eoesesta hapo'e tsemehae'eeheöeamÍhneto. Bertha naheöevehe. NamehaeheökenŰtse Nina Standing Elk Bigback, naa tseheheto John Bigback e'ŰhkÍhestohe. Hetsetseha etaeöeneöÍhovaneeheo'o.

HetsÍheohe tse'Űhkenaestse- ka'Íökoneho -moheeohtsevŰse tse'ŰhkemoheehevŰse Crazyheads, e'Űhkemehae'eevesÍtöÍheöe- ehohaepÍhevatsÍstanovo tseheheto naa tseheöketo. E'ŰhkÍsaa'eetonÍöeeenoohto'eet‚hestovŰheo'o. EohkeeeheöÍho'kevesÍho'moheeheo'o ho'eetöÍheöemoheeohtsestovetse. Naa tseheöketse momehaehohaepÍhevatsÍstŰhehe töÍheöevo'ÍstanehevestŰtse.

Hapo'e momehaema'heoneve'ho'evÍhehe, mo'ŰhkeeveeestsÍhehe. Naa mot‚hosenÍheöÍhene'enŰhehe hapo'e tseheöketse. Naa nahosÍtoe'asenÍheöeeöeehaene. Hapo'e naneveme tsexhe'evetse naa eneöeo'o hapo'e tsehetanevese. Naheöem‚sotaomevo'Ístaneheveme.

Naa hapo'e nataeöeto'senÍhe'xove'eaheotse, nataeöÍto'sÍho'ee'ta tsehotoanato. Hetsetseha hapo'e naxaenÍöene'etamenŰtse Ma'heo'o tsehvoeöeno'keoetseto ta'se oha naohkeeeme'etanonoto nahko'eehe naa neho'eehe tseohkemehae'eeheöevovestomoo'evŰse. NataohkeeehoonŰsetano ho'otova. Ho'otova naohkea'xaeme. Naa nataohkeevave'öÍhehnovetano, ``onetahtse etapÍheveohtseo'o,'' naohkÍheöetano. Hapo'e emehaehohaema'heoneve'ho'eveo'o.

Naa ta'se naho'ee'ta hetsetseha tseoseema'xÍhotoanato he'tohe tse'ameohtsestomaneto manestŰtse naa he'pohtŰtse, naa tseohkeve'öÍ- tseohkeononesta'oevose ta'se he'tohe naxaetaeho'ee'ta. Naa ta'se esaaxae'evatonÍöeto'hanehane hetsetseha. Naa oha naohkenÍheöeeestsÍstovoo'o. Ma'heo'o eoseema'xÍhohaatamaahe, oha hova'ehe esaahotseme'emÍstsehe. Oha hova'ehe ho'nÍöema'xetonÍöÍhotoanatotse eohkeevapÍhevana. Naa neohkenÍheöeeestsÍstonema, ``TsehavÍse(va'e) eto'seevavovoananaa'e tsepÍheva'e.'' Naa hene oha naohkÍxaenÍöenÍheöetano.

Naa nae'ha emehaeto'töÍöemoneeöeeotse, 24 emehaemonenÍhestŰheaenama. Naa ``Nato'seveseaseoxÍsÍhehotse'ohetano,'' naxheta. ``TsÍheohe nasaaxaetonÍöen‚ha'enohe hotse'ohestŰtse,'' exhevoo'o. Naa estaaseohtse.

Naa ``nÍheohe tava'neev‚ho'eohtseo'o Missoula,'' naxheto. Naa na'ev‚hesÍho'Űxe'Ístoova hako'e Portland. MostanÍöÍhoseo'omeaseve'hahtsÍhehe. Naa hako'e neöeaa'e hako'e etao'sÍto'hovanee'e.

Naa nÍhe'öe nase'hovÍho'ÍhoosÍhohta'haoohe'tone, ``Nee'ha monaeotsÍhehe n‚haohe, moovane'Űhoehevohe Me'öeeseve'ho'e,'' ehetoseme. Hako'e six times moovane'eoestŰhoehevohe.

Naa naoseema'xÍhoonŰse'ota. Ohase nataohkeeeme'etano tseohkemehae'eeheese, naa mato tseohkemehae'eeheöevÍse. Oha hetsetseha nataohkeme'etano'ta. Naa nama'xÍhehnovetano Ma'heo'o tse'eöene'etameto.

Naa nÍhe'öe naho'eonoomane, monato'seeestsÍstovŰhehe ho'emanehe. Naa n‚haohe natanÍhe'ohtse.

Naa tsestaeveametahoeto nama'xeeeameoo'hetanonae'ta, ``Name'taoxŰhetosÍstse? Heva eme'nÍöeena'hevoohe naa mato hapo'e eme'evanÍheöe'tohe,'' natama'xeeehetoseamÍheöetanonaa'e. Naoseemehaemehota nae'ha.

Naa tsestaametahoeto nataohkÍhaoena. NataohkeeestsÍstovo Ma'heo'o, ``Vest‚hemÍstse! Name'tonÍöeoxŰhetosÍstse? Ve'ho'e name'tonÍöeeestsÍstovosesto? NasaanŰhtoveeestsÍstovoheo'o hosÍstse ve'ho'e.'' Naa natama'xeameoetsetanonaa'e.

Naa nÍhe'öe nataosaanÍho'eohtse han‚haohe. Naoseehoono'otse tsest‚ho'eohtseto. Naa tsestavovoeho'eohtseto mato eso'eametanene. Netao'o nahetosÍheto'ena, nahetosÍtoxevoo'sÍhaa'e. EoseepÍhevomohtahe heva esaaxae'ee=tosa'e=tonÍöeonÍöeohtsehe. Hene naameme'etano'ta tsestaev‚hosÍho'eohtseto tosa'e nasaa'evatoo'e'oehe, heva tosa'e nasaa'evae'kotsevaenaehe.

Naa nÍhe'öe nataosaaneestsÍhoto, nataosaaneestsÍhotoo'o ve'ho'e, ema'xÍhoeo'o. NahosÍho'oxÍhaoena tsestao'seestsÍhneto.

Naa nÍhe'öe tsesto'töÍöeaseeestseto nase'hovenet‚heveotse. TsemeehaeheöÍhohaepeoto Me'öeeseve'ho'e, tsemehaeheöÍhohaestaha'tovo, exaehova'Íhane. Tsemehaeto'sÍheto exaehova'Íhane, tsesto'semehaeheöe- tsemehaeheöe'eehavÍsevo'aneooheto. Ta'se neva'esÍstse naesta'xe'tova. Tse'tohe nasaanÍsetamohe Me'öeeseve'ho'e nasaatonÍöenÍsetamohe tsestaeema'xÍhotoanavo'oese. Oha ``N‚htsÍhaoenavomotaho hapo'e tseevanet‚hevÍstave. Hapo'e ho'otseo'o Ma'heo'o,'' naheve.

Naa tsehne'ev‚hoehneto henÍheohe naa'eneamonoeotse. Tsemehae'eeheöemomata'etanoto exaehova'Íhane. Naoseese'hovenet‚heveovana'xaestahaotse. Naoseenet‚hevevehpanaomoht‚heotse. Nasaaxae'eveevanÍheöetanohe tsemehaeheöepeosetanootseto. Naa nÍheohe natamonÍhene'ena Ma'heo'o tseheöÍhohaatamaaese. HemehosanestŰtse namonevoo'sÍhaa'e.

Naa oha hetsetseha nanÍheve, ``Nato'seasÍho'e'ovo Ma'heo'o. Nasaahene'enovohe tosa'e tsesto'sÍtöÍheöemea'too'Íse. Heva nasaahene'enohe tsesto'sÍhotse'ota'Íse. Oha naa ta'se exaem‚heonÍsta'otsenŰtse he'netoonŰtse.''

Natava'neeetöÍöke'nÍheöÍhoseoesesta.

Oohkemomoxe- vahtometo -eestsÍstovotse nenesonÍhaneo'o. Eso'hohaetöÍhe'keaheo'o, esaa'eöepÍhevÍhene'enohenovo. Esaahene'enohenovo tseohkÍheöeonÍxa'o'haetse. Esaahene'enohenovo tseohkÍheöeoetsetanonaetse, tseohkÍheöÍhoonŰse'ototse. Ho'otova hapo'e tsetamonÍhoseasÍhene'enanovo, emoneameeöeeo'o. Hapo'e ma'tam‚sotaomÍhenesonÍhevŰtse hapo'e tsetamonemaenÍheöÍhene'enanovo. Naa oha naohkÍhaoenavomot‚hoo'o. Oha pÍhevomoht‚hestŰtse hapo'e naohkÍhosÍho'‚hetsÍstomevonovo.

Hetsetseha eso'neöeo'o nae'ha (tsehee'hahetono), naa nahestonahe. Naa eoseema'xÍhotoanato tsexho'ee'tomevŰse ha'tohe, ha'tohe tsema'xeno'heohtsetomaneto tsesaapÍheva'ehane. Eoseema'xÍhotoanato esaatonÍöÍto'hanehane ta'se. Naa oha tsehne'etameto, tsehne'etamestovÍse Ma'heo'o, oha eto'sÍsaahotsÍtsÍhetanohe.

Natava'neeenÍhetaa'eestse.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

I'm going to tell1 just a little bit about how I've been going along in life. My name is Bertha. Nina Standing Elk Bigback was my mother and my father was called John Bigback. Now they are both gone (dead).

Here where the children (Junior Camp) are gathered at Crazyhead (Spring) my mother and father really liked this. They never let themselves be left out. They always used to come when there was this camp gathering. And our mother really used to like this kind of life.

Likewise he2 was a Christian. He would give talks. And that's how our mother came to know it. And that is how she raised us, likewise. There's four of us women (sisters) and there are two men (brothers). We all have our own homes.

And likewise I'm almost up to that age, I've almost reached some difficulty. Now I depend on God because I'm alone, like sometimes I remember my mother and my father, how they taught me. Sometimes I get lonesome. Sometimes I cry. And I get encouraged, ``It's better, (my mother and father) went to a good place,'' I always think. They were strong Christians.

And I have now reached the point in my age, something that is really difficult, this drinking that seems to take over our way of life, and (marijuana) smoking. And that which makes them disoriented, like I have reached this right at this age. And it's like you cannot stop it now. But I always talk to them this way.

God is very powerful. He can do all things. No matter how difficult something is, He always makes it good.3 And we are told, Overcome evil with good.''4 And that is what I keep in mind.

And my son had just grown up, he just turned 24. ``I'm going to look for a job elsewhere,'' he told me. ``I can't seem to find any job here (on the reservation),'' he said. And so he left.

``You could just go as far as Missoula,'' I told him. But he wrote to me from way over in Portland. He must have gone along with (some people). He was gone almost two years.

And then they brought news to my house, ``Your son died over there. He must have been stabbed by a Mexican,'' they told about him. ``He must have been stabbed by him six times.''

And I really miss him. I remember the things he used to say and also what he used to do. That's all I've got to remember. And I'm really encouraged because I trust in God.

And then I was called. I was to go and talk to the judge. So I went over there.

And as I was riding along (on the bus) I really kept wondering about it, ``What should I say? Maybe, `Give him a life sentence.' And, likewise, he should be treated the same way (he treated my son),'' I just kept thinking about all this as I was sitting (riding).

My son loved me very much. As I was riding along I kept praying. I talked to God, ``Help me! What should I say to him? How should I speak to the white people? I don't know how to speak to some white people.'' And I went along worried as I sat.

And then I arrived over there (at Portland). The first time I went there (my son) was still living. He took and showed me around all over. He was really in good health. He didn't have a pain anywhere. I thought about that when I arrived there again (this time), he wasn't there to meet me, he wasn't there to hug me.

And then I went in to see (the judge), I went in to see the white people, there were many of them. I prayed once more for the last time before I went in (to the courtroom).

And then right when I started to speak I suddenly felt different. The way I had hated the Mexican, the way I was angry at him, it was just gone. What I had intended to say was just gone, the way I was going to talk bad. (It was) like someone entered into me. I did not have ill feelings towards this Mexican. I couldn't have ill feelings towards him, to get a tough sentence. Only, ``I'll be praying for him, perhaps so he can change his lifestyle. Likewise try God,'' I said.

And when I came out (of the courtroom) I sat there for a long time. The way I had been angry was just gone. Suddenly I felt really different and peaceful in my heart. I really felt light. I just didn't have any feelings the way I had had hateful thoughts. That's when I found out that God is very powerful. He showed me His love.

So now I say, ``I'm going to follow God. I don't know where He will send me. I don't know where I will be working for Him. It was just like He opened all the doors.''

I'm just telling this a little like that.

I wish we (parents) would talk to our children, regardless. They are very young, they do not understand it. They don't know how much they hurt us. They don't know how they worry us, how much we miss them. Sometime they also will begin to know, they are just growing up. Likewise, when they all have their own children they will understand it. But I always pray for them. I want good health for them.

Right now I still have two sons, and I have a daughter. And it is very difficult when they come to this age, this thing which gets them off the track, which is not good. It's really difficult, it seems like you can't stop it. But I trust in Him, when God is trusted, all things are possible with Him.5

That's how much I have to say.

FOOTNOTES:

1This testimony was first tape recorded in Cheyenne. The taping was done during a children's camp at Crazyhead Spring on the reservation. This is an English translation of the Cheyenne.

2This may have been Vo'ho'kase, Lightning, one of the first Cheyenne Christians.

3Romans 8:28.

4Romans 12:21.

5Matthew 19:26, Mark 9:23.

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