It is April 1805. The corps has left Fort Mandan and the icy winter behind. Everything is changing after the snow-melt, as nature comes alive. New leaves poke from tree branches, grass grows before their eyes and wildflowers bud and bloom. The long days are filled with soldiers pushing the packed boats up the Missouri River toward the unseen promise of the mountains. Some of the men walk on the banks pulling the boats with ropes through calm and rough waters – pushing and pulling, maneuvering the load. It is exhausting.
Sacajawea walks on the shore with Pomp in his cradleboard on her back… When she cannot go another step she rides, letting the soldiers pull her canoe against the current. At times the river is simply a small stream of water trickling toward them from the hills, causing the men to drag the boats across the dry and rocky terrain. The struggle is real and the destination is unknown, the circumstances are nearly unbearable…
There is a powerful metaphor for life in the screenplay, SACAJAWEA, The Windcatcher. One might ask, “Why didn’t the soldiers take horses from Saint Louis to Fort Mandan to the mountains, then make canoes and sail down the river, with the current, to the Great Water?” As with life, they didn’t understand the terms of the journey, they didn’t know what was ahead, they didn’t realize the land was so massive, the mountains so high and the trek so dangerous. Life never gives us all the facts upfront. Sacajawea and these men pushed and pulled their way, struggled and labored with chaos lurking around every corner.
Finally, they left their boats behind, bargained for horses with the Shoshone and traversed the treacherous, snow-capped mountains to the other side. Weak, starving and vulnerable, the explorers came across the Nez Perce village. They did not know if the tribe was friendly. But the Nez Perce ended up helping them build canoes for the downward flow to the mighty Columbia River – and, ultimately, to the Great Water.
No one’s life is easy, we must go through countless trials, poor decisions, undeserved pain, but there should be no regrets and no judgment. Miraculously, when we least expect it, someone comes along to help… Our greatest strength is to have faith and believe in the journey, for that belief is stronger than any foe. We all push and pull our way, but when we learn to let it go, we begin to recognize the miracles, and our love, like the Great Water, flows out to the entire world. ~ Spirit Wind