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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)

TITLE: The Red-White-Man
By Ruth Neilson


The wind blew Little-Coyote’s dark hair across her face as she stood on the bank of a small creek. The golden sun was beaming down on her as she stood at the back of line of her people that was facing the stream. The swirling waters beckoned her. As she listened to the Red-White-Man speak gently, she gazed around her.

So much had changed in her world. She was no longer an innocent to the fact of the White man changing her world...her people’s world.

Red-White-Man had changed in his appearance since the day that he had arrived and had joined Little Coyote’s band, five years ago. Long gone were his Whiteman’s clothes. They were useless within by second season.

He had changed though. His once smooth, pale skin has been replaced with leathery texture and color. Little-Coyote smiled in spite of herself. The only thing that looked remotely white was his sparkling blue eyes. Blue like a blue bird or the sky on a perfectly clear day. He dressed Red and even acted like he was Red. Little Coyote still struggled with saying the strange sounds that the Red-White-Man used, and he struggled with her tongue, but some how they managed to communicate, without words. He went out of his way to try and learn how to hunt, towering like an oak over the young boys who were learning how to use a bow and a spear.

He was their Red-White-Man.

He was finally accepted into their band. With them he stayed, through life and death, times of plenty and times of need, and when they were forced from the open plains, he stayed. The White-Red-Man even provided medicine to heal the Whiteman’s sicknesses that killed Little-Coyote’s friends and family and warm, woolen blankets for the band during the harsher winters.

The water was rippling and threatened to drag the hide down river. The Red-White-Man smiled and nodded towards Little-Coyote. She knew what he expected of her. But she wasn’t sure if she could.

The Red-White-Man prayed daily to his God. Little-Coyote had to wonder though, was his Jesus, the same Jesus in whose name the Whiteman government spoke their false truths? She didn’t know. Something in her spirit whispered that this Jesus was a red man trapped in a white man’s body. Just like the Red-White-Man.

He extended his hand to her, motioning for Little-Coyote to step into the chilly water, but, she still hesitated. Would the spirits that her ancestors worshiped forgive her for turning her back on them? What about her children? Would they be accepted in this new world because of Little-Coyote’s choice?

The wind whispered around her, drawing her nearer to the water.

Little-Coyote paused again, her big toes resting in the cool water. If the Red-White-Man’s teachings were true, then that would mean the spirits were a lie. If the Whiteman’s government lied...wouldn’t that mean that this Jesus was a lie?

Red-White-Man was helping her wade deeper into the cold water. For a brief moment, Little-Coyote’s breath was stolen away.

“I baptize thee in the name of Father, the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Red-White-Man intoned, before slowly bending her over, never once loosing eye contact with her.

Little-Coyote felt herself being lowered into the cold water. She knew that he wouldn’t hurt her; she and the Red-White-Man were kindred spirits.

Little-Coyote kept her eyes open, until the last moment. Just before she was dipped under the brown water, she smiled.

She saw a Red Jesus smiling back at her.

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This article has been read 518 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 10/25/07
Wonderful! I love the cross-cultural aspects of this, and especially of the ending.

Take a look at the last sentence of your 3rd paragraph--something's amiss there--but that's the only thing I spotted in this extremely strong entry. Very, very good.
Seema Bagai 10/27/07
A wonderful entry with vivid descriptions.

My only suggestion would be to look at the use of past tense passive verbs such as "was" and "were" and subsitute them for more active words.
Gregory Kane10/30/07
Two things I liked here: the girl’s worry that accepting Jesus meant accepting the white man’s world; the way the missionary modelled Jesus to the people he had come to serve.
My main concern with the story is whether the girl would have seen herself as a “red” Indian. The term was popularised in John Ford westerns but I’m not sure that Native Americans would necessarily have seen themselves as “red”. One to ponder.
LauraLee Shaw10/30/07
Love this story....In Jesus our hearts are color-blind. Sweet.
Joanne Sher 10/30/07
This one is just excellent. I was engaged completely. The descriptions and word choice were wonderful.