My name is Ayoka. All I remember of my early childhood sitting by the fire we always had kept going. And helping my mother harvest corn while my father went hunting. I was always with my mother. But happy to see my father all the time.
My mother told me stories of my grandma. Part of the Long Hair Clan and always taking people in. No matter who they were or what they looked like. When I was born my grandfather was killed by an angry man in another tribe. She was going to carry through with killing his wife but I was born and “brought happiness” which is where I got my name.
I remember my father seeming panicked all of the time after my grandmother died. He built us a new house and was hunting more often. He also invested in a strange machine he said was a “gun” nothing we had used before. Mother did not farm anymore, and father never let her come to council meetings.
They made us leave because we were “savages”. We were unsafe. We had ruined their perfect world. The world we had owned first. They told us we were running an incompetent society and we needed to leave while they were being nice. But did we listen? Absolutely not.
My family died alongside at least 5,500 others. Leaving me on this journey alone. 17,000 of us and my family had to leave. I walked miserable snow, rain, hail, anything you can imagine. We had to walk and walk. Soldiers forcing us out of our homes.
HEY! GET MOVING!
When we arrived we were all confused. I however had no guidance. The land was so flat and none of us knew how to navigate it. I built my own life for myself, alone and scared. Seemed as if I was always walking in circles until I settled and now I sit wishing I could have done something.