The Return of the Ancients
As the tale of Many Horses shows, the story of the return of the true Native Americans goes back five hundred years, to a time shortly before the spread of Europeans across the continent. In the early decades of the 16th century, the Nunnehi spirits emerged from their hidden spirit world in the Deep Earth to warn all Native Americans of the coming of the white man. All tribes were told of the danger they represented. Told how the white man would change the face of our world with little regard for the buffalo, the land or the people. All tribes were told to fast for seven days and seven nights. At the end of the fasting period, the Nunnehi would return and take those who had followed their orders into the spirit world where they would not age, and where the Nunnehi would keep these chosen people safe until the time would come for them to return to the Earth. A time when the spirits could return and the land would be reborn. A time when the chosen ones were to build a new life and undo the harm inflicted by the white man. This event marked the last appearance of the Nunnehi in the world of men until after the Great Cataclysm. The Nunnehi were the first spirits to willingly leave the Middle Realm, and thus, were able to maintain much of their power and keep the Pure Ones safe for ages.
Those people who chose to ignore the Nunnehi or preferred to remain in the realm of men were conquered by the whites and forcibly absorbed into their society. Decades later, the people would regain some of their autonomy, but their culture would be shattered, and their spirits forever tainted by their exposure to the society, customs, and beliefs of their conquerors.
Before the ley lines erupted in 2098 AD, several generations had been born into the world of their conquerors, but the dedicated adherence to the surviving old ways by a select few allowed them to shed the impurities of the culture around them and once again attain the status of Pure Ones. These rare individuals lived on what was left of the reservations, away from most outside influences. Eventually, they were able to contact some of the more powerful spirits, like the Nunnehi, at nexus points in ancient spirit caves. They were warned of the Coming of the Rifts and were able to lead their (all too few) families and fellow believers into the mountains and caves to wait out the destruction. These modern traditionalists would form the bridge between the Ancient Ones and modern ways.
People living in the cities or on most reservations suffered the fate of all the other races on Rifts Earth. Some were atomized by nuclear weapons, while most were decimated by the explosion of magical energy released from the ley lines and Rifts. The explosive return of magic purged the world of people and culture, wiping clean the citadels of men through natural disasters — hurricanes, tornadoes, great storms, blizzards, earthquakes, floods, fires, and disease. After the Great Cataclysm, the survivors, said to have been less than 20% of the world population, were lost to a Dark Age. A terrible time of anarchy, war, disease and death that would claim millions of more lives and see technology, culture and knowledge crumble into barbarism.
All in all, the largest portion of Native Americans to survive were those on reservations. This was mainly due to their locations in remote areas, away from the big cities, and where buildings were low to the ground and population densities were low. I believe this was the work of the spirits during a time when we thought they had abandoned us. How else would one explain this ironic twist of fate? For while we, as a people, were torn from our land and placed on “reservations” where many Native Americans languished and suffered for generations, these locations would ultimately save us and provide the opportunity to become reborn and rebuild.
Many reservation natives were no strangers to hardship, so survival after the Great Cataclysm was not as difficult for them as others. Their isolation … distance from other population centers would work to their advantage, sparing them from the plagues that would ravage many survivors in the decimated cities. These reservation survivors straddled both traditional and modern ways. They knew something of their past, but were accustomed to white culture, science, technology and business. The hardships and isolation following the devastation of the Great Cataclysm would forge those survivors into a somewhat balanced force that brought together the past and present. However, they had lost most of their ties to the spirits and powers that were common to their ancestors (who had yet to return to Earth), as well as having lost access to advanced technology. Like all other peoples, the Native Americans were engulfed in a Dark Age where the wonders of modern technology had been taken away and demonic horrors from the Rifts made life all the more difficult.
Technology in the form of robots, power armor, weapons, and vehicles came from “city Indians” and those in the military with access to such things. Civilization, the military and all social structure were shattered by the Great Cataclysm. Without leaders, or even homes and families to return to, many Native American survivors returned to their roots, bringing technology to the reservations with them. Most “city Indians” would report that they believed their relatives on the reservations had the skills and willpower to survive and rebuild. However, their spiritual brothers believe their decision to return to the reservations was guided by the spirits.
Regardless of their reasons, a number of them survived the dangerous treks through a ravaged Earth to join their people on the reservations (perhaps further evidence that they were guided and protected by greater powers?). Reunited, they brought with them technical knowledge and bits of equipment that would help to arm, defend, and advance the state of their reservation communities. The wilderness skills of the traditionalists combined with the know-how of technologically oriented kin, were instrumental in locating and salvaging necessary equipment and materials in the remains of devastated cities. The results of their efforts allowed for the fortification of reservations and other sites which would be renamed “Preserves.” The blending of the traditional and the modern allowed for growth in heavy industry and technical sciences as well as in magic and the ways of the spirits. This understanding and embracing of the mystical enabled the Native Americans to accept and better adapt to a world where magic and the supernatural were as real and as common as the automobile, while others faltered and perished in disbelief or madness. The small populations and hardships of the time made growth slow, but the foundations for not only survival, but advancement had been laid.
Ah, but all was not perfect or harmonious. Many of the traditionalists misunderstood what it was to be “Pure Ones,” and frowned upon the union of the old ways and the mystical with technology and science. They mistakenly believed that science and technology were the reasons the white man was impure and had lost his magic (Editor’s Note: See later sections for details on spirit energies and Pure Ones). They advocated a total abandonment of technology, and a complete return to the old ways. However, even many of these ardent traditionalists soon recognized that high-technology would be necessary to insure their survival against the horrors emerging from the Rifts and stalking the forests, prairies, and canyons of America. Survival is often a state of compromise, and the Native Americans had been surviving for centuries, so those opposed to the use of technology spoke out, but most did not act. Many grudgingly accepted the union of magic and technology, while others saw it as a temporary evil that would eventually be abandoned. A small percentage left the “Preserves,” abandoned technology as evil, and lived off the land and relied on magic and the spirits to survive — which many did.
In the early days after the Great Cataclysm, the magic and knowledge of the shamans among the traditionalists was instrumental in understanding the inhuman forces they battled, and defending their struggling people. Technology, medicine and firepower were equally valuable.
The shamans and medicine people that learned to master the return of magic to Earth, passed their knowledge on to eager students and called upon the newly awakened spirits. Still, many secrets had been lost and could not be rediscovered. The spirits required certain rituals and prayers for the granting of powers and gifts, and many of those had been lost after the invasion of the Europeans nearly a millennium ago. Try as they might, the so-called traditionalists’ knowledge of the past was fragmented and incomplete. Newly awakened shamans were inexperienced and, though they struggled to learn quickly, lacked the knowledge of their ancestors. Thus, neither could gain access to those powers or gifts, and for some reason, the spirits were not willing to teach them in the old ways. Most shamans believed the spirits would not give them what was lost, and many took up quests in those early decades to seek out those who might have the knowledge they lacked. The only successes they had were in contacting many of the other surviving tribes, which would later prove valuable in the arming and defense of the Native American peoples with pre-Rifts military equipment.
Then one day, buffalo herds, tens and hundreds of thousands strong, appeared on the plains like magic. In other areas, scarce bald eagles and extinct manatees appeared in (recently) unprecedented numbers. The traditionalists took it as a sign, and numerous attempts to call the sacred White Animals were made. Many rituals were performed across the country; many were answered. As the White Animals sacred to each tribe answered the calls, they brought with them the ancient members of each tribe who had, until then, been sheltered in the ageless lands of the Nunnehi. These Ancients as they would come to be known, brought with them the history of their people, their culture and past ways of magic and spiritualism, the lost knowledge of the rituals and prayers needed to contact and ask the spirits for favors, guidance and special powers. The return of The Ancients also gave the Native Americans another singular advantage: It supplied them with sheer numbers. The populations of many communities increased ten, and even twenty fold, overnight. Nearly two million Native American “Ancients” returned to Earth that year, more people than the current population of the Coalition state of Chi-Town! These numbers were, of course, spread across all of North America.
With The Ancients to lead them, many tribes moved into their old homelands, the territories they held before the arrival of the “white tribes from across the sea.” Many modern tribe members joined them in those territories, while others waited for The Ancients to come and make their fortified Preserves even stronger.
Guided, for awhile, by the Nunnehi, all of the tribes had worked together and shared knowledge and discoveries, especially salvaged secrets of industry, production and the making and repair of military equipment. However, when the Nunnehi left the tribes to their own devices, their old rivalries resurfaced, and the co-operation of the tribes fell apart. Only a few of them went to war, but most others isolated themselves, or made alliances with some and stood against others.
Eventually, many Ancients and traditionalists rejected city life in the fortified Preservers, abandoned much of technology, and went back to the old ways as nomadic hunters and farmers, living “with” the land. The majority of them were simple, spiritual people who preferred to be surrounded by nature and open sky instead of walls, concrete and the hum of machines. Most of them actually took some items of technology to make life a little easier. Things like rain ponchos, lighters, flashlights, etc. S.D.C. weapons were also used for hunting. Many of these traditionalists did not split from their modern tribesmen (some of them even stayed to embrace the technology of their descendants), they simply moved into a more comfortable and natural environment and way of life. Many of them remain in frequent contact with the modern compounds where both factions help the other in whatever ways they can, and come to each other’s defense. Of course, some have broken away completely, and reject technology and avoid those who use it. The strength of the Native American people did not dwindle much; they merely splintered and localized. The tribes now occupied stable communities that would, with time, grow (comparatively) large and strong. As our story unfolds into the present, the various tribes, whether traditionalists, the descendants of Ancients, or those who rely on both magic and technology, have grown to be a major force and a dominant people of the West. As the white man and many other races (D-Bees) begin to explore and settle in the west, the peoples’ reactions vary. Most of the descendants of The Ancients usually bear no ill will to the white man because they did not see his atrocities against their people — besides that was the distant past, and man cannot live in the past or let the past turn the present into hate, for to do either is to destroy one’s future and to lose sight of the world’s beauty and pleasures. They only hope that people have learned a lesson from history and strive to lead better lives. Thus, most of these tribes are neutral towards whites and will respond to whites, D-bees and all people based on how these various factions treat them. If they are hostile, they respond in kind, if they come in peace and friendship, they are welcomed, etc. Many of the Preserves have grown into fortified military strongholds controlled by modern Native Americans who, unlike The Ancients, have grown up with the memories of their history and the injustice at the hands of the white man. Many of these city states are fanatically determined to keep the white man from invading the land again, and they are prepared to use deadly force, both magical and mundane, to da so (Editor’s Note: See the Factions Among the Native Americans and The Preserves sections for more details).
New rivalries and wars have emerged with people from the Rifts, most notably Worm Wraiths, Xiticix, the Simvan Monster Riders, some tribes and clans of Psi-Stalkers, and demons who threaten all human life. The people of the Coalition States are unknown to most Native Americans living in the Western and Northern Wildernesses, but enough has been heard and seen to breed fear and paranoia. Like many of the old cultures of Rifts Earth, the Native Americans have seen the return of their gods with the resurgence of magic. Their lost spirit allies and other friendly spirits have also come back. As a result, Native Americans are more than ready and capable of protecting their territories and unlike any other people, we, the Native Americans, are back in our element: the wilds of North America. Our birthplace. Our home.
Back to Spirit West