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’neeetšêške’me’eoesesta hapo’e tsemehae’eehešeamêhneto. Bertha
naheševehe. Namehaeheškenôtse Nina Standing Elk Bigback, naa tseheheto John Bigback e’ôhkêhestohe. Hetsetseha etaešenešêhovaneeheo’o.
Hetsêheohe tse’ôhkenaestse- ka’êškoneho -moheeohtsevôse
tse’ôhkemoheehevôse Crazyheads, e’ôhkemehae’eevesêtšêheše-
ehohaepêhevatsêstanovo tseheheto naa tsehešketo. E’ôhkêsaa’eetonêšeeenoohto’eetâhestovôheo’o.
Eohkeeehešêho’kevesêho’moheeheo’o ho’eetšêhešemoheeohtsestovetse. Naa
tsehešketse momehaehohaepêhevatsêstôhehe tšêheševo’êstanehevestôtse.
Hapo’e momehaema’heoneve’ho’evêhehe, mo’ôhkeeveeestsêhehe. Naa
motâhosenêhešêhene’enôhehe hapo’e tsehešketse. Naa
nahosêtoe’asenêhešeešeehaene. Hapo’e naneveme tsexhe’evetse
naa enešeo’o hapo’e tsehetanevese. Nahešemâsotaomevo’êstaneheveme.
Naa hapo’e nataešeto’senêhe’xove’eaheotse, nataešêto’sêho’ee’ta
tsehotoanato. Hetsetseha hapo’e naxaenêšene’etamenôtse
Ma’heo’o tsehvoešeno’keoetseto ta’se oha naohkeeeme’etanonoto
nahko’eehe naa neho’eehe tseohkemehae’eeheševovestomoo’evôse. Nataohkeeehoonôsetano ho’otova. Ho’otova naohkea’xaeme. Naa nataohkeevave’šêhehnovetano, “onetahtse etapêheveohtseo’o,” naohkêhešetano. Hapo’e
Naa ta’se naho’ee’ta hetsetseha tseoseema’xêhotoanato he’tohe
tse’ameohtsestomaneto manestôtse naa he’pohtôtse, naa tseohkeve’šê-
tseohkeononesta’oevose ta’se he’tohe naxaetaeho’ee’ta. Naa ta’se
esaaxae’evatonêšeto’hanehane hetsetseha. Naa oha naohkenêhešeeestsêstovoo’o. Ma’heo’o eoseema’xêhohaatamaahe, oha hova’ehe esaahotseme’emêstsehe. Oha
hova’ehe ho’nêšema’xetonêšêhotoanatotse eohkeevapêhevana. Naa
neohkenêhešeeestsêstonema, “Tsehavêse(va’e) eto’seevavovoananaa’e
tsepêheva’e.” Naa hene oha naohkêxaenêšenêhešetano.
Naa nae’ha emehaeto’tšêšemoneešeeotse, 24 emehaemonenêhestôheaenama. Naa
“Nato’seveseaseoxêsêhehotse’ohetano,” naxheta. “Tsêheohe nasaaxaetonêšenâha’enohe hotse’ohestôtse,” exhevoo’o. Naa estaaseohtse.
Naa “nêheohe tava’neevâho’eohtseo’o Missoula,” naxheto. Naa na’evâhesêho’ôxe’êstoova hako’e Portland. Mostanêšêhoseo’omeaseve’hahtsêhehe. Naa hako’e nešeaa’e
Naa nêhe’še nase’hovêho’êhoosêhohta’haoohe’tone, “Nee’ha monaeotsêhehe nâhaohe, moovane’ôhoehevohe Me’šeeseve’ho’e,” ehetoseme. Hako’e six times moovane’eoestôhoehevohe.
Naa naoseema’xêhoonôse’ota. Ohase nataohkeeeme’etano tseohkemehae’eeheese, naa mato tseohkemehae’eeheševêse. Oha hetsetseha nataohkeme’etano’ta. Naa nama’xêhehnovetano Ma’heo’o tse’ešene’etameto.
Naa nêhe’še naho’eonoomane, monato’seeestsêstovôhehe ho’emanehe. Naa nâhaohe natanêhe’ohtse.
Naa tsestaeveametahoeto nama’xeeeameoo’hetanonae’ta, “Name’taoxôhetosêstse? Heva eme’nêšeena’hevoohe naa mato hapo’e eme’evanêheše’tohe,” natama’xeeehetoseamêhešetanonaa’e. Naoseemehaemehota nae’ha.
Naa tsestaametahoeto nataohkêhaoena. Nataohkeeestsêstovo
Ma’heo’o, “Vestâhemêstse! Name’tonêšeoxôhetosêstse?
Ve’ho’e name’tonêšeeestsêstovosesto? Nasaanôhtoveeestsêstovoheo’o
hosêstse ve’ho’e.” Naa natama’xeameoetsetanonaa’e.
Naa nêhe’še nataosaanêho’eohtse hanâhaohe.
Naoseehoono’otse tsestâho’eohtseto. Naa tsestavovoeho’eohtseto
mato eso’eametanene. Netao’o nahetosêheto’ena, nahetosêtoxevoo’sêhaa’e. Eoseepêhevomohtahe heva esaaxae’ee=tosa’e=tonêšeonêšeohtsehe. Hene naameme’etano’ta tsestaevâhosêho’eohtseto tosa’e nasaa’evatoo’e’oehe, heva
Naa nêhe’še nataosaaneestsêhoto, nataosaaneestsêhotoo’o
ve’ho’e, ema’xêhoeo’o. Nahosêho’oxêhaoena tsestao’seestsêhneto.
Naa nêhe’še tsesto’tšêšeaseeestseto nase’hovenetâheveotse. Tsemeehaehešêhohaepeoto Me’šeeseve’ho’e, tsemehaehešêhohaestaha’tovo, exaehova’êhane. Tsemehaeto’sêheto
exaehova’êhane, tsesto’semehaeheše- tsemehaeheše’eehavêsevo’aneooheto. Ta’se
neva’esêstse naesta’xe’tova. Tse’tohe nasaanêsetamohe Me’šeeseve’ho’e
nasaatonêšenêsetamohe tsestaeema’xêhotoanavo’oese. Oha
“Nâhtsêhaoenavomotaho hapo’e tseevanetâhevêstave. Hapo’e ho’otseo’o Ma’heo’o,” naheve.
Naa tsehne’evâhoehneto henêheohe naa’eneamonoeotse. Tsemehae’eehešemomata’etanoto
exaehova’êhane. Naoseese’hovenetâheveovana’xaestahaotse. Naoseenetâhevevehpanaomohtâheotse.
Nasaaxae’eveevanêhešetanohe tsemehaehešepeosetanootseto. Naa nêheohe natamonêhene’ena Ma’heo’o tsehešêhohaatamaaese. Hemehosanestôtse namonevoo’sêhaa’e.
Naa oha hetsetseha nanêheve, “Nato’seasêho’e’ovo Ma’heo’o. Nasaahene’enovohe tosa’e tsesto’sêtšêhešemea’too’êse. Heva nasaahene’enohe tsesto’sêhotse’ota’êse. Oha naa ta’se exaemâheonêsta’otsenôtse he’netoonôtse.”
Oohkemomoxe- vahtometo -eestsêstovotse nenesonêhaneo’o. Eso’hohaetšêhe’keaheo’o,
esaa’ešepêhevêhene’enohenovo. Esaahene’enohenovo tseohkêhešeonêxa’o’haetse.
Esaahene’enohenovo tseohkêhešeoetsetanonaetse, tseohkêhešêhoonôse’ototse. Ho’otova
hapo’e tsetamonêhoseasêhene’enanovo, emoneameešeeo’o. Hapo’e ma’tamâsotaomêhenesonêhevôtse hapo’e tsetamonemaenêhešêhene’enanovo. Naa
oha naohkêhaoenavomotâhoo’o. Oha pêhevomohtâhestôtse
Hetsetseha eso’nešeo’o nae’ha (tsehee’hahetono), naa nahestonahe. Naa
eoseema’xêhotoanato tsexho’ee’tomevôse ha’tohe, ha’tohe tsema’xeno’heohtsetomaneto
tsesaapêheva’ehane. Eoseema’xêhotoanato esaatonêšêto’hanehane
ta’se. Naa oha tsehne’etameto, tsehne’etamestovêse Ma’heo’o,
I’m going to telljust 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
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 he 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. And we are told, Overcome evil with good.”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
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.
That’s how much I have to say.
1 This 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.
5Matthew 19:26, Mark 9:23.