As youths, we sang the song ”The Bear Went Over the Mountain Just to See What He Could See.” When I left the Seneca Territories of western New York State to attend Syracuse University, I felt like I was that bear. After college, I returned to the “Rez” until deciding to leave again to do what I had wanted to since childhood: become a Madison Avenue Creative Director. One of my relatives gets anxiety attacks when he leaves the Reservation; I’m sure there are many who feel safe only in their limited realm. It is difficult for me to understand why anyone would not wonder, “What is on the other side of the mountain?”
I am a “full blood” Seneca of the Iroquois Six Nations – all Native North Americans have the same “O” blood type (including the true natives of Hawaii). If I hear a person in a crowd, a radio or TV, I can recognize the tonal value and manner of speaking as “Indian.” However, Central and South American Natives are very different in appearance, customs and languages. Places, people, customs and languages are different everywhere that I have been fortunate enough to have traveled just as the Grand Canyon is as awesome as the Swiss Alps. English is spoken in many parts of the world; yet accents in Boston, Mass., Australia and Scotland are all very different. Once I asked directions in Edinburgh, Scotland and yet only understood perhaps one word of that “English” spoken.
My wife, Heather, and I recently took a Danube River cruise starting in Passau, Germany and ending in Budapest, Hungary. The languages, cultures and ways of life in each city and country were totally diversified and each many thousands of years old. Seeing what’s down the river is almost the same as looking over the mountain.
The most important thing to me in my seeking “what’s on the other side of the mountain” is how alike all people really are. They are gracious, friendly, proud, and when given a smile, return it with warmth. There is so much media attention given to all the evil in the world; in my observations “goodness” shall prevail here and on the other side of the mountain.