Paradise Lost

Michael Stribling

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"Paradise Lost" solemnly commemorates the displacement of the Native American peoples at the hands of the "white man" in three acts, or movements: paradise, in the "before days"; the coming of the white man, and the resulting conflict; and requiem.

Paradise Lost solemnly commemorates the displacement of the Native American peoples at the hands of the "white man" (primarily of European descent).

The first section portrays the Land as the Native Americans enjoyed it for generations, and it celebrates Paradise in all its diverse splendor—a dawn on the prairie, a look at the land through the eyes and heart of a Guardian of the Plains, the heartbeat of the forest, the soaring vantage point of the eagle, the steady flow of the life-giving water, and the strutting prowess and power of warriors on the hunt.

The second section starts with the approach of the white man, on their march to destiny, and the Natives' awareness of an approaching storm of conflict with those who would take their land. A Vision Quest follows, where the people seek wisdom to guide them. Ultimately, there is the inevitable show down between two opposing forces, and the battle for supremacy and possession of the land.

The final section laments the tragedy of Paradise Lost, and pays homage to those who battled and lost their lives and homes. In the end, from a higher perspective—whether young or old, whether slain in battle or passing peacefully in their sleep—at the end of a life cycle all souls return to the spirit world, from whence we all come and to which we all return.

This project was inspired in part by a couple of movies, "Last of the Mohicans" and "Dances with Wolves", which provide a different view of Native Americans than most movies of the last century. While Native Americans are not the only displaced people in the history of humankind, I have a particular affinity for the first nations of this land ... and for their Paradise Lost.

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