Ralph Moisa III is the son of Ralph and Carol Moisa. Below is a short story written by his father after his passing.
Ralph Moisa, Jr.
His Mother and I taught him for over 19 years. Till the day he left to walk his own road. He was always tugging at the strings wanting to go just a little further than we thought he should. But the day had come, and he left.
I wondered at what kind of man he would become. I saw the things he was doing and was proud for most of them. I accepted what I did not understand as his own way of using the thoughts and tools given to him by his Elders.
Even the face of oppression he stood tall in his Indian pride and would not be silenced by his teachers or his school. I saw him stand up to two carloads of young men shouting obscenities at our race and family. I saw his anger as someone drove by our home and shout out the window in our car. I thought I should have prepared my young better, to know that being an Indian in the city meant having a strong sense of fortitude. But also that being one of only a handful will make use a target for any idiot.
We hoped that he would grow to understand and be a leader among our people. Perhaps to one day teach the ignorant, and in so doing protect our very young and very old from unbridled racism.
I do not know what thoughts were going through his head when he made his morning walk. Maybe he remembered his mother nursing young animals found disturbed from their nest, giving them life and returning them to their home in nature. Maybe he remembered our talks on the sacredness of our winged family members—the Hawk, the Eagle. Whatever the reason, he saw a hawk in need and tried to help his winged brother. So he climbed to the top of the power line to do what he could. Did he know the danger? Yes. He climbed them for a living. He knew the power surging through the transformers and wires. I will never know why he did not ask for help. Perhaps there wasn’t time for that.
December 5, 1995
The coroner said, “They both died at the same moment.” It looks like he was working the hawk’s foot free when the bird became startled and spread its wings. The tips made contact with the bare lines and thousands of volts when through them both.
I remember the service. We put the hawk on our son’s chest, with his wings spread in an embrace that would keep them in our memories forever. Hundreds came that day, of which many we didn’t know.
It seems our hopes were met. As he walks in places we cannot yet go. He has taught many.
At his funeral, an elder of the Meskawki tribe honored his life with the name White Eagle. After his passing, his parents learned that he had visited local preschools and churches to share his culture and tell stories from his childhood, This sparked an idea in the hearts of his parents. In the next couple years his family reached out to elders in the community to think of ways to honor their son's memory. Eventually the idea of a multicultural pow wow was born. The first White Eagle Multicultural Pow Wow was held in Jester Park, August 2000. The 20th annual event will be celebrated this year at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. We hope you will join us.
Traditionally, pow wows are social gathering for Native American communities. Our multicultural pow wow aims to include all four races in our gathering.
It is an investment in the future of our community. We are here to stop the forces that lead to racism and war. We are here to make the world a better place for future generations.
The White Eagle Multicultural Pow Wow seeks to mend the sacred hoop of life by bringing the community together and celebrating our differences through music, dance, food, and storytelling.
To continue the dream of Ralph Moisa III
To place love at the top of our list
To love Mother Earth and care for her
To love our fellow beings, the four legged, the winged, the fish, insect, and plant life
To remember our place among them, not above them
To use the gifts unique to each of us, to bless the circle
To honor those who have gone before us and those yet to come