My purpose for blogging is so that I can safely revisit my past, my childhood and all the experiences that helped make me who I am. I want to disentangle those things in my spirit that were hard to live through, those things that at times I refused to experience and escaped from in one way or another. I want to extricate them from my soul, pull them out kicking and screaming, and stand them before me. I want to investigate them, revisit these memories, see them with different eyes; with the physical and emotional maturity I am capable of today. I want to relive them, feel them and then decide- is there something there I want to keep or am I ready to let it go?
I hadn’t thought of O, E or my childhood in a long time and suddenly it seems I’m being bombarded by my past. Writing about it was a good way to alleviate the tension that particular time caused in me, tension I wasn’t aware I still carried. There are things there I still need to revisit, rehash, revise and relive but that’s for another day. Today I respond to my friend, Craig’s, curiosity while honoring my memories of O and E; of the pain they caused and the growth they unwittingly spurred.
Continue reading “Let sleeping dogs lie”
Recently, my little brother, T., bought himself an interesting book titled The Dangerous Book for Boys. He had just purchased the book when I met up with him and he was still basking in the glow of excitement. He flipped quickly through the pages, showing me images of knots, paper airplanes and other instructions of things a boy “should” know how to do. At that very moment, I saw my brother in a different light. No longer a tattoed, pierced, hard working man of 30-something with wife and kids in tow…he was now a child of six or seven, wishing for his father to give him the attention he needed, wishing for his mother to come home and tend to his needs, for his older sister to back the hell off and mind her own business.
I saw the child he was and the child still there and I loved him.
My brother and I didn’t have the easiest childhood. Mom, who was the matriarch of our family, had a car accident that left her disabled and needing care herself and Dad was usually escaping into work. T. and I were left to our own devices, to deal with life as best we could. This is a tall order for children ages 5 and 8. Even with the involvement of neighbors, sitters and others we suffered abuses of all kinds and experimented in areas we had no business exploring.
There is a LOT to be said about these false “prophets”… not doubt. Those who sell sacred rituals, who are less than 1/16th NDN in the morning and by nightfall are full-blooded, as long as there is the possibility of an income or glamour behind it…
But what of those who are honest?
A friend of mine suggested I read this and here is my response…
There is a huge amount of resentment towards non-indians who take up walking the Good Red Road. Many indigenous Peoples are feeling insecure in themselves and this leads them to believe that spirituality can be stolen, that the “theft” of their modes of worship is genocide and that these elements of worship are not only linked to your culture (which it is) but to your race. That to walk the Red Road you must be of red skin. There is the paranoia that the white man is out to steal the last bit of Indian-ness left to us. Althought there is an understanding of the need to return to an earth-based spirituality, anglos are “encouraged” to look to their old world background to find it. That if those who are not of red skin looked hard enough, they would find an earth based religion in their own ancestry. There is also the belief that one’s DNA and Spirit will automatically resonate with that religion, because it is, after all, their own.
Continue reading “Blacklisted Teachers of Native American Beliefs”
I am so psyched about my recent trip to the Brighton Rez for the latest sweat. It’s just been too long since I’ve been… so very long I could weep. And that I did.
Dancing Horse, my daughter and I left Brevard excited, all for different reasons. Dancing Horse and I were looking forward to the sweat and my child was looking forward to the camping experience. We left so early that we arrived way before anyone else. This was a mixed blessing to me; it did give me the opportunity to get my bearings and become re-aquainted with the area but by the same token I felt a little aprehensive at being the first ones there. The thought of being chased off property at gun point did cross my mind more than once.
Although it wasn’t my first time there the changes that ocurred in my abscence took me by surprise. The lodge had been moved and was built much smaller than the last one. It was no longer at the center of the clearing, but off to the side, closer to the uncleared portion of the property. It did have a more intimate feel to it. In the center of the clearing now stood a huge chickee covering a cement platform, complete with a band stage, lighting and ceiling fans. Behind it was a smaller chickee covering a cooking area and a fire pit big enough to cook a pig. There were also several new sheds that I later found out contained the items necessary for the lodge as well as several chairs and tables. The property also has a 3 bedroom home belonging to our gracious hosts, Helene and Andy. Needless to say, we were hooked up!!
My daughter’s Uncle of discipline, Tony arrived about a half hour after we did and seemed confused at fact that the house was empty. Andy and Helene were supposed to be there. When he called Andy, we found out that they had forgotten all about the ceremony due to Helene’s becoming ill and needing surgery. She was in the hospital at that very moment, however, there was a spare key hidden in X spot and we had free use of the home and land. Mi casa es su casa is very much the indian way.
At about 4pm people started pouring in. Some faces were new and some were better known, but we were all there for the same purpose and this made for a comfortable ambiance. Pete, the firekeeper and his aprentice, Rodney, got started on choosing the grandfathers and grandmothers as well as preparing the firepit. CJ, Joseph and Robert aka Jaguar were blessing the circle that encompassed the lodge and the firepit. Pete had made some cement markers for the 4 directions that were kinda cute, so CJ was busy putting them up. Jaguar was readying his pipe and Tony was praying. The women that came with them seemed unfamiliar with much of what was happening, except for one, Sue. She was sitting out the sweat due to being in her moon. They took to the kitchen to ready the food brought to share.
Dancing Horse and I were flitting here and there, helping where we were most needed and my little one ran all over the place, exploring and getting to know everyone. My Cacique and brother, Turtle, arrived later, about the same time that Midnight Wolf got there. My sister in law was also in her moon and chose to stay home with the kids, so Imiza was the only child there. It’s no wonder the fruit of my loins finds it so hard to get along with other children, she’s always surrounded by adults!
At about sunset, we all sat in a circle and Tony led the Pipe ceremony. I am the Pipe Keeper for my clan and I had brought the Clan’s pipe with me. We shared in honoring the pipes present and they were placed at the altar in front of the inipi. Afterwards, Tony took a moment to go over the behavior expected before, during and after the lodge for the benefit of all present. Then it was off to change, remove metal jewlery and prepare to sweat! Yay!
We had the usual four flaps. It was intense, it was amazing, it was …it just WAS. The first flap held all of those present, stuffed tight, like sardines. The grandfathers, shining brightly with their heat, were welcomed into the inipi one by one until there were 7 and the flap was closed. At this time we had the first round of prayer. After each participant prayed, water was poured over the hot rocks. By the time we came full circle, much suffering had ocurred, water was given to Mother Earth as freely as She provides for us. This was repeated for four flaps. Some of the newcomers only sat in the first and last, some people sat through all flaps. I sat through the first 3 and did a lot of crying, a lot praying and a lot suffering. After the third flap and just before the fourth, the Pipes were welcomed into the lodge. Everyone had the opportunity to pray and honor each of the three pipes present. Then the fourth flap began. By this time my skin felt burned from the steam of the stones and I was emotionally spent. I thanked All My Relations and left the lodge. I sought solace in my drum and beat it sensless. It sounded like nothing pretty, but it calmed my spirit.
Once the ceremony was done, the men decided to do a Warrior’s Sweat. This is where you load up as many grandfathers as you have and sit out the sweat and heat as long as you can stand it. Needless to say these Warriors lasted very little in there and were literally stumbling over each other to get out! This was hilarious to watch since you had men that where all sizes. Imagine a Mack truck rolling over a Yugo and you know what I am talking about.
After all was done, we showered, ate and took the opportunity to socialize some more. By 2 am I was beat, exhausted, spent beyond belief. I crawled into our tent and crashed along side Dancing Horse and My daughter.
A funny thing I’d like to share…
Turtle had his tent about 20 feet away from ours. During the wee hours of the morning I crawled out of the tent to visit the lavatory. It was pitch dark, the only light being that of the stars which were spilled across the sky. As I walked to the house I heard a horrible growl behind me. Now, we are in the wilderness. There are bears, wild dogs and cougars there. Last time we were cleaning the lodge we found a cougar print in the sand and this was the first thing to cross my mind when I heard the growl. I stood absolutely still and damn near peed my pants when I heard the growl again! By that time I was absolutely awake and I realized the growling was coming from my brother’s tent. Turtle snores horribly.
I didn’t sleep much after that…
So this was my experience and I am happy to share it with you.