Sunday, November 02, 2008

Healing: An Alaskan Prophecy
From an article entitled, "Let Goodness Take Its Place"
by Larry Merculieff

Larry gave this speech to a meeting of Aleut elders who had assembled to hear his important message. Larry began his speech in the Aleut language with the saying, "The afternoon tastes good." He continued...
"You are the second group of people that have invited me to talk on something that is very special. I have been asked to give you some messages from the spiritual leaders of the Hopi and [also the] Maori people from New Zealand. When I went up to Canada one and 1/2 years ago, I went there to be with the Stony Elders. They invited me to go there. While I was there, they said the Hopi and Maori sent the messenger to meet me. I do not know why me, but they gave me some messages to bring back here to Alaska. They must have known things that I do not know or can not see yet. And this is one of the things that I think they knew: that I was going to be invited to speak in places like this.
One thing to know before I start. The people who are here today are here for a reason. It is no accident that you are going to be here to hear this message, and it is up to you whether or not you want to use this message of wisdom that has been given by the Hopi and Maori. If you do not use it, I would ask you pass it along to others.
I used to write my speeches, you know, when I left the University. They train you to write everything down. As Commissioner, you have to write everything down for the public record. I stopped doing that when an old man, Howard Luke, and I were exchanging tape recordings with each other. He sent me this tape and said, "Anybody that gets up in front of a crowd of people and has to read from a piece of paper has no business being up there!"
So for the first time in my 43 years, today, I say "OK, the papers are going to be put away." I will speak from the heart. There is a great deal of wisdom in speaking from the heart instead from a paper. It was a relearning for me. I learned it very well, I think. When I have to speak before a group, I never know what I am going to say. The only thing I can do is clear my mind, clear my body, and pray for the messages given from the people that I have been sent here to give the messages for. And I pray to the Creator to help. When I came here, I also prayed for the help of the Spirit of the land; The Spirits of your ancestors; The Spirit of the river; The Spirit of the animals; The Spirit of the trees; and The Spirit of the wind, because each area of the world has their own guardian. Even this group now has it's own guardians. They are here now they are sitting with us, and so, I ask for their help when I talk.
The Hopi and Maori sent a messenger, her name was Beverly, to meet me when I was up in Canada. The messages come from the Hopi, Maori and the Stony Elders, who are part of the great Sioux Nation in Alberta, also from the White Bison Society. I will explain what this is.
What the Hopi [and the] Maori wanted us to know here in Alaska and all the villages, is that we are moving into the what they call the World of the 5th Hoop. The Navajo called it moving into the 5th World. Maybe amongst some of the elders of the Athabascan people there are similar things that are being said about this time. It is a message of hope. They know of the sicknesses that made them suffer. They know of the fights that have been going on between the organization and the villages. They know of the struggle between villages and within regions and between regions. They know about the alcohol abuse and accidental deaths due to alcohol, the suicides, the high blood pressure, failing health, heart problems, all these things that our people in Alaska have been facing. In my years working for my people, I have traveled all over the State. And it is pretty much the same everywhere... the kind of problems we are experiencing.
That is not what this message is about. They know about our business in the villages. This message is a message of hope. They say that moving into this time, of the World of the 5th Hoop, is a time when all the four sacred powers are going to be reconnected. They are the red-white-black-yellow. They wanted me to know that, among the Hopi, they are the keepers of the sacred stone tablets for the sacred red power - that includes all of us. They wanted me to know that they have the sacred stone tablets in Tibet, in the mountains, kept by the Tibetan Monks, in the same way that the Tibetans have their sacred stone tablet with the Hopi.
There are four sacred stone tablets that were given. The sacred black color has theirs in a small village in Africa. They cannot exchange it with the sacred white color because they lost theirs. But the Hopi wisdom keepers say that they are soon to find this stone. Very soon in this time. If you look at the maps where the people of Hopi live and Tibetans live, [it] is exactly on opposite parts of the world of the Mother Earth. The Hopi word for love is the Tibetan word for hate. And the Tibetan word for love is the Hopi word for hate. The same word, but exactly opposite meanings. They say that this is necessary to help keep the balance of Mother Earth. And that there are keepers of this balance that are around the world like us.
In moving into this time of the World of the 5th Hoop, it is going to be a time of great healing. There is going to be great healing that is going to start, and the Hopi say that it is going to start in the North. I have learned just recently that it is going to start in Alaska.
The Hopi told me that this time of great healing is going to be shown by several signs. One is when a hoop of a hundred eagle feathers is completed. And I have met the person from the White Bison Society in Colorado, who are the keepers of this hoop. I met the person while I was in Anchorage. While we were having dinner, a lady came in from Kodiak and she had an eagle feather in her hand. She said, "I know this had to go to some special place, and I guess it is you." And [she] gave it to this guy who was sitting there. His mouth dropped open. He could hardly speak. He said that this was the eagle feather that was to be the axle-- the center point in this hoop of 100 eagles that was described to him exactly by the wisdom keepers. The eagle feathers numbered 57 at that time.
Since that time, two more [feathers] have come from Alaska. One from an all white eagle. This white eagle had called to this man. (This is true, as I was a witness.) He was a white man. He calls me up and he says, "I do not know why I am calling, but this morning I looked up in my yard and there were 13 ravens in a circle. And in the middle of the circle was an eagle." He said he knew that was pretty weird. He had never seen anything like it. The people in the village had never seen anything like this. This was just about a month and a half ago. He said that he had heard the story of the hoop of the 100 eagle feathers. He said, "That night the tribal chief delivered to me the dead eagle." That morning he saw the eagle alive, surrounded by 13 ravens, [but] that evening, it was delivered to the camp. He did not know why. And so he heard of the story and knew that, if he asked permission properly, one of these eagle feathers was to be delivered to this hoop. And so it was. A person who was on his way down to Colorado delivered the white eagle feather or the feather from a white eagle. So now there were two feathers delivered.
In this time of healing, the message of hope from the Hopi [and] Maori and the Stony Elders, I was invited to Sacred Ceremony by the Stony Elders. The youngest was 77 and the oldest was 106. No one spoke any English during the whole time I was in the Sacred Ceremony, which lasted 3 hours. They spoke English one in the middle, and the person who spoke said "I am speaking English for the benefit of our friends from Alaska." We know that your people in Alaska, in many villages, believe that they have lost their culture, the cultural wisdom and their ways. We are praying to the Creator. We want you to know of the message that has been given to us so that you would take it back to Alaska.
The message that they received for us is that our cultures are not dead. All the wisdom that has been collected in our cultures, since time immemorial, is being kept for us, waiting for us, to awaken in our spirits. We will awaken our spirits again. When that happens things will be revealed of the old wisdoms. Things that have been forgotten for a long time are going to be brought back; Art- Music- Song- Dance- Storytelling- Spiritual- Wisdom- knowledge, and the wisdom of how to work with Mother Earth, will all be restored.
They also want us to know that among the Hopi and Maori there are people who do nothing but pray 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, every year of their lives. That is all they do. In rotation, they pray around the clock for other people. In this prayer is where they have seen some of these things that are about to happen. The healing that is going to take place, the advice that has been given to us, is "Seek not to fight evil-- do not fight it-- let goodness take its place." So when we see bad things happen and when we fight those bad things, what we do hurts everybody. Fighting evil has spiritual energies that go to the ends of universe, affects everybody in the community.
When I come into community, I can feel the energies that are created. We are all affected by it. You know, sometimes you watch little kids when a stranger walks into the room [and], all of a sudden, the child just cries. Sometimes this happens, or, they love the stranger. What they are doing is taking their God given, Creator given, way of talents, skills, gifts, to feel the spirit of the other person. Because everybody give out these energies. So we have to, they say, be very careful. This is part of the wisdom amongst the great Athabascan People and most indigenous people throughout the world. We must take care of how we think-- how we feel.
The signs of this time of healing that is to start are:
When the children bring back the spirit to the village; when the young start speaking with the wisdom of the elders; when the leadership energies start shifting to the feminine side; when this hoop of the 100 eagles feathers gets completed. And when the White Bison shows up. These are all the signs of the movement from the 4th to the 5th Hoop.
Now, I know that some of this is in language that you may have not heard in your lifetime. But I know inside, you will recognize these words to be true. Your intuition is going to tell you what I am saying is true. The world for the last 4,000 or so years has been stuck in the male energy side. The male energy is thinking from the brain. It is a management from the top down. It is more aggressive. It does not use intuition or feelings from the heart. It is a different kind of energy. It is not a bad energy. It is just different than the female energy. Female energy is healing, nurturing, loving, caring, touching, sharing. And that the world spiritual leaders know now that these energies have been male and now have shifted to the female side.
The center of the top of the energy entrance to the Earth Mother is here through Alaska. The spiritual leaders say that a host, hosts of angels, are coming through Alaska-- spreading out throughout the world for this healing to take place.
I see what is happening to our young people. I spent most of my life thinking I was a leader, for 25 years working for my people. I realized, when I finally woke up, I was not a leader because I was stuck in the same place with the same kind of sickness they had.
Harold Napoleon, who wrote the book, The Way of the Human Being, talks about the Great Death. Why, people ask, are we suffering like this today? Why are our kids this way? Why are we having this alcohol problem? It is easy to understand when you get back in touch with your heart. Harold Napoleon talks about the time of the Great Death. My people faced it. Eighty percent of our people were wiped out in 50 years. We still have stories of those times. How many men can a musket ball kill? The Russians were betting about the Aleuts, so they lined them up back to back, shot point blank, and the answer is 9. There is one community where the Russians went to take all the women and girls for their sex slaves. The women and girls said, "No, this will be a violation of our spirit!" And they all got on top of a cliff and jumped, in mass, and died. There is a story in a village in Akutan, where it used to take a year to build meat boats from hide. It was one of the most sophisticated kayaks in the world. It took a year to build because it had to be dependable. They had to go out on the high seas for weeks on end. They knew this, and the Russians knew this. The fur traders, who were greedy, went into the village at night and destroyed all the boats. The village starved to death. There was one old woman who survived out of 300 people.
So we have these stories. The first people who were killed among my people were the Shaman and their apprentices. Because of their religion, or way of life of spirituality, the Russians did not understand so they destroyed it. They thought it was a threat. Can you imagine our people who are survivors-- we are survivors here today, having gone through that time-- experiencing for 50 years, 8 out of 10 people dying in a horrible way? Your loved ones? Your grandchildren? Your children? Your mother? Your wives? Your husbands? [All] dying by horrible ways for 50 years? Year after year, seeing horrible death? And being subjected to all this? The American doctors have a name for this now, they call it Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
The Vietnam Vets have also experienced this syndrome. The veterans, when they came back from Vietnam, were depressed. They took drugs. They took alcohol. They withdrew from their relationships. They could not be close to people because it hurt too much. They did anything to escape their feeling and what they were thinking. When they did that, they separated from their spiritual side. When this happened, the depression started. So they experienced this in Vietnam after 2 or 3 years. Sometimes people had 4 trips over there. Our people experienced it for generations. Not only did wenot have the support that the Vietnam Vets had, [but] they still had their culture intact when they came back.
Our cultures were eliminated, or attempted to be destroyed. So that the survivors, who had survived, were without hope. Having gone through such misery and pain, the only thing they could do to defend themselves, the only way they knew how to defend themselves, was not to feel.
I know and I understand it. Harold Napoleon understood it. Many of you understand it. Because as a child, like many of our people, [I] grew up in a family the abused alcohol. And the first thing that I did as a child to defend myself was to shut off my feelings. They were shut off for over 20 years. And when that happened, it is a state of constant depression and addiction. Addictions can be cigarettes - alcohol - TV - noise; big loud music, and even thoughts could be an addiction. Anything to take us away from feeling right now the way we feel. We try to run away from it. That is what happening when you see a kid walk down the street with big earphones blasting and they are not hearing anything else because they do not want to be here. No.
The wisdom keepers say that the only place to find the power of the Creator is to be present in this moment. If we have fears, we are projecting them into the future. Into a future time that does not even exist. If we have guilt, we are living in the past, for the past things we did. We are not living now. All the spiritual keepers, of all groups in the world, be they Buddhists, be they Islamic, be it part Red Pack, be it medicine pack-- you name it-- say [that] the only way to find the power that has been given to us from the Creator is to be here, now. Not to escape.
So you see, this addiction that has happened from the Great Death, the survivors are separated from their feelings. Can you imagine the kind of children they raised? It was hard for them to love and be close to another because they were afraid. "If I became too close and love somebody, they would be destroyed, and I would suffer the pain all over again. So, they stayed away from that feeling. Those kids grew up and had their own kids, and from generations to generation to generation, until today, we have the legacy the inheritance of this spiritual sickness that was given to us a long time ago. And so the answers from the wisdom keepers is to work at being present and that will first revive the key.
The spiritual keepers also say that the first step towards healing yourself, before you can heal others or help heal others, is to love that which we may hate or who may hate me. We may hate ourselves. We may hate an organization. We may hate the people from outside who have interfered. We may hate somebody. The first step towards this healing is to stop the hate and turn it into love. And it will transform everything. This spiritual sickness that we have is going to move now. It is going to change.
There are some predictions in the sacred stone tablets among the wisdom keepers about what is going to happen here in this World of the 5th Hoop. Not only are we going to have this healing but the Earth Mother is going to shake in a way that it has never shook before. It is going to move in a way it has never done before. There is going to be a lot of fear because of this, and the wisdom keepers want me to convey that, when this happens, we should not be afraid. Because, what is happening is that the Earth Mother is trying to help us remove the stuff that we have stuck in our bodies, inherited from the spiritual sickness of generations and generations out. And one of the ways that we do that is to scare the life out of us. This is why there is going to be time for healers.
Healers are being called from all over. Women are now taking their place as the original healers around the world and some of the strongest original healers are starting here in Alaska. Not only [will there be] the shift to the feminine side of leadership, but the women are going to start taking their place as healers. I think this is an exciting time. The Dalai Lama went down to Yakutan during the last change of the moon, with all the spiritual leaders, to pray for this time of the shift, this time of healing. And he has 'chosen'-- and this is the words that they use, which are hard to understand-- he has chosen to take the spiritual energies that they have been keeping in Tibet and move them from Tibet and bring them here to Alaska. Which they did a few weeks ago. The reason they did this is because the Chinese are wiping out the Tibetan Monks and destroying all the temples. So the Dalai Lama moved its spiritual energy here to Alaska, because this is the place where the healing is going to start. And this is the place where all the Angels are coming in by hosts. This is the place where the hoop of a hundred eagle feathers will be finished. And, interestingly enough, some of the healing ways are being revived from all the cultures. People are being woken up.
How do we start this healing? When you are quiet within yourself and you sit next to the river-- ask. Do not be afraid to ask. Ask the Creator. Ask whoever you feel is your higher power, "Please help me find the way because I do not know how to heal." "Make me your history." And when you ask that, with humility in your heart, you will get it. You will find it. And it will be given to you, you will see this healing starting to spread like wild fire. It is just exciting. Exciting to see. And the key to it is staying here, now.
Now, last thing I am going to say: I ran the village corporation in St. Paul for 10 years. I was city manager for 4 years. We started from no economy out there. In 1983 the government pulled out. That was our only economy. They pulled out and we lost 80% of our jobs. That year we had 100 suicide attempts out of 600 people. We had 4 people who killed themselves. We had 3 who were murdered-- things that had not happened in our village for 150 years! The last person ever murdered in our village was over 150 years ago. And it all happened in this one year. Big shaking up. And we thought, the leadership thought-- including me-- that, if we worked to bring the economy back so that everybody got a good paying job, our kids would return to our village. And that it would solve our problems. We had [a] growing alcohol problem, 60% of population [were[ alcoholic and 1/3 of our kids have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We had suicide attempts all the time. I have been to 44 funerals here in 4 years-- 44 funerals! Goodness sakes.
So what we learned from this and what I want to share with you is what happened when we got our economy [back]. We have the strongest rural economy in the State of Alaska right now. Our per capita income is $34,000.00-- $34,000.00 per person! That is what was accomplished in 10 years. But did it solve our problems? No. The spiritual sickness is still going on. The money only feeds the addiction. We have a community that is already addicted in some way because of the spiritual sickness. We have inherited this sickness from the time of the Great Death.
Bringing money in, in large numbers, will fuel the addictions just like gasoline to fire. It will make it worse. Bigger. Because it is what we do with the money. Look at St. Paul. We are buying cars. Everybody has got a car now. We bought, maybe, 300 cars in last 3 years. Everybody has got 1 or 2 TV sets-- big ones. Everybody has got 4-wheelers. Everybody has got boats. Everybody has got nice clothes. Everybody has got nice houses. Things. Everybody has got things. But yet they are saying, "We are not happy. What is wrong?" What is wrong is [that] we were looking outside for feeding for a hunger inside-- a hunger that we did not understand. And that hunger is the hunger of the spirit.
When we have addictions, it is a hunger to fill the spirit. It is like a big stomach inside you that wants to feed all of the time. And no matter how much we feed it with these addictions, [it] is never enough. And it just goes down and down and we get so depressed that we feel we can not get out of it. At that point, you die either physically or your die spiritually. Hopefully, many people will not have to go through that.
So, that is the message that I have brought to you. This is a message of hope and a message of good wisdom. Remember, our cultures are not lost. The wisdom of it is already here with us. We just do not know it yet, because we are spiritually sleeping.

Monday, September 22, 2008


It is hard to explain what the last five years have been like for the Elwha People. The Tsewhitzen village has been in existence since at least 2,700 years. Just how many more years was never determined because excavation had been stopped by the Elwha Tribe.

The Washington State Department of Transportation had chosen Port Angeles as the site to build a graving yard to repair the aging Hood Canal Bridge. The City of Port Angeles and Washington State and the Elwha Tribe knew the village was there. Test drilling indicated no human habitation. Construction began.

The Elwha Tribe was consulted only when the first human remains were found. The State people said my Business Committee, they call themselves the Tribal Council, told the State that they could have the site, the Ancestors, everything for 50 million dollars. The State said they laughed. My Business Committee bartered and kept dropping their price. They wound up taking the 3.4 million that the State originally offered.

The State interpreted the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to mean the return of human remains only. They did not care that they destroyed priceless and irreplaceable artifacts. They excavated with a backhoe.

Tribal members were hired to dig up the remains of their own ancestors. They worked hard to stay ahead of the State’s voracious machines.

Some of the graves were from the smallpox and influenza times. We were reminded that at one time this government tried to kill all of the First Peoples of this land.

Our Elders began having strokes and heart attacks. Some fell. Tribal members began having episodes of grief and anger.

People from Port Angeles were angry with us. They saw the Tribe as being in the way of much needed jobs. Hate against Native Americans hadn’t been this high since the Makah Whale hunt.

Racist cowards phoned the Tribal Center with death threats. One said he could sit on top of the hill and shoot us as we came out of our houses.

A Tribal member made a quick stop in downtown Port Angeles. When she came back to her car someone had thrown bones into the back seat. Tests revealed it was from a barbecue.

The whites didn’t understand why we considered our Ancestors remains sacred. They thought they were just dead bones.

I don’t remember if it was a State employee or just a callous racist that said, “They consider everything to be sacred.” It was getting in the way of their progress.

We couldn’t understand why the white people couldn’t see the sacredness of life.

Our People were being “ghosted.” There were knocks on doors. No one was there. There were footsteps in halls, again no one was there. Adults couldn’t see them. Some children could.

The Ancestors spoke to those who could hear and understand them. They wanted this atrocity to stop. They wanted to be reburied.

A councilman called on the Indian Shakers for help. He would become paralyzed at dark time. He would be able to move again when daylight came.

The father of one of the first babies to be excavated was trying to talk with our councilman. The Ancestor had placed his baby in the councilmans hands and spoke to him. He said “Take care of my baby.” He wanted us to pray for her and return her to her burial.

The Business Committee would not listen. One of our members started crying and couldn’t quit. She didn’t know why. We were called in to pray for her. The Ancestors said hard times were coming for the Elwha. She was crying for those who would be crying. They said that when the deaths started the Shakers would not be able to stop them.

They also said we would be held accountable because we hadn’t stood up to the politicians and demanded that they do the right thing. As the Spiritual wing of the Tribe we should have done what was right.

Our young people worked in the rain, mud, snow and burning sun. People from other Tribes said they wouldn’t touch the dead. Our youth answered back that it was an honor to work for the ancestors, to save their remains from being desecrated one more time. It broke my heart to watch them bravely go to work knowing that they were placing their lives on the line for other people’s greed.

What happened at Tsewhitzen should never have happened. It was all about greed. The state wanted a graving yard at the cheapest price available. The city of Port Angeles wanted jobs. The Elwha Business Committee wanted the best price they could get.

Anger and depression grew. People were getting sick. I knew we couldn’t endure this much longer.

Shakers from Skokomish asked me why we didn’t have a protest at the graving yard site. They wanted a march on the Department of Transportation and the Governors mansion. They wanted to tell the State how they felt about their treatment of our Ancestors.

I dragged my feet because I thought that in this time of Homeland Security someone would be killed by the State or the feds. Racism was so high it was likely that townspeople would bring out their guns against us.

I had asked my friend Keith to put a petition to stop the excavation on the internet. We worked around the clock to get out the news of what was happening. We focused pressure on the State of Washington.

We crashed a tour that was being given at the site. We were assessing the site for our ability to protect ourselves. It was wide open to invasion from water and land. There was a hill where snipers could pick us off.

The body count had reached over 300 and we had millions of shards of human remains. I didn’t think my Tribe could hold out much longer. I chose a date for our occupation and demonstration.

We would take over our village site on the anniversary of our Treaty. We would march on the capitol.

Keith and I talked about the dangers and decided to go ahead with our plans.

His wife wanted to do a healing ceremony from her Tribe. I asked our business manager for use of a room in the Tribal Center for her ceremony.

He told me that he couldn’t approve a ceremony. I told him I wasn’t asking his permission. I was asking for use of a room.

He told me that he only spoke to the Shaker Minister about spiritual matters. He was following our Tribal chairwoman’s hiding behind sovereignty to not talk with Tribal members.

They stole our idea for a healing ceremony. They set it for Treaty day.

It was disappointing. There was no healing ceremony. They had asked the Shakers to pray and sing. They ignored us.

Every politician in Clallam County, Port Angeles, and the Elwha Tribe spoke. We stood in freezing wind and rain.

Finally David demanded that we have our turn to pray. He led us in songs.

I spoke when he finished. I thanked the People for their dedication and patience. I thanked them for standing in the freezing rain and winds to listen to every politician in Clallam County speak.

It suddenly occurred to my chairwoman to get everyone out of the cold. She sent one of our young men to lead a procession around the dig. We have one way to turn that unravels. It frees you. She sent them the wrong way. Tribal members wouldn’t walk that way.

It took years for all the politicians to agree to do the right thing. Meanwhile the deaths started. It was horrible.

About a year and a half ago we had our worst time. Within a week three of our Tribal members had died.

A father died of cancer. He left a young family. Many of our people seemed to die of cancer during this time. One was a little girl.

A car load of teenagers plunged into our river killing one of our girls and a Makah boy. The FBI was suspicious because their friends tried for an hour to rescue them before calling the police. They didn’t understand that our youth don’t see the police as friends anymore than my generation did.

My mother had been in the hospital for a month. So had a Makah Elder that was a familiar face on the Canoe Journeys. She died the day before my mom in the same manner.

It seems that the Makah fate was intertwined with Tsewhitzen as much as ours was.

My brother in law died a few weeks later from cancer. It was only at his graveside service that I felt all of our losses. I gazed in horror at the two other new graves.

I had stayed with my mother in the hospital and didn’t attend the other two funerals. I didn’t make it to the Makah Elders for the same reason.

The same thing had happened to other families on the rez. We were weary from crying. It seemed that the open grave that was Tsewhitzen would take every Tribal member to fill it.

I had a dream that my chairwoman and I were hauled in front of the Ancestors. There was a brilliant white light. They spoke through it. They said that it was time for the sacrifice of the Chief.

I woke up angry. I asked Why was I there? I knew she had never sacrificed for anything in her life. She probably never would. I asked myself if I was supposed to make the sacrifice for her.

I spoke with a cousin about my dream. He said the message was for the council. I was the witness and the one to deliver the message. I did and it was ignored along with the other messages I delivered.

It took five years for the date of the burial to come. I had given up hope.

On September 12, 2008 our prayers began. Our chairwoman had never done anything about Tsewhitzen without intense press coverage. I expected the same during the burial.

On Saturday Doug McDonald showed up. He had been Secretary of the Department of Transportation. He gave a moving speech about healing the community of Port Angeles and the Elwha Reservation. That day had been his son’s wedding. He came to be with us. He cried as he spoke of finally ending this issue.

He stayed with us through all our prayers. On September 15 we started the reburials. I saw one photographer documenting the reburial. I told our chairwoman that photographing work like this takes it out of the sacred. She said she understood.

We had disturbed our own Ancestors for her greed. I wanted her held responsible.

At the first dinner the Canadian Shaker sitting next to me leaned over and started talking about the damage hate does. I had always denied hating my chairwoman. I said it was her greed and actions I hated.

I admitted that I hated her. I don’t want to do it any more. I still became angry with her for having a photographer and reporter there. I tried not to let the anger turn to hate.

The Canadians knew their stuff and everything went perfectly. They taught our people to do this with gentleness and love. We couldn’t have done this without them.

I thank all the People that prayed for my Tribe as we went through this horror. Prayer is so important. I am learning the lesson of forgiveness.

Our Ancestors accepted our work and were happy to return home.

Monday, August 18, 2008




Generosity among our people is revered. Greed strangles the soul.

These seeds of destruction come as a set. You let one in your heart and the others are right behind. It’s hard to separate them.

Greed is many things. It is wanting what someone else has. It is wanting more than anyone else. It is stinginess.

We see greed in our elected officials. They are tempted by money. It is not only Native politicians but our senators and representatives.

A presidential candidate started out working for adequate health care for all citizens and ended up working to make money for insurance companies. That person threatened to take insurance money out of the poors paycheck to pay for health insurance. That threat was made because the poor said they couldn’t afford it.

We see Tribal employees and Tribal councils using programs and money to buy votes. Only certain Tribal members will get services and goodies. In our greed we may accept favoritism at the expense of Tribal members who really need help.

Our becoming lost on the wrong path happened when our thinking changed from we to me. We stopped thinking of ourselves as part of a greater whole. We bettered our position as the expense of someone else.

The Creator doesn’t ask us to be better than anyone else. He asks us to do the best we can.

In our prophecies we knew that somewhere on Mother Earth there was a white race. We were told that if they ever became lost they would be sent to us. We were supposed to help them get back on the right path.

The right path is praying, talking with and listening to the Creator. The right path is maintaining balance in our lives and therefore in the world.

We were also told what could possibly happen when and if those lost ones showed up. It was impossible to our Ancestors to understand the possibility of genocide. They took precautions just in case.

Young boys and girls were selected from each Tribe. They were sent to other Tribes for fostering. This was to keep Tribes from becoming extinct. If all the people died then the children would be returned to repopulate the Tribe.

The white man was crazier than our Ancestors could imagine. The greed that drove the white race from their own lands to conquer the world was impossible to comprehend.

The white race did not see the sacredness of our land or our people. They saw our land in terms of personal wealth though it belonged to another. They saw us as being in the way of that wealth.

Our Ancestors would not put children in danger. Those destined to save their Tribes were absorbed into their foster families. We think that some Tribes are extinct. We may carry in our blood the seeds to save that Tribe.

Our cedar trees which covered us from birth to death were stripped from Mother Earth. Lumber mills powered the economy of the Pacific Northwest for generations.
We had recognized the life and intelligence within the cedar tree. We asked permission before we took it’s life. We recognized the sovereignty of the cedar.

We prayed and blessed it. The cedar was then cut to make homes or a canoe. We did the same when we took it’s cedar bark for our clothing or ceremonial use.

We prayed and purified ourselves before hunting or fishing. We readied ourselves in honor of the one that would give up it's life to feed us. We told the hunted one why we needed help, we needed to feed our families, or perform a ceremony or to feed guests at a feast.

We didn’t take more than we needed.

That kind of honor isn’t always seen today. We have people who have adopted the white ambition. We see money not life.

Money is paper, it burns then it is gone. Life is eternal.

Greed has separated us into individuals. We no longer see ourselves as part of a greater whole.

Chiefs were trained to think of the whole Tribe. They did what was best for everyone. We lived as one.

We can see that the other seeds of destruction contribute to greed. Lust for power can make us step all over our people and abandon them. Jealousy of another can cause us to take from them in many ways.

Greed is different from healthy ambition. It rots the desire to do good. It is selfish.

When we banish greed from our soul we will work for the good of all.

Sunday, August 10, 2008



Healing may be like lancing a boil. We have to clear out the poison so that the flesh and skin can heal. It is a very painful process.

Healing sexual abuse can be like that. If the abusers are respected people in our communities, it hurts as if they are a part of our own family.

We have been praying for the healing of women and girls that have been sexually abused. Statistics say that 3 out of 4 Native women have been abused as women or girls.

That means out of every four Native women you know three have been abused.

When the abusers are respected members of our communities and families our first impulse will be to protect them. We may even say the child is lying.

What if he or she is not lying? What happens to the body, mind and soul of the child if we cover up the situation?

We have told them that they are not worth protecting. They will think that they have no sovereignty over their own bodies. They will have no healthy boundaries to protect themselves.

A child may begin to think of themselves as dirty or ugly. They may assume that something is wrong with them. Their life has been ruined.

We may have protected the accused one. We have done so at the price of a child.

The horror of child sexual abuse cuts across every political, economic and cultural line in our communities. We find ministers, medicine people, political leaders, parents, family members etc that are child molesters.

When a child makes an accusation of sexual abuse, they are usually telling the truth. If the accusation is false it is still an indicator that something is wrong.

Our communities are out of balance. We can trace the introduction of child sexual abuse back to residential schools and boarding schools. We can place blame directly into the hands of the Catholic Church.

Healing will come from us. We are the ones that must say “This sickness stops here and now.” No one will do that for us. No one can do that for us.

It will be like an amputation to lose a respected community member and family member if they are found guilty of child sexual abuse.
If we are to survive as a healthy People once again we must allow this part of the healing process. We can only love the perpetrator and allow him or her to go through his healing.

That may mean that he or she will go to prison. They won’t be allowed around young children. That will hurt them and us. It is necessary for the healing of our community.

For a long time we have turned a blind eye to this issue. If knowledge surfaces that someone has molested a child we say, “That’s the way he is.” We have allowed our future to be abused.

The introduction of child sexual abuse was a part of genocide as much as small pox and alcohol. It has been the longest reaching and created the most turmoil in our lives.

We must send out the message that child sexual abuse will no longer be tolerated in our communities. We will no longer allow the beating and rape of our future. Our children are our future.

The amputation of a loved one from our communities is a sacrifice we must make to stop this atrocity. It is a process we must go through for our healing.

Alcohol and drugs have been a balm for sexual abuse. Many prostitutes were abused. Many abusers were abused.

We have carried this secret far too long. It has festered for generations. The only way to begin the healing is to acknowledge its existence.

Our children are worth protecting. Our future deserves a chance. We must allow the process to run its course.

We must make sure that our children know we still love them. That what happened wasn’t their fault. There is nothing inherently wrong with them. Counseling is a good idea for the child and perpetrator. We need to change our thinking.

Cecelia Fire Thunder of Pine Ridge says that incidents of domestic violence, rape, and child sexual abuse fell once arrests and convictions were instated. Men realized that there would be consequences for their transgressions of women and children.

Violence, rape, and abuse of children are signs that our world is way out of balance. No one will right it but us.

May we bring healing to our communities with love, kindness, understanding and the Creator’s help. All of our people deserve healing. We are one people.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

July 4, 2008

July 4, 2008

Amerikan Freedom – Amerikan Oppression

The day started out well enough. I was happy. I picked wild rose petals at the beach. The day was hot. I am making an incense for Mom’s memorial giveaway. I am making wild rose petal jelly for our next Traditional Foods Dinner. I need the rose petals for both.

I thought I would go to the reservation across the river to see what was there. I found no wild roses but noted the huckleberries should be ripe next month.

I drove into town to get freezer bags. I went to a grocery store I like. They have the best prices on fruits, vegetables and meats. Sometimes they carry elk. They also carry VHS movies for $4.95. I found my favorite movie “Camelot” there.

This time I found Chuck Owens outside the store thumping watermelons. I stopped and watched him. He and his wife Margaret founded The Peninsula Citizens for the Protection of Whales.

Anti-Treaty racists always use the word citizens to differentiate between Whites and Indians. They are the citizens and we are still the savages. They do it to generate hate and anger against us.

Chuck had just declared that the sentencing of Wayne Johnson and Andy Noel to prison for whaling “was the nail in the coffin.” Was the coffin for whaling, our Treaties, or us?

Chuck and Margaret call themselves anti-whaling protestors. I have never seen them work to clean up the oceans or do anything positive to protect whales. Their claim to fame is their racism against the Makah and other Indians. Chuck claims to have coined the phrase “Save a Whale, Harpoon a Makah.” He had tshirts and bumper stickers made up with that slogan.

The internet anti-racism group CERTAIN, The Coalition to End Racial Targeting of American Indian Nations, confronted the use of that phrase. Chuck said it was a joke. Later he denied the racist epithet ever existed. I saw white haired women carrying placards with that ugly statement in Sequim.

Chuck used to be a commercial fisherman. He captained a boat for High Tides. It is a company that hires Indians. He and his wife partied with those Indians. He once told me that the saddest thing was when Indians stopped talking to him because of his anti-Indian statements. He said that they stopped talking to him because he protected whales.

During the first Environmental Impact Study meetings papers ran photos of Chuck Owens ranting against the Makah. His mouth was wide open. He wore an Indian knit cap. Its design was whales.

I told Mom to come look at this crazy white man yelling his hate about Indians. She watched him on TV in his Indian hat screaming his hate of Indians. She laughed every time it came on.

Mom was always afraid that the antiwhalers would do me harm. They tried. They rammed my car in the Safeway plaza parking lot so hard the license plate came off. I could never get it to stay on after that. They monkey wrenched the road to my house.

I had come home from a day in town. I stopped to check my mail. My mailbox was tied up. A rope stretched from the hook on the door and was pegged to the ground. I thought if it was a projectile it would hit me in the side of the head.

I was angry. It was the day the first Environmental Impact Study came out in favor of the Makah. It was Friday the 13. The local newspaper quoted Chuck Owens calling it an unlucky day for whales.

I was angry. The antiwhalers were trying to frighten me. I went search of a policeman. I found one and dragged him to see my mailbox. I told him I thought it was the antiwhalers. He told me not to go to my house. He said he would contact me when he found out what it was.

I went to my mother’s house and waited. That was about noon. The policeman came about 10:30 that night to tell me I could go home. An off duty policewoman had passed my mailbox. She didn’t see the rope stretched from my mailbox to the telephone pole across the street. When her car touched the rope it triggered a projectile that shattered her windshield. The car belonged to her mother, a drinking partner of the Owens.

They must have realized they didn’t get me. They did it again. This time they got a non-Tribal member. The police watched my mailbox for a week. The antiwhalers did not come back.

I was talking on the phone with another CERTAIN member when the policeman told me I could go home. She told me that what had been done was called monkey wrenching. It was developed by those trying to stop logging of old growth forests.

The monkey wrenchers were probably from Earth First. Some were here to protest Makah Whaling. They wanted to silence the most vocal of the Makah supporters. Makah and members of other Tribes would stop me on the street or in stores. They thanked me for my letters. They said I was able to say what they couldn’t. The English language is still foreign to us. Spirit has given me the gift of words. I use it to protect my People.

I don’t drink or do drugs so my social path had never crossed the Owens. I met them at the Sullivan Reading. Robert Sullivan, a white journalist, had written a book about the Makah Whale Hunt. In general it was a good book and funny. I went to the reading to confront him about his chapter on Paul Watson.

Paul Watson of Seashepherd had called himself The American Indian Movement’s medic. He made absurd claims of being at the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. Interesting thing is no one who was there remembers him.

Watson claimed to have “run through a hail of lead” to rescue wounded medic Roque Madrid. He also said he assisted Lakota Medicine Man Leonard Crow Dog in removing the bullet. Crow Dog doesn’t remember him. Neither did Roque.

Watson said he received a vision in a sweat ceremony with Lakota Medicine Man Wallace Black Elk. Apparently a buffalo appeared to Watson. It had a spear in it with a rope attached. He says he chased off the hunters. He said Wallace Black Elk interpreted his vision for him. He claims Wallace said that it wasn’t a buffalo but the buffalo of the seas, whales. He said that Watson was the shepherd of the sea.

That’s a very nice story. Wallace said it never happened. Watson tells this story to prove he’s not racist against Indians. It’s a lie.

I asked Sullivan why he printed Watson’s sack of lies. I told him that if he researched those statements he would have known it was all a lie. Watson is famous among Indians for his lies. Sullivan said he included Watson’s stories because Watson believed they were true.

Chuck, Margaret and Dan Spomer were at the reading. I had seen Chuck’s photos in the paper. He is a big man with long shaggy hair and a beard. He is your basic old hippie. Many of the residents in the little community of Joyce where the Owens live wear overalls. Chuck became recognizable for his size and overalls in the anti-whaling demonstrations.

I had been writing letters to the editor in the only daily newspaper on the peninsula. I debated the antiwhalers statements point by point. I corrected their lies about our Treaties and our culture and religion. The anti-whalers used racism and deceit to enflame the white community against us.

Indians and whites experience the world differently. Words in English may mean opposite things to us. Sacrifice is one of those words.

We will sacrifice for our family, our Tribe, to change a situation. That may mean we will join our faith, participate in a ceremony, or seek a vision.

We believe that an animal or plant will sacrifice himself or herself to feed us. It is their choice. They hear our prayers and decide that it would be an honor to give their lives to us.

That appears to be inapprehensible to the antiwhalers. They claim to love the whales for their intelligence and human qualities. Yet they do not acknowledge the sovereignty of the whales. That is inapprehensible to me.

The antiwhalers twisted our words about the whale’s sacrifice. They claimed that we sacrificed the whale as Satanists sacrifice animals. That’s funny because most of the antiwhalers are wiccan. It appears that some of their leaders may be full-blown Satanists.

That was one of the earliest racist lies that the antiwhalers told. They rant and rave that we sacrificed the whale the Makah caught in 1999.

I had gotten involved with CERTAIN on the internet because of Paul Watson’s lies about the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee. At that time he was living in Vancouver. There were a few of us from Washington State at the occupation of Wounded Knee.

We should have known a white boy from Vancouver. No one from the Pacific Northwest remembers a heroic white boy that ran through a hail of lead to rescue a wounded medic. No one remembers Paul Watson helping remove the bullet from a real medic. The white people from Washington State don’t remember Watson. He claims that we are denying his involvement.

Watson came to Neah Bay during the first Makah whale hunt. When I got involved Michael Kundu was his director of information. Kundu used the internet to organize their wiccan activity.

The Makah whale hunt was fought on several levels. You saw one level on the evening news. Seashepherd used the newspapers to pound their racist stereotypes into people’s heads.

A woman who had been protesting the Makah whale hunt left abruptly. She told CERTAIN that one of the female leaders took her to a coven meeting. They cast their spells on the Makah. This woman was the daughter of a Baptist preacher. It frightened her. She pretended to go along with everything until she got back to Sekiu. She didn’t even bother to pack her clothes. She immediately left for home. She was frightened.

We already knew of their Wicca activity. We had been lifting their work. Some hunters had come to me and asked me to look at something. They took me up into the mountains by Joyce. It was a real beautiful place.

They said that every time they went there a fog came up and a bird appeared and said hello. I saw a circle cut into the ground with rocks placed around it. The others had gone to see the view. I had seen this place in vision as we lifted their work.

When we started back down the hill we passed a caravan of cars speeding past. They were so intent I don’t think they saw us. I recognized Dan Spomer in the lead truck. I saw Chuck and Margaret Owens in the second truck. I didn’t recognize the car or passengers in the third car. They knew someone had found the site where they cast their spells. I laughed all the way down the mountain.

I call Port Angeles the Selma of the Pacific Northwest because of its racism. At the height of the controversy over Makah whaling a little girl’s baseball team cancelled their participation in a tournament in Port Angeles. Their African American parents said they didn’t want their children to be subject to racism.

That incident was a blow to the business community. They formed the Multicultural Taskforce on racism. The antiwhalers had called for a boycott of Washington State until the “citizens” stopped the Makah Whale Hunt.

The situation backfired on the antiwhalers. People were objecting to the racism. The antiwhalers called for a boycott of Indian owned casinos, fireworks stands and smokeshops. The Makah tribe does not own a casino or smokeshop. It was becoming more apparent that their real issue was racism.

The gray whales are no longer endangered. They’re not even threatened. That was never the issue. It was hate.

The local newspaper printed many letters of hate. Spomer and the Owens were allowed to write editorials and letters every month. Margaret’s poems would be printed. Their followers would write letters. We were flooded by hate.

One time Spomer wrote an article about the Hopi “sacrifice” of eagles. It was a silly fantasy printed as truth. I am held to journalistic standards for my letters. Apparently Spomer did not have to present evidence that his article on the Hopi was true.

The Owens and Spomer and their followers attacked me by name in their letters. I would respond to them by name and the opinions page editor refused to print them. I went to his office and demanded to know why.

I was told that I am in the public domain. I asked why. He said it was because I wrote such good letters. I guess it didn’t occur to him that the Native woman before him had a degree in journalism.

I said that I am not the head of an organization, I don’t ask for contributions, I don’t make press releases that the paper publishes. The Owens and Spomer are the heads of antiwhaling organizations. They ask for money. They make press releases. They are in the public domain.

The editor said that he didn’t want them confronted in Safeway. That was what they were trying to do to Indians. They intentionally raised racism to an unprecedented level.

He agreed to stop allowing them to attack me by name. He has kept his word. The antiwhalers hate me more than they hate the Makah. I am articulate and I am not afraid of them.

I have been facing racism in Port Angeles all of my life. On my first day of school I was five years old. It was my first time away from my family. It was the first time I faced white people by myself.

At the first recess I walked outside. I was surrounded by a bunch of bigger older white boys. I was terrified. They said a lot of ugly things to me. The one I remember was they told me that the reason I wasn’t white was because Indians bathe in shit. That memory hurts as much today as it did then.

That treatment continued throughout my school days in Port Angeles. I began taking the classes that would get me into college when I was in Junior High.

Indians weren’t expected to finish high school. College was an impossible dream for an Indian girl. I was the only Indian in my classes. The white students tortured me.

Many of the first antiwhalers in Port Angeles were those same people. It was the same hate hidden behind the cause of whales. They had never shown a concern for the environment.

Racism on the internet reminded me of school in Port Angeles. It was ugly and stupid. They were hiding behind monitors so it was a free for all.

I had fun picking a name for the internet wars over racism. Many whites who claim Indian blood are descended from an Indian grandmother who was a princess. Many white women who are married to an Indian man claim that he is descended from chiefs. That makes them a princess.

I discussed this with friends. I wanted a name from English royalty. I turned the tables on those stealing royalty from us. We discussed many names. One tugged at my mind. I rejected it because it was too soon after the death of England’s Princess Diana. It was too good to pass. I became Diana Princess of Whales.

The men of CERTAIN used their real names. The women used pseudonyms for safety’s sake.

A couple of the CERTAIN members created a character called DaBoss Whale. Watson had said that he takes orders only from the whales. Another antiwhaler said that Indians shouldn’t eat whales because they are actually from the planet Sirius. They are here as ambassadors.

DaBoss Whale became a Sirian assigned to planet Earth to study humans. DaBoss Whale made daily reports to the Sirian High Commander about the actions of the antiwhalers. He was fascinated with their racism. Many of his reports were his attempts to understand the cause and need for racism among humans.

It was fun and some of our best writing came through the Sirians. The High Commander reported to the Galactic Council. He ordered his scientists to abduct some of the antiwhalers, They took DNA and did tests to see if racism was from a physical defect. The Sirian scientists concluded that racism was a mental illness. They offered their help to the antiwhalers. None of them accepted the Sirians gracious offer.

Indians can find and create humor in the worst of situations.

I confronted Spomer and the Owens at the Sullivan reading about their racism. Chuck told me that he was doing what he was doing to protect our Treaties. He said that the US government wasn’t really protecting our Treaty rights. He said they were after oil that they’d found off the Coast of Washington State.

I told him that I didn’t need a racist white man to protect my Treaty Rights. Chuck is a bully. Like all bullies he is a coward when an enemy faces him.

When I confronted him at the supermarket about his nails in the coffin statement he said he wasn’t a racist because he supported my Tribe during the Tsewhitzen issue. He also said he was opposing the whalers because they violated their own Tribe’s laws.

He said he wrote an article supporting my Tribes effort to stop the State of Washington from desecrating our Ancestors. I had never seen that article. That would not excuse him from his racism against the Makah.

Chuck said he received death threats because of his support of my Tribe. One of my Spiritual teachers that has gone on would have told me to thank him. I have seen her do that to people that were lying. She did most of the work lifting the antiwhalers Wiccan and Satanist work on the Makah.

Chuck called for the manager of the Supermarket. He told them I was threatening to kick his butt. The clerks looked at him then at me and laughed. I told them to call the newspaper too. The smug smirk left Chuck’s face.

He was imagining as I was headlines about racist antiwhaling leader Chuck Owens being physically threatened by a local Indian woman. I laughed at the look on his face.

The manager came and talked to me about racism in Port Angeles until Chuck finished his shopping. Then he let me do mine.

It was a funny incident. It exemplifies the treatment of Indians in this country. Times have changed though. I am not five years old. I am not frightened of racist white bullies.

We have won. That first whale the Makah got brought great healing to all of our communities. She taught us the power of prayer.

It doesn’t matter what the racists say or do. That first whale that they had christened Yabis knowingly gave her life that we might live. She started a new era for us.

The imprisonment of Wayne Johnson and Andy Noel is just the newest incident of oppression of the First Peoples of this land. They will be remembered along with the Great Chiefs Joseph, Geronimo and Crazy Horse.

Thanks Chuck Owens for standing up for my Ancestors. That act was good for your soul.

Saturday, June 14, 2008



It’s amazing how fast time passes. We started our Traditional Foods dinners in the year 2000. The diabetes nurse and I went to a workshop put on by Rudy Ryser chairman of the Center for World Indigenous Studies.

We immersed ourselves in Traditional foods of the Coast Salish and the Plateau Tribes. The Yakama man who was to speak on his Tribe’s Traditional foods couldn’t make it because of a death in his family. Bruce Miller is both Coast Salish and Yakama. He spoke in the morning about Salish foods and stepped up to speak about Plateau foods.

This was very exciting for me. I had seen a TV news magazine segment on a Native Hawaiian doctor who had put his Native patients on a Traditional Hawaiian diet. They have the same health problems Indians do.

They didn’t have to count calories or weigh their food. They could eat as much as they wanted to but they could only eat their traditional foods. It was amazing. Their blood sugar normalized. So did blood pressure. Arthritis disappeared. They lost weight.

They caught the taro root before it disappeared. There was some still growing unattended in old gardens. They began cultivating it again. This planted a seed in my mind.

During the 1970’s and 1980’s I had tried to revive the First Salmon Ceremony in my Tribe. No one was interested. There were Elders still living who knew how to do the real old ceremony. A few years later the Shaker Minister would ring his bells and sing to bless the fish at the fish hatchery.

Now the Fish Committee has a blessing of the fleet and a first salmon ceremony. We are going forward, back to our roots, our strength.

This year will be my first time without my Mom. She has supported our Traditional Foods dinners since the beginning. It will be hard not to have her sitting at the table with me.


The dinner is over now. I felt mom’s Spirit supporting me during our dinner. There were new people that came. I went to see a cousin that was decorating the tables and making the buckskin bread.

I came across some boys about 8 or 10 years old. They were cutting branches off young trees by the side of the road. They looked guilty and scared when I stopped. I told them we were having a Traditional Foods Dinner in a couple hours. I told them to come eat with us.

The boys came and filled their plates. I saw them go back for seconds. My grand nephew was one of them. He kept going back for desert.

My older sister had promised to bake bread but wasn’t able to. I got out my flour and yeast and prayed it would taste good. Mom was famous for her yeast bread. My other sisters are good bread makers. So I prayed the whole time. There wasn’t any left after the dinner so I guess I did okay.

It was the first time that a cousin came from Muckleshoot. She had a good time. Another came from Oregon and cooked the duck for us. She promised duck again for the fall dinner.

I tell the same story at each dinner.

On the Elwha River, there is a rock with a deep depression in it like a basket. That is our Creation Site. It is buried beneath one of the dams.

The first People were the Trees and plants. Everything was good but there was something missing. The Creator then made all the animals. This was also good, but there was still something missing. The Creator made all that is Spirit. He then reached into the earth and pulled out the red clay. He fashioned it the way he wanted it. He filled the rock with water and bathed each Creation in it. He lifted his new Creation to each direction so all life would know it. He then worked out from the Elwha River placing each Creation where he wanted them. These new Creations are the human beings.

The Creator gave us simple laws to follow. We were to love one another and take care of one another. As long as we prayed and sang we had a good life. After a while people stopped praying and talking with the Creator. They stopped listening to him. We forgot our mandate to love and take care of one another. We became lost.

We forgot our sacred beginnings. We forgot our teachings. We thought we were the source of power. We forgot the Creator in our lives. We did unspeakable things to each other. Men began abusing women and children. Balance went out of the world.

The Creator became sorry he had made his Creations. He decided he would destroy them. Those that still prayed and listened to the Creator knew his plans. They got their canoes ready. Some made rafts. They gathered food and fresh water.

The rains started. The rivers flooded and the oceans rose. The fresh water became salty and undrinkable. Most of life on earth died.

Our People tied their canoes onto the mountain top so we wouldn’t get lost. The rains stopped and the waters receded. You can find this story in petroglyphs in the mountains. Our People recorded how long it rained, how long the flood lasted, how long it took the waters to recede. They recorded the animals they saw and how many.

After the world dried there wasn’t enough food for all the humans and animals. They got together and discussed the situation. They decided they would play a game. The winner would get to eat the loser. Our Ancestors won the game.

The animals and plants still keep their word. They give up their lives that we might live. We had ceremonies that thanked all the ones that feed us. These ceremonies were outlawed in the 1800’s by the States and the US federal government.

So much time has passed we have forgotten how to do those ceremonies. So now we have a non-denominational dinner and accept the gift of those that give up their lives that we might live. We thank and bless them. I trust that the Creator will give back to us the way he wants those ceremonies done.

The white staff has done much to undermine our Dinners. They have bought farmed clams instead of our Native ones. These clams come from the Philippines. Whites prefer them because to the white palate they are milder. They have bought farmed salmon. It comes from the Atlantic. I guess it tastes milder to them too. This year they did not invite the other Tribes. They said we were feeding more guests than our own tribal members.

That kind of stinginess is not Traditional. It is the white man’s way of thinking. We are famous for our hospitality. It is our pride and joy.

Our Potlatches or give-aways were outlawed because the white man could not understand giving away everything we owned. We knew a secret they didn’t. There was always more where that came from. Giving away keeps the luck and abundance flowing. What makes the white heart so stingy?

We didn’t become poor until the white government outlawed our giveaways. We have started them again. We didn’t ask anyone’s permission. We exercised our sovereignty and took it back.

We have started our Memorial Dinners and giveaways for those that have gone on. Our children started a Potlatch with the school district. They thought it would lessen the racism if the teachers and other school employees understood their culture or way of doing things better.

The students came up with this idea themselves. I think they were in the 5th grade. They are young adults now. The white teachers were embarrassed at first to receive gifts for no reason but the honor their students gave them. They now participate whole-heartedly and bring books for the Tribal Library. The parents put on a great dinner.

That is another thing whites don’t understand about us. We have dinners for everything. It is the most healing thing we can do for our Tribes and our communities.

It is called “Eating out of the same dish.” There was a time when we actually did eat out of the same dish. You can see in museums beautifully carved bowls that extend the length of a longhouse. It would have an animal representative of the owner carved into the bowl. We would sit around that bowl and eat out of it.

When we do that we become one-heart one-mind. We become even and equal. The elders and the sick take what they need from that combined energy for their health and strength. All of us do. The youth and children have the most strength and energy to contribute. We must not chase them away. They must be allowed to know their importance and our need for them in our Tribes and communities.

I did not understand why people had begun telling me that I did not start the Traditional Foods Dinner. Other people began taking credit for doing that.

We may get a grant next year for a Traditional Foods program. We can do so many healing things. We can teach our children to hunt and fish. We can teach them how to clean and prepare those foods. We can teach them how to smoke and other ways of preserving food.

We can bring back our Traditional values. Life will then have more meaning to us and our children. The possibilities are exciting.

All of this has come from a simple dinner, to acknowledge what the Creator gave us and to give thanks. We love our people. We love God, The Creator, by whatever name a person chooses to call that Life Source.

We have taken that first step to get us back on the right road. We have connected with the Creator and brought prayer back into our lives. We are including our Tribe and our relatives and friends from other Tribes in our journey back to healing.

We will be like our Ancestors that knew enough to ready their canoes. We will be the ones that step into the new world that is coming. We will be the ones that know how to gather from Mother Earth’s garden. We will be the survivors.




Jealousy is also one of the seeds of destruction. We can see it in our communities. These seeds are what we banish from our hearts and minds when we purify ourselves. That is when we become humble. Then there is room for God in our hearts and lives.

Each one of us comes here to do something good, to contribute to the wellbeing of our Tribe. Some of us bring humor and laughter. Those ones know how to lift up the spirits of other people.

Some are historians. That is a very sacred duty. They “remember” everything that happens. They can tell the history of our people so we will never forget.

Some people know the plant medicines. They know what will heal our bodies and our minds and our spirits.

Some people are good parents. They raise good healthy happy human beings.

Some are good hunters and fishermen. Some are good berry pickers and know which roots and plants to gather. They feed our bodies and our spirits.

We have artists that record our life and bring beauty and truth into our lives. We have singers and dancers.

Everyone has something important to contribute. We need each other for a healthy happy complete Tribe.

The Creator asks us to do the best we can in everything we do. He doesn’t ask us to be better than anyone else. That is where jealousy sets in.

We see our short comings when we measure ourselves against another. We start feeling insecure and inferior. There will always be someone who does something better than us. Maybe it is their work here on earth.

Each of us has something important to contribute. It is our life’s work. It may not be our profession. There is something that only we can do.

If we become jealous of someone and suppress that person and what they are good at, we may be suppressing what we need for our healing. It is to our benefit to allow each person to be the best they can be. It does not diminish anyone else to do that.

Our jealousy forces us to undermine another’s efforts. We may be jealous of artists or writers. They may have a way of interpreting our life in a way we can’t. That in no way interferes with what we have to contribute.

I have seen people in Tribal education stop a person in their tracks. They won’t fund one person who is doing well, they will fund another who fails in their attempt at schooling. In their jealousy they may be stopping a person who should be a doctor or other healer or a journalist a judge or cop or a playwright or lawyer or biologist or chemist. Maybe they stopped the person that was supposed to find the cure for cancer. Jealousy makes us do stupid things.

Each one of us has come here to do something good and to contribute to our Tribes. Each one of us is important. If we let jealousy into our hearts we are doomed. That European adage that we are only as strong as our weakest link is true.

Sometimes when we put someone else down we fool ourselves into thinking that we are better than that person. We think that we have advanced because we look down on someone else.

That is so silly. We know that we haven’t advanced. All we have done is to destroy someone else’s happiness and the work they came to do. We have stopped that person’s unique contribution to the Tribe. We have stopped their help and healing.

We must allow each other to be the best we can be. We must not measure ourselves against another.

Sometimes in our jealousy to hold someone else back we spend all our own energy. We miss our opportunity to do something good. We don’t do whatever unique thing we came here to do.

Once we stop allowing jealousy to hold us back we will make a giant leap down that right road. Our Tribes will be healthier and happier. Our world will become more balanced.

Thursday, June 12, 2008




This is the big one that has brought so many tears and ruined so many lives. Our children who were raised to believe that they were sacred were kidnapped into schools run by Catholic nuns and priests or federally run government boarding schools.

Those servants of God had taken vows of chastity. They promised God that they would remain virgins in his service. When they had Indian children in captivity for the school year they forced our babies to perform sex acts with them. What happened to their vows of chastity?

If there is in reality a heaven and hell I pray that all those nuns and priests that abused our babies are slowly roasting in hell. They had better be tortured for their sins as they threatened us with God’s wrath.

BIA boarding schools were just as bad. They tried to beat the Indian out of us. That meant our culture, Spiritual beliefs and language.

An Elder told me that the first thing done to him at boarding school was they cut his hair. He crawled on the floor trying to pick up all his hair. They wouldn’t let him. They threw it all into the dump. He was six years old.

He told me this because he was teaching me that we have to take care of our hair. We have to pick up each strand and keep it in a special place. When we are buried it will be buried with us. If we don’t our Spirit will have to crawl over the earth and pick up each strand before we can move on.

Our teaching is that we have to be firm in our discipline. There is a very thin line between being firm and being mean. We have to be careful not to cross that line.

If we have no discipline our children will not learn. If we are mean there are two things that will happen. The child will become mean in self defense. Or we will break their Spirits. Look around at our communities. Our people are either mean or broken-spirited. There are few healthy members of our communities.

Lust of the nuns and priests violated the bodies of our babies in their Catholic boarding schools. They destroyed the child’s sense of self and their healthy boundaries. They created abusers and victims. Those wounded babies were then sent home to plant those seeds of destruction in our Tribal Communities.

Sexual abuse is rampant in our communities. We see abusers in our medicine people, ministers, police, educators and Tribal Council. Abuse runs the gamut of the educated, sober, uneducated, and alcoholic and drug addicted.

We see men spiritually abusing a woman if she tries to leave him or starts asserting her authority over her own life. He may be a medicine man, road man or simply call himself Traditional. He may pray that she be tortured and tormented until she comes back to him or does what he wants her to do.

We see abusive men in positions of respect and power. If they grew up with the belief that they had the right to rape any female they may still believe it is their right. They might still rape a niece or other relative if the opportunity arises.

Packs of boys gang raped girls that they caught alone. Sometimes it was their sister, cousin, aunt, or niece. Sometimes it was their best friend’s sister. That girl’s life was forever ruined. Her sense of sacredness was destroyed. She had no more feeling of safety.

Boys and men don’t consider the lives they have ruined by sexual abuse. In this corrupt society a male may think it is his right to rape anyone he can over power. In his mind that action defines his masculinity. That is so far from our teaching that the first law of a chief is to feed the people.

Those boys sometimes grow into positions of respectability and power. Of course they don’t see that what they did was wrong. Our communities do not hold them accountable.

What they did was as wrong as what the priests, nuns, and boarding school employees did that started this transgression to all that is holy. Rape isn’t sex. It is violence.

There was a time when Indian men knew that they were sacred beings. They chose a wife and honored her sacredness. They raised their children as sacred beings.

Men used their gift of strength to feed and protect The People. We lived within the laws of the Creator.

Sex is a healthy expression of love between two people. What happens when it has become a tool of oppression? Children are sacred and our future. What happens when our future is raped and beaten?

Women are the life-givers. Power and knowledge travel through women. What happens when our source of life and spiritual rights and responsibilities and teachings are raped and beaten?

Sexual abuse is learned behavior. It is not Traditional. We can hold all the nuns and priests and government employees accountable for planting this seed of destruction in all of our communities.

We must hold ourselves responsible for the health or sickness in our communities. We have the right and responsibility to say that the sickness perpetrated on us stops here. We will not participate.

It is within our power to once again live our lives according to our Traditional values. If the outlawing of these principles started us down the wrong path, then reintroducing them will return us to a healthy state.

Our babies are sacred. They come to us directly from Spirit. It is said that they still speak the language from where they came from. The toddlers can still understand them until they learn our tongue and forget their language of Spirit. If we don’t treat them well they can decide to leave us and they will die. That is Spiritual law. It happens whether we know it or not.

Women are sacred. They represent Mother Earth. All life that comes into this reality comes through the female principle. Power and knowledge travel through women. That is why our family line and our right to do ceremonies or Spiritual work are traced through our mother. This is Spiritual Law. It happens whether we know it or not.

Men are sacred. They have the strength and ability to feed and protect our People. We need our men to be the ones that the Creator gave the mandate to be our Chiefs and warriors.

We need only to look out our window to see that Mother Earth is in need of healing. Our future looks bleak. We are on the fast lane to extinction.

Each one of us can change our situation. We need only to see the sacredness within our selves. We will then treat all others also as sacred beings. We will bring balance back to ourselves, Mother Earth and our future.

We need to bring healing and balance back into our communities. Men must step up to the plate and deal with the hurt and sorrow carried by many women.

Statistics say that 3 out of 4 Indian women have been sexually abused. That is a lot. We talk about our broken treaties and our abuse in residential schools and BIA boarding schools. That is over but the seed of destruction planted by those nuns and priests and government workers is still flourishing and destroying lives.

We need our political leaders to acknowledge the devastation done to our sisters and children. We need programs and ceremonies for healing.

If the men cannot apologize for their rape of their own people then they at least need to acknowledge that this problem exists. We need a proclamation that this violation ceases now. We need to prosecute those who rape and ruin a woman or child’s life.

A man may consider rape a measure of his manhood and strength. His victim has been devastated and shamed. She may question God for the rest of her life. Why did he allow this to happen? What did she do to bring this on?

We have to change our thinking very quickly if the human race is to survive. Men are not superior to women. Women are not superior to men. We are equal.

The person who knows that he or she is a sacred creation of God will not abuse another in any way. That is a violation of our mandate to love and take care of one another.

We get back on the right path by getting back in touch with the Creator. We do that through prayer. We know we are doing the right thing when we are happy. Happiness is our marker that we are on the right path.

What’s so hard about that?

Saturday, May 24, 2008




I did get to go to a workshop on domestic violence and rape. It was called “Reclaiming our Sacred.” It was in Seattle, cohosted by Daybreak Star and WomenSpirit coalition.

We saw a Canadian Documentary called “Finding Dawn.” This was the second time I had seen the movie. It broke my heart again. I allowed myself to cry this time.

Dawn was a beautiful young Native woman who was a sex worker on the streets of Vancouver British Columbia. She disappeared without a trace. Eventually a pig farmer was discovered to be a serial killer. He picked up prostitutes, took them to his farm, tortured and killed them. Remains of missing women were found on his farm. He was charged with their murder.

Dawn’s DNA was found on the farm. The farmer was not charged with her murder because there was only enough DNA to identify her, but not enough to charge him with her murder. I don’t understand that. It sounds like simple racism to me.

Dawn had gone to Vancouver to live. She had no education or job skills. A friend she had made was a sex worker. She recruited Dawn. But Dawn could not bring herself to have sex with her first customer. Her friend introduced her to drugs. She told Dawn they would relax her and allow her to provide sex to the customers. She became addicted and allowed her sacredness to be violated.

That is what is also happening in our communities. Alcohol and drugs break down our knowledge and respect for the sacred in our lives. We no longer see the sacredness in ourselves or each other. We rarely hear the teachings.

This documentary “Finding Dawn” shows how Native women have been devalued in both Canada and the United States. The ones who care and try to understand what happened are friends and relatives.

Dawn had a sister who also died in an Eastern Canadian city. She and Dawn had been put into white foster homes when they were children. They were both sexually abused in their first home.

Their foster father had violated the sacredness of Dawn and her sister. He broke their hearts and their Spirits.

Many children were raped at residential schools. They brought home that seed of destruction to plant in our communities. It flourished and destroyed the sacredness within succeeding generations. We can no longer see the sacredness in ourselves or other people.

Dawn’s brother was interviewed. He kept in touch with both of his sisters. Both would call him in the middle of the night and talk about being sexually abused as children.

The brother leads a march every Valentines day in support of missing and murdered Native women in Canada. Valentines Day is the day to express love. He does this for his two sisters and to bring attention to the cases of murdered and missing Native women.

The documentary showed a stretch of highway where Native women have disappeared. Some bodies have been found. They told the story of a teenage girl that is missing.

She had asked her older sister for a ride into town. Her sister had something else to do so the girl hitchhiked. No one has seen her since. That was a few years ago. Her parents still drive around the country, to powwows etc. hoping to find someone that has seen their daughter.


If the Mayan prophecies are right then this world as we know it will end on December 20 2012. If the Hopi prophecies are right then we have to get ourselves back on the good road or Mother Earth and all of humanity will die. We only have four years to do all of that if we are to survive.

We get back on the right road by getting in touch with the Creator. We do that through prayer.

We lost our way when the “white man” or the United States government outlawed our religions. We were forbidden to practice or participate in our ceremonies.

Some of the bigger Tribes with bigger reservations were able to continue their ceremonies deep in the countryside away from white eyes. Some hid their ceremonies behind Christian holidays. Some hid their ceremonies behind Christian symbols. Some simply took their faith underground.

It is our belief here in the Pacific Northwest that our prayers and songs and dances feed the Spirits of all life. We have songs for the Killer Whale, and eagle etc. When our songs and dances were forbidden to us other species began dying. We did too. We could no longer feed the Spirits of our relatives and helpers. We could no longer feed our own Spirits.


The Makah were and are whale hunters. They voluntarily stopped hunting gray whales when white New England whalers hunted them to near extinction. The white whalers did not hunt gray whales for food as the Makah did. They took the whales for oil and to make corsettes for their women.

The Makah never forgot the gray whale or their Spiritual relationship with them. They still sang the songs for the gray whale and did the dances. They told stories of how their grandfathers had fasted, prayed and bathed in icy rivers to get ready for whale hunts. It was the Makah love for the gray whale that brought them back from extinction.

The ivory billed woodpecker was thought to be extinct. This was a sacred being of the south eastern Tribes. Those People kept using the ivory billed woodpecker in their art. They told stories of it helping to heal the people. It was a medicine power. A white fisherman saw three of those woodpeckers. He reported it to the authorities. More sightings occurred. They had come back from extinction.

One of the teachers in our Traditional Foods classes is a Mohawk physician. She works at one of the Tribes. She uses both the white man’s medicines and Indian medicines with her patients.

She said at the last class that if we don’t use our Traditional foods and medicines they will think that we don’t want them anymore and will leave us. They are sentient beings too.

A few years ago I decided I would gather gooseberries for our Traditional foods dinner. I couldn’t find any where my mother and I used to pick them. I asked some of the elders where they used to pick. I went to where they told me and found none.

I was invited to speak at a workshop on Traditional Foods and Medicines at the Lummi Tribe. I told my story of the gooseberries disappearing from my reservation. An elder man spoke up saying that where we were is called Gooseberry Point. He said that was because it used to be covered with gooseberries. He hadn’t realized that they were gone until I told my story.

I have been telling this story for years to encourage people to be aware of the changes happening in our world. Last year one gooseberry plant appeared at the river. This year there are three and I have seen others around the reservation.

We have gotten some gooseberry plants from another reservation to reintroduce to our own home. Had they decided to leave us because they thought we didn’t want them anymore? Did they come back because we talked of how important they are to us? Is this superstition or evidence that we are part of a greater whole?

If changing our thoughts can bring back species from extinction, what will happen if we change our thoughts about ourselves?

What will happen in our Tribes if we start treating our children as sacred beings who have come to us directly from Spirit? What will happen if we again have the knowing that if they feel unwanted they can decide to leave us and they will die?

What will happen if we again acknowledge that women are sacred beings? Women are Mother Earth’s representatives in human form. Could a man hit a female knowing he is in reality punching Mother Earth? Could a man rape a female with the knowledge that he is actually raping Mother Earth?

What will happen when men again realize their own sacredness? They were given physical strength to fish and hunt to feed The People. They are here to represent the Creator and protect The People. Would someone that knows his own sacredness abuse that gift of strength to hurt or control someone else?

We have seen by the example of the ivory billed woodpecker, gray whales, and gooseberry plants that extinction isn’t always permanent.

We are our own rescuers. We need only to get back in touch with the Creator. We begin by talking to God and listening to him. We do that through prayer.

All life is sacred. That includes us. Once we recognize the sacred within ourselves and each other our world will begin to right itself. If we don’t then extinction is the inevitable end of our path

Thursday, April 10, 2008



I write this to honor Mom and for the younger members of the family. So they will know better the lady called “Grandma Jane” on the Elwha Reservation.

It’s been over a year now since Mom left us. She was in the hospital for about a month as her body shut down one organ at a time.

Mom never did like to be alone. A young niece volunteered to stay at the hospital with her. She was too young to watch Mom die. She wound up crying. She said she couldn’t do it.

Another cousin volunteered to stay with Mom. She wound up crying saying she couldn’t do it either.

I steeled myself to stay with Mom until the end. I moved into the hospital with her.

I wasn’t the favorite. We have lived our lives at cross purposes. In the end I realized that I was the one that she counted on.

Mom was born and grew up on the beach at Little Boston. She and her friends would take the bigger oyster shells and fill them with sand. They would stand smaller mussels shells in the sand. The oyster shells were boats or cars and the mussel shells were the people.

Grampa and the other men hollowed out logs and fitted them together. They laid them out on poles stretching them from the creek to divert water to the houses. People would pull out the plugs and fill their buckets with cold fresh water. I am constantly amazed at the simple engineering skills of my ancestors. They knew how to live on the land without harming it.

Grampa worked in wood. He made canoes and skiffs or rowboats. He also made furniture. He carved a spinning wheel so my aunt could make yarn.

Once Mom showed me a brittle newspaper that contained an article about Grampa, who he was and about his carving. It described Mom as a beautiful little girl with bright shining eyes. The article called her a princess. Grampas father was our last chief of the Port Gamble band. We have had Tribal Councils since then. Grampa was our first Secretary Treasurer because he could read and write. It was his job to communicate with Washington DC.

Grampa told my Aunt Martha to keep a journal of what happened to our People. He told her to put them in cans and bury them. He wanted an accurate account of our history. I don’t think he trusted the white man to do that. My aunt passed this job to me.

Aunt Martha was from Grampas first marriage. Her mother was from the Katzie Tribe in Canada. She was a lot older than Mom, only ten years younger than Mom’s mother. She would refer to Grampa as “my father.” It made mom jealous. She said that’s our father. She was small and began calling Aunt Martha’s husband “our husband.” She thought they shared everything.

When mom was born she was given the Indian name Kristonia. Christina was chosen as her English name because it sounded similar.

Mom said that she didn’t face racism when she went to public school. She understood the Klallam language but refused to speak it. Dad said he didn’t talk white man until he married Mom.

Members of the Tribe started moving to save our language before it disappeared. When someone outside the family would ask Mom questions about the language she would become afraid. She would say she didn’t know.

My uncle Tom from Canada moved to the rez to help in the language program. He would come see Dad for help remembering words. One day they were discussing how to say something. Both men were very hard of hearing. They were almost shouting at each other. Mom was in the kitchen working. She stepped into the living room and told them the word they were trying to remember. Dad laughed because he knew Mom knew more than she let on.

I never did get the story from her about why she was afraid for people to know she understood the Klallam language. Something had happened to her. That was a secret she took to her grave. I can only assume that she was tortured as many were for speaking her language.

Lummi elder Joe Washington said that his tongue was burned with a match for speaking his language. He could not force himself to speak the language though he understood. Some survival instinct kicked in and wouldn’t allow him to do it. His wife would talk to him in Indian when they didn’t want anyone to know what they were talking about. He would nod and answer in English. We always figured it out that way.

Dad was born and grew up at the spit in Port Angeles. It was our last traditional village site. Our Shaker Minister is our last Tribal member born there. I call her our last wild Indian. The rest of us are Rez Indians.

Mom had moved to the Jamestown village to baby sit for a relative. It was her first job. The girl who became her best friend was Dad’s first cousin.

Dad would rent a bicycle from Port Angeles and bike to Jamestown to pick up Mom. She would sit on the bar handles and they would ride around the countryside. That was their dates.

They married and moved into a house on the spit in Port Angeles. Just before World War 2 the federal government condemned the houses and moved the residents to what became the Elwha Reservation.

Elwha was an original village site. Early white settlers coveted the land. They thought that since it was at the mouth of the river it would be good farm land like the mouth of the Mississippi river.

One night whites broke into the Elwha longhouses and started shooting. The People ran and kept going. They went to wherever they had relatives. The white farmers moved on to the land.

The Elwha valley is fishing country not farmland. The soil is either clay or rocks. It is river bed. The land would not cooperate with those white men.

The kind hearted farmers sold their stolen land to the federal government for the landless Indians. It was just before World War 2 and the government wanted our last village site on the spit for a Coast Guard Base. Our people were forced out of their homes onto the reservation.

Many of us can trace our Klallam blood through the western villages back to Clallam Bay and Sekiu and well into Makah territory. My great-grandmother was from Ozette. Elwha is an original village site. Those of us who live here now are descendants of the survivors of the western bands of the Klallam Tribe.

Port Gamble is an original village site. Yet they are also the descendants of the survivors of the eastern bands of the Klallam Tribe. That is where Mom is from. We buried both her and Dad there.

Dad was drafted into World War 2. Mom took her three children back to her own rez to be with her family. When Dad came back from the war he was drinking. So was Mom.

Dad’s relatives said he was fun loving when he was young. He loved baseball and fishing. I never knew that man. Alcohol and violence had set in by the time I was born.

An older relative of Dad’s from Neah Bay, Aunt Nora, once asked me if it was true that Dad beat Mom. I was a teenager by then. She said she couldn’t believe it. She told me that my grandfather had beaten my grandmother. She said Dad would take care of his mother when the beating was over. He would gently wash the blood from her face. He would pick up my grandmother and put her in the car. He wouldn’t let anyone else touch her. He would drive her around until she regained consciousness. I couldn’t imagine that kind gentle loving part of Dad. All I had known was violence.

Our lives growing up was hard. We had entered that dark transitional period in Indian history. We didn’t have our ceremonies to help and guide us. Christian churches destroyed our traditional life but wasn’t equipped to deal with the destruction they had wreaked.

I was talking with a cousin/friend who is on the council. I told her I wanted to go to a workshop on domestic violence and rape. She was happy I was interested in the subject. No one wants to touch it or acknowledge that it is a problem in our communities.

We talked about how violence had affected our lives. She too had watched her Mom be beaten by her boyfriends. She didn’t have a consistent father figure in her life. She thought that was the problem. I had my dad but didn’t fare any better than she did.

She entered an abusive relationship when she married a white man. She stayed in the relationship for her children. She finally left him and moved back to the rez and is working on her healing as I am.

Our mothers were strong people. I can see that now. I didn’t always think that. I always blamed Mom for not leaving Dad. I loved Dad but not his violence.

I understand now that she didn’t have the money or the means to leave him. She had no education and no marketable skills. She made the best choices in a situation that gave her no choices.

My nieces and nephews may be hurt by this part of our family history. But we must face it to heal it. Mom and Dad had stopped drinking by the time they came along. The physical violence had stopped. The damage had already been done to my sisters, me, my cousins and friends who had also grown up with violence.

My sisters, my cousins, my friends all got involved in abusive relationships. Since we had grown up with it we thought it was normal. We thought there was something wrong with us. I ran from relationships. I didn’t want to be trapped.

Dad died a little over ten years before Mom. My older sister and my brother never did forgive him for what he had put us through. When the hospital told Mom that Dad had passed away she collapsed. I left her with the rest of the family and went to sit with Dad’s now empty body.

I cried and told him how he had ruined my life. I told him that I forgave him. I told him that I had always loved him even though I hated what he put me through. I think I had an easier time with his death than my brother and sister because I forgave him.

Mom was lonely for the rest of her life although she was surrounded by her family. There were few left of her own age. She went through a period of missing Dad. She told me once that when she died she didn’t want to be with him. I think she was remembering the violent part of their lives together.

She fell once and cracked a disc in her spine. It was so painful for her. Luckily I had been staying with her. It was very early in the morning. She was making coffee. I had to call my sister and her son to help pick her up.

She loved going on the canoe journeys. She was so proud of the young people who paddled. Dad had lived long enough to see the return of the canoes. They were among the first elders to support the journeys.

At that time you had to have the permission of an elder to be in the canoes. One of Dad’s grandnieces came to him for permission. He stared at her for a second then said yes. He was honored and proud at the same time. Dad’s grandfather had made a canoe for him before he passed away. It was lost in a flood. Dad had fished in a canoe and was so happy to see their return.

Mom was usually the oldest person at the canoe events. She was gifted many blankets for that honor. Dad liked to tease her about that.

Mom fell and broke her hip. That was the beginning of her downhill slide. That last time she wound up in the hospital it was with pneumonia. We found out that her esophagus wasn’t working properly. She couldn’t swallow. Remnants of food would get into her lungs and cause infections. They were giving her oxygen.

She was seeing Dad regularly now. He would fish in the bay during the day. He would come in and sit on the beach until it got dark. He would come into Mom’s room. He would leave when it got light.

Mom was worried that he would get in trouble with the hospital. She asked a nurse if it was okay if her husband stayed with her. The nurse laughed and made fun of her. That was when Mom started getting rowdy. No one could control her. She was demanding to go home, but the hospital wouldn’t release her. That was when I moved in with her.

The doctor would tell me that Mom’s body was giving out and she probably wouldn’t make it through the night. I would call the family together and she would be happy and rebound. It went on like that for a month. I had always thought Mom was frail. I couldn’t believe how her body fought to survive.

The doctor told me that we had to decide what to do. She said that Mom could no longer eat because she could no longer swallow. She would have to be fed by a tube in her stomach. Her lungs no longer worked properly. She would have to be on a breathing machine the rest of her life.

I didn’t want to put anyone else through making that decision. I told the doctor to take her off life support. I called my older sister and told her what I had done. She cried and said it was best, that it was okay. I called my brother. He cried and told me it was best. I called my sister who was caring for her husband. He was dying of cancer. She also cried and said it was okay.

Mom miraculously lived a few more days. She was able to see all the people that she had loved.

I had gone back to my house to shower and change. As I was driving back to the hospital I saw in my minds eye a big longhouse. Dad walked to the center of it. Mom’s brothers lined up on either side of him. I knew the time had come.

One of my nephews was in mom’s room. He had been staying with us the last few nights. He would sit with mom, go for a walk and come back. He was worn out like everyone else. He wanted to go home but would stay if I wanted him to. I asked him to stay one more night.

I didn’t tell him of my vision. I didn’t know if I was strong enough to be by myself when she left us. He slept soundly on the other bed. I sat next to Mom and slept fitfully.

Mom was having a series of heart attacks. Everything was set up for me to give her morphine. For some reason I couldn’t do it. I would call a nurse and they would administer it. All I could do was hold Mom and pray for her until the pain subsided. The nurses were understanding and patient with me.

I sat up when I heard her breathing stop. I went to her bed. I took her in my arms and told her that I loved her. I told her that I had always loved her.

I went to the nurses station and told them that Mom had passed away. The nurse went into the room to check and removed the oxygen and iv’s.

I woke my nephew and told him that Mom had just passed away. He kissed Mom and called his own mother to give her the news.

I had always judged Mom and the other women of her generation for being weak and making the wrong decisions. I was the wrong one. I see now that they were very strong. They did the best they could in situations that gave them no options.

They suffered violence and racism and ate shit so that we could survive. I lift my hands to all the Indian women of the preceding generations.

May all my Indian sisters and I do as well with the same courage and strength as our mothers had.