RECLAIMING OUR SACRED
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.
EXTINCTION IS A CHOICE
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