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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 16, 2002 - Issue 74


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Brain Food

by Lazorletter

Autumn SplendorThe fall colors have come and almost gone, and Mother Earth is preparing for its winter sleep. The air is filled with a chill and on the few remaining sunny days I rejoice in its warmth. Snow has fallen but was quickly chased away, while Mother Earth hangs on to just a few more days of warmth. I love the sound of the leaves as they crunch when you step on them, and I must admit that I am looking forward to spending days looking out the window over morning coffee and marveling in the beauty of the winter. I have laid in a supply of bird feed, and already taken stock of all my craft supplies. I am ready! In fact I have begun that wandering among the Christmas decorations at the stores, and, yes, caught myself humming a carol.

Recently I was reading the local Ojibwe news paper, making mental notes on up coming events. I ran across an ad for "Native Talent." The ad was seeking local Native people in various categories for an opportunity to become involved in a touring group. One of the categories was one pertaining to writers. This of course caught my eye, and I got a bit excited. I recently finished a book about this wonderful journey I took to find my link to my ancestors. I made it a point to explain about all my blunders, and the many times that I ended up causing laughter to ring. I talked about how hard this journey was/is, and I am sure I related to many many people who are seeking. I was one of the fortunate ones, in that, my path was aided and laid out in front of me. My teacher is a man of medicine, and I live in a very traditional household. I finished my book, and allowed several people to read it. I was urged to try to get it published. I didn't. I held on to my book because I didn't have clue how to get it published, but mostly because I simply didn't want to seem boastful.

Well, after reading this ad in the news paper, I thought that my book would be perfect to put into a play, and share with the many people that listen to the loud hum of their Native blood. I figured it would be a good thing to show all, an honest interruption of one of the most horrible side effects of that genocide attempt that happened so long ago. Also for those of us, that have no identity in either world, I wanted to present for all to see, the terrible struggle that faces us Natives that try to come home. The long line of proof needed, the name calling, the doors slammed in our faces, are just a few of the stumbling blocks that we face. It is only after overcoming these blocks, do we realize why they are there, and why they are necessary, and forgivable. In short, I felt that submitting my account of my journey, would in deed be helpful to many, while not gaining a profit in anyway.

I read the article and jotted down the numbers I need to call, and began to see a plan forming in my mind ... Until ... I got to the last line of the ad, which simply stated "be prepared to submit proof of enrollment." Bam! The door slammed and my extremely clever plan evaporated. I was once again alienated through no fault of my own. It was not my doing that my grandmothers birth certificate said "mother unknown" nor was it my fault that my father died on his rez having never been legally recognized, or was it my fault that the drops of white blood flowing in my veins was put there by way of a rape that happened long ago. Yet I will pay the price for these things forever.

Usually when I run across something that I find negative along my journey, I tear it apart until I find something positive to help make the medicine go down. This slamming door was a very negative thing to me. This is one of the hardest negatives to sort out. It is because of this slamming door, I had to quit my studies for lack of funds, and lack of help to gain funds, it was also this door that stops me from helping my people, and it was this door, that made my spiritual search almost impossible and it was this door that continues to keep me at arms length from where I belong. I thought about for a long time, I had to admit I was troubled.

But as I sat outside in the crisp morning air, watching my ceremonial fire take gifts to my ancestors, it came to me. The one thing that can't be denied. The one thing that is so positive that it screams out in the smile on my face. That one thing is the fact that no matter what happens, or what is said, that which is Native in me, will never stop being Native, for it is who I am. I only become stronger because of how many detours I must take. It was that strength that led me to learning my language, my customs, and finally becoming a pipe carrier. I did these things because it is who I am. My rewards out number my failures, my joy out numbers my sadness, and my strong Native pride will always live inside of me, for me. I only hope that someday, my people will learn of this strength and power that we seekers hold. When they do, I also hope they have the wisdom to gather back into "the whole" all these scatters bits of our nations.

The problem of protecting our culture from those that would steal it, still exists, and will always will. This fact costs my people many wonderful things, one of them is this wonderful determination and strength that lives in the souls of us stolen warriors.

I bid you peace. Laz

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