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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 19, 2003 - Issue 85


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Brain Food

by Lazorletter
credits: Children Seeking Peace and Understanding by D. Morriseau

Children Seeking Peace and UnderstandingThe sun is shinning brightly here in the land of 10 thousand lakes, bringing with it the welcome promise of spring. It was indeed a strange winter that kept everyone guessing. The mild temperatures followed by bitter cold provided me with perfect conditions to keep a constant red nose. Every coat I own has its pockets filled with neatly folded bundles of tissue, and I have become an expert on over the counter cold medicines. As the final patches of "snirt" (snow mixed with dirt) disappears I have already began to think of my morning coffee out side watching the birds. Its time to put away the beading projects and puzzles and get outside and get dirty. I will be trading my red nose in for dirty nails and knees. Ahh isn't life wonderful?

Recently the subject of protecting our native ceremonies has appeared in Sumners Native news. As always there is a mixture of comments concerning this very broad issue. I myself, have very mixed feelings. Being of mixed blood and a graduate of the school of acceptance I certainly paid my dues to embrace my customs and ceremonies. Each time I offer my tobacco it is done with respect and graduated. However I also know that it is my right given to me by my father and grandmother. It is who I am and most importantly it is my responsibility to keep my culture and customs alive for those that follow me. Its this responsibility that I would like to address today. I have been fortunate to have a man of medicine and a woman of strong traditions as my teacher and guide. So many times I would be gently guided to the attitude that was necessary for a certain ceremony. I use the term attitude because it is most important. Customs and ceremonies are more than the robotic actions of a native person. They are a most personal communication between you the Creator and the Spirits of the four directions.

When I stand next to a tree in the middle of winter with my nose running, dressed in my nightgown a pair of boots a big heavy coat with my hair flying angrily in the wind, I know that Creator is glad to see me no matter how I look. I know in my heart that watching my breath float in the cold air upward as I whisper my greeting, that it isn't about what people think, or even say, its about my connection with my Creator. I speak with respect and in the language of my ancestors. A language that I labored hard to learn. I speak the prayers as taught to me by my teachers and guides. I speak with the right attitude. The connection between me and Creator is a very personal thing and I too guard it with fury.

However I must most aware of the fact that through me, my language, customs, ceremonies and culture are assured to live at least one more generation, in spite of the fact that many times in my journey I was denied access to what was mine by right of the blood that flows in my veins. I wasn't measured by the person I am, but by the amount of native blood that I have. It was a very hard time for me, not being white and not allowed to be native. So many "do gooders" looked upon my desire to learn as an invasion, and turned their backs on my overwhelming need. A need that was calling me to where I should be. These people seem to forget that we of mixed blood didn't have any say in the matter. We are stolen souls that often struggle hard to come back. I believe that every single drop of native blood that wishes to come home should be honored and embraced. We bring with us a piece of what once was the whole.

I realize that it is necessary to keep these sacred practices from being exploited and I would be the first in line to do so. However I also believe that the each "offense" should be taken individually and not lumped and branded as bad. We must never forget that we as a nation were deliberately mixed. Its all about attitude to me. I personally know full blooded natives that have never offered tobacco or been to a ceremony. Are they more worthy that those of us that struggle to embrace and honor our blood line? I think not. I could be wrong. Peace Laz

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