Saturday, September 24, 2011
BEING NATIVE 101
Today’s East Side Smudge goes down and for the most impoverished postal code in Canada (statistically, speaking) it is clearly needed. Elsewhere on this blog I’ve written about institutional and systemic failure to address some basic issues of health and safety for the most vulnerable people. And though I may have implied it throughout my blog if not stated it outright - the healing of communities and nations begins here (taps chest)…
Basic universal fact about Indians: Indians pray.
If you are an Indian, 1st Nations, Indigenous, Native, Aboriginal (or WHATEVER) and are reading this and are not one in the regular habit of praying, my question is: what do YOU know that all your relatives and ancestors before you didn’t? I encounter a lot of Indians these days that seem to be too cool for school and get visibly skittish when it comes to acknowledging their "relationship" with Creator (insert lol here), that is, praying. How did it get like this? When did praying become something unseemly or embarrassing for us Indigenous types?
At ceremonies, events and gatherings I hear all the time, we pray for the ones to come and acknowledge those who came before us. Since becoming a father to 2 girls (now 11 and 14), I have come to experience a more profound sense of connection to people from the past (that I never met). I unabashedly pray for my kids (and their kids not born yet) and there is no doubt in my mind as I type this that people well before my time prayed for me. This is partly how it works being an Indian…it’s my part in what I call a sacred duty - All these things are real to me! - Perhaps a simpler way is to say it matters to me to pray and to try and put good energy out in the universe.
I may have never met you (if you are reading here for the first time) but if you are of aboriginal ancestry I am telling you, without question - you come from a long, long line of powerful, formidable, accomplished and deeply spiritual people who ALL prayed. My theory is that it is only due to a wide array of unique, historical circumstances that praying seems currently to have become a novelty among my generation and, for increasingly obvious reasons for the generation before ours, it is now a complicated if not painful subject. But our ancestral ties, our time on this earth, our unique vision of ourselves and our place in the universe are thousands of years in the making and cannot be undone or destroyed by force, plague or policy, it’s all been tried.
I have yet to visit any 1st Nations community where prayer wasn’t an active part in daily lives of those in pursuit of nothing more complicated or easily attainable than balance. This daily pursuit/practice or meditation if you like, has profound implications and potential for transformation and creative possibility. The solutions to our challenges require creative thinking to bring about change. Look to the people you admire, I am willing to bet that most if not all these are people engaged in frequent spiritual practice of one sort or another (cause I know you admire the admirable and not the shallow, superficial types, this is also part of my basic premise, lol).
We as a people have demonstrated consistently (though pessimists will say otherwise) a high capacity to deal with adversity, upheaval, trauma and grief. The evidence is…we are still here. But as I head down to Main and Hastings and the community smudge today I am more focused on the untapped reserves in our capacities for kindness, empathy, compassion, gratitude and our capacity for love. It is the VALUES which make us who we are from day to day. As you read this, YOU are an answered prayer - the fact that you live and breathe – this is not rhetorical. I am telling you: your people before you…prayed…for YOU…think about it.
So - your life-long question at the school of hard knocks or at Being an Indian 101:
Who are you and what do you stand for?
© 2011 Champsteen Publishing