Thankful For Native Americans

Video source: Native American Daily

Grateful For Your Connection

This month (Native American Heritage Month) and every day of the year – I am truly grateful for Native American culture.  Despite being misunderstood, mislabeled, and mistreated, Native Americans have managed to protect and embrace their beautiful culture.  Through my daughter, I’ve learned so much about the history of various Native American tribes.  However, I was curious about what life is like for the people that live on the few reservations that remain in the United States.  We visited the Mattaponi reservation a few years ago to spiritually witness what a reservation “feels” like.  This was especially important to my daughter because she was immersed in learning about Native American culture to which she has always felt deeply connected.  I remember feeling surprisingly serene, yet profoundly sad.  As if I were absorbing the sadness of a people that experienced great loss as a whole.  It’s very difficult to describe this deep emotion that is sensed and somehow hanging in the air.

Grateful For Your Endurance

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American Indian reservations face unique conditions and challenges of poverty. Income, employment, and educational attainment in these areas are considerably lower than national averages.  Reservations are areas of land within the United States that are managed by a tribal government in cooperation with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is a branch of the Department of the Interior, located in Washington, DC. There are 334 reservations in the United States today.” Wikipedia

Surprisingly, similar challenges face Native Americans throughout the United States that don’t reside within reservations.  Obviously, history effects the present, despite the common instinct to encourage groups of people to “leave the past behind”.  It is not difficult to trace each challenge facing the Native American communities to the devastatingly, heartbreaking, history of a great people that inhabited the United States prior to the invasion.  No amount of money or amount of reparations to Native Americans could suffice to right an unforgivable wrong. Many tribes would rather reparations come in the form of land that would be more vital to their way of life.  “Indigenous people are not supposed to have money. We were never meant to. My tribes occupied our homelands consistently for 13,000 years without it, and we were rich beyond our wildest dreams. We had advanced seasonal permaculture, hunting and fishing patterns, and vast amounts of leisure time. Yet we’ve had about 150 years to change 13,000 years of subsistence lifestyle into a complete dependence on money.”, says Joe Whittle.   The Guardian

Grateful For What You Offer

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With the above mentioned in mind, I would like to shine the light on the beautiful culture that remains, thanks to Native Americans who are committed to their music, traditions, recipes, textiles, and dedication to the environment.  Below I would like to specify a few things that I’ve grown to appreciate over time, due to exposure to Native American culture through literature, annual Powwows, and Facebook shares from people dedicated to sharing positive influences.  Thank you for being the first environmentalists, realizing we are one with the earth and that we should respect all life and never abuse any part of creation.  Thank you!

Dream Catchers are spiritually used to encourage good dreams to those seeking a good night’s rest or relief from nightmares.  A dream catcher is placed over your bed, strategically located in the path of morning light.  It is said that only good dreams can pass through the dream catcher and any bad dreams are caught in the webbing to be disintegrated by the morning light.  “An Ojibwe legend recounted by American ethnographer Frances Densmore says the dreamcatcher originates with Spider Woman, known as Asibikaashi; she took care of the children and the people on the land. As the Ojibwe Nation spread to the corners of North America it became difficult for Asibikaashi to reach all the children. So the mothers and grandmothers would weave magical webs for the children, using willow hoops and sinew, or cordage made from plants.”  Wikipedia

 

Double Cornbread Muffins

Double Cornbread Muffins are quite delicious and comforting.  Corn evokes a deep connection to Native American culture and history.  Consider how they introduced corn to Europeans and taught them how to grow the crops, which has contributed to the Thanksgiving tradition.  “The Three Sisters” refers to three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America:  winter squash, maize(corn), and climbing beans (typically tepary beans or common beans). The Iroquois, among others, used these “Three Sisters” as trade goods.  Corn is the most widely grown crop in farmland America today.

 

Powwows are the Native American’s way of honoring a spiritual connection to their ancestors.  Each Native American attending a powwow has his/her own special reason or purpose for participating.  A typical powwow gathering involves Native Americans of various tribes dancing, celebrating, praying, laughing, eating and socializing.  You will find many Native American’s eager and willing to teach people of diverse backgrounds, about their culture, crafts, and beliefs.  There’s an overall feeling of positivity when you have the opportunity to partake of one of these events!  Dancing in the circle with the beating of the drums in tune with your own heart is truly powerful.  Powwows usually occur during the warm months and throughout the United States.  There are several websites dedicated to scheduling these events for your convenience in planning an excursion.  I know my family can’t wait to experience another powwow next year.

 

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