Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Time To Moves Ons. Maybe Go Word Press? Yeah, Let's Blow This Google Popsicle Stand.

Been Blogging for a few years now. It has been pretty interesting, kind-a-fun, kind-a-sad, kind-a-maddening and entertaining for me. But the last little while its been not as fun. I want to joke around but just haven't been able to do that. I seem to dwell on being rotten and well that's not fun. I'm also a bit "J" because I see some blogs that get 10000 hits in one day?  Wow, I don't get that in a month.

So I think this might be a good time to try something else. I still like gossiping, being nosey and spreading my three cents all over the place, whether its right or wrong, good and bad or just plain crummy.

It will be 10 years since I first dealt with the loss of my son Donovan. You may know he took his life by hanging in the closet of his mother's apartment. So that's coming soon, this August. I still have his suitcase that he was living out of. Not sure if I will do something with his stuff this year. Not sure if we should have Ceremony for him or do a family Feast like we do every year.

For me suicide has become something that is on mind all the time. I wonder how there can be a cure or a way to really have an impact on the  lives of our children?  Or on the lives of the ones that are here to live with the aftermath?

My cousin lost her boy to suicide three weeks ago. We went out to the Reserve Muscowpetung to support in her boy's service. It was Traditional (Indian) service.  I was sorry for my Cousin and my Auntie. No one should out live their children.

This last week I was at another service for one of my oldest friend's daughter. She died by suicide. I don't know how the family is coping. My friend is struggling but what can one do?

So I struggle about the whole living with the aftermath thing. So does a lot of people. My children, especially my oldest daughter is not dealing at all with the aftermath and its going to be ten fucking years.  Ten years but the pain still drives a nail into your heart. For me I think the constant talking about it, might lesson the sting but not sure. Triggers are always within a side glance, a song, an incident or a word away from suffering the pain all over again.  I live in fear. Fear my kids. There is no way I can ease their pain. Steer them to a place that can ease that hurt.  So for me I just blab it all out there. I don't bottle it up and drink it down, or pill it away. Or do I?  I have been on anti-depressants for 9 and half years now. So I guess that's one way to cope. But the fear is there and its constant. Will my child live? Will the hurt take them too?  What a way to live, to be in fear all the time.

Anyways, that's enough of the fear thing.  I was thinking about trying to spend more energy on suicide prevention and the aftermath of suicide. One of the things for sure is that lot of people are injured when one person takes their life. Lot of people are affected and hurt badly. So maybe I can share some experience on how to cope? Not sure.

I do read a bit on the care of suicide loss and the prevention. There are some good groups out there so maybe my effort is not really necessary or might be redundant?  I like that little semi-colon thing that is happening to stir talk and to remember. One Semi-colon movement is the tattoo semi-colon for suicide awareness. That's nice. And lately Inuit superstar Susan Aglukark has started an Artic-rose-warrior suicide awareness dialog.

For Sure One Day is something I would give my life for. One day to spend with my boy, to talk to him, to stop him from hanging himself. One day so my children, my wife wouldn't suffer the pain. One day to tell him I LOVE YOU.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Coolest People on the Planet: Indigenous.

Indigenous - Coolest People on the Planet.

2-Step Dance - March 2015 - Video 32-Step Dance (Also known as the Rabbit Dance or Raven Dance or Mountain Dance). Video 3March 2015 - Behchoko, NWT, Canada.Camera Person: R,Laboline.
Posted by Our Tlicho Drummers on Sunday, May 31, 2015
Singing the Birds Festival 2015
Posted by Tyrone Harper on Saturday, January 31, 2015

So cool those Neechies, that having cookies and Tea is the most wonderful thing you can think of to do.

The Neechies don't just honour Veterans and Elders once a year. Every Powwow has the Veteran and Elder held in esteem. They sing songs of honour to them. Think about that.

And the Dancers will also honour the Drum.  A Whistle gets blown.

Women, they never forget the Women. Everyone loves a good Jingle, Shawl, Smoke, & Traditional Dance.

There are lots of reasons why Indians or should I say Indigenous  (we can't forget our Sisters and Brothers around the globe) are the coolest people on the Planet; its because the Creator liked them more.

Kia ora

Waea atu ki te Pirihimana! 

So all you non-Indigenous, tongues are sticking out at you.

Ha just kidding, don't get upset, I'm sure the Creator thinks you're cute too.

But not these guys...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ugly Guys And Ugly Girls.


Been watching a few films on line. One of them was the documentary by Alanis Obomsawin called Rocks at Whiskey Trench.  This film is about the ugly men and ugly women of Quebec.

"During the Mohawk Oka Crisis of 1990, Canada and Quebec directed vigilantism against the Mohawks. On August 28, 1990 a convoy of 75 cars carrying Mohawk mothers, children and elders left the Kahnawake community on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Montreal. Many were the sick and elderly. They were being removed ahead of a forewarned Canadian Army attack on Kahnawake.

Quebec Police, posing as part of the mob, forced the cars to remain on the bridge for 7 hours on one of the hottest days of the summer. On the other side of the Mercier Bridge a white crowd was being organized. Prejudice was spurred on by a local popular radio announcer, Gilles Proulx, urging people to kill “les sauvages”.

Ambulances were let through after patients were examined by the crowd. A young woman in labor had her cervix examined by the mob. When the cars started to move, the crowd pelted the vehicles with rocks while the out-of-uniform Quebec Police directed or looked on. One elderly man was killed. None were charged or went to trial."
Because they are Different is a film made in 1964 and it is quite telling. It shows the ugly guys and girls. Not the Indians, but the White people. Boy they sure have ugly hearts.  The film shows how people see the Indian and interpret their lives.  Me I see beauty in those lives. I also see how ugly views make you think you are ugly as well.  The narration is like that of one those old animal shows. That is exactly the tone of this film, its funny.  
It makes you feel ugly watching the people throwing rocks trying to kill the Indian and the voices of those talking about Indians, saying things like: "they live one to another, get more liquor..."
They described the Indian situation as a "anti-social behaviour".  Crazy eh? 
Well boys and girls, its ugly.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wanted Do Nothing High Paying Job With Cool Title

My friend has been joking around with me for some time now about my employment status, you know no Job!  Anyways he says you need one of those high paying do nothing large title type jobs.  I says, yeah, but I don t think they post those kind of jobs.

Guess What, I know where one is coming up.  It is right here in Winnipeg and I think its open for Neechies. That is an Indian job. Cool I say.  I am wondering how do you put your name in for that job.  I am not sure. I do know that a few people have already put their names in for the job: Kevin Hart, Bill Traverse, Wendy Whitecloud, Ken Young, so far.

The good thing about this job is that it doesn t matter if you have a clue how to do the job, or even know what the job entails. I don t think even the people who are doing the hiring know what the job is.  That is a plus because the job is a good one. It is a perfect job for those old recycled political hacks, the brainless ambitious Leader wannabe, the clueless uneducated and unashamed job climber. That is a perfect do nothing high paying with a cool title job. Not saying any of the current candidates fit the bill as described, just saying that is who could be attracted to the job.  Like someone like me.

The job is at the Assembly of First Nations and it is the regional Vice Chief position. That position seat is currently being occupied by the one and only Bill Traverse. An old war horse that may be put out to pasture. There is a campaign going on called Kill Bill in the urban community. Its tongue and cheek of course and it is in reference to someone else taking the steel throne that Bill is sitting on.
AMC Grand Chief, Some Guy who wants to be famous, Vice Chief Traverse.

I don t think I have a chance at getting this job. First thing is I wouldnt know  how to apply. Second thing it means that you have to be used to sitting around not doing a damn thing.  That is something I am uncomfortable with. So I guess the do nothing aspect of the job is not very appealing. Its too bad because that position or dollars from the position could be used for something great. And that is not going to happen under the tutelage of the current AFN Grand Chief. Status quo seems to be on the agenda. And that is sad and stupid. After all the Indigenous folk have been in a nasty battle with a federal regime that is keen on killing the Indian. So if you are going to go into battle with a strategy that has not been successful in the past and currently, so why keep trying it.

So folks if the do nothing get good pay and have a cool title excites you, the AFN might be a place to put your name into. But oh yeah, thats right eh, the federal regime has stripped you of most of your hiring dollars.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Time To Stop With Eagle Feathers

I know this is not popular for many of us Neechies to hear, but Man its time to stop using Eagle Feathers at Powwows.

Yeah, I know! Who the heck do I think I am and what business is it of mine? Since I am one of those people that have took part in and still will purchase the Feather or even a Bustle.  I mean the Feather is beautiful and the Bustles that people make are just works of art.  I wrote a piece called "Too Many Eagle Feathers Floating Around" sometime ago. I think it about it some and really think we should start to conduct ourselves with some restraint when it comes to handling the Sacred.
I mean really? We surely don't want the outside world (again) pointing at us (like they have stopped) and saying "Uurrgh, those Redskins are killing all the Wildlife".  It is the similar chant when we go Moose hunting, fishing, and other Indians type stuff. We are accused of being wasteful, over killing selfish hunters, fishers, and gatherers.  Oh yeah, a new one, we are also hoarders (we used to be Indian Givers) because we don't want to share the Water with Big Greedy Corporations. You know like Alberta Tars Sands, Nestle Water plants and other water destroying engines. I hope that people catch on to what the Natives have been Teaching: Water is Life.

Oh yeah, before I got all David Suzuki environmental on you, I wanted to discuss (or at least put in my opinion) the Eagle Feather thing. No doubt that having an Eagle Feather is a big deal. A huge deal, a mega deal in fact.  It is like getting the Order of Canada (like the medal Conrad Black got and I think Allan Eagleson got one as well) or some other big award that someone or some big wig might bestow onto you. I do think it with the Eagle Feather and how it is now relatively easier to get that it might be less of a super mega deal these days. Not saying that is not Sacred anymore. But take a look at what happened to Tobacco. Its the context thing that I have used in the past. The historical significance of access to Eagle Feathers has somehow become distorted. I remember when the whole DDT thing made the Eagle a dead bird. Remember that?  Eagles where in short supply. I wonder did the Native folk also do their best to save the Eagle during that time?  Anyway, the Eagle has made a recovery but still is in need of protection. Today the harvesting of an Eagle is unknown to me as to how one gets the privilege? But that's for Traditional people to know and for Teachers to know.

The point I am making is this, we need to stop using Feathers in the way we are currently using them. I mean not the way they are used Healing but how they are used for competitions and as commodities, purchasing power. I know I don't have the right to say that. But I am. I think that some of the Elders Teachers and Traditional leaders should say "Hey Neechies, maybe we should slow down on those two and three layered bustels, what you think?"  Or maybe even say something like this "Hey! Those Eagles are our brothers, they take the messages of our prayers to the Creator, so why the heck are we killing so many of them?".  Or maybe they could say something like this, "Hey Endenawaamaganuk (relatives), what you say we start using imitation feathers in some of our dance bustels?"  "It won't diminish your talent or how cool you look, some of those pretend Eagle Feathers look pretty damn good".
Pretend Eagle Feather Looks Pretty Good.
I think if we really know that everything is Alive and everything is Sacred that we would start to consider this holding off on everything Eagle Feather thing. Kids, I mean our kids are great, wonderful, precious and our gift, but come on, having them wear full Eagle Feather Bustles and carrying Eagle wing fans?  Its beautiful and that is great. Let's think about where that Bird came from and how did it get there? What was earned, learned about the Ceremony behind harvesting that Eagle?  If we look at the Feathers we have do we know the story of where they came from?

I don't think this topic will go anywhere. It may get some Traditional folk angry at me, I can understand that for sure. The Traditions of our people are vital to our existence. I know that. At the same time we have to look at everything with the Spirit and Intent of the Teaching.  No saying get rid of the Feathers floating around out there, but consider for the new era of Feather use.  

If all of the Creators beings are Sacred why not use goose feathers, turkey feathers for bustles?  

Listen my friends, it is an idea. Only you have choice. 

Ask these questions: How did that Eagle Feather come into your possession? Do you know how where it was harvested? 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spectator View Of Sundance Ceremony

Just came from the Sundance Ceremony in Spruce Woods, Manitoba Canada. If you have never been, put that on your bucket list. It is not an event, it is a Spiritual journey. There is so much prayer and healing going on that you can't help but feel thankful for Life. Not going to go all preachy here, just saying it is a good place with plenty of good feelings.
Sundance Lodge complete with Flags. End of Ceremony

I was a spectator at the Sundance, so I watched, took pictures (no pictures of certain personal sacrifices) and visited somewhat. I got heck only twice this time around. Usually I am breaking all sorts of rules and protocols at Ceremony. People tell me I am a "paajhak". It kind of means I am a jerk. You know it could mean jerk in the good natured way, but also jerk in that arsehole way as well. So that's me, the paajhak. (Remember about being a "jerk" is all about context.)  I'm that guy that walks in and just goes to the front and says "what's going on? I  got here late".  I go be nosey at other people's personal space.  This Woman gave me heck for spotting a light into the Women's stalls at night. I was trying to get the attention of my daughter that was in the First Year Sundancer section of the Women's stall.  I shouldn't have been doing that, it was disrespectful and kind of creepy if I think about it-some old guy looking in on young women.  The other time I got heck, was when this older woman came up to me and said "you're the guy taking all those pictures?".  I said "yes".  She said she didn't like that, filming ceremony. I said I will stop if she wanted me to. She said "no, that's fine".  Guess she just wanted to tell me her feelings.

Tent for Ceremony meeting.
I watched as they put up a meeting tent for the first night of Ceremony. It is a big tipi style tent. Many people worked really hard to make sure the grounds were clean and that the tent was solid and up in time for meeting. That means coming out early for set up. All volunteer workers for the benefit of guys like me that just hang around visiting. That was something to see. Many of the men and women just came out there to work. To support the Sundance and all the people taking part. What selfless way to be. Someday I could try and give of myself.  I saw this guy cutting logs all day, and another person was chopping the wood into smaller pieces for fire wood. At five in the morning I went to watch the Dancers as they were greeting the Sun, this same guy was chopping wood. Some other people stayed up all night to keep the Sacred Fire going, they did this for the Four Days. Many people brought out food to feed the First Feast and the last Day Feast. Man I tell you it takes much people to make it happen. A few guys did Sweat Lodge Ceremony
2 Sweat Lodge were there for the many People.
for the people. People gathered rocks (Grandfathers) for the Sweats, made medicine, and put up the lodges. Others cut the Trees for the Sundance Lodge itself. Lot of people doing many different tasks and chores. There was this guy  who drove around everyday with his truck to pick up garbage. Campers would put the waste into bags and the truck would come by and collect the trash. Other people hauled trailer and truck loads of supplies for the Ceremony: tarps, poles, tools, camping gear, food, stoves, freezers, Ceremonial items. We don't really appreciate what it takes to have Ceremony for people. We just show up with maybe a tobacco pouch or some cloth and expect everything to be there for us. So I say as a spectator, I do appreciate what all of you Supporters, Volunteers, Dancers and Ceremonial Helpers, and the Sundance Chief do for the community and for the people. I say "mino pimatisin" - Good Life for you.

When it was all done, the Give-aways, the Dancing out and the Feast were done, it was time to get the camp packed and off we go.
Camping is easy for some of us. Just drive up.

Not for the Sundance Chief, the Ceremony Helpers, The Volunteers, the Supporters. They will stay and clean up, take down the tents, pick up the tarps, pick up loose trash, pick up cigarette butts that have been carelessly thrown around the grounds.  Many of thes helpers are the ones who back home work for the people in different capcities. Some are directors of organizations, Teachers, some are Sergeants in the Airforce, some are social workers, construction workers, polticial advisors,Cultural advisors, police officers, politicians, nurses, health directors, Chiefs of their community, Councilors in their communities, and so on. But they are the ones, who will stop as they are walking around and pick up someone else's trash that is laying around the grounds.The next week will see the Sundance Chief, his wife, his kids, and his friends, going back to the grounds and walking along the grounds making sure it is clean. They will also take the Prayer cloth & Flags  full of prayers out and do Ceremony to complete the Sundance while all of us are back home from a beautiful camp out.

Sudance Chief hugging Dancers as they leave stalls. Along with prayer flags.

Its funny because many of us see these guys and girls as "big shots". We say the usually bad stuff; "oh they think they're good". We see the young women helpers all "dolled up" and say "hey they must be in a pagent". We silently wonder how come they get to stand up there in the front. How come they get to sing at the drum. How come they get Sundance ceremony? We don't see how hard they work. How committed they are to trying to make things good for the People. That what's it all about. It's not a calling for everyone that is for sure. Many times its full of people giving you grief, hardship, complaints, anger, saddness, critic, and name calling. So why do they do it? The people that sacrifice for others?
A few of the many Helpers. Oshkaabewis
These are the people that make sure you are safe, that there is wood for the Ceremony, to make sure there are Healers present to help you, to make sure there is First Aid, to make sure that the Fire never goes out-rain or shine, that make sure there are rocks (Grandfathers for the Sweat), that make sure the garbage gets picked up, to make sure the Ceremony has what it needs. These are the ones that do it for the people.

I had some very good visits at the Sundance. While people were working, while others were fasting and sacrificing, I was visiting, having snacks, drinking tea, listening to music, going on the cell phone. Yeah, I was just a visitor, a tourist, a nosey bugger, a paajhak.

I had a chance to visit my cousin. We talked about some of the Non-Native folk at the Sundance. How they work so hard for the Ceremony. How some come from another world to be here with the People. How some of our own can't go down the road to be with the People. How some of them have been coming for Years to the Ceremony, and not just being tourists, but working and working hard. He said "its funny how we don't recognize our own, but outsiders see what we don't".
2 Indians and a Belgian.  Dancers

I was in awe at the amount of families that were there. The little ones, playing visiting, singing and dancing. The Sundance Chief even has a Ceremony for the Little children to take part in. It is a beautiful thing to remember and acknowledge the kids. We say it so many times, "what about the children?". Here the children are embraced.  I saw my grandson sitting with a can singing a song, banging on the can like a drum. Can you imagine how good that is? Just a little bit of exposure and they are enamored with the Life. My grandson; "see that Windigokan over there? He's gone now".   This was before the Windigokan even came to the Ceremony.  The had the little Ones line up and dress for the Sundance and they went in and had songs for them.
Kids enjoying "A Little Bit" before Horse Ceremony

 We can't forget about the Singers and the Drum Keepers. Boy those people give of themselves. There is also the others that do many of the jobs to keep the Ceremony going like the Pipe Keeper. Keeping all the Pipes filled and cleaned for the Dancers, the Healers, the Ceremony. There were lots of People there showing support for the Sundance, other Sundance Chiefs came to take part. Some were denied entry at the Canada border. I guess being an activist is not a good border thing?

I can't get you to realize or understand the Teachings, the Healings, that take place at Sundance. I was visiting with a friend there and she was telling me that Health Canada, does not recognize Sweat Lodge or Sundance as Healing, but rather it is an "event".  Unreal. Insult to injury. Where is all this goodwill,  understanding and education the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been asking about? 

Speaking of good, the Sundance was open to all who came, Indians from all over, U.S. and Canada, but around the globe. The Two-Spirited held Ceremony in the Lodge. The Cheers for the LGBT community was loud and happy. Children had Ceremony, the Horse came, the Windigokan came. The songs were song, Dancers danced and people were good.

Women outnumbered the men in the Sundance. That just reminds us that they are the back-bone of our society. They are the important ones. They are the people that always seem to sacrifice the most.

You know what is great?  This is just One Sundance. There are Ceremonies like this going on all around the Turtle Island. Lot of good hearts going on with good Teachings. With that you are going to get more and more people understanding the strength, the goodness and the well being of our people. Lot of good life being lived.

Now that is worth looking forward to, and searching for.

***For more pictures go to photobucket  http://rightojibwe.blogspot.ca/2014/04/should-white-people-be-allowed-into.html  and also on this photobucket page. http://s284.photobucket.com/user/ogichidaa/library/2015%20Sundance?sort=3&page=1

Thursday, June 11, 2015



It is interesting how someone's loss gets you thinking of your own loss.

Today the community of Swan Lake First Nation lost a good person. Elder Joe Esquash had his funeral service today.


JOSEPH ESQUASH Beeshegogun (One Feather) Peacefully, at the Notre Dame Foyer, on Saturday, June 6, 2015, Joseph Esquash, of Swan Lake First Nation, passed away at the age of 91 years. Joseph leaves to mourn his children, James (Flo), Gerald (Linda), Charlotte, Yvonne and Dorothea (James); 20 grandchildren, 56 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren; one sister Francis (Charlie Montagne), one sister-in-law Vina Swain; one brother-in-law John Swain (Theresa); two sons-in-law, Elvis and Lionel, and numerous nieces, nephews, friends and relatives in Canada and the USA. He was predeceased by his wife Rose-Marie (nee Swain) in 1967; his parents, Louis and Sophia (nee Walker); nine siblings, Elizabeth (Gilbert), Charlie (Mabel), Mary (Frank), George (Edna), Theresa (Tom), Lena (Gordon), Agnes, Alice and Alexandra (Tony); one son-in-law Ernest Daniels, Sr. A Traditional Wake will be held at the Swan Lake First Nation Hall on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 4:00 p.m with David Blacksmith officiating. A Traditional Feast will be held at the Swan Lake First Nation Hall on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at 12:00 noon. Funeral Mass will be celebrated in the Mariapolis Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. with Father Armand Le Gal officiating. Interment to follow in the Mariapolis Parish Cemetery. Grandpa Joe was a sundance teacher to Spruce Woods Sundance Family. As well as Matheson, Chisasibi, Whapmagoostui, Moose Factory, Merritt, East Main, God's Lake, Grand Rapids, Norway House, Roseau River and Henvey Inlet Sundances. Our grandfather received the Horse Ceremony when he was eight years old and he was a singer at many sundances in Canada and the USA. All his life he carried the songs of our ancestors and shared his teachings.

The Sundance Ceremony that the Old Man passed on to many is starting tomorrow in Spruce Woods, Spirit Sands Manitoba. This is where Joe taught it to his Grandchildren and his friend David Blacksmith.

This Lodge has traveled to many places and it is through that Lodge many people seek comfort, healing, guidance, prayer for their people.

My Girl will be dancing.