Terry Nelson is hosting Okiijida Ceremonies In Winnipeg.
Today the Ceremonies have started for the Okiijida. The Ceremony takes place in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A number of Native youth are taking the pledge to become Warriors. No! Not the Gang Warriors. Warriors of the true kind.
There is a lot of misinformation when it comes to the Warrior Societies. The Gangs and the Hollywood portrayal of Warriors has perverted the meaning behind Warriors.
I am not the person to Teach about these things but I will give my view of the Okijiida ceremonies going on in the North-end of the City.
There are a number of young Indians taking a pledge to fight. To fight for themselves. To fight to be better Indians. Fighting in the sense that they will beat off the negative things; child violence, violence against women, drug abuse, corruption, low esteem, neglect. The people will vow to become good people. In order to be a good Indian, you need to be able to take care of yourself first. If you can't take of yourself how are you going to take care of others? You give your word to God to be a good person; to work for the people, to do what is in your control to help.
It's about not backing down. That is a very hard thing to do. To look at things and do what is right. To speak up for those that cannot. To be proud of being an Indian. To be able to work for your people. Above all to be kind. To be kind to yourself. The very hard thing to do. Kindness is the toughest thing you can face. In order to be kind you have to be strong. How many of us can have the courage to stand up for the poor, the hurt, the weak, the abused, the neglected, the persecuted? It is a difficult thing. We live in a society where it is normal to walk by the person laying on the side-walk. It is easy to walk away as a husband and wife scream and tug at their children. It is easy to walk away from a husband giving it to his wife. It's not our concern. A warrior cannot do that. She and he will speak up if things are not right.
I hope that these young people can live up to their pledge. To pledge to the Creator, while in front of these witnesses, that they will be good, strong, proud Indians, doing their best for their people.
A Warrior makes a commitment and follows through on that commitment. As my friend says, "remember the things you do,you are working for the Creator". There are hopes that our youth have, and making that promise is one way of making hope are reality.
One of best Teachings I got from a Warrior happened about 20 years ago. I was driving down this street in Winnipeg, just before Christmas. It was bitterly cold, no exaggeration. I was on the curb lane and the traffic was stopped. People were slowly passing a stopped vehicle. It was an older Jimmy. I did what the traffic did and pulled around the truck. I took a look (rubber-necked) to see what was going on. A woman had her truck parked in a no-stopping lane. She was in an open field lot. She was trying to get a man to stand up. It was deep snow and the fellow was out of it, pissed drunk. I decided to stop and go see. I walked over to the woman and the man. She was almost crying trying to help this guy. She said "no one is stopping this man will freeze". "I need to get him into the truck. My baby is in there. She is two-weeks old." I told her I would take the man and drive him home. I was humbled by this woman. She was a true Warrior. I most likely would not have stopped if not for her. I would have just drove by and left the man there. It was Manitoba winter cold that day. The man (Southwind is his last name) lived in the North End of the city. He wanted to go to Selkirk Avenue so I took him there. When he got out of my vehicle, he slipped as he walked to the front of the truck. I got out and lifted him up. The cops pulled up at that time and questioned me as to what I was doing. I tried to tell them I was just helping the man. They didn't believe me. They must have thought I was fighting him or something, because I was bear hugging him as I lifted him. A man came out of his vehicle and told the cops that I was helping the man because Southwind had fell. It was an interesting day.
I never forget how brave and compassionate the young Indian woman was. That is what I believe a Warrior is.