Friday, July 8, 2011

David Blacksmith: Healer & Teacher

This is David Blacksmith from Cross Lake First Nation, Manitoba. He is a Traditional Teacher, Healer and an Elder.   Despite his relatively young age (in his 50's) David  does have the distinction of being in an Elders circle of Knowledge.

David is an interesting individual. He is not your average "Traditional Teacher". He is very knowledgeable and very crazy.

There are those that don't like David. That is okay. I am good with David. He is there when you need him. We don't hang together anymore, but life takes you different places. It does not matter we will always be family and friend. I know he is good where he is at. I like him. He is hard to take sometimes but he will be there if you need him. You have to know him. He likes to tease and laugh. That is one of the endearing things about David. I respect him and acknowledge that the Creator has indeed given him some kind of Jazz (power) to work with people. He has a very special connection to my wife and daughter. He was there visiting us at the hospital a half hour before my girl was born. He held the ceremony for the naming of our girl Chloe. You ask him something and he will try hard to do what is asked.

One thing is that people expect our Teachers to be on a pedestal. That does a disservice to all our Teachers. They are Human Beings, capable of fault and frailty. Anyone can put a person down, but its much better to look at the Good in others. David does a real service for people. He lives a life that is not easy. Being Traditional is a hard thing. You can pretend to live that way, but to walk that way calls for sacrifice. We all need to, at some time, sacrifice for our loved ones, our people and our Land. David is one of those rare people that knows sacrifice. He is constantly giving of himself for others. That is Tradition. I know plenty of "traditional" people that have no clue really. And that's okay for them. It's like your "Sunday going church goers"; being close to God only for one hour on Sundays.

I think of David and laugh. A good happy laugh. A warm laugh. A sad laugh. A lonely laugh. A loving laugh.
Be good David, I'll talk to you later.


  1. Hey Steve, I just came across your blog through a Scottish Highland Dancing video. Don't know how those YouTube searches match up, but I'm glad they did. "Traditional" music, I guess.

    I can see how David is perceived of as sincere, but controversial at the same time.

    I think there are possibly some serious issues with "broadcasting" any shaking tent ceremony.

    I don't know if you have access to the Manitoba/Winnipeg Free Press Archives, but the Robert/Jack Fiddler trial of 1907 is what I believe is the seminal "southern" decision on aboriginal spiritual beliefs.

    I can email you the pdf's from the original newspapers if you don't have them. I study the writing in those old papers closely, I've come to the conclusion that the writer was not a reporter from Manitoba.

    The prose is extremely hyped and whomever wrote it (there is no byline) was English or American. It would take a long essay to prove this (but I am pretty sure I could). It reads as intentional propaganda for the intervention of Canada in the north that eventually led to the imposition of the residential schools. The imposition of those schools in the north is what I believe was the purpose of hiring the particular writer to begin with.

    Under the pretense of stopping "Windigo Executions", these articles were re-published throughout North America. I believe that a Canadian law code was created to ban any shaking tent ceremonies after the Fiddler brothers were found guilty by an RCMP tribunal.

    I don't know if it has been repealed, or simply not enforced. Clearly, the Grand Medicine Society went underground for many decades in the southern public eye following the Fiddler's "convictions".

    I respect David for bringing the ceremony back for the world to see. For the predatory capitalist North America we live in, it is important we know our true past. It is the only public recording of it that I have seen. But at the same time I worry that it may bring a new round of repression.

    Fear and optimism seem to be mixed. I am sure you know or have heard how our inner-city works here in Winnipeg. I would like a vision of inclusion here. But anger seethes. Thunder Bay the same way.

    What do you think?

  2. It would be great to get those clippings. I am interested in reading them. If I get a chance I will try to look for the archives, but I don't know when.

    You know there is a pretty good reading called A Narrow Vision. It does speak about the laws regarding the practice of Native religion/spirituality and the banning of it. Some interesting notes there.