Thursday, August 22, 2019

Let The Mystery Be

The whole afterlife topic is filled with questions, ideas, theories and even hope. I am one of those who makes up my own idea and wish for what happens in the afterlife, if in fact there is one. There are many who have bought the "going to Heaven" sales pitch. Many different versions of Heaven, life after death and the coming back re-born. Sometimes I subscribe to all things, even thinking about the "nothing" existence. The arguments or thoughts on death from atheists have merit, but still I want to have hope there is more, you know?

If you ask your spouse, on what they think happens whey die (if dying exists) most likely they may have a different image than you. This Traditional Teacher (now an Elder) once told me I didn't know what happens after death and what God looks like. He said he met with God and Its not how you expect It to be. I guess he must have inside information?  I laugh now, because of the sheer arrogance. If he believes his version is the one, well power to him. Me I have no real clue, I hope for certain things but at the end of the day, I just don't know.  It is a mystery for sure.

I have very vivid dreams. My dreams are important to me. Many of my dreams involve people who have died. They come visit me in my dreams. Some of the visitors are relatives, friends and some are just someone I may have known a little bit and some not at all. Many visitors are complete strangers to me. Last week I had a dream of my deceased Mom and Dad. In this dream we were at our old house. A two year old boy had died in his sleep and it was suppose to be a son of mine. My Mom had been watching him sleep on the couch. Strange the boy had a mask over his face. One of those masks that look like a black hood with zipper on the mouth. It seems he couldn't breathe and died because of it. My dad didn't know the boy had died and was waiting to take him fishing. Dad was waiting for his friend Bob to come take them fishing. Bob is also a dead fellow from our Reserve. Anyway, Mom was agitated at how long Bob and his friends were taking. Meanwhile outside of our home, there was water on the yard, with fish everywhere. The water was about two inches deep and it was running up the bank from the River. It was running upwards and not following the normal route of running down hill. I went to look at the shoreline and the water was very turbulent. As the dream went on, my deceased cousin Wallace showed up to take me somewhere. He had an older 1980's vehicle, like a Pontiac or Buick. He wanted to show me where the dead go. He drove me to the afterlife. We went through some marsh with very high reeds, high weeds, and some bog. We came to an old concrete building which was very big. Lot of metal junk throughout the building, along with people welding and sparks flying. We were walking around some metal junk on the floor, when this big rough looking worker told us to hold on because of the metal junk on the floor. I told him I know how to walk in junk. We ended up in a room with lot of people sitting around. It was dank, a bit dark with them sitting around a little fire. Something you might see in on of those movies where people are sitting around looking poor and tired. This Old Woman, was speaking to me. I could hear her, but had no clue what she was saying. She was explaining where people go after they die, or at least I thought that was what she was trying to explain. She was explaining but I didn't get it. It was like I could not comprehend "it" even when "it" was right in front of me. My cousin came and took me again. He put me in an old car and told me to drive. It was there, I knew I was in the afterlife. I wanted to be home. So I kept saying I want to go home as I drove. That was where I came out of the dream.

What the dream means, I don't know. Maybe nothing, maybe it was a glimpse, a distorted glimpse. I know one thing, I really want to meet with my Son after I die. I want to make amends for all the wrong I did. Will I get the chance? Who the heck knows? I don't want to let the mystery be. I want hope.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Littlest Birds Sing the Prettiest Songs

The walk to school was no more than two kilometres.  It was an easy walk with a paved highway and gravel shoulders.  For some reason the logic is to walk facing traffic, but I never did. If you wanted to get a ride you walked the way traffic was going.  This day was no different. I never sought out a ride because it was nice just to walk. You also always ran into someone walking as well. The Indian Reserve was neighbour to a bustling town. The Town was rich and filled with White people. There was this Old White man in a big car and he frequently drove through the Reserve. He stopped all the time and gave people, children a ride to the town. He was known for his willingness to give Indians a ride.

The car stopped for me. I wasn't trying to hitch a ride. I was no more than a kilometre from home. It was an odd sight, two Old White men in the car, with one sitting in the back seat as the other drove. The man in the back seat opened the door and said "You want a ride? Get in."  I was not sure if I needed a ride or not. You normally do not say no to a ride. Thing was, I was close to home and this was weird.  This was not the normal White man who gave us rides. I hesitated with the offer of a ride. I finally stammered out a quiet "no thanks."  The man didn't close the door, he just looked at me with his smile. I stood still. Finally he closed the door and away they went, towards the town.

It really never dawned on me, the little voice in my head might have saved me. Who knows what could have happened had I accepted the ride. After all you have to remember it was not normal to say no to the White man. What took place was the little voice in my head sang a song of warning.  I will tease about what may have happened: raped up the bum, made to do oral pleasure on those pissy old men and maybe even killed. In reality you never know. Maybe those were just two old men, who were generous and kind with no thought of malice.

I will never know, but you know what thank the Birds for singing their songs of warning. Everyone should listen to the songs of warning.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Don't Do It! It Is Sacred.

An old argument about recording Ceremonies is happening again, Indians are attacking other Indians over the recording of events, of Sacred Ceremonies. Me, I am in favour of sharing Ceremony even if it means recording some of the Ceremony. For many folk, recording a Ceremony is a sacrilege. Their point is to keep Ceremony Sacred it should not be abused and recording may lead to abuse. I understand as well. There is the probability a Ceremony could be bastardized. Someone could use it in demeaning ways or try to commodify the Ceremony.  The selling of Ceremony and the abusing of Ceremony has been occurring and will continue to happen. There are people out there who police that abuse as we all should. Still the benefits of sharing Ceremony outshines the ugliness which comes with sharing.  The Sacred will always be Sacred. Who determines if something is sacred or not? What is to be considered to be sacred?

I remember there was to be a "white event" over at the Oodena Circle in Winnipeg. The Oodena Circle is an amphitheatre built at a tourist section of called the Forks. Originally the Forks has a rich and significant history of Indigenous gathering place. The event was to have alcohol served and Natives objected. The reasoning for their objection was the Oodena Circle was a Sacred Place. I was not one of those who objected to the event serving alcohol.  For me the site was just a theatre, a commercial venue. There are many Indigenous events held at the Circle. So I can see how it can be viewed as Sacred.

Are there things which we should not be recording? Of course there are. For me I am not sure what they are. Some things must remain so personal that they should be left alone.

I think the Sacred is to be shared. Not in a way to disrupt the Sacred but for sharing in a good way. We see the Mauna Kea as Sacred for Hawaii. People don't want to share it with scientists. Because the scientists want to desecrate the Sacred. This is a clear example of abusing the Sacred. There are people all over that have no regard for the Sacred. Close to us in the Dakotas is Bear Butte, a Sacred place. People, mainly Non-Native folk have no care if the site is Sacred. They want to tear down, to build buildings on the Sacred.  Oak Flat is a Sacred site for the Apache but yet this fact is ignored by settlers, colonialists and individuals. The result a contamination of the water flows in the Oak Flat. There are many examples of Sacred sites being desecrated and threatened by the main stream population. The Mauna Kea is just one example of many. A common thread for this desecration and destruction is related to the Land. Indigenous folk are always connected to the land. A fact lost to the main stream population.

The thing is we need to protect the Sacred and that is a given. No argument about it. Still is recording the Sacred a desecration?  Not in some cases. Recording a prayer is not a desecration. It is not damaging the Sacred. The Creator will still hear, won't they? One of the most Sacred things to happen is the Birth of a Child. Will recording desecrate this Sacred event?  I do not believe so. If sharing the Sacred can bring awareness and a renewal of pride, then it is a good thing. Taking a picture of Women carrying a copper vessel with Water is not going to take away from the significance of the Ceremony.

With respect to recording Ceremony, the gate has been opened long ago and now we are trying to close a gate when it is far too late; the Beings have been let out.

“It is absolutely never acceptable to have that kind of hate expressed in communities,” ... “By doing these things, by defacing people’s property and religious sacred sites really to instill fear in communities, it’s reprehensible”.[i]
Why is it that Canadians will readily throw their arms up in the air in disgust when a Synagogue or a Mosque,[ii] such as the one in Peterborough, Ontario, is vandalized, yet when an Indigenous sacred place, such as the Chaudière Falls[iii] and the three Islands downstream, is further desecrated, rather than re-naturalized to its former holiness, Canadians don’t give a damn?
Is it because humans, pitiful as they are in understanding their location within the natural world, are of the thought that only human-made places of worship are sacred where as such the natural world offers nothing sacred? If this is true, humans are trapped in the humanistic tradition and have no concept that before humans came to the world everything was beautiful and everything was in its place. This was Creator’s gift: A beautiful place that predated our arrival so we could become the good human beings that Creator intended us to be.
An Anishinaabe teaching offers, with the coming of the Sacred Peace Pipe, “honor returned to be a guiding principle of life for many people. The sacredness of a person’s word became, once again, foremost in day-to-day transactions.”[iv]

Thursday, August 1, 2019

NACM Pritchard House - Performs Like a Sloth

Native Addictions Council of Manitoba (NACM) also known as Pritchard House is a residential and outreach treatment program in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  NACM has a long history and a strong legacy of determined people looking to help the Indigenous community. NACM celebrated 47 years of operation this winter. Pritchard House is located in the city's north end, an impoverished neighbourhood. The Centre was once a Catholic hospital and it is a very old building.

There is no doubt in the long history of NACM many people have been helped. The staff and management have good intentions when it comes to working at the Centre. The philosophy of the program is to utilize the Alcoholics Anonymous and some Anishinaabe Traditional Teachings. The effectiveness of AA and Treatment in general has always been subject to criticism. Regardless there are people who have managed to stay away from alcohol with help from Treatment.

So what is the problem with NACM? Is there even an issue there? The issue with NACM is that it has become an isolated island. There are a few island kingdoms: Manitoba Metis Federation, Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre, Aboriginal Centre Winnipeg, Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre. Each kingdom has advantages and disadvantages. With NACM the isolation has become one of the weaknesses.

NACM is not an entity that plays well with others. The Indigenous population in Manitoba and in Winnipeg is quite large. Many organizations have popped up to serve the Indigenous population.  These organizations talk to each other, network, refer to each other and support each other. NACM does not involve itself in the local Indigenous community or the larger Indigenous community. If NACM was a castle it would be surrounded by a moat. In a way it is good because NACM can be operated without interference and political drama. However, as a vital resource in the community, it is really lacking.

The City of Winnipeg and the Indigenous population is being crippled and crushed by the addiction to meth. The Indigenous community and the Main stream community is actively looking at ways to battle the Meth attack. NACM has been and is invisible with the current situation. It seems they have become comfortable, slow, and disinterested in the ailing community. Why is this? Why are they not reaching out to the Indigenous community, the health community, the first responders and political powers in an effort to help? Why is it no one in the health community, the political community, the wellness community, the addiction prevention community, will even reach out to NACM?

It is because NACM has become a sloth. No creativity, no emotional investment, no engagement, and no community ties. At one time there was a community interest, community investment but it is no longer the case. NACM has become an isolated castle (although old) and has lost touch with the community it serves. Now it literally revolves a small closed group of individuals.
Really a shame when it has the potential to be part of the network needed to take on the meth addiction, now killing our people.

Cherokee Fiddle, cause Good Whiskey Never Let Him Lose His Place

 Urban Cowboy is a 1980 movie with a soundtrack steeped in western songs that had great Redneck lines like, "single bars and good time ...