Sagoyewatha

 

 

And now, truthbombs from Sagoyewatha (Keeper Awake), Seneca of the Haudenosaunee 1750-1830:

 

“Brothers, our seats were once large, and yours were small. You have now become a great people, and we have scarcely a place left to spread our blankets. You have got our country, but are not satisfied; you want to force your religion upon us.

Brother, continue to listen. You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeable to his mind; and if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach, we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right, and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a book. If it was intended for us as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us — and not only to us, but to our forefathers — the knowledge of that book, with the means of understanding it rightly? We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?

Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the book?

Brother, we do not understand these things. We are told that your religion was given to your forefathers, and has been handed down from father to son. We also, have a religion which was given to our forefathers, and has been handed down to us, their children. We worship in that way. It teaches us to be thankful for all favors we receive; to love each other, and be united. We never quarrel about religion, because it is a matter which concerns each man and the Great Spirit.

Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion or take it from you; we only want to enjoy our own.

Brother, we have been told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our neighbors: We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good, makes them honest and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will consider again of what you have said.”

It is said that after giving this oratory, Sagoyewatha wanted to shake the hand of the missionary he was speaking to; he was refused, the man saying “There was no fellowship between the religion of God and the Devil.” Purportedly Sagoyewatha just smiled, and all of his followers smiled, and they walked away. Typical Haudenosaunee.

 

Cleaning up…

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For the last two years, my mom and I have been teaching a few different aboriginal cultural art projects.

And sometimes a person gets excited, and then realize that this is WORK, and oh…”It’s so hard!”

 

My goal is to get the projects finished that were left behind.

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These are two of them.

Here is my answer to YOU.

I am a first nations woman.
I don’t need YOUR idea of what that is shading me anymore.
I choose not to carry YOUR false ideas of what that is.
I do not have to tolerate YOUR “jokes” about my culture.
If you really do have questions about MY heritage, then ask.
If you have questions in regards to the rest of the first nations on this earth, please do your own research.
I am not your answer book.
I have shown you respect for your religious practices, please do the same for mine. Or just be quiet.

What is the big deal you ask?

The big deal is this.
I am not so much angry as I am disappointed to realize that YOU still don’t understand why I am offended by the things you so casually say to me without realizing that it is not okay.

That is my fault for not standing up and telling you.
I am telling you now.

Would you like it if I took your child away from you and started to teach that child OUR traditional ways?
Why not?
What if I took your child and forced that child to learn OUR traditional language?
Why not?
Instead of church your child will now be forced to attend the sweat lodge every week.
Why not?
Your child will be forced to smudge every morning, every afternoon, every evening every single day.
Why not?
Your child will be forced to learn how to pray to the creator OUR traditional way.
Why not?
Your child will be forced to wear their hair OUR traditional way.
Why not?

These are just a few things that occurred to MY people for generations.

And YOU can’t even attend ONE sweat lodge out of respect of ME.
I have attended YOUR church out of respect of YOU.

So I ask YOU…
What is it YOU are so afraid of?

Will you lose “demerits” on your way to “heaven”?

What is YOUR heritage?
No.
Really.

I think that you maybe need to start looking at your own heritage before you insist upon imposing YOURS upon me anymore.

Not your faith….
YOUR HERITAGE.

Where is that YOU come from.
What is it that YOUR ancestors have passed on through the generations.

Do YOU even know?

When you do, we can talk.

Until then…
please think before you speak.

Friday at a school

IMG-20140307-09127Crocuses in front of the school.

 My mom and dad are going to elementary schools all this month teaching aboriginal kids about residential schools and cultural arts. On Friday I had the pleasure of being my moms assistant at one of the schools.

IMG-20140307-09126This picture really stood out in the classroom.

The class started with sitting in a circle and introducing ourselves to one another. That was done with the passing of an feather. The feather is held by the person talking and when that person is done, the feather is passed on. No one is to interrupt the one who is speaking with the feather. This teaches better listening skills to both the students AND the teachers.

Next was the opportunity for the kids to ask questions. And boy did they! These kids were excited about finding out first hand from a real elder who attended a real residential school what happened. They wanted to know so much that it really humbled me. These kids asked questions that adults wouldn’t even dare to think to ask. To watch them listening and really thinking about what my mom was saying…amazing.

At one point one of the kids asked my mom what was a punishment you had. My mom then showed them one thing that the nuns made her do. The kids got out of their chairs and went and copied what she had showed them because they wanted to understand what that felt like!

The circle then turned into a very deep and open discussion about the kids personal family situations. They just started sharing all on their own! To have that kind of trust from children is a very sacred thing. Out of respect, I cannot share what was said in the discussion. My mom really helped the kids understand that they are smart and loved and are never to blame for adult behaviors.

And now it was off to learn about culture. My mom is Aleut from the Alaskan Islands. She brought three different sized foot traps to show the kids what she grew up hunting with. She brought the knives she used for skinning the animals. And she brought her moccasins made from seal skin. The kids were amazed! They touched everything and smelt the skin too! Funny.

IMG-20140307-09131This is a traditional seal skin Aleut moccasin.

Last by not least it was time to make some art. My mom taught them to make a traditional toy that is used up north. It teaches the child to finish what they start.

IMG-20140307-09143This is a penguin that is attached to a stick with string.

The purpose of the toy is to get the penguin on the stick through the hole in the middle 100 times. Usually the penguin is made with a dry hide but when teaching elementary school kids, it is more fun to make it with coloured paper and sticky things. The jewels and the octopus are used to help give the cardboard some weight.

It was a successful day. The kids had a great time.

And when the bell went off at 3pm those kids still made sure to say thank you to both of us before leaving.

Mom and I went to the car and headed to the ferry for our work weekend!