Remembering Our Relatives

This morning I am caught up in a creation story (anishnaabeg and iroquois traditional stories) and how Muskrat gave her life for Sky Woman to live. Muskrat was the only one who could dive down in the furthest depths of the water to reach and bring up the earth. When Muskrat came up to the surface she was already making her way to the other side camp but within her paw was the earth that was needed to create the land, Turtle Island, the place we call home.

Sky Woman was the first human to be part of the earth family. This story is about human relationship and dependency for survival to the natural world. Muskrat gave her life for, all of her relations, continued survival into the next seven generations and beyond. The life of Muskrat teaches us about being in service to the continued survival for all.

Everyday we witness the service of our relatives so that we may live today, tomorrow, and the day after that. That service comes in the dance of survival, and nutrition and consumption. We are reminded how humans are dependent on the natural world for our survival. Without the natural world our lives would cease to exist. We would become extinct. It’s ironic that this basic knowledge is in the process of being forgotten.

Last week, we witnessed our salmon relatives who gave their lives so that we will wake up and take notice of the consequences of the dangerous process of mining. The devastating break at the tailings pond in the Mount Polley Mine located near Likely, British Columbia has released “10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of silt were released from the tailings pond at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley gold and copper mine, about 600 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.” [read more here]

There are teachings in some communities that we have a predestined life. In other words, before we come here in this chosen life form that we actually choose our life path and everything that comes our way in order for us to evolve. When I think of this I think about the choice our salmon relatives have made for this moment in time.

Over generations and generations, Indigenous people have a reverence for the life of salmon especially in the coastal and inland communities. The reverence is held in the languages, ceremonies, songs and dances. The recognition of how special the salmon people are to these communities is beyond words. The salmon people have taught us the importance of the water ways and how all life is connected through this cycle of life. The salmon people give life for all their relations to live from the water, the land, the air, the fish and other water life, the insects, the birds, the animals, and last of all us humans. All is dependent of the survival of the salmon people.

Humans are forgetting that we are completely dependent on the lives and the life cycles in the natural world. In many Indigenous ceremonies there is a reverence for all those people who live in the natural world, the ancient water ways, the ancient earth, and the cosmic air that we breath. When I say people here I am referring to the bear people, the eagle people, the skunk people. Etc. Everyday, Indigenous people continue to speak for the natural world and how we all need to protect it. And what’s ironic is that the government is against the rights of the natural world and Indigenous people. The residents in the occupied lands follow blindly and reinforce their ignorance. Humans are in the cycle of forgetting who we really are and how we have an inherent connection to this earth and to all life, all of our relations.

Let’s remember our relations, the salmon people, and the sacrifice they are making for us to wake up to what’s going on all around us because it’s most likely that it’s happening worldwide. The natural world is being destroyed heart beat by heart beat at the hands of humans. It’s a type of madness and insanity that has consumed humans world wide. In anishnaabeg philosophy and understanding is that these people are windigos. When humans turn into windigos it’s the understanding that they have lost control of themselves and the spirit of greed has consumed their humanity. They are no longer anishnaabe (the good beings). The needs and wants have become insatiable to the point they destroy everything around them and transform into a windigo. And it’s contagious. The windigos need to be reminded that they were once a human from this earth and they need to be led back to the natural ways.

Today, and everyday, give thanks and recognize what assists you in your survival. Connect to the natural world and connect to the oneness of all life. Acknowledge how the cycle of life operates and feel how you can be in service. Learn about the traditional land that you are on and get in touch with the Indigenous people where you are. Learn about where your food comes from and how it gets to your table.

Be like Muskrat.

Remember our relations. Honour their sacrifices.

Be at peace. Be still and listen.

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