…. in memory of Alicja Rozanska
Once we focus on walking out the prison door free again we have to visualize what put us in the cage. What took away our freedom?
The poison that we pop or drink does not belong in our blood stream or in our mind, and they pollute our spirit. All of the bad medicine we take is foreign to our way of life and culture. About ninety per cent of native inmates locked up were on drugs or alcohol when they committed crimes that would not have happened if they were living their traditional native culture because native culture is based on sacred native teachings and ceremonies.
Our brothers and sisters are affected by culture shock with the loss of their land base, their social society, their sacred ceremonies, their elders and youth, and the loss of hunting and gathering — with devastating impacts on our families, and communities and nations. Native/indigenous people are struggling more than ever to maintain their health, harmony and freedom. Even after the Truth and Reconciliation process there is a desperate need to see hear and feel the casualties of colonization, and now the impacts of lawyers, and engineers fueling the mass exploitation of Mother Earth’s last resources in Northern Canada.
When I was young I heard our old elders speak at our sacred circles about our young people locked up in prisons, and that they had no chance of healing in non-native programs. Non-native authorities did not focus on Mother Earth or the Natural World around us; there was never any talk of how the plant life, rivers or lakes could heal us by giving thanksgiving, or the need to put our moccasins back on and live our way of life with respect for life the way Tom Porter talked about over and over in his life time – by bringing back Traditional Culture to our communities.
We had so many good elders and teachers only 20 years ago. Many are now gone and this is hard on our people and culture too. When we as native people lose our elders we are losing our wisdom keepers, our faith keepers, our chiefs and our clan mothers. This has been hard on our survival as indigenous people! Our old elders are saying we can survive by lighting our Sacred Fires from within — and in our circles and pipes. We also need to help those who are hurting us and themselves because we are a healing people, we are a Thanksgiving people, sharing and thinking not only of our selves but of healing all Creation.
Our people are suffering in prisons and on the streets and in their homes. We as native people are faced with an overwhelming task of healing ourselves, our families, and our communities and nations. If we recover the wisdom that gave our ancestors Good Minds that will be healing. As a Mohawk man I am willing to do all I can to bring back a healthy and healing way of life with anyone who is willing to help or join our struggle for justice.
After years and years of society drifting away from natural life and natural laws, our society has moved towards a monetary mentality that is based on a profit driven life style and profit seeking activities, with profit seeking priorities. Even our children know things are not right. Once they start talking about the environment in the class room, they share a lot of sadness with their classmates and teachers. There is hopelessness in our children’s hearts but we as parents can fill them up with wisdom and love.
Our children have a lot of wisdom and love for life in their human make up while they are still young. Once they are taught how sacred the wolf is, the bear, the Eagle, the turtle, insects, birds and creation – they are filled with happiness and excitement. We are living in buildings surrounded by more buildings — in condos, suburbs, mansions, apartments. The city is so full of electricity, electronics, cars, with endless stores and shopping malls, to keep us in a fantasy world.
When the children in Tecumseh heard developers wanted to cut down their forests, they spoke out at City Council for the rights of animals, trees and life species. The once clean air, fresh pure water, rivers, streams, oceans and Mother Earth are chemically tainted from the North Pole to the South Pole. We human beings are suffering directly or indirectly from cancer. But there is a movement in the world to support ‘Climate Change’ and bring about values and standards that will help Mother Earth to heal.
We as human beings need to be connected to all the life forces – earth, air, fire, and Mother Earth’s blood – the sacred water. The machine mentality is paving over Mother Earth, taking out the last hard wood forests and wetlands while endangered species are ignored once more.
Even with environmental laws in place our government is failing our children. Our old elders told us this would happen if we continued on the path of negativity, rape and pillage, but prophecies do not have to happen if we change our destructive ways. Mother Earth will help us if we learn to help her. We need to protect the forests and wetlands that are still here.
When Becky Big Canoe organized the Water Walk around Lake Simcoe last summer my daughter and grand kids came out and joined us for the Healing and protection of Lake Simcoe and our Great Lakes. Artists have created films that tell the Mother Earth story. Just watch the movies – Last of the Dogmen, The Mission, Black Robe, Sun Chaser, The Last of His Tribe, Grey Owl, Dead Man, Renegade, End of The Spear, Thunderheart, Emerald Forest, Koyaanisqatsi, Dream Keeper, The New World, One Dead Indian.
Story & Photographs by Danny Beaton – www.dannybeaton.ca