Mohawk Grandmother – Wisdom Keeper

In Memory Of Alicja Rozanska; story by Danny Beaton Mohawk

Her name is Katsitsiase or Betty Maracle. I know her as Ista in Mohawk, which means Mother, and she is very much a wisdom keeper. Ista lost her partner/husband this year and I lost my partner two years ago, so it brought us closer. The love that we both had and lived helped us both in so many ways and that love grows in both of us for life, Creation, Mother Earth and our people all peoples! So when Rick asked me for a story about one of our elders in Ontario my mind went to the Maracle family. In Tyendinaga, the Mohawk community gathered at the sacred fire at the Maracle home last month. The Fire Keepers there were tending the Sacred Fire at their home for ten days in respect for Jacks Sacred journey to the Spirit World. We all offered our condolences and I heard later that Tom Porter, our Mohawk Spiritual Leader, had conducted the Sacred Ceremonies for Jack/John Hills funeral for his Sacred Journey.

Betty Maracle

Betty Maracle, Photo by Danny Beaton

Katsitsiase Speaks Out For Life

Since the passing of my partner, I look at life quite a bit differently. You know, I go out and sit on the deck and I look at all the plants and the trees and everything in the yard, and I think about him. He was a part of it all, he helped me plant all these trees and take care of everything. He’s always present in my memory and my thoughts but at the same time, not so much that I cant still see the beauty. I can see beyond my loneliness or my pain and I just feel so grateful that we had the time we did together. So our home and our yard is a reinforcement of his presence here but now as time goes on, I see new life.  It’s a new chapter in my life.

I am not anxious to get on with it, I am very content where I am, if anything this has made me more accepting of anything that comes along. Even the hard time and the pain of losing Jack, no matter what happens, I will be able to stay connected to this natural world until it’s time for me to leave. Because I feel I have been through one of the hardest pains that humans go through, by loosing someone they really love, I realize there are so many people that truly care and love you for who you really are. People are always there to help you and support you in any way they can, so life is still beautiful here. We need to embrace every moment, every day, because we don’t know when we will be leaving this world, and I love it here especially the environment that my partner and I have created.

He has come to visit me a few times because our daughter was having an operation Wednesday and I was thinking I have to get up at four o’clock. I never use an alarm clock, so I said to my daughter please call me and wake me up that morning. But you know, she did not have to call me because my partner came and knocked on the wall three times. I knew he was there to wake me up and I knew it was him and it was time for me to get up to be with my daughter. So he’s still taking care of us, the family, I don’t have any fear. I am so contented with everything and I am just so grateful, truly grateful to the spirit guides I have.  I know who they are I acknowledge them and praise them for the gifts that they bring, the protection, everything, because they are as real as any human being that would stand before me.

I give thanks to our Great Creator for being able to be here, what a wonderful gift. No matter what one goes through in life it really builds who you are. We wanted to come here, we were granted that wish to come here. We weren’t promised that life would be easy and we were not promised anything except to be here, to be able to breathe the air and be in the water that protected us in our mother’s womb. That’s the beginning of the gifts that we were given. When we arrive into this world we need to acknowledge that, and be grateful for those spirits that helped us because the water has a spirit and that spirit of the water helps protect us. When it’s our time that water comes forward and falls on Mother Earth and Mother Earth takes care of it. It’s not hard to be grateful everyday, its very simple. Life is very simple. We make it complicated for ourselves. I personally understand the gifts of Creation, therefore, life is beautiful. I am excited about life and I want to do the things I came here to do.

A few weeks ago, it came to me after my partner crossed over to the other side, my slate was being cleaned so I could move forward and do the work that I said I would do years ago when my daughter was sick.  I made a commitment to our Great Creator and Creation and Future  Generations to do my part to take care of the natural world so that the generations coming will be able to enjoy the things that I have been able to enjoy in my life. It isn’t hard to be happy and be grateful every day now, I am on a new path and new chapter in my life and I am excited about it. I started writing a book, it’s been on hold since my partner passed away, but now I am ready to move forward because the spirit said my book will be finished in eight months. My life will change again once my book is finished. I don’t know what it all means, but I am ready to embrace whatever comes along. I know I have nothing to fear because those spirit guides are with me every day. Little things happen that reassure me every day that they are there so I am excited about life.

I get sad when I see people that are disconnected and don’t understand because life would be so for fulfilling for them if they could see everything has a purpose; the plant life, the air, water, insects and animals. It can be hard to see the positive side when you’re hurt, but there is always a positive side. Our pain is teaching us a lesson. It makes me sad because people can’t see the fullness of life, so in many ways so life is suffering. If we never suffered how would we teach anybody when they are suffering? How could we comfort someone if we didn’t suffer? When you have to go through pain and suffering it comes from the heart and then you share that with someone else because you have lived it and experienced it. So we enrich each other that way. That’s what I understand by my life and the things that happened to me. Even though something is happening with someone else, when they share it’s a great gift to you to be able to experience what comes through their pain and suffering too. There is no greater gift than that of suffering. You look at the trees and plant life now they suffer because this summer is so hot and dry there is no rain the plant life would love a drink of water but there’s none for them. They too are suffering. If we look at life that way, our own personal suffering wouldn’t be so heavy on us humans and we would be able to embrace it in a good way.

Thank you for listening. I was born October 13th, 1949, in New York State. We moved to Tyendinaga when I was three my name is Katsitsiase, which means flower opening or what the flower is doing is blossoming like a new flower opening up in the world.