We all can see the beauty every time we look at the sky, so blue during summer months. It’s overwhelming, the trees are so green and brown, flowers majestic, it’s like being in the forest even though we’re all right here in the big city. Even the grey sidewalks and roads look like they belong where they are because we’re just living our life seeing everything they put in front of us; buildings and apartments, stores and telephone poles everything becomes normal in our vision from the time we wake up and go out the front door. This is the world we live in now year after year after year after year. The time seems to really fly by every now and then when we get to think about it sitting on a long train ride or a long bus ride. Somewhere we get to thinking how fast the time has gone by or just finding time to do nothing and we start to think how fast the years have all gone by: years and years and years, but this really starts to happen as we get older and start to mature or become an elder.
Everywhere we look now we see the timeless beauty that the Great Spirit has blessed us all with: colors and sounds, stillness and noise, and that has all changed ever since the government called a state of emergency once the virus began taking life by the hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands. From all accounts the Covid-19 started in Wuhan China, but it doesn’t really matter where it started. It started, and most indigenous people knew it was coming from the massive destruction of forests, wetlands, mountains, air, water, especially algae, plankton and the glaciers, the coral reefs. Many people on the street want to talk about the Covid but can only go by what the government says or media, but alternative thinkers can have a whole different view of what is taking place in the biggest collapse of good health and freedom this society has ever seen or known. Indigenous people knew that a collapse of the life-giving forces could happen because the natural laws were being broken over and over. That natural life was also suffering at the hands of mining corporations, logging industry, manufacturing of toxic chemicals and so many more projects which were altering ecosystems around the world.
My mom and dad gave us a good life when we were young. Especially during the summer holidays my brother Steve and I would go out soon as we finished breakfast and headed to the river, which was just beyond our apartment building in Ottawa back in the 1960s. Summers were really hot back then, the sky very blue I can only remember jet blue skies with accumulus clouds and when it rained it was big downpours, lightning storms that lit up the sky and lots of thunder. Our family grew up in this kind of weather. Winters were thirty degrees below zero, we really had beautiful weather in the old days because that’s how I remember it. When we were young, it was like living in a movie, when I think of it, I guess because it was a picture in my mind: all these things that happened were so innocent and yet they shaped my mind and spirit. After we had spent a few hours walking in the river headed the only way we knew, we would be downtown Ottawa and arrive at the Ottawa river, which was huge in comparison to the Rideau river. As soon as we would find an interesting spot we would put our lines out and wait for the fish to bite. Sometimes we would catch ten or twenty or more, small mouth bass, sometimes we would catch big cat fish. It was a feeling of adventure and excitement that helped shape our psyche and confidence. Those days of walking in the open sun for hours by the river created a sense of boyhood splendor, inner strength, fun and a sharing something we had no idea how it would lead us into our adolescence and adulthood. As children my brothers and I only knew of clean air, fresh water, magnificent summers, ice cold winters that would make me cry walking home after hockey games after school.
Scientists around the world today are understanding where the health crisis has surfaced, multiplied, traveled and spread from past diseases and viruses. Mother Earth has been taking care of human beings since time immemorial and indigenous peoples of the world learned and evolved into ceremonial people respecting the bounties and gifts that nurtured them and their families, communities and nations. In fact, indigenous people were so aware, enlightened, conscious of the life species surrounding them, plants, species and water, fish animals, birds and all Creation. Scientists agree now that animals, insects and birds can transfer diseases and viruses just as mad cow killed many people, Ebola, West Nile, Sars, Rabies; the Lyme Disease is in local nearby forests of Ontario. If we look at our cities, animals are running scared and hungry everywhere now: bears, racoons, rabbits, skunks, foxes and, more than ever, our brother coyote. Urban sprawl is killing wildlife species homeland and forests without creating boundaries for other life species; in fact, we are giving or humans are creating dead zones in the oceans and desertification throughout Africa and India. Mother Earth cannot provide protection for life with destructive activity continuing. Humans need to relook at how we are out of control or some people have always been out of context with natural life. We need to stop killing life and learn, see that if we protect life, life will protect us. Life has always listened to humans’ life, has always supported humans. Mother Earth has always nurtured Creation and life species because indigenous people maintained sacred ceremonies. We as human beings need to talk to Mother Earth and life-giving forces with love and thanksgiving words and ceremonies. If there is a chance to heal the sickness and virus and our thinking because it has gone wrong or negative, we need to bring back The Good Mind, no matter what and no matter how few we are.
It is hard to believe we have the technology to have solar panels on every house, so we don’t need to power our homes with nuclear energy producing nuclear waste, or with burning coal. Wind mills are already contributing to storing electrical power for human needs. California has an incredible industry of Tesla Electric Powered Vehicles and not using gas for energy which adds to climate change. We need to start a massive chestnut tree planting to restore balance with deforestation. We need to restore wetlands to help Mother Earth heal. Society needs to clean and protect our oceans like we were fighting a third world war. This society has the communication networks to change the world and change the ways we are destroying life. Without Mother Earth there will be no wars, no life, without Mother Earth we have nothing: no nourishment, no medicine, no water, without Mother Earth no politics. Mother Earth feeds us, clothes us, nurtures us. Mother Earth is a Sacred Lady. Now you see how society has lost their connection to the life-giving force; as Mother Earth is disrespected now, the people are disrespected. The bears, skunks, rabbits, racoons, foxes and coyotes now are running from the continual rape of forests in Ontario. The rape and pillage in China or America created the virus, killed freedom and created fear. Our animals, fish, birds and bumble bees are running in fear. No water, no life, no air, no life, no food, no life, everything comes from Mother Earth.
Our children are taking everything in from day one: the media, discussions at the dinner table, discussions on the street, discussions in the play area. Those little minds are taking on fear and childhood trauma like sponges. Every time we ask them to stay home to play week after week, month after month, a serious message goes into their psyche and childhood spirit that builds and builds just like the energy created from the freedom to head out the door to see the neighborhood and best friends. Our kids are living through something we as adults can only guess what is regurgitating in their little minds, hearing that their lives are in danger if they do not wear a mask or stay six feet away from playmates and best friends. Once our grandchildren are able to communicate with each other again outside about the situation that forced them to stay indoors all summer long and that their parents were afraid to go grocery shopping to put food on the table would be as devastating as living a horror show on television for them. Most broken adults today in the prison system were victims of childhood domestic violence, drugs and alcohol, which were never resolved or healed from childhood trauma.
Today, tomorrow and in the future our kids will grow up with a trauma and fear that we never had to know as kids: a world contaminated and dangerous. Yet as native people we have always known beauty and dysfunction, healing and hurting. Our elders have always carried the Good Mind and native culture has always been one of sharing, caring and healing. We have had to heal endless trauma from generations and generations of abuse. In our native culture we talk to the Universe constantly and live in the way our elders and teachers instructed us to be thankful to all Creation, big and small. We are a people who healed all the boats that arrived at Turtle Island from scurvy and starvation on the Niña, Pinta, Santa Maria, Mayflower. With our Good Minds we are a society of sharing and respect. In our Sacred Native ways and culture, we have our healing ceremonies, our talking circles, our healing songs and prayers and our Sacred Pipes that can help our kids get through this horrible time of Childhood Trauma. Once we can gather in small groups of healing people, we will address the love that we have for Mother Earth, our children and all relations. This Way of Life is not over and this oneness with Mother Earth has never stopped. Our thinking and respect for life will bring life back to a healing way and heal the virus.
Through our positive thinking, through positive communicating great achievements can be made. Everything may seem hopeless, but it is not over for our people. The gifts the Great Mystery gave to us are for healing and finding peace and more. Our creativity comes from our healing and peace. Our culture and ceremonies are the strongest things we have connecting with our ancestors. I remember when my Uncle Robertjohn got asked to run a Pow Wow in his community in California. He agreed on one condition, that the host would put a Sacred Fire in the middle of the Pow Wow grounds and so people could pray and make offerings throughout the Dancing. Uncle’s idea to have a Sacred Fire for the people was for the healing of everyone. When I worked in the prison system full time many of our brotherhood would tell me that they never received help before and so I told many of our circle: “When you fall off the wagon, you get back on when you lose everything. You start all over again. We never give up. Just like a beaver has to build his home, we are our homes. We have to build ourselves up from our toes to our minds. If we lose everything from our addictions, we have to start again and build ourselves into good health. The same goes for Mother Earth: if she gets sick or if we create sickness, we have to build up Mother Earth and help her heal, build her up again like a beaver, like any animal or Creation. We cannot give up, it’s a part of life and learning. We need to build positive friends and positive deeds, we need to build our thinking with all life around us, with everything we see that is natural. We ask the Four Protectors to protect our elders, women and children from this virus and we ask the Spirit World to help us heal the virus and cure what has come about. We thank our ancestors for watching over us during this time and for any guidance they give us. Like Guujaaw, my spirit brother, says: “We are having a Living Experience and we will make mistakes. Only our Creator is perfect!”
Guujaaw Haida Chief Speaks Out
Thank you for your concern, Danny. You must be well if you have time to worry about us. We indeed had an outbreak raising to twenty-two. Of course, we are very concerned for our elders and vulnerable, the elders being the last generation of speakers from birth. The spread was a bit of recklessness after being virus-free for all these months. The good news is that we didn’t lose anybody. In fact, nobody got very sick, not even hospitalization. I think most would have passed through to “recovered” stage. The fact that we were able to isolate the virus and snuff it out is good, as we can certainly expect to see it again. It is very mysterious in the variance from no symptom to death and that the condition of the person gives no guarantee of its effect. It is mysterious that people in the skids who they expected to be devastated have so far been spared. It has its upside in that, where protest, reason, science and politics has failed, the virus seems to have brought the beast to its knees. The collapse of the economies is still to be realized. Overall, what is unfolding should not be unexpected. Humanity will learn the hard lesson that no…. it isn’t all about us. The world doesn’t revolve around economies.
In Memory of Alicja Rozanska