In Search of Home

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I’m “fact-ed” out, “article-ed” out, “racist comment-ed” out, “youtube video-ed” out. I’ve been avoiding blogging because I want to offer some academia, facts, Act and Bill names, socioeconomic conditions, pros and cons to the AFN and PM meeting, and/or outline possible future steps for the Idle No More movement.

tipi

I want to offer up something that will pull on the logical mechanisms in peoples brains and start a chain reaction until something “clicks” and a “now I get it!” or a “that’s something I didn’t think about before!” comes surprisingly out of a tight lipped mouth. This brings me to question, whose logic and reasoning must I appeal too? and why does it have to be in the shape of facts, dates, and statistics rather than take the form of emotions and spirituality? Why do I feel like I have to write a certain way to make a contribution with my words?

I can only change myself. Through interactions with others as a changed self, I can have an impact but    it   all    starts    with      me.

I need to stop and process this movement before I can keep moving forward. I need to absorb the moments spent marching, planning, organizing, reading, speaking, and studying to hit another plateau.

I went for a drive today, the same kind of aimless drive my parents and my grandparents used to take me on. You know the kind where you zigzag along back roads and lose yourself in thought only to be jerked out of it by a rough patch on the snow-covered dirt road. That’s the kind of drive I went on.

I found myself perched above the city lights staring at the mountains I knew existed behind the dark of the night and clouds. I get lost without connection to something real like this.

I stand outside and sing. I never sing in front of people and rarely sing in front of myself. I sing a song without words, without restriction, from within me. I close my eyes and imagine my home territory which is over 1000kms away. I can see the Peace River, Saaghii Naachii, in all of its majestic glory.. bending and curving, gently sustaining life without notice, with little thanks. I can see the mountain ranges near my First Nations community, a place I didn’t grow up in but have made a long-awaited connection to in the last few years. I can see the mountains and recall a conversation on another long drive…

“Imagine.. your grandmother walked all through these mountains as a young girl. This right here was her backyard,” my auntie said as the vehicle hungrily ate up the asphalt.

I gave thanks for this and ask to always be reminded of why I am here. I am here to get educated so I can help preserve,those lands,the ways of my people, and to see my people thrive.

I stop singing, not by instinct but because a noise scares the bejeebers out of me and I scare easily. I slide back into the vehicle and listen to a song. The song speaks of an “old tipi back home” and I close my eyes and let my heart guide me back through those mountains.

I see the face of my Great Grandfather Jumbie sitting by the fire, he was a dreamer. I see my Asu as a young girl, the fire light adding to her beauty and liveliness. She stares at Jumbie with adoration and awe. I see another Grandfather come in and sit down, this one is Chief Bigfoot, I can tell. The image is still vibrant and I can feel the warmth of the fire and hear the crackling and popping of the logs in it.

Words come from me that I didn’t know I had in me, “Tell me where home is. I still don’t know where it is.”

The image fades quickly and I open my eyes to the bright city lights. I can see vehicles trailing through the streets like rodents lost in a maze. I feel lost. I begin to cry. I feel strongly and tears are no stranger to my high cheekboned face but these are unexpected. I feel trapped in a way of living that doesn’t know an end to “needing more”.

I have been looking for home, and in a sense we all are looking for home.

Maybe the nomadic blood in my veins tells me not to settle, that anywhere can be my home. But I know that the mountains and rivers of home hold the memories of those who have passed and are indefinitely a part of who I am.

I become puzzled thinking about the thinkers who just don’t think we have anything to be fighting for.

It was all so long ago.

I know of the epidemics that killed off many of my people, I have heard the stories from my Grandmothers mouth. I know this, even if you do not.

I know of the dreamers of my tribe and how they predicted the rail roads, social sicknesses, and the anger of Mother Earth. I know this, even if you do not.

I know of the malevolent destruction to family trees that the residential schools caused. It killed the trees from the inside and the poison trickled down the roots. I know that I can see those effects here and now. I know this, even if you do not.

I know of silenced tongues and shy words spoken in tribal languages that come out of the cave of the mouth slowly as if its trying to see if the environment will harm it. I know how beautiful sounding it is to hear a prayer in these languages. I know this, even if you do not.

I know that my people roamed freely in those mountains, moving with each passing season, lending footsteps to the prophetic guidance of dreamers. I know it was so much larger than the small reserve we are relegated too and I don’t accept your boundaries. I know this, even if you do not.

I know that you have to give something back if you are taking something from the Earth. I know to leave tobacco and offer thanks to the plants when I am picking medicine. I know that the rivers are alive and pulsing with their own spirits. I know that the forests will take your pain if you let them. I know you cannot keep taking and taking without disrupting the balance in a bad way. I know this, even if you do not.

I know these things. I know that much was lost. Lineages, teachings, ceremonies, medicinal knowledge. I know what I am missing and still my spirit longs for it, fully knowing it is beyond my reach. I think you should know that it hurts. I have not forgotten, and I cannot forget, and I have accepted it, but the wind still blows through me and I can tell where my spirit yearns to be filled.

I am looking for home. I know that I am here, now, in the present and this present does not know what I know, does not acknowledge what I acknowledge. And I ask, why do I have to continue to appeal to your source of reasoning? I have learned what you know and can speak to you in such a manner… but have you even tried to learn what I know?

Underneath the cities, the sidewalks, the lamp posts, the brick buildings, the highways, is the land that we called home. The coldness of the cement, the lack of understanding that breeds racism and prejudice, the protection thats in place that does not save our womens lives, the laws that still far better serve to punish our people rather than protect them, this place governed by paternalistic rule and built upon colonial conquest… this is not my home.

And if we are now in this together. Here. Now. Why can we not build our own homes without you giving us a blueprint of places with foundations made only of your knowledge and understanding? You are still telling us how to live, how we shall see our territories be used up and spent, telling us how we are going to help you better confine and define us, telling us that we are limited by our communalistic fantasies, telling us how and what we shall learn and giving us less that what is afforded other peoples children…telling us..telling us.

I know what I know, even if you do not.

I know that I will not accept your way of knowing as the only and final way. I know the mountains and rivers of home, know the beauty of my people, and I know that I will fight for home.

I know much was lost. I will not lose any more.

That must be it. I see this movement right now, as a fight to no longer lose who I am. I refuse for more of anything -lands-waters-dignityofFirstNationstoGovernthemselves- to be swallowed up by a beast that wants me to lose what I am fighting for…. home. dignity. humanity.

I don’t know if this all flows, or makes much sense for that matter. I’m still trying to process the tides flowing in and out of me.

A few days ago I was at the Merritt Idle No More March and Rally. At one point we passed by an Indigenous homeless man who held his hands up to the sky, honouring and thanking us, as as we marched by. He joined us. We got to the rally point and after a few songs we had a round dance in an intersection.

After we finished the round dance this man, dressed in faded blue denim jeans and an old jacket, was making the round with everyone else and shaking hands. As he made his way down the line tears flowed down his face. It was like he was seeing it, if only for that instant… his old weathered brown eyes could see it…. home. dignity. humanity.

In Spirit,

Helen K

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