Part of being Anishinawbek ~ Mino Bimaadizwin ~ Walking the Good Red Road ~
For many years people have wanted to know what our secret to life is, interesting on how in the 1970’s it was the thing to be “Cherokee” and now everyone wants to be “Anishnawbek”. People want to know all about us, whereas previously, all they wanted was us to disappear and not even be heard of. We are still here despite the fact that the government wanted us in assimilation. It is interesting on how now things have turned and situtions are bringing the government closer to learn of our cultural and traditional ways. Cutting of our hair is an example and that did not break out spirit but only showed everyone that the longing for life and our values have overcome many obstacles placed before us being Anishnawbek.
People speak about residential schooling still today. Yes it did happen and yes the government of Canada wishes that this situation would just disappear. Depsite all attempts of coverup, world wide has now witnessed the abuse created by the Roman Catholic Church and finanically backed by the Canadian Government. Even the apology by the Harper Government shows meaning that this really did occur and not fictional. What really gets my attention is that it was the government and all elected who agreed on this decision. The government wanted to show us on how to become farmers and more civilized people. Did they not think since we have lived off the land from the beginning we would not know how to fish, hunt or grow rice and make a fire?
Well, first of all we had our land taken away and now they want us to buy it back. They signed treaties in good faith and promising of things which has not come to pass. They turned their noses at our medicine, now they want to study it as they are losing the battle with western medicine. Now, they want us to not use our medicine which is free for the whole world but yet pick and choose on who makes it and who gets it. Can the government make up its mind? Wait, I have to ask parliament first for a session so this can be debated and then we have to wait for the vote. Voting on life, is this how the government wants us to see things. This is not a power struggle about living life, this is about living one's life in accordance to one's teachings and culture.
Our teachings and culture is very simple and not a guessing game. There is no manual to life but the question and answer is how you live it. We being Anishnawbek, teach our young from a very early age to respect life and all living things. Still from when the government tried to break our spirit with residential schooling, we still do not turn our backs as this is not our ways. If you really look close today, at what is left of residential schooling, most of the priests and sisters who have hurt Anishnawbek people are gone but we are still here. Memories are left in the schools still standing, we are still standing and back to where it all started from. We are back home to how it was in the beginning.
When people seek us out to learn of our culture and traditional teachings on a daily basis. The government alone showed us on how we made the right choices, even today the government wants us to carry cards so that our every action can be tracked. Did they give everyone with a social insurance number a number on their own cards to state where they come from? No, they have given them a number to show what jobs they do, they were not given a number to say how many people were born in that town.
But yet, we still talk and walk proud of whom and what we are. Being Anishnawbek is not a wish or winning of a contest. We are very proud of who and what we are; we still practice our teachings and perform ceremonies in our cultural and traditional ways. I can say, with all those whom I sit in circle with I share of our culture and show how I have become so blessed and honoured to carry bundles.
Wisdom and knowledge is a blessing and it is power. The more power we have the more we are feared. Life is a gift, one which we should all take as a special gift that no one can take away. To have breath of life and to see the rising of Grandfather Sun each day is a blessing. It shows us we have been gifted another day here on Mother Earth for us to see and receive the blessings and teachings we need to learn that day. That is a very sacred gift and we need to acknowledge this, each and every one of us. Being Anishnawbek, we begin each morning with prayer and blessings that day for breathe of life and we also end our day the same way. We end it by stating miigwetch - thank you for the blessings and being here and having the gift of life.
Mino Bimaadizwin means walking the good red road, the true meaning of life. Red is a sign of passion and love of life that is why it is called the good red road. We live it each day and some of us will share this teaching on how to life it to the fullest. Some are very hurt by what the government has placed upon them and their families. The true meaning of life is not a secret but a gift. We each have what I call the “touch” and this is found deep within each and everyone of us. Gzhemndoo does not ever give us what we cannot handle. He gives us teachings and blessings to be the best we can be. It is our choice if we choose to allow this to become part of our daily life or struggle with what we want to have but the basics of everyday living. To be the best we can be and have the knowledge to make our life the best ever.
I share a saying in circle with those who wish to come and sit. They present Sema - Tobacco and speak about life and what has brought them to sit in circle with me about what is clouding their minds. “What we see in physical is only temporary and what we see beyond is the truth.” If your eyes can only see what is in front of you then I am sad for you. If your eyes can see beyond then I smile at your knowledge and understanding. Now you are walking with Mino Bimaadizwin. Enjoy life as we embrace our culture and enjoy being who we are Anishnawbek.
Baa maa pii
Dbik Gii'zhigate-kwe "Moonie"
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