The Voices, They Come

They began arriving in August 2017. One and two at a time they came. The choir grew day by day, led by Pihtokahanapiwiyin, Kamiokisihkwew, Shingwauk, Keeseekoowenin, and Isapo-Muxika. And still, they come. Day by day.

Horse Lake, Beaver, Bush, Yellowknife, Salt River, Birch Narrows, Black Lake, Sunshield, Paul Band, Maskwacis, Ermineskin, Louis Bull, Sampson, Montana, Pigeon Lake, Cold Lake, Saddle Lake, Frog and Onion Lakes, Makwa Sahgaiencan, Little Pine, Sweetgrass, Muskeg Lake, Muskeday, One Arrow, James Smith, Day Star, Yellow Quill, Kankewistaha, Pheasant Rump, Sandy lake, McDowell Lake, Lac Seul, Eagle Lake, Attawapiskat,  Garden River, Missanabie, Bear River, and Benoit.

Scuggs, Rama, Bedusoleil, Serpent River, Tetoten, Kwikevtlem, Semiahmoo, Alexis, Chipewyan, Big Stone, Kainai, Blue Quills, Amber River, Busche River, Driftpile, Pigeon Lake, Heart Lake, Horse Lake, and Devil’s Gate.

Big Horn, Stoney, Sturgeon, Stonechild and Sunchild. Swan River, Beaver Ranch, Tsuu T’ina.

They travel far. Their hearts are carried on the leaves of the aspens, wings of eagles, and the songs of sisters. That missed drum beat? Borrowed for this journey.

Osoyoos , Okanagan, Tsinstikeptum, People of the Knife, People of the Sand, People of the Lake, People of the Sun. Sweetgrass, Fond du Lac, Pelican Narrows.  Aamjiwnaang, Kettle and Stoney Point, Chippewa, Oneida and Delaware of the Thames.

From Attawapiskat, Aroland, Bearskin, Beaverhouse, Brunswick, Cat Lake, Constance Lake, Deer Lake, Eabametoong, Flying Post, Forts Severn and Albany, Ginoogaming, Kasabonika, Kashechewan, Keewayin, Koocheching, Lac Seul, Long Lake, Martin Falls, Matachewan, Mattagami, Mishkeegogamang, they come.

Cowesses, Piapot, Peepeekisis, Kahkewistahaw, Daystar, Carry the Kettle. White Bear, Standing Buffalo, Nekaneet.  Birdtail, Bloodvein and Brokenhead.

Missanabie, Mocreebec, Muskrat Dam, Neskataga, Nibinamick, North Caribou and North Spirit Lake, Pikangikum, Poplar Hill, Wahgoshig, Wapekeka, Wawakapewin, Weenusk, Whitewater Lake, and Wunnumin Lake.

They are brought by rivers and prayers on the wind and are threaded into this unfolding by all the forces of creation. Tarahumara, Purépecha, Tepeherán, Otomi, Guarijo. Barkindji, Mutthi Mutthi and Ngyiampaa breathe their soul-sounds through drum and didgeridoo. Murrawarri, Anangu, Palawa and Yolngu and Bininj sing together, a chorus crying “Freedom!”

There are hundreds more. They come; flag by flag, soul by soul.

They sing for home, they sing for tribe, they sing for love not spoken and deep sorrow.

Silenced no more, they will be heard.

We live and move and breathe as one.

For them. For freedom.

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Those Who Tell Too Much; Ancestors and Missing, Murdered Women and Children

artist: R Blackwater

In the introduction to this series on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children, I mentioned that this unfolding of the Fuckery and I

 requires discussion of history and the repercussion arisen out of it, trauma experienced and held by peoples and the natural world, realities of misogyny, sexuality, institutionalized racism, the reemergence of what I call ‘the medicine way’ and where all those things converge in our current era.

I think the thing that frightens people the most is the reemergence of the ‘medicine way’. It means recognizing that beliefs and ways of the world are more than theoretical or ceremonial, beyond the scope of encultured ‘sacred space’, and are neither ours nor out there. It creates an inescapable ‘in your face’ expression of truth that makes beliefs true or untrue, redefines things of spirit held as personal or tribal into universal, and cuts the commodified crap connected to the aforementioned in a breath. It means that death isn’t what we’ve thought it is, that everyone really is connected beyond super-simplified popsychospiritmeme-ified oneness. It means we have responsibilities beyond what we’ve presumed revealed within sweat lodges, by the one-liners of protest signs and attention-grabbing headlines. It means prophecy can be true, cosmologies can crumble, and we really may not who or how (or why) we think we are.

It frightens lawmen, lawyers, politicians, medicine men, journalists, folks who once called me friend, and those who operate the Fuckery. It’s why a tribal historical preservation officer nearly scorched his shorts when I asked about an eagle.  Because it can’t be true but what if it is.  If it is, we have to kill her. If it’s not we have to see who is really giving her all this information, then kill her.

I was once asked by one of the more lazy cops I’ve ever met, “So, is it like talking to God?” when I went to talk to him about Jermaine Charlo. His syrupy derision was no different than the “Why are my ancestors coming to you?”  Sadly, I’m not one skilled with witty repartee and it didn’t occur to me until much later to say, “No, conversations with God are much more direct.”  They are but for all the church-going, Bible shaking, and God-loving, to tell people there are active conversations with God is a nullifying as explaining those with Ancestors.

Whether those who would like to put an additional hole in my head (or anyone else) believe this or not, these are those who ‘tell Ingrid way too much’

They are Coushatta, Cree, Muscogee, Maidu, Diné, Dene.

They are Lakota, Dakota, Comanche, Choctaw, and Apache.

They are Kickapoo, Meskwaki, Mi’maq, Tongva, and Gros Ventre.

They are Ojib, Ohkay Owingeh, Mewuk, Osage, Missouria, Potowatami, Quapaw, Quinault.

They are Rappahannock, Paiute, Pascato, Seminole, Shawnee and Chickahominey.

They are Sappony, Seneca, Waccamaw, Natchez, Niitsitapi, Cherokee, Mohawk, and Miccosuckee.

Onandagan, Cheyenne, Crow, Unitah, Calusa, Colusa, Appalachee.

Fox, Saux, Winnebago, Miami, Illini, Ioway and Omaha.

Arapaho, Otoe, Kiowa, Caddo, Coahuiltecan, Kutenai, and Pend d’Oreilles.

Nakoda, Yurok, Chumash, Yokuts and Yana.

Nahuatl, Mixtec, Mayo, Massai, and Huichol, O’odham and Tepehuan.

Guaraní, Cocopah, Dogon, Delaware, Sara, Salish, Tatar, Bua and Bantu.

Samí, Bedu, Yoruba, Ibibio, Damara, Pueblan. Altai, Mapuche and Quechua.

Abenaki, Mohigan, Wawenock, Acholi, Madu, Evenki.

Salish, Kumeyaay, Ohlone, Pomo, Skykomish, Yakama.

And more.

The sand speaks, clouds halt, rain and stag protect, horses signal, ground and eagles pull, bees direct, water leads, raven weaves with spider, snake and worm connect threads where others can’t go. Wings whisper, trunks kiss my face, Nagas sing, devas dance. Creation twins create anew.

They know. They see.

Hundreds more who trust me with their living kin whose prayers they have heard, whose cries for freedom they echo across the universe and pound through my dreams– insistent, repetitive beats of love. They give me medical advice, tell me when to run and when to be still, wait. They tell me to ‘stop with the questions’, ‘sit down and shut up’, ‘Speak, child. Speak.”

They ride the wind, thunder through clouds, beat my heart, sing my soul, cry my tears, soothe and sear my skin. They guide, they tattle on the twisted medicine men, they show the limbless torsos.

And we live and breathe and move as one.

Oceans of Love

It often feels impossible to describe the love contained within me. Even when I cannot give it words, it frightens people. They seem to be confused that the course of love would somehow find them beyond their beliefs or behaviors, that they would be missed or their cry for help would be unheard, and that kind of love would just appear, even unbidden.

It courses through every fiber of my being, slips from the pores into the spaces between grains of sand, dances on the wind, drops roots under lake beds, and glides through tears to the waters everywhere. The enormity of it is staggering, even to me, sometimes because I don’t control it. I just am.

It is uncontainable, unstoppable and touchable, visceral, thick power and peace.

It means I feel it all and am given the blessing of knowing the pain and the benediction brought by beauty, the lies beneath the scars, and the truths of the heart.

In moments of deepest despair, it is the buoy and the life raft. For all of us.

For this, I was made.

For you, I was made.

You are so loved.

Be not afraid.

Speak Now or Forever…

The weight of this sad time we must obey

Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

The oldest hath borne most, we that are young

Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

~ King Lear Scene 5, Act 3

 

Oh, my love. In the midst of despair I only heard “Don’t say anything to anyone. I cannot tell anyone who you are or why you are here. You must keep you mouth shut, not even share your prayers with anyone. When you give your prints in a sweat, hold your tongue. Do not say what you are praying for or who you are to be working with. Say nothing. Hold everything inside.”

Behind those words were deeply held fears passed down to you by those who ‘taught these things’. There was a time, not as long ago as many may think, that holding everything inside is what kept individuals alive and communities intact; when the threat of the ‘savage’ accessing the powers that be and to Be as they were meant to meant death for those who spoke allowed, sang and danced with the rhythm of the heart of all that is.

Those who taught you these things were taught by others who tried desperately to erase your families from their own identities, histories, stories and, for some, existence.

However, we face something very similar now and to not speak truths of things; truths of things of spirit, the spirit of nature and nature of spirit, and our relationship with all those things. To hold our tongue still and heart closed will continue the process of losing identity, history, story, and, yes, for some, existence.

For two years, I’ve not known what to say when the Ancestors and Others who walk with me have shouted, “SPEAK!” with an occasional, more gentle, “Speak, child. Speak.”  I’ve asked again and again, “What would you have me say?” not in such a gentle way. Now I know.

Now I will hold neither my tongue nor my heart. There is no turning back. When They ask me to go find those disappeared at the hands of others and being disappeared because their sight and their voices, too, are being blinded and shuttered, I will. I will find them to bring them home; some to their families and some to their own hearts, their own nature. I will speak so their truths may be heard.

I will be quiet no more and ask you, my kind sir, do the same for we must do this together. No one of us can do this alone. We were never meant to.

In Telling the Holiness, I wrote :

In the Apache tradition, storytelling is to ‘tell the holiness’.  The myths that speak to the holy are “performed only by medicine men and women for the purposes of enlightenment and instruction.”

We may have finally come to the time where many  realize that storytelling isn’t only for medicine-people to tell; the truths of all things holy come from each of us, as much as we draw breath our own stories give us life.

In the time before we were not separate from ourselves and the places we stood upon and looked up into, we were a people so connected to the earth that the earth took our pain in the same manner it gave us life.  Absorbed it like a rare rain in the desert and held onto it like it was holding onto their dear lives. At one point, back in our time, we were each those people.  And, now they are mere remnants of our fabric; tossed and hidden away when not murdered from existence, removed from the collective conscious except when it appears to serve our romantic nature or reliance on greed.

I listen to those struggling to maintain communities in a good way fight to keep parking lots from plowing over medicines. My heart breaks when I’ve brought a 40 year old man back to his tribe but the 15 year old sitting next to him is desperate to escape “because I can’t be me here. I’m not safe. I’m not ready to kill myself, though. Yet.”

And in the places where we have shoved those people who represent the past that we have collectively deemed unworthy of our attention, we die along with them. As they bleed the interest in life, the earth withholds it–for them and for us. There’s no need to feed & give life if life is no longer lived in the manner it was made to support.  And this is repeated around the globe, again and again, even as we struggle to manipulate natural and created systems to feed our futures.  This cycle will be repeated as if a contagion until we vanish.

Like those before us who were starved of connection to their sacred places & spaces, we disconnect even further from each other.  Some run in any number of ways to escape, some escape to feel free yet yearn to come home.  Those who have walked before and those now.

I have felt the lost.   I have held their hearts in my hand and I have stood in the spaces where the ancients realized all that is was no longer; that relationship with the ground, that relationship with each other, the ties that bind us as a people, that relationship between spaces below and above; the very representations of all that is home.

To walk onto home and feel the defeat between the highs and to hear the kindness of strangers turn to meanness to kin who aren’t enough of any measure to be accepted by family or community, reveals that same lostness, but not of the Ancestors but in the hearts of those beating now. “How can I be me if I can’t be seen?” “All this talk about spirits, why am I called crazy for seeing these things?” “I can’t tell anyone the trees speak to me.” “I could just die.”

Oh, love. Please stay. I hear you. I’m coming. I feel you. I’m coming.

 

 

Deadly Devotion

To  cry “Save our Mother”

while prying

open the thighs of her daughters,

slashing and burning through souls…

 

To dance for Durga and honor the cow

while murdering

their  brothers in skin and sinew

incensing  streets with iron-clad odor….

 

To dutifully bow to the East

with desire

to bend little boys over at the waist…

 

To lay flowers at the feet of the Virgin

while planting Los Desaparecidos

and mulching them with lies….

 

To pray in my name for  bounty

and well-being

while blaspheming the same

 in bloodlust…

Devotion was never meant to be deadly. Those who let the blood of others in any holy name, in any name of any god or God, are beyond hypocrisy. Those who would diverge from their devotion to cause harm to the least of these are apostasy in action. Those who praise and bully from the pulpit are neither prayerful or praiseworthy.

Belittling or betraying the connection between humanity and the holy, to serve as fear-monger, lyncher, and liar and money-changers at the temple of greed does not offer hope, share love, or imply sacrifice worthy of divine notice.

Supporting and replicating those processes and their perpetrators in the here-world, does not give one special access to any after-world. Nor  is it an loving reflection of spiritual communion or any kind of community.

These are not acts of any devil other than ourselves and we have reached a point where we need to decide if our ‘devotion’ is of that replicating the fierce love of those we claim fidelity to or if we’re going to continue false offerings for favors while acting in opposition to those loving aspects they represent. Do we choose to help and heal or harm?

 

The Occupied Woman

Legions live within

the boundaries

of her skin.

 

Joined not at the hip but

breath in breath

they are,

they walk,

they weave.

The Old Ones occupy

her heart

in one blood

the echo chamber of Ancients.

 

Spiders occupy her hair,

their lighted threads

weaving to and fro,

stars to sons.

 

Light occupies her eyes,

Fire is the kindling of her soul,

Roots run through veins

Drumming the lungs of others.

 

Of hoofed feet,

winged arms

poured magic from

pawed hands and

horned tendrils of silk.

The pulsing, poolings of stillness

and

songs of the ancients echoing.

Again.

A thousand souls

A multitude of expressions of one flame

Inhabit this mosaic,

This occupied woman.