Teaching the children

Continuing from the previous post 🙂

After opening speeches and me doing the Noon Day Prayers and smudging, it was time for some teachings.

There were several school classes of kids from age 6 to 12 there to learn about First Nations culture. There also were quite a number of adults there and lucky for me several First Nations People also joined the circle.

I Had set up a small teachingdisplay and we discussed the meanings of Eagle, Wolf, Buffalo and Bear,  the Guardians of the 4 directions for the Anishinaabe People and the kids got a chance to handle an Eagle feather, a Buffalo horn, a Wolf ‘s tail and the Bear skull.

Then, on we went to the culture of the Haudenosaunee Longhouse and where the differences are.

Deer antlers, and other items were inspected and questions answered. We talked about how the Anishinaabe smudge and why the Mohawk People do not, but rather use Tobacco Prayers and how to conduct oneself when such an opportunity arises.

I also addressed some more problematic areas like why the white settlers tried to kill all the Wolves in the area while the First Nations watched in horror. Wolf is seen as an important teacher of family values, endurance and survival skills apart from being a mayor Clan Guardian for all First Nations.

There would be much to tell, but I also wanted to mention, that whenever a First Nations person is in the circle, I always give them the word to chime in and contribute or share personal experiences or give teachings.


2 hours of teachings go by very fast and then it was time for drumming!

They had all waited for that! We had to take turns to give all the kids a chance to play either the big Pow Wow drum or one of the frame drums I had brought for the occasion.

I explained, that the large drum was a gift from one of my clients and that it represents the voice of the Earth Mother. We played the heart beat and I sang a chant or 2.

Kids always want to speed up the beat and singing is a good trick to slow them down. Some children have lots of trouble keeping the beat or rhythm while others take to it easy and right away.

Some Anishenaabe Women see it as a special privilege to be able to play the big drum, because the men in their communities usually restrict them from even touching a Pow Wow drum. In the last few years there are a few female drum groups but they often experience the full brunt of rejection from their male contemporaries. No such problems exist in the communities of the 6 Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy 🙂

Everyone enjoyed the drumming sessions and at the end all the participants followed me in a traditional Closing Prayer.

Shi’ Meegweetch

Niawe

Shya’-nam

Thank you all


On a hot day in Huntsville…

As previously mentioned, June 21st is National Aboriginal Day and I was in Huntsville to bring teachings:

It was hot and very windy day. We were on site 2 hours early to set up the teaching area and several teaching stations that explain a little about the differences – and similarities of several First Nations.

To honor the Kanien’keha’:ka, the People of the Flint,(Mohawk) I had brought a Deer skin, as Deer is seen as the leader of the Animals, Maple twigs and Maple sirup as Maple is seen as the leader of the Trees. Strawberries are the leaders of the Food people, being the very first that are ripe up here – but we could not exhibit our delicious Strawberries, because the leader of the Ant People was right there to eat them up/ carry them away.. 😦

For the 3 clans of the People of the Flint I put the Turtle shell for the Turtle Clan, the Wolf foot for the Wolf Clan,and Bear fur for the Bear Clan. You also see my Water Drum, a woven basket with dried Squash and ceremonial heritage Corn and a little bottle of Maple sirup. Then there was the Tobacco pouch the Sachem of the Wolf Clan had given me as a present for a healing I had done for his family and the traditional Healing Rattle, I had received from a lady who’s grandfather was a doctor in the area in the 1920ties and who had received it for helping a Mohawk man,whom he had helped after a bad accident.(Peter now uses this rattle in the longhouse during certain songs and dances 🙂 )

The exhibit to honor the Buffalo Nations out West had the large Buffalo skull I received, honored by Buffalo wool, bead work and f”ed” with Sage and Sweet grass. The panel has traditional buffalo teachings on it as well as the sad history of the Buffalo slaughter of the late 18hundrets….

Then the exhibit for the Anishinaabe shows a traditional wabenowin rattle contrasted by a more modern Turtle rattle a pouch and tie with the traditional floral bead work of the Woodland Culture,A white Rabbit fur represents Nanabozho, a messenger of G’tchi Manitou, an intermediary on Earth among different species of beings and an advocate for the Anishinaabe, to whom he imparted the gift of knowledge.

The Turtle – (Snapping Turtle shell) again stands for Earth In the back is one of my handmade Sweet Grass smudging baskets with Sage,(West) Cedar,(North) and home grown Tobacco (East)and a Sweet grass braid (South)

Here on the picture still in the plastic bag is a shell with smudging herbs that was lit for the noon ceremony and onto the little dishes I would put Herbs, that people can use as offerings to put their own Prayers into the Sacred Fire and send them to Creator. We had to keep this covered until the last minute because of the strong wind, that was trying to blow things about….

 I have no pictures of the things being in use, but I am sure you know, that it is strictly against cultural norms to photograph the Prayers and  ceremonies while they are being conducted.

Many Elders also do not allow people to take pictures of any teachings. I however belief, that every little bit helps to bring understanding and tolerance to a broader audience and so am OK with being photographed or filmed while teaching. I however do not like the media interfere with what I do, I do not “pose” for pictures and do not answer questions of the media while teaching. When there is healing rituals or a sharing circle, then I do no allow any media.

We also did set up a teaching area with a Medicine wheel, the big drum and all the hand drums. In the next post there will be a few pics about what went on there….

There was supposed to be another Native Elder from a local community .

He has promised to bring Prayers and teachings, but he did not show up and it was an awkward situation with all the town’s dignitaries and the TV crew waiting and waiting and waiting in the searing 40+ heat….

…..until they decided, that I was on my own for the day…

There were a lot of people in the central plaza and several school classes had come to attend and learn.

So I grabbed my drum, entrusted the Smudge to a knowledgeable Anishinaabe que and  did the ceremony and the following teachings alone.