I've been sitting here this morning since the Thunder Spirits woke me. I checked out different posts over on my second favorite haunt, Facebook. I said my prayers and sent good thoughts to all those standing for the water over in North Dakota.
I think of the struggle we're going to have when we can finally go out on the lake to get our annual eating rice, Maanomin, cause the waters are too high. This was brought up at our meeting with the Reservation Tribal Council. I think of the old days when there were hundreds of canoes out on the lake, reseeding all areas, especially the few who tipped over. After the first surge of disappointment, the inevitable comment, "well, I reseeded the lake for seven years from now" or, "I know where to come in seven years." Now, there might be a hundred on a good day.
Yeah. Imagine me, saying the old days. I grew up waiting for the annual ricing days, cause we'd have food to eat, and hunters went out and brought back deer, duck and fish. And this was 50 years ago. 50 years. An unimaginable time for a young child of ten. Heck, I didn't even have a good concept of weeks.
I remember the first time I put out tobacco before going on the lake. I was scared, a little awed, cause I was finally grown up enough to do this for myself. On the first day, there was an Elder who said prayers, offered traditional gifts, and asked for protection on the water for all of us going on the lake. Why ask for protection? Cause there are accidents on the lake, even among those who are expert canoers. News of someone tipping over raced through the village, relief when the unfortunate were safe and sound, on the shore.
Now, my son makes sure I put out asemaa before we head out. I smile, now, thinking, he has the privilege to do so. Has had the privilege for 20 years. Out of respect for me, he waits for me to do so. I understand the feeling of being in harmony with the Spirits when we do this. We parch rice when we get back with the rice we've gathered for the day. We always put the heads in the fire, our offering for those in the next world. I think of the green rice going to seed the waters above.
I think of my loved ones who've crossed the lake many times and did the same thing we do when we come ashore. And I think of them happily doing the same thing when we send the green rice to them. I think of them smiling, visiting, having a good time cause they have rice again. They have deer, fish, duck. They have much more cause we remember and put out tobacco, gifts and do the things they taught us to do.
All these thoughts have been in my mind when I check out the Facebook posts about the water protectors over on the Standing Rock reservation. I have been there, lived in the Dakotas for a few years, met the people and have made a friend or two from the land around. I stood on the banks of the Missouri River, the Heart River. I've seen pictures of the land down in Iowa, where they've dug down 20 feet, disturbing earth that has been there for millions of years. Now, nothing will grow there. Rather, what will grow there? Ahh, all I can do is pray and send good thoughts for all those struggling to protect what is left.
Why don't I go out there? Cause I have things to do here, where I am. All waters need prayer, good thoughts and our mainstay, Manoomin, is being threatened. I did what I can, the best way I know how.
And why do I post a lot of BBC articles? Simple. In the 60's and 70's, the only clear station we could get was Channel 5, a Canadian station. I actually knew more about what was happening in Canada, then my own country. Guess that's what happens when one lives in the "wilderness."