Richly Storied Places

EveningIndigenous people give value and preference to story. Stories arise from place; it is often said they come from the land, but it is more accurate to say they arise from places, which might include the water. Seafaring peoples depend on water for food and commerce, and many speak about the ocean as a First Place, a location of origin. These notions of storied places are inherent in shamanism and other Indigenous healing traditions, although they are largely erased from New Age and neo-shamanistic renderings. It is easy to forget, or ignore, that in the Americas, Indigenous healers have traditionally been instrumental in both resisting colonial power, and in healing individuals and communities harmed by colonial violence, including racism. In this context, shamanism is inherently political.

It seems to me that our preference for stories is difficult for folks of European ancestry to grasp. That is true for Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and folks from the U.S.. Many of us Native people understand ourselves to have been born from place, our tribes emerging from specific places: mountains, springs, caves, inlets. We traditionally understand the Earth to literally be our mother. If one stops to think about this, it makes profound sense: at the very least we are birthed from the stuff of this planet, the building blocks of place; clearly, one should not harm one’s mother, should not act in ways that defile the physical or spiritual environment. Continue reading

Deep Listening for Reconciliation Week

EveningAnother lovely, cool day, sky a fine blue with a thin haze. The irises are blooming!

This is Reconciliation Week in Australia. In honor of this, I offer these exceptional posts as a sharing. These three stories highlighting the challenges and gifts of Aboriginal Australia. They are simultaneously unique, and common to many Indigenous communities around the world. I hope you will be moved and blessed by these posts, as I was.

The first is from AustraliaisIncognita via TreeGirl, and is entitled, “Two Words: Just Listen”. Continue reading

Respect, Resilience, and Reconciliation: A Guest Post by Tree Girl

Walking-PLaceA few days ago I posted about Australia Day and the challenges created by governmental policies of assimilation. In response, Tree Girl wrote a profoundly moving comment about Australia Day and assimilation, drawing from her experience as an Australian of Aboriginal heritage. I then asked her whether she would share more with us and she graciously agreed.  I am grateful to her.  All photos are Tree Girl’s. Her essay follows:

Disclosure – All of what I write here is based on my observations within the community I work in. I can’t talk about what is happening within other communities. It may be completely different for other communities.  Aboriginal people have not been a homogenous group for many thousands of years. I have worked with Aboriginal people for the past eighteen years. I have Aboriginal heritage on both sides of my family, but I can’t speak as an Aboriginal person because I have never lived as one. I am not regarded as an Aboriginal person in the Aboriginal community, as there is a process involved in being ‘identified’ and it is not what I wish to do. I pass as a white person. My parents and grandparents passed as white people. Therefore, I have white power and privilege. An Aboriginal colleague said to me a few years ago “you live and breathe Aboriginal social justice”. It was a lovely compliment but it gives me no power to speak on behalf of anyone. I can only make comments based on my observations and skewed vision of the world based on my membership, values, and experiences. Continue reading