Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Something I could do forever

Nooksack Tribal Member Nathaniel Smith (am's note: He spoke briefly in the video documenting the renaming of Indian Street to Billy Frank Jr Street) recently traveled to the 2015 International Elders & Youth Council. The Council constitutes the continuation of an ancient practice of joint council among the most respected leaders of Indian nations, and is an Indian-only gathering. Its purpose is to nurture a grassroots renewal of traditional values and worldviews among Indian peoples, to ensure the continuity of Native wisdom, and to bring that wisdom to bear on important issues facing all peoples of the earth. 

Nathaniel's report of his experience at the Council is below.
The message I carry I cannot call mine; for the message I carry is for the people...

This is my report from the 2015 Elder & Youth circle, which was held in the heart of Ho-Chunk Territories. For any one who isn't familiar with the circle, it can be described as the east coast journey. The circle advocates choose one destination for the Tribes, Nations, Villages to gather the medicine men\women, healers, leaders, story tellers, or just any one who showed concern for their people.

It is a beautiful place for our oral tradition, so sacred that we don't allow cameras or cell phones to be present in these confessions to our great grandfather Fire! I have witnessed many powerful speakers introducing themselves in their own language describing how they are connected to the land; then translated into english.

I would like to raise my hands to my brother Eddy Pablo Jr. for he is the one to credit for my curiousity of the circle, to help me describe healing in my own words. We traveled with an elder of the name John Bagley was 72 years old but the spirit of a child still who has a soft genuine stare, with a sincere smoke house voice to carry our message to the circle. The message we brought to the circle was a heavy on to carry, we touched on gearing our message toward the youth for suicide.

Under the creator we are all his CHILDREN, as the creators children he has made us all powerful; sometimes we need to be reminded of this, and forever keep reminding our children. That the children are the most important and abundant resource we poses.

In saying that our great grandmother Earth has granted the women the ability to create life, we need to honor and respect how important our women mean to the future, for our children are our future. DON'T EVER FORGET TO EXPRESS YOUR CHILD THAT YOU LOVE THEM, those words can go a long way when said sincerely. 

There is no obstacle that I cannot overcome to save my people; for I will forever be a slave to the needs of the children. I love you all, to all my people.

Nathaniel James Smith

(Note from am:  A young Nooksack woman with children committed suicide a few weeks before the council that Nathaniel Smith attended.  

During a time nearly 30 years ago when I was without hope for the future, I heard a young woman from the Lummi Nation (not far from where the Nooksack people live) speak up quietly, with hope, in a similar fashion in a small informal group of mostly non-native women of all ages who had been affected by alcoholism in relatives and friends. I knew I wasn't physically or emotionally healthy, and I could see that she was healthy in a way that transcended all my previous conceptions of health.  She gave me hope that I still carry.  

She taught me that if finding the courage to speak up in a small quiet voice is all we can do, it is enough.)