Sunday, December 24, 2006

What Leads to Divorce?

May 2004 to November 2004...

Before I go on to Part Two of My Views on Indian Education. I have this need to dwell on how everything that had happened with the Nebraska Department of Education in 2004 affected my marriage. There were so many things occuring simultaneously it seemed during that year. When everything first exploded like a land mine in May 2004, I saw the way everyone withdrew from ground zero…which was me. When I worked for those few short months as a Restorative Justice Specialist, I learned that this was a common practice of institutions involved in victimization cases: Isolate the victim as well as isolate the offender.

One of the first things I had done was to seek help and advice from the Omaha Tribal Council. A highly respected elder sat on the council then, Valentine Parker, Jr., and I knew that he would be one of my greatest supporters and allies. I held that much confidence in him. However, less than two weeks after I first talked with him, he died in office. That in itself was totally devastating for my whole tribe. But I felt like whatever chance I had for resolution went with him.

So added to my feelings of rage, violation, and isolation, was also grief.

December 2004 to December 2005…

These feelings all continued on unabated for several months even though I followed the instructions of my spiritual advisers that fall. I became depressed. I felt that no one was listening to me and that I had been effectively silenced…

While turmoil surrounded me, Charles all the while had been working for the very same people who had left me twisting in the wind. Once I was out of the picture, they gave him even more responsibilities. It was money for us, yes, but at the same time it became our bone of contention. And no matter how much I tried to overcome the bitterness, I felt betrayed.

He wanted to do this work for the NDE because it was all about his passion…American Indian Art. I knew this so well. I was the one who had encouraged him throughout the years to pursue this passion because this was what he was good at. Charles has always been a multi-talented individual. Well, he continued working despite the rift that grew between us over his association with whom I termed "my enemies." He also left school during this time and took a year long break from classes.

In December, 2005, things began changing for us both. I was working part-time and he was preparing to enter back into the teacher’s college. Things looked hopeful or so I thought.

January 2006 to March 2006...

How do we sense when things have shifted in a relationship? There are always telltale signs. I can’t really say when I knew something was really wrong. I just know that Charles was much happier. I saw him smiling more and I noticed certain phone calls taking place where he supposedly was talking to one of his sisters. I don’t like to think of myself as a suspicious or jealous person. But the whispers were there in the back of my mind and all around. And, this certainly wasn't the first time this had happened but it certainly became the last.

When a Marriage Dies...

Anyone who has ever been through divorce knows that it isn't always just one thing that destroys a marriage. It can be a multitude. Like me, Charles is a complex person. He had many issues to resolve and most of them had nothing to do with me. Ultimately what it came down to in our marrige was that Charles did not share my vision. That in itself was more painful than any infidelity. We had four children together and this vision was for them. What did this mean that he did not believe the way I did? I felt a coldness inside my very being from what he revealed. Words can be just as deadly as a gunshot. For once I knew he was telling the truth.

Now, the Present…

Sometimes, no matter how things appear to be direly important at one point in time, they diminish to insignificance at a much later time. Much, much later of course.

Things change. Healing begins.

What was at first totally frightening and traumatic has turned into one of the greatest gifts someone could have ever given me. It was the gift of restoration of myself, my being.

When Charles and I split in April this year. I wrote this poem days afterward in answer to a question I had been asking many people over the years. Where do you find the beauty?

I had felt such a lack of this in my own life for so long. Yet, I knew it was all around me everywhere. My dear friend, fellow poet and educator, Robe Walker had pointed that out to me a few years ago when we discussed where he found the beauty. Robe is Gros Ventre and is from Hayes, Montana. This poem is dedicated to him.

Finding the Beauty
by Renee New Holy

The search began a few years ago.
A question that arose continually in mind,
Where is the beauty?

Surroundings that were once familiar
And loved became unbearable intimations
Of all that is inevitable.

In such there is no reproof.
Only a certainty that what has ended
Is akin to the origin of a new sun.

There is the sacred in that.
Because we come from the stars.
And there lies the beauty.

Like the Sky People who arrived long ago
Then emerged as the Earth People.
So too will always be the Sacred Circle for us.

A rapid walker once responded,
That beauty is found in that there is no
Separation between the Earth and the Sky.

Indisputable understanding and knowledge.
This answer has helped to settle a wonderer,
Who now finds the beauty everywhere.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Poetry by Joy Harjo (Muscogee Nation)

A Map to the Next World
by Joy Harjo
(for Desiray Kierra Chee)
In the last days of the fourth world I wished to make a map for those who would climb through the hole in the sky.

My only tools were the desires of humans as they emerged from the killing fields, from the bedrooms and the kitchens.

For the soul is a wanderer with many hands and feet.

The map must be of sand and can't be read by ordinary light. It must carry fire to the next tribal town, for renewal of spirit.

In the legend are instructions on the language of the land, how it was we forgot to acknowledge the gift, as if we were not in it or of it.

Take note of the proliferation of supermarkets and malls, the altars of money. They best describe the detour from grace.

Keep track of the errors of our forgetfulness; the fog steals our children while we sleep.

Flowers of rage spring up in the depression. Monsters are born there of nuclear anger.

Trees of ashes wave goodbye to goodbye and the map appears to disappear.

We no longer know the names of the birds here, how to speak to them by their personal names.

Once we knew everything in this lush promise.

What I am telling you is real and is printed in a warning on the map. Our forgetfulness stalks us, walks the earth behind us, leaving a trail of paper diapers, needles, and wasted blood.

An imperfect map will have to do, little one.

The place of entry is the sea of your mother's blood, your father's small death as he longs to know himself in another.

There is no exit.

The map can be interpreted through the wall of the intestine--a spiral on the road of knowledge.

You will travel through the membrane of death, smell cooking from the encampment where our relatives make a feast of fresh deer meat and corn soup, in the milky way.

They have never left us; we abandoned them for science.

And when you take your next breath as we enter the fifth world there will be no X, no guidebook with words you can carry.

You will have to navigate by your mother's voice, renew the song she is singing.

Fresh courage glimmers from planets.

And lights the map printed with the blood of history, a map you will have to know by your intention, by the language of suns.

When you emerge note the tracks of the monster slayers where they entered the cities of artificial light and killed what was killing us.

You will see red cliffs. They are the heart, contain the ladder.

A white deer will come to greet you when the last human climbs from the destruction.

Remember the hole of our shame marking the act of abandoning our tribal grounds.

We were never perfect.

Yet, the journey we make together is perfect on this earth who was once a star and made the same mistakes as humans.

We might make them again, she said.

Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.

You must make your own map.

Monday, December 18, 2006

One of the Most Beautiful Places on Earth...

I took this picture in September of 2004. What can I say? The Blackfeet Nation is so fortunate to have such a view. I'll return on any excuse just to breathe in the mountain air once again!