Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Journey to the Heart...My Home

Many have heard me recite this poem in the past year. It is an epic about the migration of many tribes from the East but it is also my own story. It took me many years to find it and by doing so, I am continuing to walk this journey to the heart, it's unending...

A Journey to the Heart…My Home
By Renee Sans Souci

Dedicated to Bawdwayidun (Eddie Benton-Benai), Grand Chief of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge

It actually began millennia ago…that journey
Brave ancestors walked these pure paths unbridled by self-doubt or shame
We knew as Midewiwin people even then that there was no beginning or no end
And anything was possible we were told…

My grandmothers and grandfathers once trod those sunrise shores
Known as the Atlantic in this new language we speak now
We lived in the hills and the mountains amidst unquenched beauty
Rooted like medicine to a way of life that beheld all of Creation

Our lives were filled with the wonder of the Earth and the Sky
That swirled around us like the protective aroma of cedar and sage
The days were redolent with the offerings of our sacred tobacco
A gift from the Creator for the intercession of All Our Relations

We thrived during this quiescent time at the height of our splendor
Until the seven prophets arrived to prepare us for the coming flood
They sent out a call in urgent proclamation up and down the coastline
Beseeching us to leave our beloved homes for the inland breathe of life


Many were importuned to join this Great Migration to follow the Sacred Shell
So we poured out from the land of the Morning Star People tribe upon tribe
And like a surging river we flowed together with one mind, body, and spirit
Destined to reach the grounds of Manomin the food that grows on top of the water

Out of the woodlands we heard the reverberations of the Little Boy Water Drum across the Great Lakes
Then it came to pass that my people chose a route south of the streaming movement
So we took up the Little Boy and pooled in the Ohio Basin for several generations seeking the plentitude that was offered there
During the era of the lively multi-tribal trading complexes known as the Angel Site and Cahokia

Eventually we proceeded onward through the magnificent Michizeebee along with our Ponca, Quapaw, Osage, and Konze relatives
Where we emerged as the Omaha or those who traveled upstream against the current
Adopting new ways of life we absorbed knowledge from our relatives the Iowa, the Arikara, the Lakota, and the Pawnee
Interspersed in our lives were especially the teachings of the Midewiwin and the Little Boy

Always in motion the people of Turtle Island reflect the teeming movement of the stars
Our energy pulsed in time with the Cosmos, the Four Directions, and the atomic subparticles of the earth
The Omahas referred to this lifeforce energy that permeated everything around us as Wakonda
In this way Wakonda helped us to discern and develop relationships with all the first beings who are the natural elements

Our new source of life was our relative the river Nishude aka the Smoky Missouri
Moving downriver along this watercourse we became known as exemplary peacemakers and agrarians
Experts in settling conflicts and in harvesting corn, squash and beans, the Three Sisters treasured by us all
Earth People, Sky People, our tribal circle was our law, our homes, and our relatives

Generations marked the passage of time with the turning of the sun and the appearance of the moon
Until the light skinned race arrived as was foretold by the seven prophets in the land of the Morning Star People
The first were the Voyageurs, traders from the French Nation, who came bearing gifts of good will
They married into the Omaha and assimilated with an ease as if they had always been a part of us

The others who came after the French brought diseases that ravaged our villages and brought us to the edge of obliteration
The few who survived witnessed their proud lifestyle vanish in the smoke of meaningless words
Millions of acres of land were ceded through treaties made with the United States in false promises of the reservations
Only to find that as wards of the government we were no longer in control of our very breath of life it seemed

The following are words from the Omaha, White Horse:

“Now the face of all the land is changed
and sad. The living creatures are gone.
I see the land desolate, and I suffer
unspeakable sadness. Sometimes I wake in
the night and feel as though I should suffocate
from the pressure of this awful feeling of
loneliness."

So said White Horse on August 13,1912.

My Grandparents and parents lived through the aftermath of such devastation with great resiliency
They were products of an education that strove to silence their beautiful voices and break apart our unending traditions
At a time when we lost so much including the heartbeat of the Little Boy Waterdrum
We were visited by the Sounding Voice, Bawdwayidun, of the Lac Courte Oreille Ojibwe Nation in 1958

My Grandmother was a member of the Shell Society, our midewiwin lodge that began in the time of the Seven Prophets
She was one of those who feted Bawdwayidun and offered him gifts to hear the voice of the Little Boy once again
In those songs were contained the history of our migration which had been dormant memories in my elders’ hearts
Rivulets of my Grandmother’s tears ran unchecked down her face in longing for the original teachings of the midewiwin

Tears are as strong as prayers and leave a trail in unborn hearts that have yet to beat in the future lives of our children
In 1962, I was born, four years after that historic meeting between the Sounding Voice and the Shell Society
What was forgotten by the time I grew up were the connections between all Native people of this land
Unawakened as I was for many years I wondered why I was living in such a barren state of belief

I felt isolated in my own unbearable sadness living through such heartbreak that I thought would never end
But a sound from a distance came my way and I heard my name addressed in a language unfamiliar to my ears
Yet the drumming was quite familiar and it spoke to my wounded heart through ancient beats from earlier times
You belong to me, he said in a young voice, come this way and I will show you the lifeforce of your people

So I followed this calling without hesitation to the woodlands of the Ojibwe Nation
And there I was introduced to Bawdwayidun, the Sounding Voice of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge
Through Bawdwayidun I learned that for 50 years he kept the tears of my Grandmother close to his heart
Our tears mingle together now and mark my journey to the Little Boy who has welcomed me home to the Way of the Heart that is mine…

- Manitou Ishta Duhmoo Quay (Sacred Horse Woman)


“I’m just a human being trying to make it in a world that is very rapidly losing its understanding of being human" - John Trudell (Isanti Dakota)

“Find us Spirit Horses and teach us how to ride! With Seven Generations of promise at our side!” - From the song Spirit Horses by Annie Humphrey (Ojibwe)

2 comments:

La Nuit Étoilée said...

Some time soon I would like to see you "perform," if you would call it that...

Jacinda

MKotyk88 said...

It is an honor to read your blogs and to hear the story of your people.