It’s difficult to see the patterns when you are too close and personal with your own life. But standing back, with the perspective of time, themes and variations emerge and stand out. One of mine is a connection to indigenous people. In the 1970s I had a job which put me in a community of Native Americans who moved back and forth between their Sioux reservation in SD and Scottsbluff, NE. where my project, funded by the National Institute for Mental Health, was located. My job was to oversee students doing oral histories with Mexican American and Native American people and to discover how human service agencies could remove whatever barriers there might be to serving these people.
I was in the middle of that project when my kid brother invited me to visit him in New Mexico on the occasion of a tribal dance by the native peoples there. When I moved to Texas in the 80s I was introduced to a woman who organized and lead woman’s retreats on her land which she hoped to make into a retreat center in East Texas. Her ancestors were Cherokee and she had studied with many tribal elders and used Native American philosophy and principles in her teaching and ceremonies. I have been connected since them, not only to her, but to the women who gathered in the East Texas piney woods in the spring and fall each year, and on many occasions inbetween.
Now I am in Pittsburgh, and my connection to native peoples has followed me. Through a friend I have meet members of a branch of the Delaware tribe, whose ancestors were here when the colonists arrived in the 17th century. I have visited the white buffalo, born a couple of years ago near the place were the French and Indian war began. This war became the first World War which resulted in the sun never setting on the British Crown. It also resulted in terrible atrosities for indigenous people around the globe.
Now with new friends from various backgrounds, I am engaged in presenting a Celebration of Unity at the Three Rivers Arts Festival on Sunday June 12th from 2 pm to 4 pm. In a spirit of forgiveness and reunion we will ask representatives of the Taino people, whose ancestors met the Christopher Columbus and other Spanish Conquistadors on the Carabean Islands, and of the Powhatan, whose ancestors greeted the pilgrims at Jamestown. It will be a celebration of gratitude for the Indigenous who have been keepers of wisdom that is sorely needed by the so-called developed countries of the world.